The Exorcist's Board Certified Assistant

Reply Fri 1 Jul, 2016 03:43 pm
Now here's an article I never expected to read in the Washington Post


Richard Gallagher is a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, he has also participated in hundreds of exorcisms over the last twenty five years.

His professional opinion is that while the vast majority of people who claim to be or are thought to be, possessed by supernatural beings are, in reality, mentally ill, a fair number of them are actually suffering from spiritual and psychic attacks by demons that involve physical manifestations such as speaking in tongues and possibly even levitating.

I try to keep an open mind about things that are difficult to explain and the reality that we don't know quite everything there is to know, but I have a real hard time with this doctor's position.

If he is a bigger nut than the people he treats, there are no clear signs of mental illness to be found within the lines of this article.

If he is a charlatan attempting to cash in on the ignorance and superstition of the sort of people who believe the Long Island Medium is the Real Deal, it's incongruous that he would wait 25 years to do so. A medical doctor willing to tell the people who religiously watch television shows about haunting by ghosts, the hunt for Big Foot and alien ancestors, that demons exist and possession is real, would hardly have had to build a "track record" of hundreds of exorcisms over two and a half decades to sucker his audience. I'm pretty sure the people who eat this stuff up would have been fine with his "expertise" if he attended only one ceremony and certain that two or three such struggles with Satan would have them totally convinced.

This is not to say that it's not possible that he's a fraud. Of course it's possible, and I think it's probable, but unless he's lying about how long he's been involved with exorcisms and how many he's attended, he has a nifty counter-argument to the claim that this article and his book is all about profit and personal gain. Again, such a counter-argument is hardly proof that he actually believes what he is saying, but it will be grabbed quickly and held tightly by those who want to believe him.

It's pretty surprising to me that WaPo published this article without any editorial comment beyond the biographical blurb the doctor, himself, probably provided them. It doesn't appear that the WaPo has made any effort confirm any aspect of his claim. They may have checked to make sure he's actually board-certified psychiatrist and a professor at New York Medical College, but would it surprise you if they didn't? I don't think it would have been too tough to at least verify that he has been associated with various churches and religious organizations over the last 25 years, but if they did, they obviously didn't share the results with their readers.

It might have been an even more tantalizing tale if he claimed that, prior to his first experience with Satan's Queen, he was not only totally skeptical about the supernatural in general and demonic possession is particular, but that he was a committed atheist as well.

Faith in the existence of God doesn't require or even necessarily lead one to a belief that Satan and demons also exist. I and many, many others believe in God without extending our faith to the existence of a supernatural Enemy, equipped with an army of demonic warriors, but perhaps the doctor's faith encompassed the existence of Satan before he had his experiences with exorcisms and so demonic possession wasn't quite such a leap to make after all. We don't know much at all about what the foundation of his belief was when first he entered the fray against demons.

If he's correct, (and that is an incredibly gargantuan if!), would the existence of demons cause anyone to change their minds about the existence of God? (This is just a mental exercise focused on the nature of good and evil, rather than faith in God, so no one need concern themselves with being tricked into revealing themselves to be an irrational believer in magic sky gods)

There's a whole lot left out of this article which is likely intentional to stimulate book sales, but it is interesting, if only to figure out what this guy may be up to.

His only proof seems to be an assertion that he is a scientific and rational man, as evidenced, by his credentials, and that with his professional background and training he can't explain what he saw in anyway other than some sort of supernatural attack or possession. Of course this is as leaky as a boat made out of Swiss Cheese, but we can hope that when we plop down our $22.00 for his soon to be released blockbuster, it will provide the full extent of his proof.

I expect nothing of the sort and we are tipped off to what I believe is his game by his version of a preemptive and familiar dodge of any demand for real evidence:

Demons don't want to be filmed because they like to sow doubt among humanity.

The Church (which one?) has the evidence but like him they are concerned about the privacy of their parishioner/patient.

Finally, what do you think about the Washington Post publishing this article?

It appears in their "PostEverything" section which contains the sub-title, "The conversation is bigger than you think." (Sounds like something Agent Fox would say to Agent Scully), but I'm not familiar with this section and don't know if it is typically a place for odd stories at the end of the week and the start of the weekend. Based on what articles accompany it, it seems to be more or a wrap-up than a display of the sensational. No "Bat Boy Living in Kentucky Cave" or "Donald Trump's Mother was a Lizard Person and Cousin of Queen Elizabeth"

Too bad
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mark noble
Reply Wed 6 Jul, 2016 05:25 pm
Just because he's a qualified doctor - Is no reason to seperate him from spiritual-attachment.
Rinse & repeat (Learning) procedures do not improve intellect.

Finn dAbuzz
Reply Fri 8 Jul, 2016 12:17 am
@mark noble,
mark noble wrote:

Just because he's a qualified doctor - Is no reason to seperate him from spiritual-attachment.
Rinse & repeat (Learning) procedures do not improve intellect.

Oh I agree.

He may actually be correct too.

Although I personally, don't believe that an Enemy and his horde of demonic minions exist, my curiosity and skepticism are not so much based on what he claims is happening to those patients for who he has ruled out mental illness as a diagnosis, but the scent of scam this article carries.

I don't think telekinesis is a fact, but I'm open to the possibility and don't immediately assume anyone who believes it is is a kook or a con-artist. I do however, believe Uri Geller was a con-artist plying his craft when he appeared on the Tonight show and bent spoons with his mind for Johnny Carson. My reason wasn't because I think it's impossible and therefore he had to be a fake, but in all the classic ways he responded to skeptics like the Amazing Randi who knew "magic tricks" when they saw them and had an excellent understanding of the scientific process.

Challenged by Randi to reproduce his feat repeatedly and without the preparation afforded to a guest on the Tonight Show, Geller would whine about how Randi's skeptical negative energy was somehow interfering with is own awesome energy and spoon bending mind waves. Typically, charlatans like Geller will "accept" challenges from skeptics like Randi (providing themselves with publicity) only to later bow out or make ridiculous excuses later on when they fail.

Geller wasn't, of course, anywhere near the worst of these frauds. That dubious honor belongs to the Mediums.

If the good doctor is a fraud it's hard to judge how harmful his con has been. If it's just being used to sell books, not so bad, but if he actually has been going around for 25 years telling people they are possessed by demons when he knows no such thing is the case, that's pretty low.

I just don't know enough about him.

The Red Flags that triggered my skepticism were his explanations for why he doesn't have empirical evidence to prove his claims. How convenient that demons have stage fright. They have no problem announcing to the world they exist by possessing humans and doing all sorts of strange and impossible things with them like speaking in foreign languages the host "couldn't possibly know" and causing their bodies to defy gravity, but they prefer to keep it local?

Apparently they always know when there is a secret camera filming them, and if anyone has managed to film these incidents that can only be explained by demonic possession, it's really a shame that they defer to "privacy issues" over convincing the world of what would be a very important fact if it were true: Satan lives and his minions attack and possess us! Somehow I think "The Church" would, for several reasons, be very keen to prove to people Satan exists if they had evidence he did, and for an institution that has had systemic problems safeguarding the innocence of the most vulnerable among their flock, I find it very hard to believe that the opportunity to prove the existence of demons would be stymied by an ethical restraint about the privacy of beset followers.

The "fact" that he has waited 25 years to cash in on his experience does, as I wrote, suggest that he might not be a for-profit con, but then I don't know how true any of his reported history may be, and con artists are great at creating fictions about themselves that facilitate the cons.

I don't think spirituality and science are mutually exclusive for the scientist, I just expect a lot more of an attempt to use science to support his claims about very material occurrences.
mark noble
Reply Fri 8 Jul, 2016 06:04 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Spot on, Finn.
Randi - Openly exposed frauds, and, indeed, if you recall his own 'predesigned-cons' (The alphas' and his partners' escapades in oz) - It proves how easy 'vulnerable' minds simply follow the 'flock'.
Brilliant fella, btw.

I also understand that a whole host of physical symptoms - Tourettes, autism, etc - Have been laced with possessional-qualities throughout history - And beyond 'catholic' intrusion - There are few, if any.
Check the demograph yourself.

When shite is drummed into ones' head by ALL surrounding factors - Little less than shite comes out.

I am also open to the potential of 'unexplained' phenomena being prevalent - And agnostically await more 'genuine' info therein.
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