CNN once featured Dr. Richard Gallagher in a story about demonic possession. Gallagher is one of a growing number of secular mental health professionals that are convinced that demonic possession is real, and should be treated as a unique condition.
Mental illness and demonic possession are two different afflictions. They require different treatments, and this has been understood for centuries. As far back as the 17th century, the Catholic Church has made clear that people with treatable medical conditions need doctors, rather than priests. However, there are cases which exceed all medical and scientific understanding, and in such cases, a priest may be required.
Demonic possession is real and has been increasing in the modern age. The rising tide of secularism, fascination with magic and witchcraft, and the public acceptance of things such as atheism and Satanism have rendered people much more vulnerable to demonic possession. Professional exorcists have noted the trend as their workload increases.
As the number of cases grows, more secular doctors are seeing patients with cases they cannot explain or cure. And they’re seeing unusual symptoms, like people who speak in perfect Latin, possess inhuman strength, and knowing secrets that they couldn’t possibly know.
This has been the experience of Dr. Gallagher, a secular, Ivy-League trained psychiatrist. Dr. Gallagher is also a professor, teaching at Columbia University and New York Medical College. According to conventional wisdom, a man with his credentials ought not seek the spotlight, acknowledging the existence of the supernatural. It could hurt one’s reputation. However, as demonic possessions grow in number, they are also gaining acceptance as psychiatrists recognize them as a real phenomenon.
Are they a form of mental illness not yet understood? Are they elaborate hoaxes? Or could they be genuine cases, situations where demons possess the bodies of vulnerable people?
Whatever the case, there is talk about adding demonic possession to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This hasn’t happened yet, and it would be debatable. Do spiritual issues belong in a manual of mental disorders? Is demonic possession a problem of the brain, or of the spirit?
The view that the human person is simply a bundle of cells is incomplete. Humans possess a spiritual sense and there is a spiritual realm. As more doctors recognize this, they are pushing for patients to receive both spiritual and medical care as part of the healing process.
Dr. Gallagher has personal experience with demonic possession, which you can learn about here by reading the article on CNN. It is encouraging to see that more doctors are recognizing the role that God and the supernatural plays in the human experience.
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