Belief in possession by malevolent spirits exists in many cultures and religions throughout the world, and such beliefs often serve as explanations for a variety of psychological and emotional afflictions. Traditional remedies in these cases often involve exorcism rituals, which are believed to expel spirits from a person's mind and/or body. Some of the cases commonly attributed to involuntary spirit possession are diagnosed within the psychiatric community as schizophrenia or some sort of dissociative disorder and treated with psychotherapy and/or medicine. For some in the psychiatric community, exorcisms and their use by patients are viewed as problematic due to their potential for interference with conventional treatments. Others point out their effectiveness, in some cases, at improving symptoms, or advocate increasing cooperation between faith healers or religious leaders and clinicians. This paper looks at the diversity of opinions within this debate and illuminates the points of contention and overlap among the various perspectives. Some final thoughts are offered on considerations and directions for future research.

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