The History of Exorcism – The Paranormal Podcast 803

Exorcism isn’t just something you see in horror movies. It is real and Adam Blai shares fascinating facts about exorcism history and his work in the trenches facing evil.

You can find Adam’s book, The History of Exorcism, on the subject at Amazon:

You can find Adam’s site at

Thanks Adam!


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Announcer 1 (00:13):

This is the Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold.

Jim (00:17):

Welcome to the Paranormal Podcast. I am Jim Harold and so glad to be with you once again. And we are in the midst of spooky season and a lot of people out there are watching a lot of horror movies including classic horror movies, and one that looms large obviously is “The Exorcist”. But today we’re not talking about Hollywood, we’re talking about the real thing. We’re talking about the History of Exorcism. That is the name of a new book by our guest, Adam Blai. And Adam joins us to tell us all about it, and he is indeed an expert, a church-decreed expert on religious demonology and exorcism for the Pittsburgh diocese. He has helped trained Exorcists for over 15 years and has attended hundreds of solemn exorcisms. His journey started in brainwave research and psychology and is now focused on the spiritual realities of miracles, angels, demons, and possession. He’s also the author of several books, including the “Exorcism Files”, and we’re so glad to have him with us. Adam, thanks for coming back on the program.

Adam Blai (01:26):

Sure, Jim, it’s good to be here.

Jim (01:30):

So just to kind of get everybody on the same page of where Adam Blai is in terms of exorcism, you don’t think this is something that’s just in the movies, you know it’s not something that’s just in the movies. This is something you think is very real and that there really are things to exorcise demons, Satan, whatever it might be. If you can just give your philosophy on the topic of exorcism, maybe as it pertains to how most people view it and how you view it.

Adam Blai (02:03):

Sure. So first off, it’s not a matter of believing and having a philosophy. I think a lot of people approach spiritual realities, almost like an armchair quarterback where they say, “Well, based on my thinking and my view of the universe, I think this should be possible and that shouldn’t be possible because in my own thoughts I’ve come to those conclusions.” My thoughts on this, it would be kind of like asking a police officer, “Do you believe in crime?”  A police officer would say, “Yeah, it’s not about belief. I encounter it all the time. It’s a reality for me.”  Yeah. So it’s very different, exorcism for me and possession in all of this, the reality of the fallen angels, the holy angels, the whole thing, is a reality that happens every week. I’m at multiple exorcisms every week. I talk with people that are troubled almost every day, consult on cases all over the country and to some extent all over the world.

Adam Blai (03:11):

And there are aspects of these cases that it’s, I know the first thought that most people have is, oh, you’re just misunderstanding epilepsy or mental illness. And most people have heard all this before, but the Church figured out centuries ago that you need to separate mental illness and brain problems from possession. And they set a very high bar to diagnose possession, and they said, you have to rule out the medical first and then you have to have some of these signs. And those are knowledge of all languages. So like schizophrenia doesn’t make you suddenly fluent in ancient languages that you’ve never been exposed to. Knowing hidden and secret things that the person couldn’t possibly know, like your dirtiest secrets and them broadcasting it to the room in excruciating detail, a demon and a possessed person telling which relic is in your pocket that you brought that day that you haven’t mentioned to anybody.

Adam Blai (04:07):

And nobody knows about them being able to tell whether water is blessed or not, not because it’s in a holy water bottle, it’s in a regular bottle, but they can tell the difference. And then finally, strength beyond their station, meaning like strength beyond what you would expect. And you can get adrenaline bursts, but this is different. It goes on, they never get tired, the adrenaline never goes away. It’s not just adrenaline and the strength is pretty remarkable. So basically those first three, Jim, are to me at least something that the armchair philosopher I’ve never heard an explanation for. It’s kind of hard to get around how does mental illness explain somebody knowing your dirty secrets that nobody else knows, being able to speak all languages, be interrogated in any language you want to pick, and they’ll know them and then being able to detect whether something’s holy or not just because they can.

Jim (05:07):

Now, from your viewpoint or your book, this is basically, if I’m correct, as I’m looking at it here, it is from a Catholic perspective. And then of course you talk about exorcism before Jesus, but for the most part, this is from the Catholic perspective. Is that correct?

Adam Blai (05:26):

Yes. So this is a history of exorcism both before Jesus treating basically the Middle Eastern kind of spiritual worldview, if you can use that as a term. And then coming up through the time of Jesus. And then of course through the Catholic church. Now there are exorcisms within Islam, there are exorcists within some of the branches of Judaism. There are also indigenous versions of exorcists. In other cultures like Native American cultures, there are some Buddhist priests that do exorcisms. It’s a universal human problem. Possession is a universal human problem. And all the religions that deal with this stuff will describe the possessing spirits in the exact same way. They’ll say it’s a troublesome spirit, it’s a liar. Once it gets into somebody’s life, it starts destroying their life.

Jim (06:22):

Yeah, it’s fascinating, that’s for sure. Now, let me ask you this. You talked a little bit about exorcism before Jesus. Can you tell us a little bit about what was going on there? Because I think most people, and probably because of pop culture and so forth, they really focus on Christianity. But pre-Christianity, what was going on there?

Adam Blai (06:47):

Well, most people know that the Jews basically spent a lot of time kind of rubbing shoulders with the Canaanites, which were basically polytheism was the lay of the land. It was the rule of the land in the ancient Middle East before Judaism, which was one of the first monotheistic religions that we know from history. Now, Zoroastrianism probably predates, I don’t know exactly, I’d have to look it up exactly when the Jews moved to monotheism, but Zoroastrianism is the other very early monotheistic religion. So before the time of Jesus, and you’re talking thousands of years before Jesus, where a lot of the Old Testament is set, they would basically be appealing to whatever the local gods were and using different incantations and basically kind of their version of, think of it like a Bible. But there generally was not. Of course there was no printing press, there was no standard set of readings. A lot of these traditions were more oral with very limited writing because most people were not literate. So they would use limited incantations, and you can find some evidence of that in stone and pottery work. And so there’ll be spells or incantations to remove a troublesome spirit from a house as some of the earliest examples. And then when it came to people, it would be essentially appealing to some spirit to remove the spirit in that person.

Jim (08:31):

And then we come to the question of Jesus, can you talk to us about exorcism by Jesus? How often did he do it? How did he do it? How did his practices compare to later practices?

Adam Blai (08:46):

Yeah, so the first thing we have to understand is that when Jesus came onto the scene, the idea of exorcism was well known to the Jews at the time it had been around. It’s not like Jesus came along and suddenly exorcism existed. There were traveling Jewish exorcists. And we see references to this in the gospels where they basically use different methods. Some use an amulet or a ring that supposedly has power, and they all invoke the name of somebody that they regard as holy. So someone invokes the name of Solomon, invokes the name of Elijah, some other prophet, and it’s essentially appealing to a higher spiritual authority than the exorcist themselves. So they’re basically saying by the name of this holy person that we know from the past, I cast you out. And so it’s kind of appealing to a higher power in this case, essentially a person who was holy because the Jews wouldn’t say the name of God, they wouldn’t be invoking the name of God to do an exorcism. Only the high priest could say the name of God at very limited times during the year and certain very high ceremonies. And so they were used to the idea of invoking somebody else. Core to that, and this is important to understand from the Jewish spiritual worldview, a human being has no power over fallen angels or demons,

Adam Blai (10:20):

And that’s why they have to appeal to somebody that’s particularly holy in their lineage that presumably is in some version of heaven. The ancient Jewish version before the time of Jesus, it really wasn’t an idea of making it to heaven. There was the idea of being in Sheol or you could be in the bosom of Abraham. And so basically Sheol is if you’re bad and you’re damned, and the bosom of Abraham is kind of a place for the good people, but it’s not heaven. It’s basically Abraham was good and he spared hell, and we can be with Abraham if we’re good enough in this life and we please God. Okay. So the reason Jesus was radical to the Jewish worldview and to the people at the time, if we go back to that story in the synagogue in Capernaum where in some of the gospels, it’s his first basically well-known miracle, and that was that there was somebody in the corner during the service that rolled around on the floor and started growling and said, “we know who you are”.

Adam Blai (11:28):

Basically referencing, they knew who Jesus was and he says, “Be quiet.” And then he says, “Come out of him.” And the radical thing for the Jews at the time was he didn’t say,“By the name of Solomon come out of him or by the name of Elijah come out of him.” He just said, “Come out of him”, which basically meant he had the authority in himself. He didn’t appeal to a spiritual authority of somebody who had died. And this is not the way the Jews did exorcisms. And that’s why later in the gospel you’ll hear the complaint, he casts out demons by a demon that he’s in league with Beezlebub or they’ll make references to the king of these evil spirits because they couldn’t deal with the fact that he would have that authority in himself. And there’s other places where they say, “Only God can do that.” And that’s why it was such a radical miracle. And his fame spread so fast after that happened because from the Jewish worldview, only God can directly cast out a demon. Well, if this man did it, he must either be in league with something more powerful than that demon, or the implication is somehow he’s God.

Adam Blai (12:41):

It was the first indication or clue that he gave, of who he really was. And so that was a radical change in the way exorcism was done. And then he went on to do, there are seven major accounts in the gospels of Jesus doing exorcisms, and then there’s references to him healing and casting out spirits from many other people, but there’s seven of them that are detailed, and that’s almost a third of his miracles in the gospels…

Jim (13:07):


Adam Blai (13:07):

…are actually exorcisms. So it was a big deal to the Jews at the time, and that’s why they recorded them in such detail. And they recorded seven of them because again, the implication is he’s more than just a man and to the Jewish worldview, that would be very clear.

Jim (13:27):

Now, how long did it take till we got to something, and I want you to explain what it is later, but the current practices, how long did it take to get to kind of where the Catholic church is now in terms of exorcism, that evolution?

Adam Blai (13:45):

So the first time that there is a fixed formal book that you can print and pick up, and that book is the same anywhere in the world. It might be translated to the local language, but in the beginning it was all in Latin. It was the same all over the world. The first time that happened was 1614, and that’s when they standardized the right of exorcism. Before that, there would be local rights of exorcism that were developed in each culture or each civilization or continent. Sometimes just for that country there would be the local way they had developed things over the centuries. Then in 1614, they said, look, let’s standardize this and let’s put some rules around it, because the practice had been a little more variable and loose before that. In fact, if you go back really early in the church’s history, it wasn’t even priests that were doing exorcisms.

Adam Blai (14:37):

It was laypeople. And then there was a lot of saints that did exorcisms, which were also lay people. They were very serious people of prayer. They were usually acetic, meaning they were depriving themselves of worldly comforts. And there were no records of anybody married doing exorcisms that was a lay person. So these were kind of people set aside by God that were really devout. But then in 1614, they kind of said, let’s let the priest do this. That’s going to be the limitation, and we’re going to have a fixed book. And that stayed in place for a long time. And so just recently we have a new rite of exorcism that the final translation was finally out in 2017. So basically for a long, long time, 1614 to the end of the 20th century, we had just one book and it worked very well. It still works. Exorcists are free to use either one, the old or the new rite, but those are both kind of global standards at this point.

Jim (15:47):

So let me ask you, and this is a question because I’m not Catholic, but my wife is, and I hear some Catholics say something like this, and I just want to get your, and this is actually maybe a broader question. You look at something like Vatican II and changes that were instituted, and if you think about it, somebody might say something like this, “Well, if it was the inspired doings of God and it was right before Vatican II, what changed that?” So I guess I would ask the same thing about exorcism. If the Catholic church were doing it the correct way, “the correct way”, why change it and why is now better? Because God is perfection. Why wouldn’t the first version be perfect? I mean, again, I’m playing a little bit of quote devil’s advocate, sorry, but I just want to get your input on that.

Adam Blai (16:48):

Yeah, so you have to understand, first off that Vatican II, by the way it was designed and implemented, required the revision of every rite within the church. So even though Vatican II basically was 1964, it is what triggered the new rite of exorcism to be written. It’s just that it took this long to get to it. So from 1964 until very recently, 1999 I believe, was when the first kind of tentative version that was more for just testing was sent out to some exorcists around the world. It basically just took a long, long time to get to it. It’s not that the old rite was defective or didn’t work, it’s that every rite in the church had to be revised and it was a requirement, and so everything was basically updated. Now, exorcists are free to use the old one or the new one, and it also, I guess I should be careful the way I say that.

Adam Blai (17:52):

Their bishop could limit them and say, “I only want you to use the new one”, or “I’m fine with you using either one”. Generally, most bishops say they’re fine with the exorcist using either one. They are a little bit different in their approach. The old one is a little more directly speaking to the demon, directly commanding it to leave. The new one is more focused on the baptismal promises of the Christian and more asking the Holy Spirit to do the exorcism. Now of course, if you’re thinking ahead, the rub there is, well, what about the people that aren’t baptized? And so we don’t turn away people that are not baptized. The Church will try to be helpful to anybody who is sincere and wanting help no matter what religion or atheist or anything else that they are. And so in those cases, you would either have to change some of the language that you’re using with permission from your bishop to verbally change that, to fit the fact that they’re not baptized or just use the old rite, which doesn’t have that built into the language of it. I hope that answers your question.

Jim (19:02):

Yes, yes. Well, we are having a fascinating discussion with Adam Blai here about the history of exorcism. When we come back, I’m going to ask Adam about some cases and about some of his work in this field, and we appreciate his insight. The book is “The History of Exorcism”, and we’ll be back right after this. 

Jim (19:20):

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Jim (19:55):

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Jim (20:24):

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Jim Hamilton  (20:27):

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Jim (20:43):

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Jim (21:03):

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Announcer 2 (22:26):

Here’s hoping you have a Spooktacular Halloween. Stay Spooky.  Now back to the Paranormal Podcast. 

Jim (22:37)

We’re back on the Paranormal Podcast. Our guest is Adam Blai and he’s the author of a recent book, “The History of Exorcism”, and of course we’re talking with him all about that very topic, that of exorcism. Now, Adam, just to pull back a little bit and get a little personal, can you talk about how you got involved in the rite of exorcism and what role have you played over the years and play in exorcisms?

Adam Blai (23:05):

Sure. So it’s a bit of a long story, but the quick version is I was in graduate school for adult clinical psychology and a brainwave researcher interested in structure and function of the brain and how it impacts consciousness, how consciousness arises from the biological brain, all of those things. And also getting trained in just clinical work, diagnosing mental illness and treating mental illness and all of that. And I was curious whether any of these complaints of spiritual problems that were just becoming popular in the media at the time were real, or whether they were just an artifact of the brain. And I knew from some of the research we did in the lab with hypnosis that even with a healthy, take a healthy college student that has no mental illness, no history of mental illness, they’re not on drugs, they’re completely sober, and if they’re hypnotizable, you can make them hallucinate and see things that aren’t there or hear things that aren’t there or smell things that aren’t there. And so I knew the brain was capable of giving a person a false experience. And so as these kind of paranormal TV shows were becoming popular, Jay and Grant with Ghost Hunters way back in the day,

Jim (24:20):


Adam Blai (24:21):

Was just coming out. The idea of the paranormal was not normalized yet. It wasn’t something that was trendy, it wasn’t even acceptable. It was just this weird thing that nobody really even knew what that word meant. So anyway, I wanted to go interview these people for myself, and through that I bumped into a possessed person without intending to, but it was a house case, a complaint of a house case, but the person turned out to be possessed, and I had no idea how to deal with it or what was going on. I just knew that whatever was happening did not respond to the normal things we would do in psychology to deal with the psychotic break or what could be called an abreaction.

Adam Blai (25:07):

And so that was strange. And then I started looking for more information on the spiritual side of things because this wasn’t like anything I’d either seen in the lab or in the clinic. I met some specialist clergy in working in the Pittsburgh diocese at that time. And then I was introduced to an exorcist who became a great friend of mine in another diocese around that time. And so I got to go and kind of evaluate a family in a house case that they had been working on for a long time here. And that led to the book “The Demon of Brownsville Road”, which Bob Cranmer, the head of the family wrote, which is why I can talk about it. He already put the story out there. So that was kind of heavy house case, and I saw things there you can’t explain away. And then I met an exorcist friend in another diocese and was invited to come sit in and see it. Well, through that, I became friends with who was then basically the head exorcist in the United States. He’s pretty well known in the media, so it’s not I don’t think a big deal to say his name, he’s kind of well known for this. And that’s Father James LeBar.

Adam Blai (26:25):

He’s passed on many years now. Well, he was a member of the International Association of Exorcists, as was his good friend, Dr. Richard Gallagher, who has also written and spoken on this topic. He’s a psychiatrist in New York City who has chairs at two of the major psychiatric training hospitals and universities there in New York, he’s a well established professional. Well, in those days, Jim, there was maybe 20, around that, exorcists in the whole United States. There was very few of them, most of them were old, they were isolated. There wasn’t a lot of support. And so they invited me to come over to Rome to attend the conferences there for the International Association of Exorcists as a layperson, as an auxiliary,

Adam Blai (27:12):

Because I had gotten to be friends with some people that were involved in the Association. They invited me over, and that just kind of started the ball rolling from there. I sat in on hundreds of exorcisms with that first exorcist friend. He had a very heavy case. So I saw through depth through attending many, many, many, many exorcisms. In one case, I saw the depth of that case. And then I started consulting and meeting other exorcists and going around. And by consulting, I wasn’t considered an expert yet, but I was helping out as best I could. And then in 2006, we decided to put on a conference for exorcists because as I mentioned, there was only like 20 some in the whole country. There was no training available in the United States, so we put on a conference that was open to any professional or priest that wanted to come, and it started rolling from there. I got involved in teaching at other national conferences, and then I started being asked to teach at priest days, convocations kind of days where all the priests and a diocese are brought together by their bishop.

Adam Blai (28:29):

Then individually consulting on cases because strangely enough, I’m a lay person, I can’t do exorcisms, but I had been at so many exorcisms and I seemed to have a knack for teaching, that I became kind of a subject matter expert where I would teach on maybe an understanding of how all this stuff works and a way to think about it, what are the things that you see during a session? What are the tricks of the demon and how do you kind of thwart those and get around them? And then really the way you do this Jim, is more like coaching.

Jim (29:04):

Uh, hmm.

Adam Blai (29:05):

So if you imagine coaching sports, you would actually go there and have the kids throw a ball around and actually do the activity versus talking about playing baseball. You could talk about playing baseball all you want. You’re never going to get good at baseball. You have to go practice, and your coach stands there and says, do this, do that. Well, I kind of became that where I’d been at so many of these things that I would go with a priest that was new and they had heard me at a conference and we became friends and they call me and say, “Hey, I’ve got my first case ever. Would you come over and just be with me during the first few sessions so that my first time in the swimming pool, it’s not too overwhelming, and I’ll have somebody there that has more experience” and it’s just grown from there. So now even doing trainings in the Far East, consulting on cases all over the world, I’ve written a number of books as you mentioned, and those have kind of led priests to contact me. I have a pastoral manual, which is only available to the priests. It’s not published and available to the public, and that’s kind of like a handbook on how to do exorcisms. So yeah, that’s the journey. It’s been an interesting life.

Jim (30:20):

Now, can you give us some examples? They could be ones that I know there’s some of the popular media were based on movies or whatever, or just ones that stand out to you. Maybe if you could pick one that you could share with us, and it could be in the book or not. It’s up to you, that it just kind of shows the range of the strangeness that can go on.

Adam Blai (30:44):

You mean examples of things that I’ve seen or experienced?

Jim (30:48):

They could be things that you’ve experienced or other historic cases. It’s totally up to you, but if it’s something you’ve, yeah, if you’ve experienced some and obviously you have, I think those would be particularly interesting.

Adam Blai (31:02):

Well, there’s so many. Could you narrow it down to what you’re interested to? I’ve been at more than a thousand exorcisms, so I’m not sure what it is you’re imagining.

Jim (31:10):

I guess I’m asking you if you had to pick one or two that were the most memorable for just the strangeness of them, if you could pick one or two that you’ve experienced. So I guess it would be more, I hate to do this turning the question back on you. Someone says, Adam, you must have seen a lot, and the first one that pops to your mind, it’s like, oh my gosh, this is just this one. Just really, even as much as I knew this was just really disturbing or really kind of showed me how intense this can be.

Adam Blai (31:45):

Yeah, Jim, people ask that question. They say like, “Well, what’s the scariest thing you’ve seen or the most disturbing thing that you’ve seen or been there when it happened?” And they don’t actually want the answer to that question because honestly, Jim, the most disturbing things that I’ve seen or the people have related to me that they’ve experienced from the demonic is so gross and horrible.

Jim (32:09):

Mm, hmm.

Adam Blai (32:10):

Honestly, you would not want to hear it. Your listeners would feel revolted and want to turn the podcast off, and I would be wounding your imagination if I burdened you with that. Imagine describing some horrific crime against a child. It’s gross, right? 

Jim (32:25):


Adam Blai (32:26):

Can you see what I mean? The noise you just made, that’s the reaction, Nobody wants to hear that, you see. So the demonic is in a sense, worse than a pedophile, it’s worse than the most horrible crime story that you could talk about. So I wouldn’t burden you with telling you something that horrible. I’ll tell you that the thing that is more disturbing over the years than all the parlor tricks demons do, because what you’re thinking of is the parlor tricks like, oh, did somebody levitate or did they…

Jim (33:02):

Or walk on the ceiling?

Adam Blai (33:03):

Yeah. Did they do some trick that’s really scary that I’d seen in a movie and that’d be exciting to hear about. All that stuff is boring. I’ve seen them make stuff fly around the room. I’ve seen doors slam open or close when there’s no wind and nobody there during the exorcism. I’ve not seen somebody levitate yet. I’ve seen bones dislocate in the body spontaneously in front of me, and then go back into place when the spirit switched with another one. I’ve seen wounds open on somebody that were slashes that were so deep that the skin just opened in front of me. So I’ve seen some pretty awful stuff. The language stuff is really interesting. We had one that was, it wouldn’t speak, but it would write, and it wrote in Icelandic. This is somebody here in the Midwest, southern Midwest part of the country, wrote in Icelandic, but from a dialect from 600 years ago. So if you want to talk about an obscure language, like Icelandic is extremely odd and difficult for non-native to learn, let alone using the grammar structure from 600 years ago, which luckily I had a friend who’s Icelandic who knows about the history of their language, and that’s the only way I got it translated. And they said, the grammar structure, if you think of us speaking old English,

Adam Blai (34:29):

It would kind of be like that, right?

Jim (34:30):

So is your theory that the demon or whatever it was, this entity that did this, did it to kind of say, “Hey, I’m not joking around here, I’m real.”

Adam Blai (34:41):

Well, they do it as just kind of an ego trip. They do it to mess with you sometimes. So if you say, if the priest were to say, the exorcist were to say, “In the name of Jesus, tell me your name”, and then they give the name in, I don’t know, Japanese, not to pick on Japanese, but they’re basically thumbing their nose at you in a sense by saying, “Well, I told you my name. It’s not my fault that you don’t know the language I used.” So they’re just kind of messing with you. We will sometimes get them yelling at us in foreign languages and mocking us for being so dumb that we don’t know all the languages that they know, that kind of thing. But anyway, let me get back to what I was driving at.

Jim (35:26):


Adam Blai (35:27):

And that is, it’s not the parlor tricks that people see in the movies that’s disturbing. What’s really disturbing is when you’ve been involved in this world for so long that the demons no longer do the parlor tricks in front of you because they already know you and they know full well because they’ve encountered you 10 or 12 or 15 other times in other cases that you don’t care anymore. And so the demon doesn’t even put on a show. It very matter of factly says, “Oh, you again? Yeah, it’s me. I got another one this way.” And it becomes almost like water cooler talk, and even more so when they individually reference the fact that they’ve known you from other cases. So I’ve had some laugh and say, “Oh, it’s been a while since Toledo or whatever city.” I’ve never done a case in Toledo. I’m just pulling a city out of my head.

Jim (36:28):

Right, I got you.

Adam Blai (36:32):

That’s the real disturbing part is that it’s you’re not friendly with them. I’m not talking to them, I’m not responding to them, but they’re acting like we’re on a first name basis. And honestly, in the long run, that’s more disturbing than them walking on the ceiling and speaking weird languages.

Jim (36:50):

Yeah, because you feel like it’s kind of like they see me, they know me.

Adam Blai (36:56):

Oh, yeah.

Adam Blai (36:57):

Oh yeah. And they also hate us. It’s not necessarily fun, don’t think I’m saying, “oh, it’s cool that they know us…

Jim (37:06):

No, I get it.

Adam Blai (37:07):

…so well that because they also threaten to kill us all the time. They threatened to have people kill us. I’ve had them compel a satanist to lure me into a situation to be harmed or killed, and the person crying and admitting later that they were told if they didn’t do that, that they were going to be punished for not obeying the demons. I’ve had them tell me they’re going to take revenge on me for the work that I’m doing. And these kind of setups happen because the demon themselves, and I know some people are thinking like, “Well, why didn’t the demon just kill you itself?”  You have to remember God is actually real, and God created everything including these creatures, and they’re on a leash and Jesus has the leash, so they are not free to just do whatever they want, and if you’re appointed by God to be involved in this ministry, protection comes with that. He basically says, “This is my guy. Don’t touch him.” And they can’t. And so they have to get a human to do that for them because of the human’s free will. God doesn’t stop a human’s free will, though God does protect us in other ways. It’s not so much that He overrides a person’s free will, but He does keep us safe.

Adam Blai (38:26):

So yeah, being on their radar, so to speak, in a personal way is the more disturbing part of this work. But honestly, anymore, I don’t care about that either. We just had a session last week with one of the frequent flyers that we’ve met many times, and it was laughing when they figured out who it was, and as they were about to be cast out, they actually turned to me and said, “See you in the next one” right before they were cast out. So honestly, I don’t care anymore. I’ve been doing this for so many years. What I think would be bizarre to most people has become so normal to me that I don’t even realize it’s strange anymore.

Jim (39:12):

Why do we think, and by we, I mean those of us who aren’t involved in it and so forth, I mean, it’s almost like people think it only exists in the movies, but it exists for real. It is happening out there for real. Why do you think people are so, I don’t know if dismissive is the word, but the thought of like, “Oh, that’s just something in the movies.”

Adam Blai (39:34):

You’d be surprised though, Jim. For one thing, I think the reason it’s in so many movies and that people watch those movies is not just because that idea is like, oh, well, I kind of decided that that idea is spooky. I do think people have a gut level intuition that this stuff is real and that there is something out there, that’s number one. Yeah, so that’s part of it. People have a gut level sense that it either is probably real or they know it’s real. Most people, if they’re talking, if they trust you and they’ve gotten to know you, they’ll tell you they’ve had a brush with things and you might say, okay, explain that away. It was a nightmare or whatever.

Adam Blai (40:26):

The other data that I’ve experienced, Jim, is I was waiting for the shoe to drop that people in the psych world would tell me, “What are you wasting your life playing around with that stuff? None of that’s real. You shouldn’t be bothering with all that. That’s just psychosis or some type of epilepsy, et cetera.” And actually that phone call has never come. In fact, the phone calls that have come is, “Would you please have lunch with me and I’ve got a thousand questions”, or “Would you please come and talk to our medical association at the hospital to a room full of doctors” or a call from a psychiatric hospital. “We’ve got a case that doesn’t respond to anything and is honestly scaring us. Would you please come over and quietly evaluate this for us?” You’d be surprised how many psychiatrists I talked to over the years who are treating the person that’s coming for exorcism who have in a very positive way said, “Yeah, please continue this because it seems to be helping them. And I’ve got a thousand questions.” So I know you’re kind of assuming that people are dismissive and maybe the average person is more dismissive. But I would say the average person has a gut level interest in this topic. And then the professionals that I’ve interacted with, they’ve actually been very open to it, and I’ve been surprised by that, but it’s been consistent over the years.

Jim (42:02):

Well, I will say this, a lot of my friends in the occult and different things, “Oh, there’s no such thing as good and evil. There’s a lower vibrations.” And I’m like, “No, I think there’s evil.” I’m pretty darn convinced that there’s evil. I don’t think there’s any question, and I think that there are entities out there that do not wish us well. Now to put it into context, roughly on average, would you have a number for how many exorcisms are done in the Catholic church in the US and then worldwide in an average year?

Adam Blai (42:35):

No, I have no idea. There’s over a hundred dioceses in the United States. I don’t remember the exact number, but there’s more than a hundred. Each one of them should have an exorcist and a team there. They’re probably doing at least one session a week, if not four or five or more sessions a week. In the bigger cities, they have many exorcists and they’re doing 15, 20 sessions in a week. So you’d have to multiply, say a hundred times an average of, I don’t know, two a week times 52…

Jim (43:11):


Adam Blai (43:11):

…Would be the United States in a year.

Jim (43:13):

So we’re in similar size cities. I’m in Cleveland, you’re in Pittsburgh. So I mean, if you were to guess Cleveland, I mean that would be probably comparable, I would think, to Pittsburgh. Very similar cities.

Adam Blai (43:25):

So about four a week.

Jim (43:27):


Adam Blai (43:27):

Times 52 would be for the year.

Jim (43:31):

So on average, if you’re going down the street in the major American city or metro area and you see a Catholic church, there’s a chance that there’s been, a decent chance, that in that year there’s been at least one exorcism. Is that a fair assessment?

Adam Blai (43:47):

No. No. So there’s an assumption that you’re making that we have to address.

Jim (43:52):

Okay, sure. Good.

Adam Blai (43:54):

Without realizing it, you’re making the assumption that it’s like in the movies where there’s an exorcism 10 minutes later, 15 minutes later, the demon’s out, case closed. That’s not how it works at all. When somebody comes for help that’s possessed, they’ve usually been possessed for years or decades, and many, many, many, many demons are in them, and it takes weeks, months, or years. The average is about a year and a half of weekly sessions for one person to be freed.

Jim (44:25):

Okay, well, that’s the good thing is that you can dispel my assumptions. So that’s good. Now, I want to put an exclamation point and an underline on one thing that I know that you cover in the book, and you’ve mentioned it in passing a couple times here, but I think it’s really important because a lot of people, I think, still believe when you’re dealing with these kind of things that you’re dealing with people who are mentally ill, and I want to be a great respecter of people who have issues with mental health. I want to be very respectful to them and realize that that can cause some behavior that is not what you would be used to seeing, and maybe in untrained hands could be misconstrued as something like this. So can you talk about that? You have that appendix about medical and mental illness. Can you really put an underline and an exclamation point on that topic and talk about how that is addressed to make sure that people are not miscategorized.

Adam Blai (45:31):

Yeah. So again, as I mentioned earlier, even centuries ago in 1614, the Church had already figured out that you need to rule out the mundane first. So Jim, this as we just kind of tried to describe, is a rare phenomenon. And by rare, I mean you might have three new cases in a mid-size city like the cities you and I live in a year.

Jim (45:55):


Adam Blai (45:55):

You might get three new cases in 300 to 500,000 person city and some years you may get none. So it’s exceedingly rare. So jumping to the hypothesis that a problem is demonic without trying to rule out the extremely likely hypothesis that it’s medical or mental illness, is really silly thinking. So a person’s hearing a voice and they say, “Well, it must be a demon.” Well, that’s like saying, “I won the lottery and that’s the reason I found a dollar in my pocket.” It’s extremely unlikely reason for what’s going on. The reasonable thing is to rule out the much more likely possibility that it’s mental illness or a brain problem first.

Jim (46:44):

Yeah, we think about mental illness, but you think about, I’m assuming that certain brain tumors and things could cause physical manifestations.

Adam Blai (46:54):

Sure. And the example that I use, that I’ve used a number of times, it’s worth telling really quickly. So I had a young couple call in one day, and by the way, side issue or footnote on this, about 8 out of 10 of the people that call in, it’s just mental illness. And I can tell just in the first intake interview, and I just refer them back to their doctor. So it’s not like we’re cheerleaders for the demonic and thinking everything is spiritual. So, young couple calls in, just got married, just bought their first house, and they say, “We think our house is haunted.” We’re on a group call and I say, “Okay, what’s going on?” And they describe that at the end of the day when they turn the lights out, that the wife is seeing what looked like small flashbulbs going off of light, mainly in the hallway outside their bedroom, sometimes in the bedroom.

Adam Blai (47:45):

And the husband says, “Well, I can’t see it, but it’s some kind of spirit that’s like making flashing lights. And my wife is seeing it”, and I ask a bunch of background questions about them and their medical history, and it’s ringing some bells for me from back in studying the brain. And I encourage them, towards the end of the conversation, I said, “Well, I know this may sound strange to you, assuming this is a ghost and you bought a haunted house, but go talk to your medical doctor about this and just get that ruled out” because something was bothering me. There just wasn’t the other stuff that we see with house cases that are spiritual, and it just wasn’t adding up. So they called me about nine days later, maybe it was two weeks, I don’t remember. It’s been years. And they basically said, “Thank you very much. We did go to our doctor. It turned out that she had a small tumor on the back of her brain at her occipital lobe where vision is first processed in the brain and it was pushing on her brain, which was causing her to basically see these flashes of light from the neurons firing from the tumor pushing on them.”

Jim (48:53):


Adam Blai (48:54):

The reason she only saw them at night is that they were dim and they were happening all the time. So during the day, and in bright light it was washing it out, but in the darkness, this very dim flashing to her seemed more pronounced, and that’s when she noticed it. So if she had gone into a dark closet at work in the middle of the day, she would’ve seen the flashing light, but she just never had occasion to be in darkness until the end of the day when they turned the lights out. Now, because they caught the tumor early, it was operable and her prognosis was good, but what would’ve happened, Jim, if it was your wife or somebody’s wife and you had jumped to the conclusion it was a ghost, never talked with the doctor, and brought in paranormal group after paranormal group trying to figure out what’s going on. Maybe if you were a Catholic, you brought your priest in or you brought your Protestant minister in, and meanwhile this tumor is growing. Wouldn’t that have been sad if the bad outcome from the cancer was bad for a young wife. So I just use that as an example of we need to be prudent and reasonable and not get too excited too quickly about the spiritual side.

Jim (50:05):

That is an excellent point, and I really appreciate you saying that. I think that is so, so important, and that is a great example right there. So thank you very much for that. We’re going to explain to people where to find the book and everything, but first, do you have any thoughts on this topic that you’d like to share with the audience before we get to that important information?

Adam Blai (50:27):

Yeah, Jim. So I know that a lot of people involved in the paranormal probably listen to you, and I knew a lot of the people that were famous in the paranormal and a lot of the early stars on the TV shows. You want to be careful with this stuff. I know demons have become popular in the paranormal TV shows, and the idea of getting scratched or even possessed for a few moments is actually trendy, as crazy as that seems. 

Jim (50:53):

I don’t get that for one minute, I’m sorry, but that’s neither here nor there. Go ahead.

Adam Blai (50:59):

But the other thing is that there are people out there that think they can do exorcisms just because they bought the book and they think it’s a magical incantation that if, ”Oh, I got the book so I’ll just read this over this person or in this home.” The thing I just want to caution people about is that you’re actually appealing to God’s authority when you do these things. So unless God has appointed you to do it and basically think of it, I don’t know your city giving you a police badge, imagine trying to do a citizen’s arrest on an armed criminal because…

Jim (51:37):


Adam Blai (51:37):

You read a book about arresting people and you’re just going to go do it yourself versus somebody who has proper authority and therefore has the backup and the legal authority to do it. That’s the difference between somebody picking up the book and trying to do it. It’s not going to work unless you’re the hyper, extremely rare circumstance that Jesus chooses to respond and do it for you because you’re this amazing saintly person who’s like one in a million or one in a billion a living saint that Jesus can choose to respond. Because I don’t want to say Jesus can’t do something, right. God can do whatever he wants, but I can tell you that it would be like winning the lottery at that level of success rate for you to pick up a book and try to do this. And I can tell you what is vastly likely to happen is that you will be become the next case, because you will have challenged the fallen angel based on your own human authority, which is not above them versus Jesus’s authority.

Adam Blai (52:45):

And so he has given his authority to his Church directly and ordered his Church to go do these things. And so when the Church does it, they’re obeying God and God is backing them up. And when people play around with trying to say, “Oh, I’m a demonologist or an exorcist because I read a few books”, that doesn’t mean they have the spiritual authority to do these things. They’re going to end up hurt themselves or they’re going to make situations worse in people’s homes. So yeah, this is a ministry. This is not a magical incantation. That would be my cautionary message. And if I can add one other bit, you’re going to see a story every year sometime during the year of some tragic, misguided, attempted, an exorcism and somebody ended up dead. Usually in, honestly, like a third world country is often where I see these coming from.

Adam Blai (53:41):

Don’t go out trying to diagnose possession yourself unless you’re truly qualified to do this and you’re appointed to do it and you’re working with medical people, you have access to proper ruling things out. This is not something that you should go around telling people that you’ve decided they’re possessed or not. Basically what I’m saying, Jim, is you should really leave this to the professionals because it is dangerous work. Again, to go back to the police analogy, it would be like somebody deciding they’re going to interfere with the local drug trafficking syndicate in your city on their own without any backup or authority. You don’t want to get in that swimming pool without the proper education and the proper backup and the proper authority, and it’s the same way here.

Jim (54:34):

That makes sense. That makes sense. And Adam, it just been a fascinating almost hour of discussion here. I appreciate your time. Where can people find out where to get or where can they get “The History of Exorcism”, your new book, and also if there’s any other places you’d like to point them for more information about your other work?

Adam Blai (54:55):

So the book is published by Sophia Institute Press. Sophia should be easy to spell. You can find it. It can also be bought through Amazon, though it is best to buy from publishers directly because Amazon takes such a large percentage that it really hurts the publishers when you buy through Amazon for any books that you’re looking for. Try to get it through the original publisher. And then if people want some more basic information, I do have a site for the public called and on there are links to the other books. I have four out for the public at this point that’ll hopefully be helpful to people.

Jim (55:33):

Adam, thank you for joining us.

Adam Blai (55:36):

Thank you so much, Jim. God bless you and God bless your listeners.

Jim (55:39):

A very powerful and compelling show. And I know not everyone out there will necessarily agree with Adam, and some may take exception to some of his beliefs, but our goal here is to present the theorists, to present the experts and present the authors and let you decide. And Adam makes his case very compellingly, and I thought it was an interesting 50 minutes or so of conversation. We thank you so much for tuning in. We hope that you will share the show with a friend. You could do that right from your app. We appreciate it very much and we will talk to you next time. Have a great week, everybody. Happy Halloween and Stay Spooky. Bye-bye.

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