Swedish physician, psychologist and paranormal researcher, Dr. Carl Wickland (1861-1945) became the first medically trained person to view mental illness as being caused by spirit possession. His invention called a Wimhurts (static electricity machine) was used to send a low-voltage electric shock to the head and spine of a possessed person. He later wrote a couple of books: Thirty Years Among the Dead (1924) and Gateway to Understanding (1934).
In the former he wrote: "Humanity is surrounded by the thought influence of millions of discarnate beings… A recognition of this fact accounts for a great portion of unbidden thoughts, emotions, strange forebodings, gloomy moods, irritabilities, unreasonable impulses, irrational outbursts of temper, uncontrollable infatuations and countless other mental vagaries."
While Dr. Wickland blamed disincarnate souls for possession-like behavior, Rabbi Gershon Winkler who operates the Walking Stick Foundation www.walkingstick.org in New Mexico goes a step further. He said: "Jews don't believe in demonic possession. We believe that on very rare occasions, there can be a possession of a living person by the soul of one who has left the body but not the world, and they're seeking a body to possess to finish whatever they need to finish."
In other words, he believes disincarnate spirits or ghosts possess people. Rabbi Winkler noted in the Book of Kings in the Bible where Elijah is possessed by a dead man’s spirit, because the ghost wanted to trick the king into going to war when he wasn’t supposed to do so.
"Our scriptures and our mystical tradition are full of ghosts -- ghosts meaning the disembodied soul still wandering around,” he said. “We also have teachings about what in English they call ‘demons’ but they're not all evil - they're called 'sheydim' in Hebrew. There are good demons and bad demons. According to our ancient tradition, demons are beings just like we are, just like animals are. They were created in the twilight of creation after the human being was created, right before the climax of creation, so that they're neither of this world, nor of the other world, but a little bit of both.”
Catholic Church View
As would be expected, the Catholic Church holds the view that the devil and his demons are at work in possession cases. Vatican’s Exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth has performed some 70,000 exorcisms over the past 60 years and he noted that getting approval for an exorcism is not as easy as one might think.
Not only do local church officials have to agree but also the Vatican and psychiatrists or psychologists treating a person. There must also be a defining difference between known psychological problems and a true possession. To that end, there is also a set of specific symptoms that include everything from vomiting and severe headaches to superhuman strength and speaking in unknown languages.
One would think that this 85-year-old priest would have just a little fear of the devil and his minions but he says, “no.” God is far more powerful.
“The Evil One shouts and makes noises,” he said, “but we are made in God’s image. We have the Holy Trinity on our side. There is no need to be afraid of the Devil unless we give in to his temptations.”
Father Amorth has just published The Memoirs of an Exorcist, a book that recounts his experiences with Lucifer and his demons, whom he calls by name.
“The devil tries to reach all of us,” especially those who don’t believe in God or Satan. He said.