possession


possession
/peuh zesh"euhn/, n.
1. the act or fact of possessing.
2. the state of being possessed.
3. ownership.
4. Law. actual holding or occupancy, either with or without rights of ownership.
5. a thing possessed: He packed all his possessions into one trunk.
6. possessions, property or wealth.
7. a territorial dominion of a state.
8. Sports.
a. physical control of the ball or puck by a player or team: He didn't have full possession when he was tackled.
b. the right of a team to put the ball into play: They had possession after the other team sank a free throw.
9. control over oneself, one's mind, etc.
10. domination, actuation, or obsession by a feeling, idea, etc.
11. the feeling or idea itself.
[1300-50; ME < L possession- (s. of possessio) occupancy, act of occupying, equiv. to possess(us), ptp. of possidere to have in one's control, occupy (and, in active sense, ptp. of posidere to seize upon) (*pots-, akin to posse to be able + -sidere, comb. form of sedere to SIT1; cf. HOST1) + -ion- -ION]
Syn. 1. tenure, occupation. 1, 3. See custody.

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      in law, the acquisition of either a considerable degree of physical control over a physical thing, such as land or chattel, or the legal right to control intangible property, such as a credit—with the definite intention of ownership. With respect to land and chattel, possession may well have started as a physical fact, but possession today is often an abstraction. A servant or an employee, for instance, may have custody of an object, but he does not have possession; his employer does, even though he may be thousands of miles from the object he owns. Furthermore, except in the most abstract way, it is not possible to speak of the possession of intangible property.

      In the development of the civil (or Roman) legal system, possession tended to assume more importance than proprietary rights, and the same is true of the common-law (or Anglo-American) system. Thus, possession tends to be regarded as prima facie evidence of the right of ownership; it gives this right against everyone except the rightful owner. Mere possession by a finder is sufficient to provide grounds for an action against one who deprives him of the object with no better right than his own.

      in religious and folk traditions, condition characterized by unusual behaviour and a personality change that is interpreted as evidence that the person is under the direct control of an external supernatural power. Symptoms of spirit possession include violent unusual movements, shrieking, groaning, and uttering disconnected or strange speech. Occasionally a normally pious member of a religious body becomes incapable of prayer, utters blasphemies, or exhibits terror or hatred of sacred persons or objects. Christianity and some other religions allow for the possibility that some of these states have an evil transcendental cause (see exorcism). Most scientific studies treat them as psychophysical manifestations to be dealt with medically or in terms of social psychology. Some conditions historically termed demonic possession have come to be treated as epilepsy, hysteria, somnambulism, schizophrenia, or other organic or psychological forms of illness.

      In some traditions, the “possessed” individual becomes ill and is regarded by his community as having committed some spiritual transgression; recovery is held to require expiation of his sin, often by a sacrifice. In other traditions, the “possessed” person is conceived as a medium for the controlling spirit and functions as an intermediary between spirits and men. His major role is usually to diagnose and heal other spirit-afflicted individuals. In this tradition the trance behaviour of the medium is often self-induced (autohypnotic); it may be stimulated by drugs, drumming, or collective hysteria. In his trance the medium appears genuinely insensible to ordinary stimuli.

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Universalium. 2010.

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