Here is my latest post for Catholic Online:
An exorcist told me one of the most disturbing and maddening things about exorcism is that one can rarely diagnose the problem completely. “You see,” he said, “the devil is a liar and the father of lies. Once you have identified the demon you don’t know if you really have or not. The demon lurks within. He will lie, lie, lie. He will pretend to respond to your commands, but then trick you. He is malicious beyond your imaginings.”
I have thought much about this over the years since I heard this and realize how true it is. The devil is a liar, and because he lies all the time dealing with him is like walking on quicksand or dancing in a minefield. When dealing with evil in the personality we are constantly confronted with false images, false diagnoses, confusing signals, distractions, distortions and disturbing evidence.
Is the person really possessed or is it mental illness? It there a medical and chemical disturbance, or is it a personality disorder or is the problem psychological? Is the person disturbed emotionally or are there deep relational problems? Is there abuse, addiction or psychiatric illness? It could be all these things or a mixture of them.
To dismiss the reality of evil spirits in the world is not only one of the dumbest things you can do it is also one of the most dangerous things you can do. Dumb, because the evidence is all around you, dangerous because if you are not aware and alert you will be taken over by the evil yourself. This is not to be paranoid or creepy–just to be practical and full of spiritual common sense.