Demonic possession and mental disorder in medieval and early modern Europe

Psychol Med. 1987 Feb;17(1):21-9. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700012940.


Western European belief in demonic possession as a cause of mental disorder has been traced through the medieval and early modern periods. Generally it appears that the range of disorders attributed to demonic possession has gradually narrowed. In any period, however, there seem to have been marked individual and cultural differences in outlook; some of these differences are still evident today in the survival of belief in demonic possession in pentecostal sects.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Christianity
  • Europe
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Magic*
  • Mental Disorders / history*
  • Religion and Psychology*