Few since have disagreed. Up to the close of the last century, studies of early modern demonic possession were dominated by psychoanalytic perspectives, and it seems fair to say that such perspectives are more than usually likely to produce an association between possession and the female body. More recent studies have reached the same conclusion as de Certeau from a different and more strictly historicist angle. Nancy Caciola and Moshe Sluhovsky both agree that possession was linked to femininity but trace this link to premodern medical concepts of gender rather than twentieth-century psychiatric ones. Yet the assertions of these historicist scholars are interestingly close to those of the psychoanalytic studies that preceded them. A similar trend has been apparent in medical historiography.
The belief that demons have sex with humans runs deep in Christian and Jewish traditions
This article reassesses the role of gender in early modern demonic possession from a medical perspective. It takes as its starting point the demoniac Richard Mainy, who in claimed to be suffering from hysteria. While medical historians have viewed hysteria as the key possession-related illness, epilepsy was equally important. Both were seen as convulsive illnesses caused by an excess of reproductive fluids. Emphasizing the similarities rather than the differences between male and female sexuality, this shared etiology underpinned medical approaches to demonic possession. Up to the close of the last century, studies of early modern demonic possession were dominated by psychoanalytic perspectives, and it seems fair to say that such perspectives are more than usually likely to produce an association between possession and the female body.
Florida pastor accused of having sex with 'demon-possessed' teen
Exorcisms are a distinct, massive subgenre in horror films for good reason. Even though the subgenre tends to recycle the same essential plot, it somehow never fails to frighten. Or, at least, we are according to some ancient patriarchal religious idea that says women are more susceptible to being invaded by Satan. But not only does the demon possess the woman or girl in the movie, it almost always has to have some kind of utterly creepy or manipulative sexual manifestation.
Demonic possession in Western Christianity is, like witchcraft, a discourse into which questions of gender can be articulated, and often have been articulated historically, with the sex of the possessed seen as relevant to both causes and symptoms. As with witchcraft, too, it is a discourse within which gender can, nonetheless, seem irrelevant at times or, rather, to have no prima facie significance: its documentation can be surprisingly gender-neutral. The purpose of this chapter is to assist scholars approaching the analysis of possession from a gender perspective, and particularly those writing about cases of possession among males, by delimiting a few of the questions that need to be asked before the question of gender can be addressed effectively.