What Is the Fear of Demons?

Daemonophobia is Closely Tied to Religious Beliefs

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Daemonophobia, or the fear of demons, is a phobia often rooted in religious beliefs.

Daemonophobia and Religion

Some religious denominations believe that demons are real, powerful entities that have the ability to possess humans, causing them to behave in unthinkable ways. Other sects believe that possession is unlikely or even impossible, but believe that demons are capable of wreaking havoc in other ways.

Still others believe that the spirits capable of possessing us are helpful and beneficent, and ritualized spirit possession is part of regular religious practice.

Not all daemonophobia is rooted in religious issues, but if you have this fear, it may be worthwhile to examine both your current belief system and the one with which you were raised. Some people develop a fear of demons while going through a crisis of faith or a major change in religious traditions. Events that cause you to reexamine your childhood can also lead you to question changes you have made as an adult, including changes in religious beliefs.

Daemonophobia and Hollywood

Like ghosts, demons feature prominently in many blockbuster films and best-selling novels. Released in 1973, The Exorcist is perhaps the best-known film depiction of demonic possession, but demons remain a popular theme in the movies of today. Computer-generated imagery techniques allow each film to put its own gruesome spin on the creatures, while Blu-ray players and HDTVs allow us to recreate the movie theater experience at home.

It is unlikely that a film would create a brand-new phobia, but those who suffer from daemonophobia might be triggered by such movies.

Legend Tripping

Legend tripping is a rite of passage for many teens and young adults. Urban legends about haunted locations are prevalent around the world, and many of the stories feature a demonic element.

In a legend trip, a group of friends heads out to face down the urban legend. The trips generally take place at night.

In effect, the kids set themselves up for a scare. Expectations can influence perceptions, and legend-tripping teens usually expect a frightening experience. Planning the trip, retelling the story over and over and finally making their way to a deserted bridge or highway or cemetery in the middle of the night heighten the anticipation. Under these conditions, it is very easy to convince themselves that strange noises or optical illusions are proof that the legend is true.

Although the legend trippers prove their courage by confronting their fears, legend tripping can actually worsen a legitimate phobia. Many people return from a legend trip convinced that they were just moments away from a dismal fate, heightening the belief in the legend and ultimately cementing the phobia.

Daemonophobia and Children

Fears are exceptionally common in young children, but most kids grow out of them.

Like the bogeyman, demons may represent nothing more than a child's attempt to make sense of the unpredictable world around him. Nonetheless, some children do develop legitimate phobias. Check with your child's doctor if the fear seems unusually severe, if she begins refusing to do things she previously enjoyed or if the fear lasts for more than a few months.

Children may also be more susceptible to movies, books, TV shows and video games. Monitor small children's activities and enjoy things that you are not sure about together. Discuss your beliefs and answer their questions honestly and simply.

Parapsychology

Although parapsychology is not generally recognized by the mainstream scientific community, experiments in parapsychology have produced results that cannot always be fully explained. Some people develop daemonophobia after undergoing an unusual experience with a Ouija board, a séance or a ghost hunt.

Getting Help

Before seeing a mental health professional for daemonophobia, it is helpful to organize your own thoughts and beliefs. Although the phobia is sometimes seen as a potential sign of a thought disorder, most mental health professionals recognize the importance of the client's personal beliefs. In addition, think through your goals of therapy. Do you want to stop believing in demons altogether? Do you simply want to be able to watch horror movies with your friends? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time can help you and your therapist plan a course of treatment that is appropriate to your needs.

Managing Daemonophobia

Although it is always best to seek professional help for any phobia, many people are able to manage their symptoms. If you belong to a religious organization, you may find solace in talking with your religious leader or trusted peers. Researching demonic possession can help ease your fears, but only if you carefully screen your sources. If you choose to do research, stick to trustworthy websites run by reputable organizations. If you choose to watch horror movies or visit haunted houses, use caution. Take a trusted friend who knows your fear. Use breathing and visualization techniques to manage your symptoms and be prepared to leave if you experience a panic attacks.

Source:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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