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Exorcism-seekers: clinical and personality correlates Buch, Wes


Abstract This study was a case control field investigation of a special population. The psychodiagnostic and personality correlates of 40 Christian Charismatic exorcism-seekers were compared to the correlates of 40 matched c2ntrols and 48 randomly selected controls. The study was guided by a central research question: how do exorcism-seekers differ from similar individuals who do not seek exorcism? Two theoretiäal approaches to demonic possession and exorcism anticipated different answers. A mental illness approach anticipated the report of certain forms of clinical distress among exorcism-seekers. A social role approach anticipated the report of certain personality traits that would facilitate the effective enactment of the demoniac role. Results supported the mental illness approach to demonic possession inasmuch as numerous between-group diagnostic differences achieved statistical significance, especially mood disturbance. The exorcism-seeker’s group produced a modal dependent-avoidant personality disorder profile, although schizoid features best distinguished between exorcism-seekers and control subjects. However, half of the sample did not report significant psychological distress. A cognitive-behavioral model of demonic possession of relevance to both distressed and non-distressed exorcism-seekers was therefore proposed. Treatment implications included a discussion of special treatment problems and collaboration between members of the clergy and the health care professions.

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