The Phoenix

Friday, October 03, 2008

Spooky Stories One: Demonic Possession - A Contemporary Case

Dr. Richard E. Gallagher documented a real case of demonic possession, and his work was published this spring in the New Oxford Review. Dr. Gallagher, M.D. is not only a board certified psychiatrist in private practice in Hawthorne, NY but the man is also an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at New York Medical College and on the faculty of Columbia University Psychoanalytic Institute.

A middle-aged American woman he calls "Julia" had gone to her local clergy in desperation. The Church then turned to Dr. Gallagher not only as a scientific witness, but to also diagnose this woman and help differentiate between legitimate psychosis and supernatural manifestations.

Julia had long ago rejected religion and actually had a long association with a Satanic group. Because of her recent experiences, she turned to the church for help. Julia was convinced that she was being attacked by a demon.

The church referred her to their official priest-exorcist. And after that, they turned to Dr. Gallagher for a thorough psychological evaluation. “Julia was not the typical type of individual who frequently importunes the Church for help but who is really in need of psychiatric or other medical intervention,” Dr. Gallagher wrote. “She was in no way psychotic; in fact, she was consistently logical, highly intelligent, and even quite engaging at times, despite her obvious turmoil.”

Dr. Gallagher assembled a team of experts including mental-health professional, four Catholic priests, two nuns (both nurses) and several lay volunteers.

What convinced Dr. Gallagher that this was truly demonic possession was the supernatural or paranormal phenomena he witnessed first hand. He watched objects literally fly off shelves in whatever room Julia was in. She also exhibited psychic ability - often relaying personal information about those around that she couldn't have known.

For example, she knew how one of the treatment team member's relative had died - from a very specific type of cancer that no one could have even guessed.

While in her possessed trances, she would speak in "other voices." Dr. Gallagher writes: “Out of her mouth would come various threats, taunts, and obscene language, phrases like ‘Leave her alone, you idiot,’ ‘She’s ours,’ ‘Leave, you imbecile priest.’ “The tone of this voice differed markedly from Julia’s own, and it varied, sometimes sounding guttural and vaguely masculine, at other points high pitched. Most of her comments during these comments during these ‘trances,’ or at the subsequent exorcisms, displayed a marked contempt for anything religious or sacred.”

Julia would have no recollection of what had occured while in such a trance (thank God).

At Julia's request, they performed two rites of exorcism. The team witnessed her speaking in foreign languages (Spanish and Latin - which Julia later confirmed she could not speak), levitating a foot off the ground, the room becoming extremely cold, and super-like strength. She would emit animal-like growls, the kind that a human couldn't make. But it was the multiple voices that scared them the most.

“The voices were noticeably attacking in nature, and often insolent, blasphemous, and highly
scatalogical [obscenities about excrement],” Dr. Gallagher said. “They cursed and insulted
the participants in the crudest way. They were frequently threatening - trying, it appeared, to fight back - ‘Leave her alone,’ ‘Stop, you whores’ (to the nuns), ‘You’ll be sorry,” and the like."

When splashed with regular tap water, the demon exhibited no reaction whatsoever. But if they secretly replaced it with holy water, “She would scream in pain when the blessed water was sprinkled upon her."

Sadly, although the exorcisms were helpful, they have not yet resolved the matter of the woman’s possession, Dr. Gallagher says, and may or may not be repeated in the future.

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Blogger delmer said...

You may post infrequently but the posts are always thought provoking and interesting.

10/03/2008 1:09 PM  
Anonymous kim said...

I was just wondering this morning if we'd get Phoenix halloween tales. Hooray!!

10/03/2008 5:11 PM  
Blogger cube said...

This sounds like crap to me...

I'm just calling it like I see it.

10/04/2008 9:42 PM  
Blogger Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

Funny how the mind/spirit can convince the brain that such things are real.

10/05/2008 1:47 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/05/2008 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Richard E. Gallagher, MD said...

St. Paul seemed amazed that people did not believe what he thought were 500 witnesses to the resurrected Christ. As with miracles, which have often been exceptionally well documented too (e.g., at Lourdes), our Lord gives (or allows) the evidence He wishes. I have had no "illusions" that my article would persuade the "un-persuadable." My task was simply to document a clear-cut example of demonic possession, and to warn the overly credulous or naïve not to mistake common psychiatric disorders for diabolic phenomena, unfortunately not an infrequent error in our country now.

10/05/2008 9:12 PM  
Blogger KC said...

Good to see you back! Spooky, creepy, weird. All the things I expect in a story from you.

10/06/2008 3:29 PM  
Blogger BrianAlt said...

Geez, how should I know that you posted.

10/07/2008 7:35 AM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Welcome back! I think the key here is "Julia was convinced that she was being attacked by a demon." Yes, and her belief (and that of her "healers") invalidates any attempt at double-blind level judgments about her condition or the treatment.

But it's a fun story nonetheless.

10/09/2008 1:24 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

I think the whole thing is seriously creepy, whatever the cause.

Welcome back, Phoenix!

10/17/2008 3:20 PM  

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