Evil Spirits in Psychotherapy

evil-spirits-in-psychotherapySome twenty years ago I experienced a dramatic and profound change in my life. Through a family counselor I was introduced to a method of communicating with my subconscious self. Learning and using this skill produced extraordinary and life-changing results. Deeply moved by the new insights gained and the freedom acquired, I felt compelled to share it with the world.

In so doing, I quickly learned two things. First, the majority of people I told about this idea were suspicious, skeptical and even downright hostile. Second, the originator of the technique asked me to stop sharing what I had learned because the opposition of so many people was hindering the work of healing in which he was engaged. I agreed, but continued to study and to practice.

I purchased dozens of books and self-study guides on the subject, most published by certified therapists, along with amazing stories of success from their clinical practice. I began to suspect there may be a gift involved in using this diagnostic modality of muscle-testing. Sadly, I also learned the technique could be abused and results easily misinterpreted by the inexperienced.

Accessing the Subconscious Mind

Today I want to tell you about a recently released booklet from Dr. Wesley Craig, the only LDS therapist to have published a paper on Evil Spirits in Psychotherapy. First issued in the AMCAP Journal in January of 1984, Dr. Craig has expanded and added commentary to the original paper and made it available on Smashwords as a free ePub. The additional insights are worth reading.

Dr. Craig did not use muscle-testing in his practice. He used hypnosis, another recognized and valid method of reaching the inner-self or center of our being. Some call this our higher self, our intelligence, our spirit or subconscious. Whatever you choose to call it, the basic concept is that we each have within us or available to us a wealth of innate knowledge we can learn to access.

The linking and common denominator between Dr. Craig’s work and that of other therapists I have studied in communicating with our inner self is the idea of encountering negative energy, entities or evil spirits. I hope this idea doesn’t frighten you. In early Mormonism, the existence of evil or unclean spirits was more commonly accepted than in today’s so very sophisticated world.

Summation as an Introduction

From Dr. Craig’s summation, he acknowledges his reported cases are unusual: “I recognize that the prevailing view in the field of professional psychotherapy is that evil spirits do not exist, that they are myths, pre-scientific religious nonsense, unacceptable for consideration in dealing with human pain and misery; that reports by professionals such as myself [and others] are anomalies.

“But in science it is the anomalies that surface which do not ‘fit’ into the existing theory that lead on to new emergent paradigms that can incorporate the anomalies.” Expanding upon this idea, I offer the following summation of my own: I am convinced most members of the LDS Church today are ignorant of their own doctrine that there are evil or unclean spirits dwelling among us.

In a previous post on this subject I quoted the results of a study conducted in 2001 and reported in the Deseret News in which an astonishing forty percent of members of the LDS Church said they did not believe in the reality of Satan or evil spirits. Given the rapid decline in acceptance of many early Mormon doctrines in the LDS Church, the percentage would likely be higher today.

The Influence of Discarnate Spirits

Dr. Craig differentiates between dissociative identity disorder such as ego states or multiple personality subparts and external discarnate entities. Dissociative Identity Disorder is a valid prognosis in individuals who present distinctly splintered temperaments. Fractured spirits are real. They come about as a protective measure in traumatic situations, usually in childhood.

However, in the course of his work, it became obvious there were occasions when the entity encountered turned out to be of a foreign nature, not a part of the individual’s own personality. According to most analysts, this is not a viable opinion. However, Dr. Craig is not the only therapist to put forth the idea of discarnate spirits being the cause of undesirable behavior.

Simply put, Dr. Craig is not alone in presenting clinical evidence of the existence and influence of unclean or evil spirits upon his patients. I have written previously about the work of Dr. Edith Fiore and have recently been reading accounts from Dr. Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled. In his book, Glimpses of the Devil, Dr. Peck shares clinical cases of evil spirits afflicting patients.

Two Or Three Witnesses

With at least three professional, qualified and certified practitioners of psychotherapy reporting multiple clinical cases of identifiable negative entities influencing their patients, it is my long-held hope more people will begin to accept the idea of evil spirits being a real cause of unwanted power or influence upon us. “The devil made me do it,” may not be so far off the mark after all.

It is not my intent to disavow responsibility for our own actions with such a pronouncement. I simply hope you will consider science has shown in at least three cases, and I can provide other documented studies if requested, the impact of evil or unclean spirits upon us mortals is a real phenomenon worthy of careful study and consideration. For some, this idea can also bring hope.

I know many individuals who have struggled with addiction all their lives. They have tried every suggested method of overcoming habits, compulsions, obsessions and cravings to no avail. They are discouraged and have given up hope, never believing they can be free of unwanted conduct. These are people who want to be better than they are, but feel awful because of so many failures.

Understanding Cohabitating Entities

The case study presented in Dr. Craig’s paper is interesting and intriguing. I had read it before. What I did not know is this particular case study is only one of hundreds encountered by this particular therapist. The case studies of Dr. Peck’s were also numerous as were Dr. Fiore’s. She pointed out there exist both evil spirits and discarnate or what the Bible labels unclean spirits.

“Undoubtedly one of the most significant findings in my work with clients was the numbers in whom evil spirits were found while using hypnotic accessing and differentiating according to endogenous and exogenous parts.” I have to ask, why do we not hear of such evidence from other LDS Psychotherapists? Do they simply not believe in the existence of evil spirits today?

“…a substantial number of people seeking help for psychological/emotional disorders may likely have an underlying spiritual dimension that is not being addressed.” I concur, and have long felt so. Gratefully, courageous individuals such as Dr. Craig are coming forth with their findings. He also understands the difference between unclean, discarnate spirits and evil spirits, never mortal.

Be Aware of the Adversary

I hope you will take a few moments to read Dr. Craig’s paper. Long-time readers know I have written about the similar work of Mel Fish in Cedar City. In spite of having researched this subject for over twenty years, I am still learning how carefully and deeply concealed some of these evil spirits can be. It can take years of practice to discern their presence.

One of the things I have discovered in my quest to come into the presence of the Savior, is the sad and disturbing fact that in opening the heavens, I often encounter these evil or unclean sprits. Years ago, I was fearful, very fearful of dealing with them. Now, we seem to have almost regular conversations. They know what I am trying to do and often attempt to impersonate messengers.

You may ask, “Why write about such a disturbing topic?” Some long-time readers know of my early encounters with the minions of the adversary in my youth and again a few years ago. All I can offer by way of explanation is my interest in the subject seems to be a part of my mission in life. It’s not that I’m focusing on evil spirits; it’s that I sense their presence and can hear them.

Don’t Ignore True Doctrine

I know. That’s weird. I confess. It is weird. It takes discipline to keep the voices quiet. I used to live in an area with a mental hospital. Some of the patients were members of the church. I was assigned to be their home teacher. They described how difficult it was to keep from going crazy because of the voices. I told them I understood. Only drugs helped them to deal with the voices.

Even though I’m no longer a member of the LDS Church, I firmly accept the inspiration of the patriarch who pronounced my patriarchal blessing at age fifteen. It talks about the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. I can tell you they are real. The blessing also warns me the evil one will seek to destroy me and my work. I am promised the spirit of discernment. I can tell you that too is real.

I’m grateful for the work of dedicated family counselors like Dr. Craig who invested so much of their time and energy helping others deal with difficult situations in their lives. I hope more therapists will take a clue from the examples of Scott Peck, Edith Fiore and Wesley Craig. Figure it out people. The influence of evil spirits is real. Don’t discount their power to bind.


May God bless each of us in our journey to come unto Christ, the master healer of us all.

Note: For additional insight on the problem of LDS Psychotherapists who don’t accept the idea of evil spirits, please see: Understanding Spiritual Evil in the Context of Psychotherapy By Ronald L. Poulton

14 thoughts on “Evil Spirits in Psychotherapy”

  1. I totally believe in all of this. It’s a no brainer for me. I have had too many experiences, like you, to doubt it. I searched for your email, because I would like to talk to you about these things. But I can’t find it!

    Great post. People need to be more aware of these kinds of things, but if they don’t believe it its like talking to a brick wall lol.

  2. There are evils that reside in flesh. Period. Most people are not sanctified to the point to encounter the darkest. Jesus encountered all of them. We send them to Him and He battles them for us. The number one way to tell when you have encountered an evil spirit is because it will produce “fear” or “dread” and have not had that portion of evil cast out or cleansed from you. That is why people will flee from the truth and spirit because the evils in their flesh fight back and have too strong of hold.
    For instance Isaiah when he first saw The Lord he still needed the last evil energy cleansed from his lips before he could be completely “filled” with the spirit of The Lord.
    When one is conpletely filled and no evil spirit or energy remains there is absolutely no “shame” and there remains confidence before God.
    Such confidence only comes through grace and faith, fear and dread do not co-exist with love and faith.
    2 Timothy 1:7

    For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of POWER, and love and of a sound mind…

    1. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear.” How is reconciled with Snuffer’s last post about the Holy Ghost where he says “If there is a consistent experience produced by an encounter with God while filled with the Holy Spirit, it would be ‘dread’ or ‘fear'”? I was already confused by that post, and you bring about the exact concepts that seem to contradict what he is saying.


      1. mmmmm1234: I was hoping someone would bring this up. I also wanted to comment on it after I read his most recent post. I agree with Denver’s point. When I approach the Lord in prayer, seeking an audience or instruction, I do so with trepidation. I know my own unworthiness, my own nothingness, the strength of the natural man within me. I know it is offensive to God and the angels.

        Yet, I also know He loves me, has commanded me to call upon Him and forgives me even before I ask. Therefore, I must ask in faith, nothing wavering, in a bold, yet humble spirit. This has been a constant battle all my life from the time I first came into the presence of the Lord. The memory of that experience and the combined feelings of unworthiness I felt, which he removed, were overwhelming.

        Therefore, I must act in courage, which is a gift from God, allowing me to knock and with the expectation of being answered. Fear of approaching God is a part of mortality. I feel it. I sense it in the beings around me. They flee when I am able to muster sufficient strength in faith to part the veil. God’s glory can and will burn a mortal to ashes unless he or she is transfigured before him. Thus, the fear.

        1. Tim
          You are speaking truth, but you are not saying what Denver did. Denver may have just been having an off day it happens but he said this

          “If there is a consistent experience produced by an encounter with God while filled with the Holy Spirit, it would be “dread” or “fear.” Comparing our fallen nature to the purity of God causes shame. ”

          Then he proceeded to reference a bunch of scriptures of people that were absolutely NOT filled with the Holy Spirit. Even Isaiah could not be filled until after being cleansed.

          Then he used the word shame as well. Think of when shame is used in the scriptures. It is not by the people who are filled with the Holy Spirit. Those who were ashamed of the fruit left the tree. Adam and Eve sought to hide. It is very clear that those who will not allow place for the Holy Spirit to “fill” them are those who will be ashamed and seek to hide at the lords presence, not because they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but because they are empty of it (oil in lamps)
          Knowing our nothingness should never bring shame because like Paul said he glories in infirmities etc for there is where the power and strength of Christ is manifest.
          Yes we are nothing but we approach the throne of glory with boldness (Hebrews) because of our joyous faith in the power of Jesus Christ who has overcome and gained the victory.

  3. I believe in evil spirits because I have battled them. I think an important aspect in our fight against evil spirits is recognizing that we not only can leave ourselves susceptible to their influence if we don’t diligently seek the Lord, we can also leave others that we have stewardship over susceptible to them. Children might be left vulnerable by their parents’ shortcomings and wives might be left susceptible by their husbands’ shortcomings. I also think that in society at large, we invite more evil spirits into our community by our collective lack of faith.

    I believe we need to be aware of these things and fight to individually free ourselves from evil, but then turn our attention to our fellowman and do what we can for them.

  4. Tim, thank you for a great column today.

    I recall how refreshing it was to read an LDS General Authority, Elder F. Enzio Busche, write about his personal experience with casting out an evil spirit, in his book “Yearning For the Living God” (pgs. 268-273) where he called the experience “one of the most sacred in my whole life” . He also stated how he had no training for such a task and how unfamiliar he was with such things, even as a General Authority.

    I read his words at a time when my own missionary son had a similar experience while serving in Lima, Peru. As I opened my own mouth, often, to speak to people about this, it was only then that almost everyone I knew revealed to me their own experiences with evil spirits!

    “WHAT a hidden topic this is!,” I remember thinking.

    I learned that the (at that time) new church handbook of instructions stated that we were generally to not speak over the pulpit about evil spirits for the purpose of giving zero glory to them in our church meetinghouses. (These are my words, not the handbook’s).

    This informed me as to why, years earlier in my ward here in Nevada, the following occurred: I had been asked to speak in sacrament meeting and to update the ward on my older son’s missionary service in Argentina. I read directly from a couple of his letters home about how he and his companion were struggling with evil down there and how they were coping and overcoming it. Now, mind you, I had been a member of the church for over 30 years at that time, having been converted as a teenager living in Chicago. After the meeting ended, a member of my ward approached me and told me that we, “don’t speak about such things in our meetings”. Well, THAT was news to me!

    How else will people learn if we don’t speak about such things?

    Thank you, Tim, for speaking out!

    1. Thank you, Rick, for this article. It seems that all who struggle with hearing voices report that the voices are negative, as the women in this article stated. And negative to the point of urging the hearers to kill themselves, to commit crimes, to hurt themselves or others.

      I’ve never, once, read of anyone who reports hearing voices that instruct them to do “good.” Never even once.

      Is this what you’ve encountered, as well? And if so, shouldn’t this give us a clue about what these voices actually are?

    2. Rick: I don’t think I would have ever seen that article if you hadn’t posted the link. Thanks for adding that in. One in twenty-five. Hmmm…that’s four percent who say they hear voices. No wonder most people I share this with tell me I’m crazy. They can’t relate. It’s good to know I’ve been doing what the therapists have suggested – start talking back. For me, it works best when I write it out. Sadly, I know plenty of other individuals who talk back but then ask for advice, insights, inspiration. Oh, how fine a line it is between hearing the voice of the Lord and hearing deceiving spirits.

  5. Tim, Thanks. Outstanding post. As the sister of a man dealing with demons and voices all his life (schizophrenia) I appreciate the references here, and your supportive tone. This subject is going to have to be addressed more often, and more deeply in the coming days. When you mentioned Scott Peck a few posts back I went back to re read his books and was surprised that I had never found/read his book called People of The Lie. It is essentially about degrees of evil: giving up our agency in small pieces, and sliding into full demon possession. Peck’s impeccable professional credentials and solid reputation, as well as his noble Christian heart make that an important book for me. He talks about an intervention (exorcism) which took a whole team of therapists working 12 hour shifts round the clock for three days to get a demon to let go of a human. Of note: Don Christian Markham’s first book Save Two Churches Only (www.twochurchesonly.com) is available for a free download on his web site. That is an absolutely astounding book. But I’ve just read part of his rough draft for the second companion book, and I think you’re going to want to read it for sure when it comes out, hopefully soon. He’s tracking the same thing here as you are here, and has an amazing body of research and references to share. It would be most helpful, I think, to read his first book before attempting to read the second one, the first is foundational. I will read Dr. Craig’s paper as you suggest, and sincerely appreciate the suggestion. The ability to bind Satan is going to become a topic of importance here in the near future, especially as we work to get Zion built in our own hearts. Thanks Tim, for blazing the blog trail on this.

  6. Tim,

    Why would you want to commune/speak with your subconscious/inner self/Self? Is it in words you speak or through images or what? You mention a number of links on the subject. Has there been one method which has worked the best for you?

    Thanks, Steve

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