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on January 9, 2015
According to the blurb, "True or False Possession? will teach you, too, not to rush to judgment and show you when it’s time — right now! — to call the priest." I thought a book like that would be useful (even when you're the priest wondering whether it's time to call the psychologist). The first half of that blurb is true enough, as the author shows how many symptoms commonly associated with possession occurred in cases where it's pretty well established that the alleged victim was either outright faking or suffering from mental illness of natural origin. The second half of the blurb, sadly, seems to have been written by someone who didn't read much of the book. Nowhere does the book lay out anything like a clear description of how to distinguish a charlatan or ill-but-not-possessed person from a true victim of possession; for that matter, it is not always clear how the author arrived at his own conclusions in some of the cases he describes. The book is not useless, but it's not what the publisher claims it is either.
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on June 20, 2017
Well done, but a little confusing in parts. Lots of 'questioning' of historical documents, but not much revealing of truths. Good book, but not great.
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on November 4, 2013
This book documents many cases of psychotically afflicted persons. I was hoping that the author would have been able to outline more clearly the distinctions between psychosis caused by disease and that caused by spiritual influences. This is a difficult subject. I am, however, grateful that the author wrote on this subject. In our time, we seem to be hearing of more and more people suffering from some form of psychosis. This book can be a point of focus as you consider the issue.
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on December 23, 2014
I was expecting more from this book. I don't think it is too useful to distinguish the real possession from false one.
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on July 1, 2016
Very well thought out. Some things never change despite the calendar.
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on September 14, 2015
Great condition, thank you!
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on December 17, 2013
So well written and very engrossing. Couldn't put it down. Wish it had been longer. Read it in one night.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 31, 2013
True or False Possession? was written by Dr. Jean Lhermitte and published in 1956. Sophia Institute Press has made it available again with some editing by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, who also co-wrote The Catholic Guide to Depression. In this short but deep book, Dr. Lhermitte seeks to differentiate for the reader true demonic possession from actual mental illness. He does this by providing definitions and symptoms of mental illnesses that are often confused with possession, such as epilepsy or conversion disorder, and he provides numerous examples of people afflicted with these diseases, like Sibylle and Sr. Jeanne of the Angels.

The case study of Marie-Therese Noblet is equal parts fascinating and gruesome. In her condition, she endured multiple illnesses with rapid cures throughout her early life. She also claimed multiple attacks by a demon, which cruelly beat her and dragged her into Hell to witness the sight of the damned. Other times, there were multiple demons attacking her which took the forms of different animals. As St. John of the Cross stated, "The devil is far less to be feared in so-called external manifestations than in the underground influence he exerts in souls that are not sufficiently instructed or well tempered." She underwent multiple exorcisms to rescue her from the power of the "evil spirit." However, Dr. Lhermitte commented that "the exorcist never suspected that such practices only aggravated the passions of the so-called `possessed' person. This case study is used to bring to light the difficulty distinguishing between true possession and mental illness.

This book is more than interesting stories of possession and illness though. Instead, Dr. Lhermitte has a twofold purpose of instruction and cooperation. First, he wants to instruct Catholic doctors and clergy in identifying the difference between genuine demonic possession and mental illness. He does this by detailing the criteria the Church holds for demonic possession. Secondly, he wants to encourage cooperation between doctors and clergy so that the proper healing process can begin. This means that a priest won't attempt an exorcism on someone who has mental illness, and a doctor won't prescribe medicine to someone who is possessed. Both of these tasks are accomplished brilliantly.

Despite being nearly sixty years old, this book has stood the test of time and still proves to be relevant today. As someone with a degree in psychology, I personally found it to be full of wisdom and depth. It opened my eyes to a subject which secular psychology programs never acknowledge, let alone study. This book definitely belongs on the shelf of all Catholic clergy and doctors. Additionally, anyone with an interest in demonic possession would find this book an edifying and worthwhile read.
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on October 25, 2014
Boring, dry, non-informative. I learned nothing and am sad I wasted two afternoons on this one. His conclusion? He doesn't proffer one but leaves it for you to decide based on your religious belief! So - why bother reading it?
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on January 17, 2014
I seldom rate a book as a 5 star book. And I NEVER give a an author's book a 5 star rating! This author and his final book has EARNED A 5 STAR RATING! Although previously published in 1963 as a volume in a the 20th Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, this book is a great tool to use when examining a case to help the investigator determine if a case of possession is in fact, real, or a case of a mental illness.
The only negative item is the use of the word "Demented" in the title. The word "demented" should be taken in the negative way as to mean "crazy". In either case, this reviewer feels that in either case, possession, or a mental illness, professional help should be obtained for the person in question. This reviewer would like to further advise that this book should not be used as a definitive "check-list", but as a professional guide. This book DOES NOT contain any exorcism prayers. It was not written to be a "prayer book".
The editor has also provided updated references for the terminology that has become outdated, so as to avoid confusion for the reader. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book!
Rev. John Smithkey III
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