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Case Example: Possesson Case
From Spiritual Competency Resource Center
© Dr. David Lukoff 1994, 2014

In the vignette below, events are described as the person in the case study reported her possession experience.

Katsuma was born in Japan, but moved to the US. at age 23 after marrying a person in the armed service. A few years after immigrating, she walked into a restaurant, where a man she had never met came up to her and said, "I've never seen such a strong orange aura around a person. Do you practice any spiritual discipline?" Thinking that he was making a sexual advance, she ignored him. He spoke again: "You are from Fukushima Prefecture, and you are the oldest of two..." Quite surprised at the accuracy of these statements, she decided to listen. The man said that he ran a dojo. (a martial arts studio) in Los Angeles with Erik, a Ninjutsu teacher. Ninjutsu is a martial art that had been passed on only within a family from generation to generation. Erik had been well trained in this discipline from his father born in Hawaii, but he wanted to go to Japan, he said, to learn the true secret of Ninjutsu from his ancestors. The man then made a surprising request: Erik needed someone who could speak English and Japanese to come along with him. Would Katsuma go to Japan with Eric?

Initially Katsuma disregarded the incident as just a bizarre encounter. But a couple of months later, she was awakened by a dream in which Erik's address and phone number were written in blood. She arranged to meet Erik. It was at Erik's dojo that the episode of possession occurred. Over the next three days, Katsuma conducted a series of three ceremonies with the martial arts students at the dojo while feeling possessed:

    While I was going through the ceremonies, I felt as if I was watching myself in a movie. The strangest thing I experienced during the ceremonies was that the person who was supposed to be me, was not really me but someone else who had a body like me and a voice like me. I felt as if some ancient being had taken my body and had came to life during the ceremony and left important messages as gifts to the students. I felt as though my words were monitored, carefully controlled by some separate entity within me. I was not sure who was actually speaking to Erik!"

Katsuma felt possessed by a young woman who lived in a little village in Aizuwakamatsu (her home village and that of Erik's ancestors as well) about 300 years ago. According to Katsuma, this entity "possessed a mysterious healing power and healed many people in the village. She was a beautiful woman who had extremely smooth and white skin. Village people called her "Aodaisho Onna" (a snake woman). Aodaisho is a very rare type of snake which was believed by many people to be the servant of God. The snake was said to have a beautiful long white smooth body, and glow in the dark."

One ritual she conducted was virtually identical to an ancient form of shamanic healing in Japan called Seiki therapy Osumi, 1988 #286 (Ritchie ) which involves "spontaneously creating sudden loud noises: banging the walls, clapping and loud kiai" (p. 41 ). Katsuma administered a loud kiai to each of the marital arts students at the dojo, although she had never witnessed this therapy. She also conducted a tea ceremony and a ritual that involved writing calligraphy with her own blood, also a practice associated with shamans in Asia Heinze, 1991 #287 (Heinze).

After this episode of being possessed which lasted three days, Katsuma was thrown into a crisis. The experience disrupted her life, ultimately leading to a divorce and a change in lifestyle and values. She questioned whether she was going crazy and sought out a therapist to integrate the experience. Several years later, she has begun graduate school to pursue a new vocation as a psychologist.

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