Demonic possession is something that most of us consider to be in the horror genre. It’s not an issue that’s pressing to our everyday lives. Sure, a terrifying horror movie or YouTube video may make us believe for a short time, but real cases of demonic possession seem fabricated or, at most, a result of a mental disorder. While this may be the case, there are a few circumstances in which demonic possession is a terrifyingly logical explanation.
5. The Son of Sam
One of the most notorious serial killers in America, the Son of Sam terrorized New York City with a string of murders in the summer of 1976. At each crime scene, he left a cryptic and taunting message to police. By the end of the summer, known as the “Summer of Sam,” the serial killer had murdered six and wounded two. When he was arrested, police identified him as David Berkowitz. Berkowitz confessed to the murders, but stated that he was instructed to do so by his neighbor’s dog that was possessed by a demon. He was later convicted and sentenced to six life sentences. While in jail in the 1990’s Berkowitz wrote an addendum to his confession, stating that he was part of a satanic cult, and that the murders were done for ritualistic purposes.
4. Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor was living with his wife in Ossett, Great Britain in the mid 1970s. Both of them were very religious, and often went to prayer meetings together. It was here that Taylor’s wife, Christine, suspected that Taylor was having an affair with the group leader. Both parties denied this, but Michael started becoming erratic. He began swearing violently, and acting in ways that were completely unlike him. His wife sought the wisdom of a priest, who preformed an exorcism on Michael. The priest deemed it a success after a full day, claiming to have removed forty demons from the man. The priest, however, warned Michael’s wife that the demon of murder was still dormant in Michael’s soul. Hours later, Taylor brutally murdered his wife and their dog. He was found in the street, covered in blood, muttering. He pleaded insanity at his trail and was acquitted.
3. The Pope Francis Exorcism
Exorcisms are traditionally performed by catholic priests, and the church even has a guidebook on how to perform exorcisms. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a pope performed an exorcism, but it is unusual for one to be spontaneous and caught on tape. In the video, you can see Pope Francis greeting and blessing disabled people in Rome in May of 2013. He stops at one boy in a wheelchair, pauses, and begins to place both hands on the boy’s head. The boy shudders, appears to scream or gasp, and eventually relaxes back into his chair. The video is quite chilling, and it’s clear that this interaction was unplanned. Though the church has not confirmed that this was an exorcism, the footage is quite compelling and gives video evidence to an often anecdotal topic.
2. Ronald Doe
The true story behind the film The Exorcist, the Ronald Doe case is possibly the most well-known story of demonic possession in modern history. By attempting to contact his aunt using a Ouija board, the fourteen year-old opened a door to the satanic world in the late 1940s. He would make sounds, levitate and contort himself at the same time as strange carvings started appearing on his body. He spoke in tongues and in different voices, prompting his family to bring in a priest. The priest performed the exorcism ritual over thirty times, with the boy constantly taunting and even injuring the priest along the way. When the ritual was eventually finished, it is said that the entire hospital heard Doe cry out.
The case of Julia is the most chilling on this list because of how recent it was and who was involved. The person who witnessed this possession had no affiliation with the church. He was a certified psychiatrist and professor at New York Medical College by the name of Dr. Richard E. Gallagher. In 2008 he had a particular patient and decided there was no explanation but possession. He witnessed levitation, clairvoyance, telepathy, and the girl speaking in foreign voices and tongues. He noted that she would drop into a trance at times, which is not irregular from any mentally unwell patient, but instead of becoming withdrawn she would spout hateful comments in a variety of guttural voices. When a man of science sees no other option except an exorcism, it’s difficult to completely ignore that these demons may not be complete Hollywood fiction after all.
Although many of these cases are sure to be the result of a mental illness or just plain fraudulent, it still seems naive to think that we are the only forces operating on this plain of existence. The struggle of good Vs evil is as old as time, and it’s possible that our physical world is at the front lines of this battle. We are quick to dismiss some devout believers who are adamant that certain behavior is “evil” or shows signs of The Devil, but it’s difficult to argue when the subject is levitating, vomiting bile and speaking in tongues.
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