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J Pers Assess. 1996 Jun;66(3):525-39.

Dissociative trance disorder: clinical and Rorschach findings in ten persons reporting demon possession and treated by exorcism.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine, University of Rome La Sapienza.


Although dissociative trance disorders, especially possession disorder, are probably more common than is usually though, precise clinical data are lacking. Ten persons undergoing exorcisms for devil trance possession state were studied with the Dissociative Disorders Diagnostic Schedule and the Rorschach test. These persons had many traits in common with dissociative identity disorder patients. They were overwhelmed by paranormal experiences. Despite claiming possession by a demon, most of them managed to maintain normal social functioning. Rorschach findings showed that these persons had a complex personality organization: Some of them displayed a tendency to oversimplify stimulus perception whereas others seemed more committed to psychological complexity. Most had severe impairment of reality testing, and 6 of the participants had an extratensive coping stile. In this group of persons reporting demon possession, dissociative trance disorder seems to be a distinct clinical manifestation of a dissociative continuum, sharing some features with dissociative identity disorder.

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