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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Pre-modern forms of healing are based on two different cognitive symbolic interpretations: (1) the disease is caused either by a lack of power; or (2) by possession by an evil power. Healings are therefore due to ‘adorcism’ (the good spirits who had previously left the sick person re-enter him) and ‘exorcism’ (the bad spirits who had entered the person are driven out). Early Christianity institutionalized both forms of healing by increasing ritualization. Four theories of pre-modern healings are combined in a theory of effective correspondence: charismatic healing is based on the efficacy of faith (or the placebo effect), social healing on the reduction of social stress, symbolic healing, and ritual healing on the correspondence between internal symbolic and external processes. Embodied rituals are only effective if they are embedded in a social context, with charismatics, cognitive interpretations, and social support.

Keywords: adorcism and exorcism, charismatic healing, demons, dissociative self, effective correspondence, faith, placebo effect, pre-modern healings, social healing, symbolic

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