"This form of psychospiritual crisis is characterised by an uncanny sense that one's psyche and body have been invaded and are being controlled by an alien entity or energy that has personal characteristics. This feeling can be occasional and intermittent or may persist for long periods of time. People suffering from such a condition perceive this entity as malevolent, hostile and disturbing; it is " ego alien" - coming from outside and not belonging to one's personality.
"This condition can manifest itself in different forms, with varying degrees of intensity. In many instances, the alien energy remains latent and can cause a broad spectrum of problems, while its real nature remains hidden. It can be the driving force behind serious psychopathology, such as various forms of antisocial or even criminal behaviour, suicidal depression, murderous aggression or self-destructive tendencies, promiscuous and deviant sexual impulses, or excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs. Sometimes the "possession state" underlying these problems is not identified until the individual enters experiential psychotherapy and is exposed to methods that activate the unconscious mind.
"In experiential therapy, the problem can suddenly become manifest. In the middle of a session, the "possessed" person suddenly develops severe cramps and spasms; the eyes and face assume a wild and terrifying expression, the body and the extremities become contorted, and the voice becomes deep and has an otherworldly quality.
"In other cases the alien energy is so close to the surface that the "possessed" individual is aware of it most of the time and has to spend an enormous amount of effort to prevent it from becoming manifest. In the extreme and most dangerous form, the defense mechanisms fail and the problem manifests itself uncontrollably in the midst of everyday life. It's manifestations, which in the right therapeutic context could be healing and transformative, can under these circumstances lead to highly destructive and self-destructive forms of acting out.
"Such demonic possession clearly belongs to the group of spiritual emergencies, even if it looks on the surface to be very different and is often associated with the most objectionable forms of psychopathology. Individuals in this kind of predicament experience a true dark night of the soul. They often feel bad, abominable, and cut off from the stream of life and from the Divine. Relatives, friends and often even therapists tend to ostracize the 'possessed' person, partly because of moral judgement, and partly because of profound metaphysical fear. This contributes even further to feelings of desperate loneliness and anxiety associated with the condition itself.
"However, there are more important reasons that the possession state should be considered a spiritual emergency. The demonic archetype that causes it is by its very nature transpersonal and represents a necessary counterpoint to the Divine, being its polar opposite or negative mirror image. It also often functions as a screen hiding access to the divine, like the terrifying guardian figures at the gateways of oriental temples. When the person is given an opportunity to confront and express the disturbing energy in a supportive and understanding setting, a profound positive spiritual experience often results, one that has an extraordinary healing and transformative potential."