Helping with exorcisms wasn’t part of Richard Gallagher’s plan while going to medical school at Yale.
As a board-certified psychiatrist, Gallagher has spent the last 25 years helping clergy distinguish between mentally ill and demonically possessed. It’s an odd side gig for a physician teaching at Columbia.
Despite being a “man of science,” Gallagher is convinced demonic possessions are real, according to CNN. As the go-to medical consultant for exorcists in the United States, the psychiatrist has plenty of evidence to provide: impromptu abilities to speak Latin, knowledge of hidden secrets shared with no one, religious totems flung from shelves.
Gallagher claims he’s seen more possessions than any other physician on Earth, CNN reports. That said, he admits much his job as an exorcist consultant is convincing people they’re not possessed.
A devout Catholic, Gallagher says he was a skeptic until a dark encounter. He was asked by an exorcist to evaluate a women’s mental health. Gallagher says she knew things that he hadn’t told to anyone, like his mother’s cancer. According to CNN, he heard the same demonic voices the woman uttered during sessions when talking with the exorcist one night on the phone, miles away from them both. That convinced him.
Some colleagues in his field believe what Gallagher does actually hurts patients because it plays into their delusion. At the same time, there’s a growing idea in the medical community that a patient’s spiritual well-being should be considered, even though there’s no real scientific way to qualify it—as least not yet.
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