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How about Demons?: Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World (Folklore Today)

“Quite an interesting book… ” —Religious Studies Review

“It is by far superior to anything else on demons we have seen in the past few years.” —The American Rationalist

“… Goodman is to be commended for a stimulating and wide-reaching treatment of a compelling and much-debated subject.” —Journal of Folklore Research

Rich in detail derived from the author’s fieldwork and the anthropological literature, this work paints a picture of possession as one of the usually positive and most widespread of human religious experiences. It also details the ritual of exorcism, which is applied when things go wrong.

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3 Responses

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  1. kaioatey says

    Intriguing yet unclear This book examines the phenomenon of “possession” – the takeover of the self/conscious mind by a foreign entity in the form of a ‘guide’, ghost or ‘devil’ that has accompanied humankind from the dawn of time. Particularly interesting to me were the similarities/differences between African and European/Christianized versions of possession.’Primitive’ cultures recognize possession and even derive benefit from it through the ability of medicine men, curanderos, shamans, ngangas, ‘witch doctors’ to control the set and setting. Short chapters are devoted to spiritualism/pentecostalism, umbanda, voudun, Mexican folk religion etc. The book finishes with demonic possession that we recognize from the popular culture (The Exorcist). According to G., Roman Catholic rituals can be remarkably effective in helping the possessed, however, in many countries such rituals are frowned upon and the afflicted patients are left to fend for themselves. Having lost the tools to effectively deal with possession, the West is basically helpless both in terms of diagnosis (mental illness?) and cure.The book is slim. I wish the author who did fieldwork in Yucatan and Europe would furnish more details & examples on this phenomenon, and provide us with her take on the more esoteric issues of the soul, self, trance and the nature of the mind. Although Goodman is supposedly a scientist her central hypothesis is never made clear. At times, she appears to challenge the central tenets of Enlightenment according to which everything – myths, fears of evil powers, supplication to higher deities, the anthropomorphizing of nature – can be reduced to Oedipus’ answer to the Sphinx: “That being is man.” AT other times, she’s more ambiguous. I wish she’d be clearer on whether she believes that multiple personalities and possessing entities are beings in their own right or simply subpersonalities projected from the unconscious mind? Or both?

  2. LvDavis says

    Interesting Gives some good arguments and gets you, the reader, thinking at a broader range. I let a friend borrow this book and he had a hard time understanding the book. Defiantly not for the laymen

  3. S. K. Harrell says

    Shazaam! It’s no secret that I adore Dr. Goodman and her work. This book is no exception. I truly appreciate the body of knowledge she has assembled in this one title, addressing mental illness, spiritual intrusions, modern methods of approaching both and tribal wisdom to distinguish the two. Dr. Goodman provides a bridge between healing approaches that is incredibly under appreciated.

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