Most everyone who recalls the 70s also recalls the movie that put a whole nation on edge. "The Exorcist" was a groundbreaking level of horror that took us to our greatest fear - evil possession of the innocent.
The movie was based loosely on a real set of circumstances in the late 1940s to an adolescent boy. It was in 1949, when newspapers began to publish anonymous letters about an ongoing exorcism and possession, that the first kernels of this story came to light.
The child was anonymously named, Roland Doe, born of a German Lutheran family in 1936. He lived in Maryland and was an only child. One of his closest family members to play with was his aunt who was a spiritualist and he became quite interested in the Ouija board.
Following the boy's aunt's death, odd things began to happen from strange noises to furniture moving. The boy was sent to a parapsychologist's home to observe him, where objects began to move. He then referred the family to the clergy.
*I'm admittedly a big confused how a Lutheran child can be exorcised by a Catholic priest when, not only is he not of their faith, but he did not join their faith under a time of duress, either.*
There were several exorcism rituals performed and during one of them, the boy got his hands free from the constraints and used a broken piece of bed spring to lash out at the clergy. Reportedly, growling voices, object movement, and a shaking bed were witnessed.
Something to keep in mind in the subject of possession is this - it's only real if you believe it's possible.
Some people involved in the case reported that Roland was a spoiled petulant child who had fits when he was not allowed to do things. As well, it was reported the boy was trying to imitate Latin words, not truly channeling another voice. No matter how one looks at the case, it is a matter of belief or disbelief and that colors the way anyone interprets an event.
We will never know the true nature of what occurred with this boy, but it certainly made for one of the most horrifying movies of all time.
Book - The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
DVD - "The Exorcist"
Book - (critical of the case) Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism by Thomas B. Allen