Skip to main content

The Curse Of The Exorcist

Are Demons Products Of The Mind

The bizarre case of demonic possession which inspired the movie The Exorcist may have had nothing to do with the Devil, according to poltergeist researcher Scott Rogo.

The movie which starred Linda Blair as a young girl possessed by an evil spirit was based on the real life story of a thirteen-year-old Lutheran boy from Georgetown, USA.

The boy – who the newspapers of the time named as Roland - manifested his ‘possession’ by levitating, overturning furniture, speaking in a deep, gravelly voice – often Latin - using obscenities, moving his head in a bizarre, snake-like fashion, spitting with amazing accuracy into the eyes of priests and producing welts on his body that spelt out words.

His body also became horribly bloated, his room dropped to icy temperatures, and he slashed the arms of a priest called into help him.

Roland is believed to have become possessed after his aunt taught him how to use the Ouija board.

It was January of 1949 when the bizarre and terrifying paranormal events began in the boy’s home. Eerie scratching noises bombarded the usually quite residence. Soon after the noises started, Roland’s aunt mysteriously died. But Roland continued using the Ouija Board, only now it was to contact his aunt.

Soon, the noises in the house suddenly shifted into Roland’s bedroom.

The boy’s bed would shake violently, toys and other objects would fly across the room and the scratching sounds escalated.

Frantic with worry, Roland’s mother decided to contact a priest. When the minister visited Roland’s room, the boy started speaking in Latin – a language he had never learnt. He told the priest he was the devil.

The minister arranged for Roland to spend a night with him in his own home so he could witness any strange behavior without interference from the family.

While sitting in the dark, the priest watched and listened as the boy slept. Then suddenly, he heard scratching on the walls. He woke the boy and placed him in a heavy armchair, the chair tipped over spilling the boy to the floor, while several blankets flew around the room.

Roland first underwent exorcism at Georgetown University Hospital. He was strapped to a bed as Father E. Albert Hughes conducted the ceremony. The boy allegedly broke free of his restraints and slashed Hughes’s arm with a bedspring. The priest required 100 stiches to close the wound.

The exorcism was unsuccessful. Although Dr. J. B. Rhine, director of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University, referred to the haunting as a very impressive manifestation.

On August 20, 1949, The Washington Post stated that it took over thirty exorcism rituals by three separate religious denominations to cast the devil from the boy’s body.

Roland was finally freed of demonic possession by Father William Bowdern at Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis.


But according to poltergeist researcher Scott Rogo, one theory is that this weird behavior may be a product of the human mind and may have nothing to do with demons or religion.

‘People suffering from paranoia, paranoid schizophrenia and some forms of hysteria often complain that their minds are being invaded by outside entities.

The physical symptoms suffered by victims of hysteria, are similar to those which occur with poltergeist and possession events.’

Scroll to Continue

But Rogo admits that it’s not possible to dismiss all demonic-possession cases as products of the human psyche.

‘It’s obvious that in poltergeist-possession cases, we are dealing with some entity which produces the phenomena, but which is both dependent and independent of the agent’s mind.’


Creepy Facts About The Movie

♦ Nine people died during the making of "The Exorcist".

♦ The set for "The Exorcist" burnt down during production delaying the film for 6 weeks.

♦ It caused widespread hysteria when released. Reports of fainting, people being institutionalized, and at least one miscarriage.

♦ It was banned on video in Finland.

♦ Linda Blair had a mental breakdown during the filming

♦ Linda Blair’s grandfather died

♦ Jack McGowen died of a heart-attack after completing his role in the film

♦ Max Von Sydow’s - brother died.

♦ A night-watchman died

♦ A special effects expert died

♦ And a cameraman’s newborn baby perished

Want To Write For Hubpages?

    People from all walks of life are making money writing about their interests here on Hubpages. Why not sign up today – it’s fun, addictive and totally free.

If You Liked This Hub Please Click 'Share It' Below - I Appreciate Your Support!



geezergdad on October 31, 2013:

I passed out standing up during the part when Linda Blair sat up & spoke as a demon,

I had nightmares for 1 year.Manifest demons were around.I went to see it when it came out in 1973,My brother would not go see it.He bet me i wouldn't make it through the movie.He won $5.00 from me

Jenn from Pennsylvania on June 28, 2012:

Very eerie. I have heard about the Roland case, but didn't know about all those things that happened to the people involved in the making of The Exorcist.

Voted up and pinned!

Linda on June 04, 2012:

The movie was only scary because of the girl face nf her voice

Blade on March 09, 2012:

I have watched that movie a thousand times, but as i keep watching it, it gets more real. At first i thought it was fake, buti kept watching it, and it looked real. I have seen a lot of "exorcist" movies and none of them look like this. It's impossible to find a good movie these days. Well, i have said all i have to say, and I DO BELIEVE IN GHOSTS, DEMONS, AND POLTERGIESTS. i DO believe in them. IF you say wrong, you might perish. Never take the devils name and use it wrong, he WILL punish you. Trust me, i know

Drew on December 28, 2011:

I watched the movie with my friend. It wasn't so much scary as it was freaky. It didn't make you scream but it was nothing to laugh at.

Timber&Tori on November 21, 2011:

I think that this story is a very disturbing story. To know this is true is even more scary. I do belive it was more of a mintal thing, but levitating is not mental .. that isn't even possible for people to do. I dont know how you would live on knowing that you were posested by a demon. I know that if this ever happened to me i would never want to be alone... EVER! I hav lived in a house that was haunter and i also walked into my room and found a Ouiji board sitting on my bed. I have had handprints all over my mirrors and also gotten scratch marks on my leg. I try to be oblivious about this stuff but hearing these kinds of storys make me look into this stuff and belive a lot more.

Alison&Timber on November 20, 2011:

Alison- This movie is really scary, and the fact it is true is even more frightening.My gma used Ouiji boards, and she went insane. They are a bad idea (so I agree with Jac) , and Gio that isn't a good idea, because you shouldn't make fun of the evil and horrible things that can happen to anyone.To even act like you are possesed is a bad idea!I used to live in a haunted house, and I would get scratgces all over my body, a bucket of ants poured on me, and there was an evil man, a different man, an old woman, and a baby ghost. All of the paranormal Witchcraftery is just a portal to hell.

Timber- I think that was a very scary movie. To know that this accually happened to somebody is horrible. I cant imagine living and remembering evil being in my body. I would never laugh at anyy of this because it is all true. Ouiji Boards are a horrible invinsion. I have found one im my bedroom on my bed and it said '' hello how are you'' I would never mess with one. Being in this movie would really make me go insane ... I have been in a house on a Slave ground and seen hand prints on my mirrors. I try not to belive in this stuff only to keep me from being scared but knowing this is true did not help! I will sure do more reasearch though , i would love to find out more info. on this. :)

Anthony on November 10, 2011:

Yeah It is scary

Jac on October 30, 2011:

Actually Baker, Ouiji boards should never be used under any circumstances! Using one is opening a doorway that once opened is extremely difficult to close and is just asking for trouble! And gio, you may think this is funny but for some it's a horrifying reality. So don't make ignorant comments on things you don't understand.

gio on October 15, 2011:

That movie is hilarious. Too funny.

Bakerwoman on August 20, 2011:

The movie still frightens me after all these years. Ouija boards should be used with caution. Demonic possession is terrifying because it can happen to anyone.

ronsonette from Texas on June 25, 2011:

In my experience, everything in this article was accurate. I would like to add that exorcists and people involved are at a high risk of retaliation from the entities. It's not something that should be tried by just anyone.

Please contact a professional if you think you or some one you know has a problem.

Great Hub!

Brandon on April 27, 2011:

You left out that one of Jason Miller's (Father Karras) sons was hit by either a car or a motorcycle during the making of the movie.

Ruby on October 25, 2010:

Last night on AMC the show Movies That Shook The World featured The Exorcist and they stated that the original case took place in Mount Rainier MD.

mdnfjds;adj; on July 08, 2010:

the movie was not to scary, but i am very curious 2 learn more about the possetion!!!so weird!!!

Andrew from Italy on December 30, 2009:

Great hub, very interesting. The Exorcist has been one of the scariest movie ever. But to be sure about what happened someone should have been there to see by himself. I've heard that Poltergeist is a kind of cursed movie too.

Kimberly Bunch from EAST WENATCHEE on September 04, 2009:

Great Stuff! Here's one for measure:

Mark Halliday (author) from Australia on July 08, 2009:

It certainly scared me when I watched it - and knowing it is based on a true story makes it even more frightening. Good movie for a guy to take his girlfriend to watch - she is certain to cuddle up to you :)

christine almaraz from colorado springs on July 08, 2009:

I've read the book several times and the movie is my all time fav scary movie. All the bad things that happened may have just been coincindence or evil doing. I guess one will never truly know huh? Great hub.

Mark Halliday (author) from Australia on July 01, 2009:

The evidence seems to agree with you Joy.

Joilene Rasmussen from United States on July 01, 2009:

I wouldn't even play with the idea of watching that movie - it's begging for trouble.

I've seen enough the way it is.

Mark Halliday (author) from Australia on June 19, 2009:

That was probably a good idea Carrie - although you are the first person I have heard of that has fallen asleep during that movie.

Carrie Bradshaw from Manhattan on June 19, 2009:

I know that every time I tried to watch the Exorcist, I fell asleep in the first 20 minutes, like the Lord wouldn't allow it!

Mark Halliday (author) from Australia on June 17, 2009:

Mrvoodoo - I think your friend was as scared as me when I first saw the movie. And Jewels, I think I'm going to be crucified by some people, nice to know you're on my side. Thanks for the comments guys. :)

Jewels from Australia on June 17, 2009:

Mr V - did he spill the popcorn?

Nice hub Mark. You'll have the whole fallen spiritual world sorted out soon. It could do with a bit of cleaning don't you think?

Mark Halliday (author) from Australia on June 17, 2009:

I agree Alex.

Mrvoodoo from ? on June 17, 2009:

Great Hub, Informative and a little bit scary too, I've heard the story of Roland (AKA 'John Hoffman') before, but you tell it well and with just the right amount of detail. 

Some friends and I went to watch the Exorsist movie at the cinema when it was re-released about 10 years ago, one friend whilst watching the movie and eating his popcorn back-flipped backwards over his chair and into the lap of the person behind him, you could tell from the confused look on his face that he hadn't done it deliberately to scare us, which means that he'd either just suffered from some kind of epileptic seizure (for the first time ever in his life) or something else...

AlexK2009 from Edinburgh, Scotland on June 17, 2009:

It seeems to me that the most likely situation is that some Posession and poltergeist cases are spirit based and some are the result of the unconscious mind using its powers.

Deciding which is which can be tricky.

Related Articles