Two of the Catholic Church’s expert exorcists in the United Kingdom say there has been a sharp increase in people asking for their help.
And they say young people’s interest in the preternatural, such as Harry Potter, could be to blame.
They both also say the use of Ouija boards – which are used to try and communicate with the dead – also bring the risk of being possessed by an evil spirit.
Drinking alcohol, watching pornography and having an abortion are seen as other risk factors.
Speaking to The Times, one of the priests, who works as an exorcist in central London and Kent, said there has been “a greater interest in exorcisms”.
He said: “Popular culture is full of the preternatural. Young people are watching things about vampires and Harry Potter and, however much people claim to have moved away from mainstream religion, there remains the need to believe in something invisible.
“It’s normal for humans to have a morbid fascination with the idea of a battle with evil and, to paint a caricature, the exorcist coming like a wizard to help.”
The priest admitted that “possession” – when the demonic presence has full control of a body is extremely rare.
However, he said a more common feature is “oppressions”, which mean they have partial control.
Symptoms can include being able to suddenly speak a new language or the ability to predict events.
The priests – who did not want to be named – said it is important to make the distinction between a mental illness and demonic possession.
One of the priests said he has performed about ten exorcisms in the past year.