Friday, November 25, 2016

Doctors Today Believe Demonic Possession More Than Ever Before

Matt Rota for The Washington Post
The Catholic church, as well as Protestant deliverance ministries, are seeking the consultation of medical professionals, doctors, and psychologists in cases of supposed demonic possession (as they should).  While there remains a vast skepticism in the mainstream media, some psychiatrists are beginning to believe that some patients are actually in the grips of some malicious, supernatural entity. While the original landmark accounts mentioned in Malachi Martin's best-selling Hostage To The Devil are always a good place to start one's reading on the topic, several more recent instances in exorcism witnessing and supervision are important to mention here, too. 
     In 2008, Richard E. Gallagher, M.D., a psychiatrist in private practice, who is also   Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at New York Medical College, encountered the case of a lifetime in his patient, "Julia."   In conjunction with priests, who helped in the process of exorcism and became a believer in demonic possession.  He scrupulously discriminates possession from several other mental illness that may, upon first glance, look like possession.  Most notable in confused diagnoses are the character disorders, namely Borderline and Histrionic, where people often feel a core of inner evil and can even talk of the devil.  Gallagher notes that the majority of these cases are not an encounter with actual demonic entities; rather, the patient is simply veiling their own sense of extreme inadequacy with religious language.  It's a psychological sickness developed from within over time, not possession from without.  Julia's case, however, was different, and the doctor is adept at articulating the defining attributes.  His complete case notes can be read here.  He is quick to point out that most cases of possession are indeed counterfeit. 
     William Friedkin, the director of the original movie, The Exorcist, says that 45 years later doctors are much more willing to accept the possibility of demonic possession than when he filmed the first movie in the early 1970s, according to a recent article in Vanity Fair,  He became close to famed exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, who invited him to film a live exorcism.  The video was shown to a group of top-level psychiatrists, including Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute.  Apparently, Dr. Lieberman even had a strange case of his own before seeing Friedkin's video.    There was  certain case that really scared him: “somehow, like in The Exorcist, we were the enemy. This was basically a battle between the doctors and whatever it was that afflicted the individual.” When Friedkin asked him if he ruled out demonic possession, he said,  “No. There was no way I could explain what happened.”
Father Gabriele Amorth died earlier this year at the age of 91.
   Perhaps more important to note are the writings of another priest earlier this year, , Fr Francesco Bamonte, president of the International Association of Exorcists.  He  says  that most exorcism movies under-emphasize “the marvelous, stupendous presence and work of God”  especially the important of the Virgin Mary in combating evil.  He also noticed that people who are faithfully abandoned to God are no match and virtually untouchable by demons and Lucifer. 
Father Bamonte's most striking comment is about the power of Satan.  Perhaps to sell movie tickets, or fill pews in congregations, films and some churches place too much power in the realm of Satan.  The devil is not an evil god battling a good God; the devil's powers are far, far less.  For more on his comments, check out what he wrote in the Vatican newspaper.