Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, Ph.D., is the President of the St. Michael Center for Spiritual Renewal and a research associate professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. A licensed psychologist and the author of several books, he discussed his participation in hundreds of exorcisms. With his background as a psychologist, he was initially called in to evaluate cases to determine whether strange behaviors were due to mental illness rather than demonic possession. Genuine occurrences of possession, he explained, are marked by signs of preternatural abilities, like when the afflicted person has knowledge they couldn't possibly know, or exhibits superhuman strength. The best way to learn the ropes in the exorcism ritual is from an experienced priest or senior exorcist, he detailed, but it's most important "to trust in Jesus," which protects against Satan and related entities. In some cases, he's seen eerie and inexplicable phenomena such as a person's eyeball turning totally black, or taking on the look of a serpent's yellow eye. In a recent incident, a possessed woman coughed up a 2.5-inch steel bolt that could not have been in her stomach, he recalled. Unusual bruises or scratches are sometimes seen on the afflicted, he added, such as when a man woke up with 2 ft. long claw marks running across his back. While most don't have to worry about dealing with demons, Rossetti said he encourages people to keep "sacramentals" in their house, like blessed crosses and holy pictures.
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