Contemporary Roman Catholic Exorcism Prayer in the United States and Italy

Thomas Csordas (PI)


Professor Csordas is conducting an ethnographic study of the 21st century resurgence of exorcism in the Roman Catholic Church.  The work is a cross-cultural comparative study of exorcism prayer in Italy and the United States, in which psychiatrists collaborate with priests to define and treat affliction in terms of both psychiatric disorder and demonic possession.  The study includes priests who conduct exorcism rites, the afflicted, lay assistants to the exorcists, and mental health professionals who consult with the exorcists.  Analysis to date in this ongoing project suggests that exorcism be understood not only as a thriving form of religious practice but also as a dynamic social phenomenon, demanding explicit attention to the relation between the concrete experiences of social actors and the broader sociopolitical forces in which they are embedded in the face of global cultural processes. 


Relevant Publications: