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Altered States/Dissociation
Record Type: Review   ID: 362

How About Demons? Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World

Goodman, Felicitas D.

 The purpose of this volume by a well-known anthropologist is to provide a popular overview of possession and exorcism from a holistic viewpoint that considers both physiological processes and bodily changes and experiential/cultural factors. This holistic approach is emphasized in the first chapter, which serves as an introduction to the worldwide phenomena of possession and exorcism. The second chapter reviews the history of Spiritualism. Chapter 3 describes the Brazilian mediumistic healing cult, Umbanda, which has incorporated some elements from spiritualism but which is itself becoming a religion. The fourth chapter is devoted to the possession religion of Pentecostalism. There follows a chapter on Japan's "new religions," which are based on possession and exorcism. The sixth chapter treats possession and the experience of multiple personality, and she advocates that exorcism can be used in the treatment of multiple personality. The next chapter is on demonic possession, "a frightening, negative experience of some uninvited evil entities assuming complete control overone's body" (p. 88). Chapter 8 is about a Eurasian variant of demonic possession, which she compares with the African variant described in Chapter 6. The 9th chapter describes two recent cases of demonic possession, Marci and Anneliese Michel. In an important final chapter, Goodman discusses whether or not spirits are "real." She points out "that in all religious communities around the world, of whatever cultural allegiance, people indicate by their behavior that for them, spirit beings are part of the larger, all-encompassing reality. As contact with such experiences in an ever-shrinking world becomes more frequent, it behooves us to treat what others experience with respect, and should we encounter the believers as suffering human beings, to confront them on their terms and not on our own" (p. 126). In addition to chapter notes there is a bibliography.
Publisher Information:Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. 142p. Bibl: 133-136; Chap. bibl: 127-132; 1 fig; Index: 137-142
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