Fr. Gabriele Amorth's portrait of demonic possession and exorcism casts detailed light on this dark area of inquiry which is fraught--more often than not--with controversy and misunderstanding.
Though less poetic or descriptively-gripping than the late Fr. Malachi Martin's classic study on the topic HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL, Fr. Amorth's book manages to patch up some of the existing knowledge gaps left in the wake of several other pertinent works like Dr. M. Scott Peck's THE PEOPLE OF THE LIE (a psychiatrist's view of evil based on the case histories of his patients), and Bob Larson's IN THE NAME OF SATAN (Tales of a Protestant exorcist).
Fr. Amorth covers critical, new ground by exposing the dangers of Magic and Sorcery (namely spells, hexes, incantations, and curses) and their ability to adversely affect an individual psychologically, physically, and spiritually, even to the point of inducing demonic possession.
Conversely, Fr. Amorth details the various remedies that the Catholic Church offers to the afflicted--in the form of Sacramentals--such as blessed oil, water, and salt, which can be effectively applied--in conjunction with the solemn rite of exorcism--to facilitate an easier and quicker liberation from the fetters of and attachments to the Devil.
Examination is also given to those tell tale, mental and physical signs (Fr. Amorth calls them 'negativities') that often confirm the presence of a possessing demon. Attention is paid to the various forms of bizarre behavior that unfortunate victims of possession exhibit--both prior to and during an exorcism--and how these capital signs authenticate the source of existential torment as evil spirit, and not merely psychophysical malady as the genesis of their suffering.
The author effectively concludes the book with a look at the new attitude (pastoral directives) of Vatican II toward possession, demons, and--as Fr. Amorth says--'the influence that they can exert on single individuals, on communities, on entire societies, or on events,...(as)...very important...for Catholic doctrine.' And how, by calling attention to the ever-present danger posed by these evil entities, the Catholic Church can better assert itself--in the name of Jesus--as the leading organization with the designated spiritual authority to most effectively route the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
In the final analysis, Fr. Amorth's straight-forward, no frills, 'meat and potatos' examination of demonic possession and exorcism succeeds where other fail, providing a terra firma of understanding and solid addition to anyone's private library on the topic.
Father Amorth's purpose in this book was to give practical help to the faithful in recognizing the physical evil of demonic oppression, obsession, and possession. Father Amorth's other purpose is to call all bishops and priests to take up their pastoral duty of gaining the knowledge which would allow them to recognize the signs of demonic activity as compared to psychological problems which may be handled medically. Father Amorth points out that the problem in today's Church is with bishops who do not appoint exorcists and priests who do not believe in the office of exorcist.
Father Amorth argues that to deny the reality of Satan is, in essence, making the redemptive death of God's Son on the cross meaningless. If the devil is not real and does not actively seek the ruin of souls, Christ's mission was for naught.
Of course, this is not the Christian, and particularly Catholic, faith. Father Amorth reminds all the faithful of the primary truth that Satan exists and must be fought with all available means and by all persons within their vocation (i.e., religious, laity). Exorcism, the subject of this book, is one tool to combat Satan.
Father Amorth accurately asserts the problem with many of today's Christian; many will assert the existence of demons because they do not wish to be perceived as holding to some kind of false belief or heresy when, in reality, they do not believe because at the practical level all they believe is natural science.
Of course, this book is sprinkled with practical examples of those physically possessed by the devil. The approach is balanced. To that end, don't expect the accounts to be as titillating as you would find in a Hollywood exorcism (i.e., the Exorcist). Father Amorth does not write for the purpose of sensationalizing the devil. All the same, truth can be stranger than fiction.
Father Amorth, at the time of publishing this book, had been an exorcist in the Diocese of Rome for 9 years. Of the 30,000 people he has personally exorcised, 93 of them have been possessed by demons.
This book reads well. It is highly informative. Buy the book.