Through centuries, people have been misdiagnosed with spirit possession when, in reality, they were suffering from different mental disorders. Nowadays, with the development of science, people are more likely to rely medicine rather than using exorcism as a form of curing mental disorders. However, what happens when a patient exhibits behavior which exceeds our current scientific knowledge. Psychiatrist and professor at New York Medical College, Richard Gallagher, found himself in the similar situation and decided to share his experiences at WashingtonPost.com.
Richard Gallagher always thought of himself as a man of science and lover of history. He studied at Princeton, trained psychiatry at Yale and psychoanalysis at Columbia. His career took a little bit of a different turn in the late 1980s when he was approached by a Catholic priest who asked Richard for his professional opinion about woman's mental help.
CASE OF POSSESSION
The woman in question was a self-styled Satanic high priestess who called herself a witch. Typically, she wore dark clothes and black eye shadow around her temples. At first, Richard was skeptic due to the fact that both the popularity and national panic of Satanism was at rise in the States. However, as he got deeper into the case, Richard started noticing that her behavior exceeded what he could explain with his training. He explains that the woman knew people's hidden weaknesses including undue pride; she knew how individuals she's never known had died including Richard's mother's death by ovarian cancer; six people have confirmed that she had been speaking multiple languages unfamiliar to her outside her trances including Latin. Therefore, Richard believes this was not a state of psychosis and he could only describe it as paranormal concluding the woman was possessed.
THE UNLIKELY PARTNERSHIP
This is when the unlikely partnership between Richard and the priest, who also happens to be one of the best exorcists in the States, had started. They have been working together for the past two-and-a-half decades filtering mental disorders from possession. While majority of their patients suffer from medical disorder, there are some cases that are just too unreal to be diagnosed as such. Through his work, Richard states that he had witnessed patients exhibit an unexplained strength; levitation; hidden knowledge (patients knew hidden sins, stranger's loved ones death cause, where people are at a given moment).
As he was working on his unusual job, especially for an academic physician, Richard was surprised by the number of people who believe in paranormal but are afraid to speak out. He is aware of how strange all of this is and why people would be afraid to speak out but he had decided to put his fears aside in order to help people in need. Therefore, he is not interested in convincing skeptics into believing in paranormal instead he is here to simply offer help to people who were left without scientific options. In order to do so, all he needs is open-mindedness, respect for evidence and compassion for suffering people.
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