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How to Tell if Someone is Possessed

Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin guides a caller through the reality of the deliverance ministry and when to attempt to deliver demons from people we don’t know well.


Transcript (AI Generated):

Before we alarm someone by saying “I think you’ve got a demon problem,” is there actually something demonic happening in the situation? Demons are scary, like bears, but just like bears, they’re not hiding under every rock. A lot of the time, they’re just out in the woods, doing their own thing and not intervening in human affairs in a dramatic way. There are three types of demonic involvement.

The first type, type one, is so low level that there is no way to distinguish it from other causes. Classically in Catholic theology, there are three sources of temptation: the world (meaning the example set by others), the flesh (meaning our own disorderly desires), and the devil (meaning demons). Normally, when people are being tempted or having a problem, you can’t tell which of those is the case. It could be a demon tempting a person, it could be the temptation caused by the example set by the world, or it could be that it’s the person’s own disorderly desires, or it could be a combination. There’s no real way to untangle those, and the general philosophy that I urge people to have is that when you’re dealing with this type one situation where there are no real ways to distinguish the cause, don’t worry about it. Whether it’s the world, the flesh, or the devil causing this temptation, you’re not going to be helped by worrying about it. Just deal with the temptation.

Then there’s what you could call type 2 demonic involvement, where the demonic is acting up in such a way that you suspect a demon in particular might be involved, but you’re not sure. There’s some evidence that a demon might be involved in this case, but not enough evidence to make it conclusive. In these situations, if you have some evidence that a demon might be involved, it can be reasonable to pursue a Deliverance Ministry. There are various prayers, such as the Saint Michael the Archangel prayer from Pope Leo that is very commonly said. I say that one myself sometimes. There are other Deliverance prayers. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a book, a little booklet of Deliverance prayers that can be used by the laity.

In approaching someone in this kind of type 2 situation, I would be inclined to say, “I noticed you’ve been having some problems, and it’s not possible to know whether a demon might be causing this, but it’s possible that one is involved, and we have this Deliverance group that you may want to come to. Even if there’s not a demon involved, we’re still asking for God’s blessing and his protection, and that can help you. Also, if there might be a demon involved, then we’re specifically asking God for deliverance from that, and so that could be a help too. This might be a helpful way to deal with your situation.”

Then there’s type 3 situations. Type 3 situations are ones where you have solid evidence that there is a demon involved. Solid evidence, in the case of possession, would be if you’ve got an alternative personality speaking, the individual is showing supernatural abilities, and they’re averse to the holy. In that situation, you want to get them an exorcist and let the exorcist deal with it.

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