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Meet the psychiatrist exorcists call when they need help

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It’s this guy, featured on CNN:

A small group of nuns and priests met the woman in the chapel of a house one June evening. Though it was warm outside, a palpable chill settled over the room.

As the priests began to pray, the woman slipped into a trance — and then snapped to life. She spoke in multiple voices: One was deep, guttural and masculine; another was high-pitched; a third spouted only Latin. When someone secretly sprinkled ordinary water on her, she didn’t react. But when holy water was used, she screamed in pain.

“Leave her alone, you f***ing priests,” the guttural voice shouted. “Stop, you whores. … You’ll be sorry.”

You’ve probably seen this before: a soul corrupted by Satan, a priest waving a crucifix at a snarling woman. Movies and books have mimicked exorcisms so often, they’ve become clichés.

But this was an actual exorcism — and included a character not normally seen in the traditional drive-out-the-devil script.
Dr. Richard Gallagher is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified psychiatrist who teaches at Columbia University and New York Medical College. He was part of the team that tried to help the woman.

Fighting Satan’s minions wasn’t part of Gallagher’s career plan while he was studying medicine at Yale. He knew about biblical accounts of demonic possession but thought they were an ancient culture’s attempt to grapple with mental disorders like epilepsy. He proudly calls himself a “man of science.”

Yet today, Gallagher has become something else: the go-to guy for a sprawling network of exorcists in the United States. He says demonic possession is real. He’s seen the evidence: victims suddenly speaking perfect Latin; sacred objects flying off shelves; people displaying “hidden knowledge” or secrets about people that they could not have possibly have known.

“There was one woman who was like 90 pounds soaking wet. She threw a Lutheran deacon who was about 200 pounds across the room,” he says. “That’s not psychiatry. That’s beyond psychiatry.”

Read it all. 

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Deacon Greg Kandra
The Deacon's Bench
Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. For nearly three decades, he was a writer and producer for CBS News, where he contributed to a variety of programs and was honored with every major award in broadcasting. Deacon Greg now serves as Multimedia Editor for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA.) He and his wife live in Forest Hills, New York.
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