Glimpses of Demons

An exorcism team encounters the demons 'Damien' and 'Josiah' in a troubled wife and mother.

BY: M. Scott Peck, M.D.

 
In this excerpt from "Glimpses of the Devil," psychiatrist M. Scott Peck describes an exorcism he conducted on a 27-year-old wife and mother he calls Jersey. Sexually abused as a young teenager, Jersey's behavior in her twenties became more and more erratic. She finally sought help from the family psychiatrist, Dr. Philip Lieberman, telling him, "I'm possessed." Though the family was not Catholic, Jersey's mother consulted Father Terry O'Connor, a Catholic exorcist in the diocese. Jersey was eventually referred to Peck, who gathered a small group of clergy and mental health professionals to perform a deliverance, and then a full-scale exorcism, on Jersey. The team included Bishop Worthington, a conservative Episcopal bishop. This excerpt begins on day three of a four-day exorcism.

Reprinted with permission of the Free Press.


In the first session after lunch Jersey quickly began to speak in a touchingly realistic way about her possession. "I've been possessed for fifteen years now," she said, "and all that time it is as if nothing happened to me, as if I hadn't even lived. I know I'm supposed to be twenty-seven, but the reality is that I am still twelve years old. I have two children but I know nothing about being a mother. I know nothing about being a wife. I'm just twelve years old. How can I be expected to raise my two children or be a wife? Don't you see? It's hopeless."

This was the most real Jersey had yet been, and we told her so. We told her it was not an imaginary problem but the actual position she was in. We said the only way she could make it would be with a great deal of help, and we outlined one by one the specific ways in which she could be supported. I explained again how immediately after the exorcism she would see me for approximately three weeks of intensive psychotherapy-a period when she would not have the responsibility of a wife and mother-and when back home, she could see a psychiatrist of her choice as frequently as she desired. Jersey immediately elected Dr. Lieberman, even though he had failed to help her twice in the past. It was a wise choice I knew, thinking of the man's extraordinary flexibility. We then went through a whole number of other kinds of support she could have and finished by telling her how we would find a small Christian church community for her to work with.



Until that moment her face had been quietly impassive, but now, in an instant, it utterly changed. Her mouth turned into a harsh, malicious grin and her entire face was convulsed in a haughty sneer. The expression was similar to what Father O'Connor and I saw when confronting her the day after the failed deliverance, only now the superciliousness was magnified threefold. The expression could only be called satanic. There was no question whether we were dealing now with the real Jersey. Almost immediately I said, "There seems to be a demon in the room. What is your name?"



It answered in Jersey's own voice without hesitation: "Damien." Jersey had mentioned the names of many of her supposed demons before, but Damien was not among them. We let it talk for a minute. Its words made no sense. I was not about to be drawn back into this meaningless drivel halfway between sanity and insanity. I commented, "You seemed to appear right when we were talking about a Christian church support group for Jersey."



"I don't want her children to go to church and become sissies," it pronounced. "What they need to learn is karate and self-defense."



Now that the demon was speaking in its own language, it did not take us long to realize that it was, in fact, a demon of self-defense. Indeed, it shortly even explained its name to us, saying that the

a

should really be pronounced flatly because the name meant "Dam me in." By "dam" it didn't mean "damn," but a concrete barrier through which no enemy could approach.



After perhaps a quarter of an hour, Bishop Worthington and I arrived at the same conclusion as to the falsity of Damien's teaching, and alternating as a boxer might his left and right fists, we began to bombard it with the truth. We told it that human beings, including Jersey, could not survive behind concrete. They had to be fed and touched and held and loved, and all such things were made impossible by barricades. We granted that a kind of helplessness was inherent in the human condition living without barricades. "There are so many potential dangers," I said. "Humans don't begin to be smart enough to defend ourselves, no matter how much karate we might know. We survive not because of barricades or physical strength, but by the grace of God. Without God, whether we believe in Him or not, we all would have been dead long since. But because we are surrounded by the grace of God, which is our only true armor, most of us get to live out our full life span. In fact," I continued, "the more we are aware of that grace, the more wise we become. Jersey will become very wise when she is rid of you, Damien, with your false preaching-when she no longer has to listen to your lies."



Continued on page 2: »

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