If you hunt ghosts long enough, you'll eventually run into this situation: a client who believes his or her home is under demonic assault. It's always a tricky situation, and it's always difficult to bring a resolution to these cases. More often than not, what you will be dealing with is a simple haunting—though this may not be evident at first look. You will have to go past the religious leanings, the paranoia, and (possibly) the hysteria that's typically clouding an otherwise manageable case.
So, why do people often believe they are experiencing demonic infestation? Well, there are a couple reasons for this. The first is often the religious beliefs of the household. If the clients attend a church that promotes the idea of active demons, demonic possession, and infestation (or attended such a place in their youth), they will often be quick to jump to the conclusion that they are under just such an assault.
Another key factor is the overall fear level of the household. Not everyone is as thrilled as ghost hunters at the prospect of encountering a spirit! If the clients are afraid of what's happening in their home, they can often come to think of these occurrences as a kind of negative activity. For instance, a door slamming is now done "in anger" rather than it, perhaps, being the simple act of an entity to get some attention.
Nine times out of ten, once you remove the fear factor from a household, you will then be able to help the inhabitants understand the benign nature of what is occurring around them and to bring about a resolution to their haunting. Interestingly, though, there are a few key concepts that come from the "demonic infestation" theory that deserve a closer look.
Famed Roman Catholic exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth has stated on more than one occasion that he believes all ghosts to actually be demons that are attempting to gain the confidence of the afflicted—with the intent of eventually possessing that person (you can read about this in his book, An Exorcist Tells His Story). Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that this is the case. It would certainly illuminate several unique situations that involve some hauntings:
So, do I believe that all ghosts are in reality demons? Not at all. I've now written two books for Llewellyn Publishing on ghosts and ghost hunting (The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide and Ghost Hunting for Beginners—not demons and demon hunting! But I do believe it is important that paranormal investigators keep an open mind. After all, until we have scientifically explained exactly how and why ghosts exist, all theories are still open for discussion.
Does this mean that we all need to take a lesson in exorcism from Father Amorth? I’d have to vote "no" on this as well. Let's leave the religious rituals to those who specialize in such things and concentrate on performing a sound paranormal investigation. As I stated before, most instances of demonic infestation usually pan out to be hauntings.
Of course there's nothing wrong with wearing a cross or other religious medal while investigating either…
Rich Newman is the author of seven books, including The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide and Ghost Hunting for Beginners. He has made appearances on paranormal television programs around the world and has appeared multiple times ...