Chapter 4: Possessed Children

Once linked to prophecy and spirituality, possessed children are now evidence of The Child’s vulnerability to corruption. The devil that possesses the child symbolizes the negative effects of “bad” influences, like violent media or a sexualized consumer culture, that take over the children of failed families. The possessions in Turn of the Screw (1898) and The Exorcist (1971, 1973), for example, occur because the children lack vigilant parents. In contemporary films, like The Last Exorcism (2010), The Possession (2012), and Sinister (2012), it is absent fathers who most adversely affect their children. Though possessed child narratives typically involve girls, the novels A Wrinkle in Time (1962), Chocky (1968), Del-Del (1992), and A Good and Happy Child (2007) focus on the possession of boys but follow some significant gender differences.