At least one Yale-trained, trusted, and experienced psychiatrist says that demonic possession is not only real, but it's on the rise as well both in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Richard Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, says that he's spent decades studying the subject of demonic possession. He calls himself a "man of science and a lover of history," but he says he's seen things over the course of his professional psychiatric career that convince him that demonic possession is a real phenomenon.
He recounted his accounts and theories to the Washington Post.
According to Dr. Gallagher, his foray into the world of demonic possession began back in the 1980s when he was introduced to a woman who referred to herself as a witch, a Satanic priestess, and even the queen of Satan. The doctor came to know the woman when he was asked by a Catholic priest to determine whether she was suffering from mental illness or demonic possession.
The doctor reported that the priest asked him for help in the case because of his skepticism.
"Well, unless we thought you were not easily fooled, we would hardly have wanted you to assist us."The doctor's partnership with the priest would ultimately span more than two decades and hundreds of consults. The psychiatrist in question was given a highly specialized and unique job: to filter cases of mental illness from cases of "legitimate" demonic possession. Despite a lot of criticism, the doctor contends that it's possible to be both a "sophisticated psychiatrist" and also believe in evil spirits and demonic possession. He says that while most reports of demonic possession are nothing more than hoaxes or mental illness, in rare instances, people are truly assailed by demons and do become victims of demonic possession. According to Dr. Gallagher, some cases can simply not be explained any other way.
While the Vatican doesn't officially track exorcism in any way (neither locally nor globally), the doctor argues that cases of demonic possession are rising. He alleges that this statistic is buttressed by his interactions with priests, who say that demand for exorcism is rising. In the United States, there are only roughly 50 "stable" exorcists that have been officially charged by the Catholic Church with handling cases of demonic possession. While that number may seem small, it's actually much larger than the 12 exorcists in the United States a decade ago.
According to Gallagher, some exorcists are less than ethical and "treat" demonic possession with abusive or dangerous practices, even beating sufferers, sometimes resulting in the deaths of those who are believed to suffer from demonic possession.
He says that he approaches each evaluation with skepticism and does not make an official diagnosis of demonic possession, but rather hands his findings over to the clergy when there are instances of inexplicable symptoms that cannot be explained away with traditional psychiatry.
What do you think? Is Dr. Gallagher correct? Is demonic possession real?
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