Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Lisa Gabbert (Committee Chair)


Lisa Gabbert


Christine Cooper-Rompato


Afsane Rezaeisahraei


I offer a new classification system for organizing, understanding, and validating the inhuman demonic encounter by organizing it through the senses the experience is activating. A demonic or inhuman spirit, which can be used interchangeably, is a spirit in that they exist without bodies, possess abilities greater than that of humans (rendering them inhuman), are hyperintelligent, react negatively to Christian religious iconography, and are malevolent in their behavior towards humans.

The system I have created is organized by the sensory perceptions of the narrative (i.e. sight, sound, smell, and feeling of the demonic presence) then is divided further by the types of perceptions reported in narratives about contact with inhuman spirits. My system encompasses the phenomena described during the encroachment, infestation, and oppression phases. Encroachment is when a demon is looking for a foothold to enter a person’s life (they cannot just enter on their own). Infestation is when strange phenomena begins because a demon has moved into people’s lives. Oppression is where a person’s mind begins to be broken down by an entity in order to crush their will.

For this part of the project, I am using memorates described in interviews done by the paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, in the books In A Dark Place (1992) and The Haunting (1989) along with other related experiences from Satan’s Harvest (1990). I am using these instances of contemporary literature on the subject to widen the understanding for my system. This way, the patterns of demonic activity emerge and then can be organized by the sense they are activating. My classification system could also be applied to other types of supernatural folklore to look for patterns, especially with negative supernatural narratives.

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Folklore Commons