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Mention "exorcism" to anyone randomly, and they'll immediately picture scenes half-remembered from the 1973 horror movie, with teams of priests, a terrified (or tough, battle-hardened) nun holding the victim down with a crucifix, holy water, a small choir of monks...Expect the victim to moan, cry, vomit, exhibit preternatural strength struggling to get away, and of course, do blasphemous things (like masturbate with a holy item). Insulting and being violent towards the priest is a must, as is hour after hour of curses (from both sides), as the victim wears out one priest after another, the walls bleed, and deafening screams come from nowhere. Finally, the demon shows himself corporally, and departs...or does he??

Allow me to explain the facts behind the fiction.

First, one cannot  ever be subject to an exorcism unless you specifically request one: unless you feel that your actions are out of your control, but are that of the Enemy, you are subject to ordinary Canon Law, and should seek Penance through the ordinary channels. Second, you will be interviewed by your parish Priest, who will speak comforting words, and give you a blessing. For many, this is enough. Third, if this is not enough, he will speak to the Bishop, and call in the Ca(l)vary, so to speak. And yes, they’re really good at detecting fakers. 

Reading the actual rite, which is now given in English, the general tone is not of punishment, but that of deliverance, comfort and reassurance. The rite consists (mostly) of only the prettiest and calming of prayers: the Litany of Saints, Psalm 59, and several others. Whatever you’re undergoing now, however painful or scary, don’t worry, we have the upper hand on it. It’s like calming an acid tripper or someone in shock. No, generally, the person being exorcised isn’t under any kind of restraint, unless they’re likely to hurt themselves or someone else. The part everyone likes, where they rage against the demon,  is supposed to be for the spirit bullying the person, not directed at them as such.    

We, ourselves, don’t have much more to do to help someone in severe trauma: all we can do, even with chemicals and modern nursing. A person is in pain. They may behave oddly, or have frightening thoughts or see or hear frightening things. They are sure that they are a victim, not a perpetrator. What do we do?

Fantasies aside, no “exorcism squad” exists,  or ever existed, that runs out to tie down and coerce blasphemers to endure the rite against their will. 

Unless you’re an American Evangelical. And with that, all bets are off.