Three Stages of Possession
It is important to understand that it is very rare for a person to become possessed. It is even more rare for a person to immediately become possessed by a demonic spirit out of the blue. There are typically three stages of possession. These stages are known as Infestation, Oppression, and Possession. I first learned about these stages when watching the 2013 film The Conjuring starring Vera Farminga and Patrick Wilson. In the film, Patrick Wilson portrays the character Ed Warren (who happened to be a very renowned demonologist within the United States). In the film he states, "Infestation, oppression and possession. Now infestation that's...that's the whispering, the footsteps, the feeling of another presence, which ultimately grows into oppression, the second stage. Now this is where the victim, and it's usually the one who's the most psychologically vulnerable, is targeted specifically by an external force. Breaks the victim down, crushes their will. And once in a weakened state, leads into the third stage, possession" (The Conjuring). In an "Interview with an exorcist; Fr. Gary Thomas wrestles with the reality of Satan," Fr. Gary states, "an infestation refers to more to a thing or object. For instance, a demon or even a disembodied spirit can attach itself a house. It could be because a satanic ritual was performed there, or a satanic cult existed there a long time...the idea that a demon is in someone is a misnomer. Sometimes they can be attached to someone and work through someone and be around them in a sense but not actually in them" (qtd. in Coffin) He later goes on in the interview and explains what it means to be "oppressed." He explains, "an oppression would really refer to a kind of depression, where the person is filled with an anxiety and very often there's a sense of despair or despondency. The other word is obsession, where the person is overcome with or obsessed with the idea of Satan being in their life. But in both cases (infestation and oppression) a person can function to where you wouldn't necessarily be able to detect anything demonic going on unless they disclose certain things to you" (qtd. in Coffin). In another source, "They're baaack! What's behind the return of the exorcist," Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who runs the diocese of Springfield, Illinois states, "while full possession is extremely rare, lesser forms of diabolical harassment, which the church calls 'oppression' or 'vexation,' are on the rise" (qtd. in Burke).