Since the era of the New Testament, Christian societies have diagnosed some individuals as possessed by the Devil or one of his subordinate demons. Such cases have always proved both frightening and controversial to those who witnessed them: frightening because those thought to be suffering from demon possession displayed unusual and disturbing symptoms; controversial because they often engendered heated debates about the role of natural and supernatural forces in the world.

While the subject of possession has received a number of significant treatments in recent years, Brian Levack's The Devil Within attempts to offer a comprehensive survey of the field across the whole of the Christian West. Although his focus is on the European experience primarily between 1400 and 1800, he supplements his arguments with material drawn from locales as diffuse as New England, Brazil, and South Africa, occasionally reaching chronologically back to antiquity or forward into the modern era...

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