Tips to know when someone is Demon-Possessed

Recognizing the difference between a person who’s possessed and a person struggling with a mental illness or other infirmity is a vital part of the ministry of exorcism, according to a long-time exorcist and priest.

Father Cipriano de Meo, who has been an exorcist since 1952, told CNA’s Italian agency ACI Stampa that typic

ally, a person is not possessed but is struggling with some other illness.
The key to telling the difference, he said, is through discernment in prayer on the part of the exorcist and the possessed – and in the potentially possessed person’s reaction to the exorcist himself and the prayers being said.

The exorcist will typically say “(a) prolonged prayer to the point where if the Adversary is present, there’s a reaction,” he said.

“A possessed person has various general attitudes towards an exorcist, who is seen by the Adversary as an enemy ready to fight him.”

Fr. de Meo described the unsettling reaction that a possessed person usually has, detailing a common response to the exorcist’s prayer.

“There’s no lack of frightening facial expressions, threatening words or gestures and other things,” he said, “but especially blasphemies against God and Our Lady.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between demonic activity and mental illness. From paragraph 1673: “Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.”

In April of last year, the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy and the Sacerdos Institute hosted a seminar at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum University, specifically aimed at training priests and lay people in spotting the differences between psychological problems and demonic possession.
The conference included interventions from a wide range of experts in the field of exorcism, including practicing exorcists, medical professionals, psychologists, lawyers, and theologians.

Fr. de Meo also emphasized that not all cases of possession are going to look the same, which is why it is so important for exorcists to go through rigorous training.

“It’s up to the priest serving in this ministry to know how to deal with the case, by the will of God, with love and humility,” he said.
“For this reason, with my bishop’s authorization, for 13 years, I’ve led a school for exorcists. I’ve tried to especially prepare those who are beginning this ministry,” he said.

However, even though cases of demonic possession are not as common as cases of psychological illness, most people are too unaware and unfamiliar with spiritual realities, he said.

In 2014, the International Association of Exorcists (AIE) called the rise of occult activity a “pastoral emergency.”

“It usually starts out of ignorance, superficiality, stupidity or proselytizing, actively participating or just watching,” AIE spokesperson Dr. Valter Cascioli told CNA at the time.

“The consequences are always disastrous.”
Father de Meo said that people often turn to “the chatter of magicians and Illusionists” for answers, rather than “the weapons the Lord has put at our disposal.”

While people often seek radical answers or signs, the best defense against demonic possession is a simple and sacramental life of prayer, the priest said.

“It’s absolutely fundamental to get rid of sin and live in the grace of God,” he said.

“The Church in fact, wants a life of prayer, Not just on the part of the priest but also the (member of) the faithful asking for the intervention of the exorcist, who benefits from the help of family members as well,” the exorcist explained.

The Catechism offers further guidance on how to avoid demonic activity: anything that involves recourse to Satan or demons, or that attempts to conjure the dead or reveal future events, is to be rejected.

From CCC paragraph 2116: “Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

As for the exorcists themselves, it is important to remain humble and to remember that their power comes from Christ, Father de Meo added.
“Regarding spiritual preparation, humility and the conviction that we exorcists aren’t the ones who are going to cast out the demon that’s fighting Christ. We’re called to fight on behalf of Christ.”


This article was originally published on CNA March 17, 2016.
This Article was written by

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

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  1. Patrick, you are correct if people are honest with themselves they will see that we can not find TRUTH in something that is FAITH based. Truth has caused many conflicts. I don’t know I’d there is a God or not, but I hope my ability to love will move on! That’s my definition of heaven. No one ever gets sick of love. I agree with you in what Billy Graham said! 🙂 we have some information in quantum physics that is interesting regarding our body. You might google it. I also agree with you when it comes to Hell that is a man made control mechanism. In Fact, St Augustine said it was a fable in one of his writings. Christianity is adopted the pagan religion of Mirthra the official religion of Rome before Constantine legalized it. I hope for an afterlife, but I don’t think we have a clue to figure out the mind of God. Take care!

  2. Did I ever tell you what happened behind home? There use to be a field, now it’s apartments. When it was fields there was a small fire one evening. The next day I found a few rosary’s pulled a part. In the field was a Cross badly bent. Next to it was a Star of David also bent big time. A few prayer shawl’s were by them burnt in places. There was another statue in fine condition. In the center was a Bible burnt so bad I could tell what language it was is and if I

  3. Nice to hear from you again Patrick. Some need evidence to believe, others rely on faith (belief without proof). A blind man can not see the stars in the sky, but because you tell him they are there – he believes, although he could never prove it for himself. Basing belief on evidence is fine, it just means that you are taking someone else’s word that there is evidence, even though you did not discover it for yourself. How is that any different than faith? It just implies that you have faith in science instead of faith in religion. You may have faith to believe that God does not exist – although there is no conclusive proof. I know the parable well, but what it means to me is that everything we have comes from God and we are to be good stewards of those resources. What better way to multiply the God given resources we were have been entrusted with, then to share the Word of God with others.

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