Most of us have heard scary and horrific stories about demons harming and killing victims under demonic possession. You might have seen the classic horror movie “The Exorcist” and fear that your head will twist 360 degrees someday. But is there any truth, in the real world, to the proclaimed powers of the demonic?
Demons are not scientifically proven to exist, so reports of deaths by them can’t be backed by science. There are instances where the rite of exorcism itself caused the victim’s death. The Catholic Church claims demonic possession is actual, but only spiritual evidence supports the claims.
According to the Catholic Church, demons have the power to cause death and destruction, but these are claims and not scientific proof. There is proof of death in connection with the rite of exorcisms and through religious suggestion.
Important: Never label anything paranormal before all natural causes are ruled out. Please consult a professional health provider if you are struggling with health or mental issues or think a demon possesses you. Find international suicide prevention helplines here.
Demons and their potential powers to harm
We have all seen horror movies with terrifying demons killing or harming everyone in their path. Hollywood has made big bucks on the concept, and the Church has built its foundation on the fear of evil.
As a multi-faith demonologist, I look at demons from a broader perspective as they appear in cultures worldwide, not just the Western. What is in common between cultures is that demons are paranormal beings that are of non-human origin. They are far more than the counterpart of God and good, as often seen in Christianity.
The demonic and their power to cause mental harm
To start untangling the question of whether demons can harm the living, let’s first look at the basics. Do demons exist? Because if they don’t, they can’t hurt us, right? But in reality, it is a bit more complicated than that.
If you believe demons exist, you can get hurt psychologically. The fear of the demonic can wear you down and indirectly cause mental and psychosomatic issues. It is not the demons themselves but your belief and thoughts that are getting the best of you.
Religious power of suggestion is another way that demons might have the power to hurt a person. If a person is afraid of demons, they might experience emotional trauma and harm. If the religion talks about what horrors demons bring, you can easily get traumatized if you don’t follow the word.
Let’s look at it from another perspective and state that demons exist (even if we don’t have any proof of this moment). If demons can launch psychic and physical attacks, you might get hurt.
Fear is a powerful feeling and driver. You can get harmed by fear in many shapes and forms; the cause of it might not be the thing that hurts you. For example, you might get emotionally harmed if you fear Santa will attack you when you sleep.
If someone tells you your house is filled with demons, you can start to feel fearful and see strange things happen when there are non. When looking for paranormal things, we tend to create proof that they are not there. In many cases, they have natural causes (not all, but most of them).
Different ways demons might hurt you spiritually
The religious and spiritual power of suggestion can hurt a person if they get emotionally traumatized. If a priest, for example, says demons will possess a person if they don’t do A and B, the person can get very afraid. The priest has authority, and the person believes in them wholeheartedly without challenging the idea or thought.
Related article: 9 effective ways to protect yourself from psychic attacks
The demonic and their powers to cause physical harm
Let’s look at the possibility of a demon causing bodily harm. As demons are not acknowledged in science. We have not (yet) been able to prove that demons exist. Nothing that does not exist can’t physically hurt us (if it is not indirectly, as stated in the section above).
From a scientific standpoint, demons can hurt you, but not in the way you might think. Demons can hurt you indirectly by causing emotional trauma or psychosomatic issues; for example, mental illness, religious suggestion, the psychical harm done by exorcists, or accidents due to fear (tripping and falling).
As you notice, many spiritual causes might lead to physical harm. It is not due to the demon but to the person’s belief.
If we ignore the lack of scientific evidence and state that demons do exist, it is believed that they have the power to push, scratch, throw objects at a person, strangle, and weigh down victims. The Church also believes that a person can be possessed. This happens when people surrender their free will and faith in God and the good. Again, this has not (yet) been proven, though.
Related article: Do demons exist? What you should know
Demons, religion, and spiritual beliefs
Demons are commonly acknowledged in the spiritual and religious space. More priests and shamans are talking about demons than the authorities and scientists.
Why do demons have such a stronghold in the spiritual and religious space? One of the most important explanations is that the Church relies on duality. Duality means that two sides counteract and balance each other. For example, white and black, good or bad, truth and lies, life and death, and so forth.
Duality indirectly “proves” the importance and existence of God from a theological point of view. God needs an evil counterpart to exist. You also see this duality in many aspects of life, such as fairytales, movies, and politics. To verify an action, you sometimes need an evil counterpart (existing or imaginary doesn’t matter).
This is why the demonic plays a vital part in the spiritual space. You have to acknowledge the wicked to recognize the existence of God. This is not scientifical proof, but spiritual. Depending on what you believe is more valid is up to you. There’s nothing right or wrong here.
If you believe in the spiritual proof of demons, demons can hurt you. Hurt and destruction come as a side-effect of the spiritual attack.
If you want to learn more about how to get rid of demons, I invite you to read the article below. In this article, you will find helpful tips on how this is done in the spiritual space.
Related article: The 5 Best Ways to Get Rid of a Demon [+Action Steps]
Demons and science
As we have seen, demons have an important role in keeping the religious and spiritual beliefs system intact and running smoothly. With that said, demons have never been scientifically proven to exist. Science has many theories on what demons and experiences of the demonic might be, though.
From a scientific point of view, demons might be caused by pareidolia. Pareidolia means that our brains play a trick on us. We see faces and humanoid shapes in patterns and shadows. This mechanism is hardwired from ages ago as a survival mechanism. Today it might be a cause for us to see ghosts and shadow people when there are none.
As we discussed earlier in the previous section, the power of suggestion might also be a strong driver in the belief in demons. If you strongly believe in demons and are encouraged to look for signs of them, you might see them in patterns, places, and things (even if there are no demons present). It is pareidolia in an extended version.
Related article: Do demons exist? What you should know
Exorcism and dangers
Exorcism is when a priest or a layperson, with the help of rites and prayers, is believed to banish demons possessing a victim. The ritual can be performed in various ways depending on religion or belief system.
The rite can be violent, and there have been recordings of them hurting the victim. It can be starving them, holding them down, and hurting them against their will. There have been recorded deaths due to violence during exorcisms.
In these cases, it is not uncommon for the exorcist to blame the demon for the victim’s death when in reality, the ritual itself was to blame.
There are numerous exorcisms with deadly endings due to the ritual itself. In a horrific case, a mother, grandfather, and uncle performed an exorcism ritual that killed a 3-year-old child (NPR, related press). They were later sentenced for the murder of the child.
In another horrible exorcism case, a real estate agent was killed by a spirit medium (The Star). The medium was violently beating the victim to banish the demons. The death was not due to the demon attack but by the violence of the exorcism.
The strong spiritual belief that demons possessed the victims led to these horrific situations. So, yes, believing in demons can hurt you and others.
You will find useful information below if you want to learn more about how to get an exorcism. There are things you should look out for to stay safe.
Related article: How to Get an Exorcism [What You Must Know]
Medical issues and the demonic
Even if we have no proof that the demonic exists, many strongly believe they do. In some cases, the belief might factor into mental and physical illness. Medical issues might be the root cause of “demonic” experiences.
Hallucinations and mental illness can sometimes cause symptoms that make the person see, hear, or sense “entities” and “demons.” Epilepsia, hallucinations, sleep disorders, and mental illnesses can sometimes be attributed to paranormal experiences.
I have Epilepsia myself and experienced visual hallucinations once. That was truly scary, so I fully understand how it can be experienced as “true,” even if it was the brain causing the visions.
Sleep paralysis is also known for experiences of demons, ghosts, and scary entities. It is a sleep disorder where you are between sleeping and waking. It often occurs when you wake or are about to sleep. You cannot move and speak, which can be terrifying to experience. It is not uncommon to have visions of scary demons holding you down, sitting on top of you, or floating above you.
Many medical conditions can create visions and hallucinations. Most demonic experiences are believed to come from misjudgment, visions, and hallucinations. Even if the incidents are not “real,” they can be terrifying and indirectly cause significant harm to a person.
According to Dr. Guilio Perrotta, he states that demonic possession is most common in religious or believers in the paranormal. He says in his thesis Clinical evidence in the phenomenon of Demonic Possession that the experience is due to delusional-, dissociative-, and obsessive disorders. It could also be due to schizophrenia, borderline, and psychopathic disorders.
This means that psychological factors harm people, not a demon themselves.
Proof of death due to demonic possession
There is no scientific proof that anyone has died of demonic possession. Demonic possession is when a demonic entity completely controls a person. The symptoms are often psychophysical; the victim talks in tounges, sometimes with an estranged voice, and shows non-human strengths.
There are records of the Chruch stating deaths by demons, but they are based on spiritual and religious grounds. Death by demons is not a valid cause of death in death certificates. Death by suicide due to mental distress or psychological disorders is more common, though.
I have learned through experience to be respectful of witnesses of demonic activity. You can never take away someone’s experience, even if you are not a believer.
As beliefs in the demonic can lead to health issues that might cause harm and even death upon people, it should be handled with respect. It is easy to forget that we have not proven that demons don’t exist either. It is a two-edged sword.
In the spiritual space, demons have a significant role, as they balance when world-view through the system of duality. It is always good to remember what area of life we are talking about, the scientific or the spiritual. There might be two realities as well, not only one. Duality itself is proof of that.