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The Haunted Boy: The Story Behind ‘The Exorcist’?

Saturday, May 15, 2010 22:24
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Favourite bits from The Exorcist #1

The film documentary ‘The Haunted Boy, The Secret Diary of the Exorcist’ appears to be a bit sensational. Or at least if we can judge the documentary by the film trailer. The film is supposed to be based on the true story behind the real exorcism that inspired William Peter Blatty to write ‘The Exorcist.’

….“It makes the “Exorcist” movie look like kindergarten,” Christopher Booth said Thursday.

“The boy,” he said, “was disturbed.”

That nature of his disturbance — whether it was a genuine case of demonic possession or psychological — is among the questions explored in the documentary.

Despite the lurid nature of the tale, Booth said, his goal is neither to sensationalize nor exploit those involved in the 1949 exorcism or their families….(source: ghost

The Booth brothers that have put together ‘The Haunted Boy’ documentary are supposedly basing it on facts and a diary.

What are some of the facts?

.…The real account centered around Douglas Deen and began around 1949 in a rural area of Washington DC. The 14 year old boy and his family noticed strange noises coming from the walls and ceiling of his room. The suspect was thought to be mice, so an exterminator was called in but the services were unable to stop the weird sounds.

Soon the occurrences became violent. Furniture began to move, pictures jumped from their spots on the walls, and the boy’s bed began to lurch and shake through the night. The Deen family soon sought help from their neighbors. Although these persons at first tried to ignore the disturbances, one night in the house was able to change their minds.

With little else to do, the family called the minister of their local church, Reverend Winston, and asked for his assistance. Spending February 18, 1949, with the young boy, the Reverend found the happenings all too real. He witnessed the shaking of the bed, strange scratches in the walls and the movement of furniture. Afterwards, Douglas was given full physical and psychological tests but they revealed nothing out of the ordinary.

With no other solutions, the family called a Roman Catholic priest to exorcise the demons from the home. The priest performed the ceremony thirty times and stayed with the Deens for over two months. During this time, the boy would scream in strange voices and shake violently. Finally, later that spring, the family and priest felt the exorcisms had worked and the demons had been driven away…..(source: weird encyclopedia)

There was also this supposed Diary of events associated with the original exorcism of the young boy. The Diary is said to have inspired Blatty, the author, to write the original ‘The Exorcist.’

….The most interesting aspect of this work is that Blatty tells of a letter he composed to the priest who conducted the actual 1949 exorcism. Blatty prints a censored version of the exorcist’s response, revealing for the first time the existence of a diary kept by an attending priest that recorded the daily events of the ongoing exorcism. Blatty writes that he requested to see the diary but the exorcist declined. Blatty decided to ease the exorcist’s anxiety and change the lead character from a 14-year-old boy to that of a 12-year-old girl.

In this book Blatty goes on to mention that five copies of the diary were known to exist at that time: two were in the possession of people who watched over the boy; copies were in the archives of two separate archdioceses; and one was in the files of an unnamed public city hospital where the boy had stayed. (It has since been determined that there are several other copies floating around out there among private collectors.) Blatty maintains that he did indeed eventually read the diary and based much of his book and movie on that material, though he does not reveal how he came upon his copy…..(source:

Many traditional cultures do believe in exorcisms. It is possible that there are spirit entities that attach themselves to living humans. Some of those might be rather nasty.

Still the danger is that people will interpret mental and emotional problems as being demonic in nature. That belief is not helpful and is probably more dangerous than any supposed dark entities that may be lurking near us. We have seen centuries of abuse of masses of people by religious leaders and structures because of the belief that others were somehow demonic or working with demons.


Posted at Grant Lawrence–Bodhi Thunder

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