Spirit Attachment

A spirit attachment is a type of Possession in which a discarnate entity becomes attached to a living person, much like a parasite. Spirit attachment technically is possession but is a term favoured in contemporary times because it does not carry Demonic associations. Spirit attachment may in some cases be benign.

Attachment is believed to occur after a person dies and becomes earthbound due to interference of emotional ties, unfinished business or lack of awareness of death. The earthbound spirits are attracted at random to a human host who fills their vicarious needs. Symptoms of attachment include sudden changes in behaviour, dress, mood and speech, alcohol and drug use, and so on. Victims may become depressed, even suicidal, and exhibit signs of multiple personality disorder. The severity of symptoms depends on how fully the entity invades the consciousness and body of the host.

Few symptoms may show in more neutral or even benevolent attachments. Many people may not know they have attached spirits, according to some therapists.

Nonhuman entities, as well as the earthbound dead, may attach themselves to people. According to therapists who perform Spirit Releasement, most attached entities are not evil or Demonic, though such beings are encountered. Other spirits are said to be elementals of low intelligence, thought-forms, and extraterrestrials.

A living person supposedly is more vulnerable to attachment if he or she drinks alcohol or uses drugs, has suffered a traumatic accident, or has had major surgery involving anesthesia.

Proximity to a dying person also can lead to attachment. Many superstitions around the world hold that immediately upon death the soul looks for something to occupy.

The first medically trained person to approach mental illness due to spirit possession or attachment was Dr. Carl A. Wickland, an American physician and psychologist who had attended numerous spiritualist séances. Wickland and his wife, Anna, used electric shock to exorcise unwanted entities from the auras of their patients. A contemporary of the Wicklands was Titus Bull, a New York physician and neurologist who accepted spiritualist beliefs concerning spirit obsession and possession, and who endorsed treatment by persuasive Exorcism in Séances. Bull conducted research with James H. Hyslop, a distinguished psychical researcher who helped organize and preside over the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR).

Spirit attachment and releasement has gained increasing attention since the early 1980s, especially with the organization of past-life regression therapy. Some attachments are said to be karmic in origin. If an attached entity is not released, it may remain attached for the lifetime of the host or may wander off and find a new host.

There is no formal training or certification for spirit attachment therapy.


  • Fiore, Edith. The Unquiet Dead: A Psychologist Treats Spirit Possession. Garden City, N.Y.: Dolphin/Doubleday & Co., 1987.
  • “Introduction to Spirit Releasement Therapy.” Center for Human Relations. Available on-line. URL: https://www. spiritreleasement.org/intro/srtintro.html. Downloaded on Oct. 6, 1999.
  • Rogo, D. Scott. The Infinite Boundary. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1987.
  • Wickland, Carl A. Thirty Years Among the Dead. North Hollywood, Calif.: Newcastle Publishing Co., 1974. First published 1924.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley  – September 1, 2007

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