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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 5, Issue 3, Pages 161-167

Possession States: Approaches to Clinical Evaluation and Classification

S. McCormick1 and D. C. Goff2

1Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center, Freedom Trail Clinic, 25 Staniford Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA
2Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The fields of anthropology and sociology have produced a large quantity of literature on possession states, physicians however rarely report on such phenomena. As a result clinical description of possession states has suffered, even though these states may be more common and less deviant than supposed. Both ICD-10 and DSM-IV may include specific criteria for possession disorders. The authors briefly review Western notions about possession and kindred states and present guidelines for evaluation and classification.