Ralph R. Greenson, MD
JAMA. 1974;228(7):828. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230320016014.
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To the Editor.—  In response to your editorial (227:1047, 1974) about exorcism and demoniac possession, you might be interested in the following psychoanalytic point of view.Sigmund Freud had a long-standing curiosity about witchcraft, the devil possession, and allied phenomena. He wrote about it to his close friend Fleiss as early as 1897 (letters 56 and 57), and in 1923 published a paper entitled "A Seventeenth-Century Demonological Neurosis" in the 19th volume of his collected works. It concerned the case history of an Austrian painter, Christoph Haizman, and was derived from the painter's diary and paintings dating back to 1677, a report from the village priest at that time, and later reports by several monks describing his miraculous cure.Freud found the state of believing oneself possessed by the devil in patients he classified as hysterics, obsessionals, and psychotics. He discovered that such people believed that God and the devil


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