Possessed by the Devil - He was tall, with scales and legs ending in claws; he stretched out his arms as if to seize me
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
K T Oesterreich - Possession
The important part played by a heightened state of suggestibility to one's surroundings in determining the content of states of possession is shown by the case of a patient admitted to a French hospital, where she was told that it was the Devil who was making her ill.
Presently under the influence of this idea her malady redoubled in intensity and in the delirious period of the convulsive fits she saw the devil . . . "He was tall, with scales and legs ending in claws; he stretched out his arms as if to seize me; he had red eyes and his body ended in a great tail like a lion's, with hair at the end; he grimaced, laughed, and seemed to say: 'I shall have her!"'
The nuns and the almoner had persuaded her that she was possessed by the devil because she did not pray enough, and that she would not recover. She had masses said, for which she paid a franc or one franc fifty; she confessed and took Communion; the almoner sprinkled her with holy water and made signs over her.
When she was later removed from this atmosphere and taken to a psychiatric hospital in Paris, she was still seeing visions of the Devil, but while there she went to church less and no one talked to her about the Devil, with the result that the visions ceased and she discarded the idea that she belonged to the Devil.