A Yale-Educated Psychiatrist Weighs In
By Dorraine Fisher
Any of you who have followed my work with The Crypto Crew have probably read some of my articles and seen my podcasts. And you probably know that I tend to push the envelope of science just a bit. To me, science is limited. It only goes as far as what can actually be seen. And then, there are many of us, like me, that have come to realize, often the hard way, that there are many things in this world that as yet can’t be explained. As well as many things that are believed to exist but can’t always be seen. So, of course, it fascinates me to read about a scientist who’s witnessed some very unusual phenomena first hand and is forced to stray outside the scientific method and imagine that many things in the world aren’t always black or white.
Richard Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College is just such a scientist. After years of working with a priest/exorcist in hundreds of mental health cases involving individuals afflicted with supposed “demonic possession,” he’s been forced to reevaluate his beliefs on the subject, and said so freely in an article for the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago.
Gallagher, a Yale-educated psychiatrist, did not give into his new beliefs willingly, but was asked nearly 30 years ago by this priest/exorcist to evaluate a patient’s state of mental health. A patient who was believed at the time to be demon-possessed. And they had some success, obviously, as this unlikely partnership has continued all this time. Dr. Gallagher has helped filter out many cases of mental illness, that he claims make up a good portion of these cases, from the cases he is unable to explain as mental disorders, or the so-called “devil’s work.”
And when asked what he actually believed about the concept of demonic possession after years of analysis and thought and in spite of his scientific education, the doctor had this to say:
“Most of my scientific colleagues and friends say no, because of their frequent contact with patients who are deluded about demons, their general skepticism of the supernatural, and their commitment to employ only standard, peer-reviewed treatments that do not potentially mislead (a definite risk) or harm vulnerable patients. But careful observation of the evidence presented to me in my career has led me to believe that certain extremely uncommon cases can be explained no other way.”
But I ask, how do they discern the difference?
After a long google search for a scientific explanation of demonic possession, it became abundantly clear to me that science rejects the subject overall and hesitates greatly to offer any scientific explanation for this possibility. Or maybe they just can’t come up with one. But those who witness these supposed possessions make very consistent claims of the victims speaking languages that weren’t previously known to them, isolated cases of levitation, and expressions of knowledge the victim did not previously have. These included personal information about certain individuals involved in the case, including their whereabouts, how their loved ones died, or their secret sins. All of these are things that can’t be explained away as mental illness. All of these depend on some psychic or preternatural ability, according to Gallagher.
So, this goes back to how I often say that those who actually witness these phenomena while having the education to prop themselves up are sometimes the ones who bravely cross over the bridge into the unknown, throw their hands up in the air, and say they’ve seen some weird things and they can’t intelligently and in good conscience discount them, no matter what their education might dictate.
To this, Doctor Gallagher said, “I have personally encountered these rationally inexplicable features, along with other paranormal phenomena. My vantage is unusual: As a consulting doctor, I think I have seen more cases of possession than any other physician in the world.”
The doctor explained that some patients exhibit symptoms of what is known as pseudo-possession in which the patient identifies with possession and interprets his or her personally destructive feelings as a possession. These patients are deemed psychotic. But then there are the other types that might suddenly begin speaking perfect Latin.
And the doctor did stress that when he gives his evaluation, he never claims the patient/victim is “possessed” per se. He only informs the clergy that he can see no medical explanation for his or her symptoms and behavior.
In recent years, the clergy has tried to stay more on the side of science, but the demand for help with demonic possessions seems to be growing in spite of this. And it that’s the case, more psychiatric professionals will be called upon to aid in these highly controversial matters. And although this is just one psychiatrist making these claims, it could represent others who haven’t dared come forward with their new thoughts on the matter...yet.
It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for this belief that doesn’t seem to die in the modern world. But you can bet, I’ll be watching.
He has an upcoming book on demonic possession in the works and you can read the entire article by Dr. Richard Gallagher in the Washington Post HERE.
This Post By TCC Team Member Dorraine Fisher. Dorraine is a Professional Writer, photographer, a nature, wildlife and Bigfoot enthusiast who has written for many magazines. Dorraine conducts research, special interviews and more for The Crypto Crew. Get Dorraine's book The Book Of Blackthorne!
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