When I was in college, I had a harrowing experience: a friend of mine became demon possessed, and subsequently went through an exorcism officiated by a local minister. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, and reinforced my lifelong Christian belief in the supernatural.
Now, many years later, I have questions. What actually happened to my friend? Supernaturalist explanations now seem overly simplistic – was she mentally ill instead? And what about the rest of us who believed that she was possessed? Were we helping her, or abusing her? And what purpose does possession serve in human societies?
Joseph Laycock, an expert in the experience of spirit possession, new religious movements, and fringe spirituality, sits down with me to explore the history and causes of demon possession.