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"