Astonishing Legends

Hosted ByScott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess

The world is more mysterious than most people are comfortable imagining. We cross paths with the mystical from time to time and may not even notice it. If we do, we quickly return to our usually mundane daily existence. But what if we not only acknowledged the unknown, we investigated it and spoke with those in the know? That’s what co-hosts Scott & Forrest, and their producer Tess Pfeifle do at Astonishing Legends. Over 85 million downloads and hundreds of thousands of listeners have shown that exploring and embracing the wonders of our world can be not only enlightening but exciting. Welcome to Astonishing Legends!

The True Story Behind the Exorcist Part 3

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Now that we’ve heard the shocking details of Ronnie Hunkeler’s exorcism, we’re once again left to wonder at what point does a logical, scientific explanation become inadequate in accounting for all the extreme events that occurred?  Looking objectively at Ronnie’s behavior before, during, and after the exorcisms, those who favor a psychiatric or medical diagnosis could explain them as the result of an ailment like Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Dissociative identity disorder, or perhaps Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis along with comorbidities.  For those who believe in supernatural possibilities, then a spiritual force of possession could explain the incredible actions, or maybe one in conjunction with a medical condition; for them, the two are not mutually exclusive.  Yet mental illness or a brain abnormality only goes so far in explaining Ronnie’s lifetime of conduct.  While he may have had a difficult childhood with an overbearing mother and grandmother, there are no indications that he suffered any ongoing abuse severe enough to bring about PTSD that is often the gateway to the mental illnesses mentioned above.  After Ronnie’s time with the priests and the rites, it seems he went on to lead a disorder-free life with a successful career.  Our current understanding of psychology states that these conditions don’t go away on their own and are only manageable by the patient through ongoing behavioral therapy and medication.  And if the eye-witness testimony is correct, then psychological diagnoses can’t begin to account for the poltergeist activity experienced leading up to and during the exorcisms.  In the end, whatever horrors that terrorized Ronnie and those around him in 1949 seemed to leave him once and for all, but they may not have left every place he experienced them.  In our final chapter on this series, we’ll hear from our friend, popular St. Louis radio talk show host Dave Glover.  In 2008, Dave and his crew staged a contest for one of their Halloween Specials.  Three listeners won the chance to see if they could sit alone for an hour in the bedroom where Ronnie’s exorcism began, in the former home of Ronnie’s aunt and uncle, Doris and Leonard Hunkeler, on Roanoke Drive in Bel Nor, Missouri.  None of them made it past a few minutes.  Whether from overactive imaginations or a lingering presence of evil, either explanation for the primal fear and torment one feels matters as little to the person at that moment as it does to the Devil himself.  Neither he nor your senses care what you believe.

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