I've seen several videos/documentaries featuring (usually self-proclaimed) exorcists, both Catholic and Protestant, who perform "exorcism" ceremonies in which they "cast out demons".

I'm personally a Christian, but I have some scepticism about the validity of these ceremonies, partly because I suspect that most of what's happening is that the pastor is inducing psychological phenomena of hysteria and euphoria in people through psychological conditioning techniques (links to more general scientific research in this area from informed readers would be welcome, btw).

What I find harder to explain is that many of these people, during the exorcism, actually begin speaking and behaving as if the actual "demon" is communicating. I have posted links to videos below where people start speaking to the pastor using complete sentences, laughing maniacally and taunting the pastor, all while supposedly the "demon" is doing the talking. This seems like a really extreme psychological phenomenon to be caused through simple psychological manipulation. I should explain that this happens after the people are subjected to significant psychological suggestion, like the pastor addressing the demon and telling them to "come out", etc.

Is it possible that a person, in the right circumstances, could be induced to believe that they are a different entity, and to communicate as if they were that entity, in a fashion which seems similar to what I (a layman) imagine is the psychological phenomenon labelled as "Dissociative Identity Disorder"?

I should add that I, a layman, am highly sceptical of psychiatry and the validity of labels like DID, but that's probably an unrelated topic.

Here are links to two of the most dramatic examples:



And YouTube titles of other videos:

"You may never see an exorcism this violent. Murders 1,000 years ago still haunt a man today." "John Safran vs God - Exorcism" "The Exorcist Claiming To Cure The Sick Of Their Demons: The Murky Truth Of Modern Exorcisms"

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to psych.SE. Hypnosis is pseudoscience - ie, there is not much further to discuss about it here on a science forum. PS: Links are both allowed and encouraged, as is any other reference material that might provide useful background to the question. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Sep 10 '19 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg really confused by what you mean by that. I've personally been hypnotised. Do you mean that it isn't a scientific discipline, or that you don't think it exists? By "hypnosis", I'm referring here (as a layman) to any form of extreme psychological coercion or programming which is designed to elicit an extraordinary psychological phenomenon such as a trance-like state in a person. $\endgroup$ – Statsanalyst Sep 10 '19 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg surely studying the extent to which complex psychological phenomena can be induced in subjects by intense psychological conditioning (whether you want to call that hypnosis or something else) is both socially relevant and (presumably) quantifiable or verifiable through experimentation, and hence fits the description of science? But then, personally, I think psychology and (more so) psychiatry both suffer from scientism anyway, so... $\endgroup$ – Statsanalyst Sep 10 '19 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ "Is it possible that a person, in the right circumstances, could be induced to believe that they are a different entity" - What experiment would show (to your satisfaction) that the answer is "no"? What experiment would show (to your satisfaction) that the answer is "yes"? $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 10 '19 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg: "Hypnosis is pseudoscience" I doubt this is the current view within psychology. But well, how hypnosis (as state and method) is used in psychology probably deserves its own question. $\endgroup$ – Quora Feans Sep 11 '19 at 0:49