Thriller writer Lynn Hightower wrote an opinion piece for the LA TIMES about possession and how we just can’t get enough of it as people..
In January of 2014, the Indianapolis Star broke the story of mysterious events that played out in 2011, in Gary, Ind. Latoya Ammons; her mother, Rosa Campbell; her daughter and two sons moved into a rental house and within a month trouble started — swarms of black flies, a shadowy man in the living room, footsteps climbing the stairs when no one was there.
Ammons’ 12-year-old daughter reported feeling held down and choked. She heard voices saying that her family would die. Ammons’ youngest son was propelled out of the bathroom as if he’d been thrown; he growled and thrashed.
Ammons could find no help. When one episode sent the family to the ER, the Department of Child Services was called. The children were found to be healthy; a hospital psychiatrist determined Ammons to be of “sound mind.” But a Department of Child Services caseworker and a hospital nurse reported that Ammons’ 9-year-son walked backward up the wall in a hospital exam room. The caseworker told the police that she believed there could be an “evil influence” affecting the family.
Ultimately, Latoya Ammons would lose custody of her children for six months. But once the Rev. Michael Maginot, a Catholic priest, performed three exorcisms for the family, the events stopped.
The exorcists are the skeptics now. Baffled and frustrated psychiatrists have turned to exorcists seeking help for patients whose torment does not follow the path of schizophrenia or delusional disassociation and does not respond to treatment.
Joseph Laycock, an assistant professor of religious studies at Texas State University, who has taught courses on demonology agrees. He makes the point that an uptick in exorcism could be cyclical, due to social upheaval and uncertainty. A belief in demonic manipulation and exorcism, Laycock has written, offers a way of “interpreting contemporary political issues,” of “framing changing social mores.”
As we suffer through war, disease and division, the spiritual may help when rationality and science do not. I’ve listened to those who feel they have been under demonic attack; their explanation for why they sought out the age-old practice of exorcism is simple: They were desperate for a way to heal.
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