Emotional Exorcism

Expelling the Four Psychological Demons That Make Us Backslide

by Holly A. Hunt, PhD


Compared to previous decades, it is estimated that two-thirds more of Americans have sought help for some kind of emotional suffering—and yet surveys continue to show that people aren’t feeling much better. Is it possible to engage the demons at the heart of common problems and conquer them once and for all?

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Cover image for Emotional Exorcism

June 2009


Pages 189
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/General

Emotional Exorcism: Expelling the Four Psychological Demons That Make Us Backslide offers a powerful, research-grounded model and tools to help us overcome our problems without beating up on ourselves for backsliding to negative habits.

Dr. Holly Hunt’s groundbreaking work, Emotional Exorcism, offers all those in emotional distress a new way to face one’s demons and banish them once and for all. For anyone unable to pull themselves out of sadness, anxiety, anger, or addictive behaviors, it is a potent and practical strategy for expelling psychological demons and stopping the feeling of failure.

Drawing on years of experience in private practice with clients of all backgrounds, Dr. Hunt shows how earlier life experiences can create a core of negative belief she calls the “Master Demon,” as well as self-sabotaging thoughts and behavior patterns called the “Four Soldier Demons.” These generate emotional negativity within us, providing a power source for the demons. Dr. Hunt then provides a practical, user-friendly, research-grounded model to change those self-sabotaging thoughts, behaviors, and feelings without the self-defeating burden of battling ourselves. Through a variety of tools, she empowers readers to separate from, stop feeding, and effectively exorcize our psychological demons.


  • The demon model and accompanying tools are original concepts created and presented by the author
  • An extensive bibliography of 130 references includes relevant research studies, books, and reference texts for further information
  • A comprehensive index points readers to important topics within the text and the end-of-chapter notes
  • Useful, practical tables highlight and summarize important concepts and strategies presented within each chapter


  • Helps readers identify the sources of their emotional distress in their earlier lives through a revealing, easy-to-understand “Demon Model”
  • Offers the advice of a leading private therapist, drawing on years of working with emotionally distressed clients
  • Provides easy-to-use tools to spotlight the Soldier Demons, refuse their directives, and stop feeding them and the Master Demon negative emotional energy
  • Includes real case studies of clients beset with demons and how they achieved triumphs and avoided failures
Author Info

Holly A. Hunt, PhD, is a psychologist, author, and speaker based in Southern California, where she first established her private practice in 1990. Her published works include Essentials of Private Practice: Streamlining Costs, Procedures, and Policies for Less Stress. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Kansas in 1988. She interned at the VA Medical Center in Sepulveda, CA, and worked as a staff psychologist at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, CA. She is the past chair of the Practice Management Committee of the San Diego Psychological Association. Dr. Hunt provides presentations on the topic of expelling the four psychological demons that make us backslide. For more information, visit

Table of Contents

Series Forward by Dr. Chris StoutPreface1. Outing the Demons2. The Blocker Demon3. The Negator Demon4. The Rouster Demon5. The Tempter Demon6. Unholy Alliances7. Tips for SuccessAfterwordNotesBibliographyIndex



"In this self-help book for general readers, Hunt, a psychologist, author, and speaker based in Southern California, offers a new way to overcome depression, anxiety, anger, and addictive behaviors. She shows how earlier life experiences can create a core of negative belief she calls the Master Demon, as well as self-sabotaging thoughts and behavior patterns called the Four Soldier Demons. She then provides an original, userfriendly model to change those self-sabotaging thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Through a variety of tools, including a Demon Disrupting Diary and a Reprogramming Record, she empowers readers to separate from, stop feeding, and exorcize psychological demons. Real-life case studies illustrate concepts. An extensive bibliography includes relevant research studies, books, and reference texts for further information." —Reference & Research Book News


"Dr. Holly Hunt’s new book offers a powerful explanation as to why people don’t measure-up and companies under-perform. Emotional Exorcism is a must read for every human resource manager and senior leader who wants to understand how to help their employees overcome the demons in their life and become top performers. In fact, I think reading Emotional Exorcism will save your business big bucks by reducing absenteeism, lowering employee turnover, and dealing with job-related stress. It’s just that good!"—Thomas Hinton, President & CEO, American Consumer Council

"An intriguing approach to helping people once again enjoy fulfilling and productive lives. Engaging, stimulating, captivating – an insightful 'hands on' approach, developed over years of clinical experience."—Pat DeLeon Ph.D., MPH, former President, American Psychological Association

"Dr. Holly Hunt observes in her latest book Emotional Exorcism that most of the world’s major religions have often viewed human emotional problems as caused by a person being possessed or controlled by demons or evil spirits. In turn, religions have developed a variety of methods to cast out or exorcise these demons and thus return people to a state of health or happiness. Dr. Hunt uses this process in a parallel manner to help her clients or patients describe their self-defeating patterns of lapsing and relapsing behavior as 'demons.' This process is insightful to her clients and forms pragmatic relapse prevention behavior specific to each client.

Kudos to Dr. Hunt for showing how collaboratively naming a process we all see in our clients which sabotages their 'hard won' changes in behavior as a 'demon' that can be exorcised in the process of counseling. This book is highly recommended for both beginning and seasoned therapists. It provides a novel renaming and rethinking of the frustrating process we encounter in our clients as they struggle to maintain the positive changes they have made in their counseling journey."—Douglas O. Brady, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist in Oklahoma and Texas
Fellow, American Psychological Association

"Professionals and non-professionals will find Dr. Hunt’s book enormously helpful in their work and in their lives. Dr. Hunt provides a template for identifying and expelling the negative internal forces, and their idiosyncratic patterns, that both sabotage and stall personal growth and fulfillment. This practical template for change comes with real-life examples and applicable strategies drawing on evidenced-based theories that show the way to personal empowerment, to reclaim and live your true potential."—Concepcion Barrio, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, USC School of Social Work

"Dr. Holly Hunt, a respected psychologist has used her clinical acumen and experience to construct a bold new way to combat the negative thoughts and behavior that plague many. Her use of appealing metaphors such as 'master demons' and 'soldier demons' and categorizing them in ways patients or clients can easily identify offers a fresh approach that should prove to work well, especially with those who have tried and failed to stop their self defeating behavior utilizing other methods.

Taking responsibility for bettering the way in which we cope with life’s travails is what we can and must do and Hunt sets out to help guide the path. Providing examples from her own cases informs on her therapeutic methods. In so doing, she enlivens her work and instills an optimistic outlook. Her use of two separate journals in a structured manner may well reinforce progress because it gives clients something concrete to hold on to.'
"—Sandra L. Ceren, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, American Board of Family Psychology
Fellow, Academy of Family Psychology
Author of Essentials of Premarital Counseling

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