Regardless of whether you find it scary or not it’s undeniable that The Exorcist is one of the defining horror movies of the last 50 years, but what you may not know is that there’s a terrifying true story behind the fiction.
The 1973 cult film dealt with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and was based on a 1971 novel of the same name but in fact the chilling tale has its roots in the real world.
Back in late 1949 a priest in the U.S. named Raymond Bishop attempted to banish a demonic spirit from the body of a boy known only as Roland Doe, The Daily Star reports.
The boy’s family had allegedly been tormented by spooky goings on including furniture moving on its own, objects levitating on their own and strange noises in the night.
In the families attempt to escape the other worldly presence they had Father Bishop perform a series of exorcism during which objects hurtled around the room, the bed shook and the boy spoke in an monstrous guttural voice.
Water Halloran was 26 when he assisted Father Bishop in the exorcism. Before he died in 2005 Father Halloran spoke about the incident which he’s was convinced was a legitimate demonic possession.
He was kind of like a bulldog. If he got a hold of something he would follow it to the very end. We went to see the Archbishop in St Louis to get permission to do the exorcism.
Before we started prayers we had a bottle of holy water. I put it on the dresser and was kneeling there at the front of the bed and all of a sudden this bottle whizzes past my head and crashed into the wall.
That was the first clue that I had that this was a case of exorcism. I’m convinced that the situation of Roland and the things he went through was all genuine, there was not any deception on his part.
Unfortunately our good friend science is never afraid to pour cold water on the blazing fires of belief and British psychologist Professor Christopher French has got his fire bucket ready.
Professor French explained that if we accept things at face value then the case does seem to include a lot of elements that characterise possession cases.
But he believes there’s a more mundane explanation, he thinks that the witness testimony isn’t accurate and he’s got the research to back it up.
In a paper he wrote:
I believe that “possession” is a purely psychological phenomenon, any psychosomatic symptoms might be cured by any form of treatment that the victim believes in.
Also, adoption of the “possessed” role sometimes allows people to let off steam without being held responsible for their actions.
While we tend to believe actual scientists over religious figures here at UNILAD it’s certainly an interesting story…
More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.