General Question

Your_Majesty's avatar

Is 'possession' real (how about in the USA)?

Asked by Your_Majesty (8212points) October 13th, 2010

Possession in the context of one’s body is over taken by another person’s spirit.

Recently,my religion teacher (who is also a theologian) said that possession is real and there are many proof that it’s existed. I can’t accept such irrational perception so I said “It’s fake and done by people that get paid or those who play drama to fool others”. He dismissed my comment and said that “Possession exists everywhere in this world and it has been like that from long time ago”. Then I said “People nowadays don’t believe in such irrational things anymore. Take developed countries,such US as an example,there’s no such thing there. They live better without such issue” (he also has already known that there are many atheists in US). He said that “Possession is also existed in US,it exists everywhere where people have no/less faith”.

I know it’s unnecessary to ask about what is obvious but I need find a fact about whether or not such thing is existing,and is it true that there’s possession in US? (or perhaps this is just his personal opinion)

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43 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

There is a glaring lack of evidence for the existence of possession.

Survey says…


Seek's avatar

Well, that certainly depends on who you ask.

The church I used to attend honestly thought I was possessed by demons because I wrote fantasy stories and played Dungeons and Dragons, and didn’t think there was anything wrong with that.. Having an imagination is apparently a sign of demonic influence.

My mother in law believed my husband was being possessed by a demon when he met me and we began dating (we still don’t get along.). Clearly it was Satan’s work that a 35 year old man wanted a girlfriend.

Here are some links of people that actually believe demonic possession in the “Exorcist” sense exists: 1 2 3

Of course, not a single case of so-called “demonic possession” has been independently verified.

mrentropy's avatar

You’ll never find a fact that proves it. Even if you had one, there would be plenty of other people ready to state that it was something else, probably a mental illness.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard May I ask what evidence? There are many ‘evidence’ in my country that show possession is existing (believe it or not,all TV media always show this possession issue and most of the source came from school). I think their reporter are stupid and they make those who watch their channel become misguided.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr So in other words,regardless of the believers,possession is existing?

@mrentropy It’s not to prove that possession is something else. But I want to know whether or not it caused by the contribution of spirit. Mental illness is a fact and it’s rational.

JustmeAman's avatar

Yes possession is very real and it happens. One cannot prove it by science because they cannot measure it. It is not a physical issure therefore cannot be measured by science. There are many that try to explain the problems by using mental capacity and mental issues but it really does exist. I say this from personal experience in my life and also say that it is IMHO. So please don’t try and bait me into a debate I have seen with my own eyes things that are real.

Seek's avatar


No, regardless of the believers, there is no evidence to suggest that possession is real.

Always question the evidence. I can’t stress this enough.

Seeing something happen on television is not evidence. How many movies have you seen? You know full well they can make anything look like anything on television.

Considering that the $1 Million Paranormal Challenge is as yet unclaimed, I’m pretty secure in knowing no one has yet proven the existence of the spirit world in a verifiable manner.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@JustmeAman Many people say such thing here (some even say they’ve seen the ghost themselves). I was afraid of such thing when I was a child but after I learned lots about science I realized that it’s not rational.

@Seek_Kolinahr No,it’s not in movie but it’s in reality media (such as news and newspaper). Thanks for your information! at least,I know that it’s not existed in US.

JustmeAman's avatar


I didn’t say it was rational I just said that it exists. Of course if you are going by science then you are correct it isnt rational because science can’t examine that which is not physical.

Winters's avatar

I don’t see the point in arguing with the instructor, clearly he/she believes in possession, and one of the hardest things to do is to get someone to completely abandon a belief. You could simply ask for some facts to back up possession and see what he/she is able to come up with, I think I’d find it amusing.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Winters In my country there are many evidence from TV and newspaper to prove it. I don’t believe in such thing but they claim that it’s real.

Winters's avatar

@Your_Majesty I wouldn’t trust media sources, they’re not reliable.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@JustmeAman OK but did you mean it exists in US? Where did you witness such thing?

JustmeAman's avatar

Yes it exists everywhere in the world. How can one say it doesn’t exist because science can’t measure it. So what? Science is very limited to our physical world and there is so much more to us than just the physical. It happens all over the country and in every state.

The_Idler's avatar

“Yes it exists everywhere in the world. How can one say it doesn’t exist…?” @JustmeAman

How can you say it does exist?

Winters's avatar

Yeah sure, there may not be any solid proof of it and science may not be able to prove this so called phenomenon, but every time I’ve seen someone be “possessed” I call bull. For me, this is just something that is either due to the influence of drugs, or some mental health issues.

JustmeAman's avatar

So that it be known here and now. I will NOT answer anything from @The_Idler.

Ron_C's avatar

There is plenty of evil to go around without blaming demon possession. I would like to believe that people like Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Osama bin Laden were possessed but they are not.

As far as the pea soup spitting girl from the Exorcist, it was just a movie.

mrentropy's avatar

@Your_Majesty What I’m saying is, even if you had a 100% true case of someone being possessed by a spirit it will be explained away as something else. You’ll never get your proof unless you’re in the presence of it and there are happenings, such as vomiting pea soup, spinning heads, levitation, and whatever else. Even then, it will be your own personal proof because people will find a way to explain it as something else.

JustmeAman's avatar

Science and medicine always try to explain it all away though often times they cannot find anything to hand it to so they just put it in the mental capacity box.

Winters's avatar

@JustmeAman I toss it in the “you’re tripping on shrooms and LSD again” box. And it is well known that many “possession” events were just an attempt to either obtain fame/fortune.

JustmeAman's avatar


Of course there are incidents where someone was looking for attention but that is not always the case.

The_Idler's avatar

Obviously, we can never KNOW if people are faking it/crazy or not, but it’s always a simpler and therefore more probable explanation, than inventing a-whole-nother realm of the Cosmos for supernatural spiritual beings & magical evil demons to exist in.

mrentropy's avatar

Funny, though, that it’s opposite of what it used to be in that if you had a mental illness then you were automatically possessed.

poofandmook's avatar

Possession is a theory, I believe. I don’t want to knock @JustmeAman and those beliefs, but the way I see possession, it’s like beauty—in the eye of the beholder.

For example… all people can be pretty much whittled down into three categories:

A: Science and logic rule. If science can’t explain it, and it’s not rational or logical, it absolutely can’t exist. Therefore, possession does not exist. It can’t. What the victim is experiencing is best explained by an extreme mental illness and/or nervous breakdown and/or extreme anxiety attack.

B: Science and logic definitely do have their places, but who knows what we haven’t discovered yet? 100 years ago, technology we consider to be basic was seen pretty much as supernatural forces or magic. Who knows what we’ll have concrete evidence about in another 100 years? Maybe it’s mental illness… maybe it’s not. Who knows?

C: Religion and/or spiritual beliefs dictate everything that happens to every one. Bad things are the work of evil, and good things are rewards for being a good person and adhering to religious/spiritual “law”. Possession is the result of lack of faith and/or spiritual belief. Science is too quick to dismiss what perhaps millions of people know in their hearts to be truth.

Each one of these types will answer your question differently. There’s no way of knowing.

JustmeAman's avatar


I agree with most of what you stated. Unless you have personal experience then you can know for your own reality that things do exist that others say do not. That would be a catagory you do not show in your 3 responses. Faith is all well and good but it is still just a belief.

wundayatta's avatar

I believe that people experience possession. Hell! I’ve experienced it. What I don’t believe is their explanation of the experience. I think that it is much more likely to be a product of one’s emotional health or spiritual state than of any external invisible entity.

In my case, I “experienced” the possession of my spirit guide. Since he’s kind of a clunky clay creature in a vaguely manlike shape, moving in a body was pretty novel to him. He didn’t know what to do. I turned over the reigns consciously, so he would get a chance to play. I let myself feel like I was no longer in control, but I know I was.

He controlled my arms and legs very awkwardly, nearly falling over a number of times. I felt kind of like I was a baby learning to walk. When it was time to stop, he left without fuss.

Now what “really” happened? One could tell any story one wants. I’m the only one who experienced and I’m the only one who could experience it, so it’s not a scientifically provable kind of thing. I’m the only source of the evidence. You believe me or you don’t. You believe that I experienced it in my mind, or you can believe that the spirit of a real mudman came into me.

I choose to tell the story I’ve been telling you. It was an experience. I both believed it was happening as it happened and disbelieved it. I wanted it to happen because it meant a lot to me. And really, that’s what is important.

I believe other people experience possessions. I think some of them believe they are actually in the complete control of an external entity. I think the external entity is inside their own minds. I think the possession is a metaphorical way for parts of the mind to communicate with each other.

I believe there is a second mind in our heads that doesn’t have language. So it has a big problem when it wants to convey information to our linguistic minds. One way it can do so is through possession and forcing you to feel things that convey the message it feels a need to convey.

Well, it’s a story. A theory. I don’t know if it will ever be proved that we have a non-linguistic mind that behaves in the way I think it does. Perhaps fMRI will one day allow us to see the brain functioning in a way that could be explained by my theory. I doubt if there will ever be much measurable evidence to support my theory, but maybe I underestimate science. We do say things about the way people think now. There is the “science” of psychology. People respect it and find it useful. Maybe my theory will turn out to be of use. It certainly provides a theory of possession.

poofandmook's avatar

@JustmeAman: Right. That’s why I said they can “pretty much” be categorized that way. I think, since it’s still up for debate, that such a small amount of the population has firsthand experience, it’s not large enough for its own category. Not all of anything can be so neatly categorized; there are always some exceptions.

Also, let me point out that what one person would call firsthand witnessing of a possession, another might simply call an anxiety attack. Do you know what I mean? Same event, but belief in either science or religion/spirit calls it two very different things and accredits it to two very different causes.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What I do love is how convenient it is to say ‘science can’t explain everything…these things are above science, laws, people’...well, if they’re so ethereal, they’re not really around…Science can’t explain everything but it can at the very least register the symptoms of a possessed person and see what those look like and what they look like, to me, is self-hypnosis, a cause by belief, by suggestion. Same as ‘speaking in tongues’, ‘being healed’, whatever…we don’t know brains a whole lot but we know they’re powerfull as hell.

CMaz's avatar

I find, if I drink too much, I become possessed. Projectile vomiting and all.

Otherwise, it does not exist.
Except, if you mean, Multiple Personality Disorder.

“People nowadays don’t believe in such irrational things anymore.”
Yea, right. Ya know, one day we will be the Aztecs.

DominicX's avatar

You mean those videos of people screaming in a deep voice as holy water is thrown on them?

No, I do not believe that it is real. In older times, people used to think almost all mental illness was caused by demonic possession. We know better now.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir is right. Has there ever been a case of so-called “demonic possession” in someone who didn’t already believe in demonic possession or “spirits” of any kind in the first place? When is a cold skeptical godless heathen liberal going to get possessed? Or are they already possessed…food for thought…

Nullo's avatar

I’d say so. There is a Biblical precedent, and I’ve had credible exorcist pastors before.

flutherother's avatar

People acting in crazy ways or acting out of character is not uncommon and could be considered ‘possession’. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is fictional but there have been similar cases in real life.

mammal's avatar

Very real you better believe it.

CMaz's avatar


MY NAME is bill.

tifa's avatar

I honestly don’t believe in “POSSESSION”, but i don’t want to say that people go around faking they’re possessed. I rather think that it may be a psychological disorder in which the people may actually BELIEVE they are possessed or have split personalities with no recollection of their actions in said state of mind.

Ron_C's avatar

I would like to add a small addition to my previous answer. I think that the people that believe that they are possessed suffer from the same disorder as those that think they were abducted by Aliens or claim that they were visited by the Virgin Mary. The brain is a complicated electrochemical computer. Although it is a remarkable evolutionary advance, there are still many things that can go wrong.

mrentropy's avatar

Father Peter Westley is quite convinced that possession is real.

CMaz's avatar

Well, don’t he need an ass grab.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C I’ve never heard of a person who thought that they were possessed. Usually it’s somebody else who makes the judgment.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo frankly, I never met a real person that was possessed or abducted by aliens. Most of my crowd doesn’t us drugs. I have a hard time taking any of this seriously.

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