Exorcism is a ritual or practice whose sole purpose is to evict a demon or any other malevolent spirit that is possessing a person, or in some cases an object or an area. There are various ways, some more simple than others, for example ordering the spirit to remove itself. Usually the rituals are more complexed and more often than not, violent. Exorcism isn’t, as it is commonly believed, present only in Christianity, on the contrary, this practice dates back to ancient Greek. In various religions this practice has different meanings.
Most widely known in Christianity, exorcism is performed on a person who is being possessed against his or her own will and is no position to control his behavior and actions. Person performing the act itself uses a lot of religious artefacts and symbols that derive from church itself. It is also believed that the person able to perform such practice needs to possess special abilities that are given to them by the Holy Trinity.
Catholic Christianity has slightly different rituals than Orthodox, where, besides formal exorcism from a priest a “prayer of deliverance” is also used as a measure against evil that can be given by anyone. Formal exorcism, on the other hand, has to follow a certain set of rules and priest must very thoroughly examine the person in order to determine the seriousness of her condition and the need for an intervention.
Although not so common, exorcism is present in Hinduism, as well as Islam and Judaism, in different forms.
Throughout the centuries and scientific developments exorcism became closely connected with mental illnesses, although demonic possession was never used scientifically as a medical diagnosis. However, a wide range of illnesses have been connected with the belief that one is possessed by a malevolent spirit, demon or the devil itself such as hysteria, schizophrenia and several manias.
Always brining with itself a lot of controversy, conflicting opinions and unproven cases, exorcism became a very popular subject in modern culture and the center topic of many books and movies, especially produced by Hollywood. Oddly enough, it is also believed that whole books or compositions were created by spirits themselves.