demons

Demonic Possession is Real and On the Rise

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Many people may be familiar with one of the most iconically frightening movies in film history: The Exorcist. The film features demonic possession, exorcism, and frame after frame of terrifying images. After watching (if you dare to watch!) you may be left disturbed, scared, or horrified. But the good news is, that movie is just a fake, made-up Hollywood plot! Right?

Not quite. Many people, of multiple faiths, believe demonic possession IS a real occurrence - and alarmingly, it is also apparently on the rise. 

In April 2018, the Vatican held its annual excorcism course in Rome, which was attended by at least 250 priests from 50 countries, a number that has more than doubled since the course’s inception in 2005. The increasing demand for exorcisms worldwide is being blamed on both a decline in Christian faith and on the internet for providing easy access to the occult, Satanism, and “pagan activities” that lead to addiction. In Italy it has been reported that half a million people seek exorcisms every year. The number of exorcisms performed in the UK has also been growing. And in the United States, priest-led exorcisms more than quadrupled between 2006 and 2016, jumping from 12 to 50, as priests expressed their struggle to keep up with the demand.

With demonic possession becoming so prevalent in the modern day, why does it still seem taboo to believe in such powerful spiritual activity? Why do we not start looking beyond the curtain of Hollywood movie sensationalism and take the subject more seriously? 

Because, according to Dr. Richard Gallagher, a private psychiatrist and a professor at New York Medical College and Columbia University, demonic possession is often treated as or confused with mental illness. A devout Catholic himself, Dr. Gallagher believes that possession, though rare, is very real. In the last 25 years, he estimates that he has seen about 100 cases of true demonic possession, during which time he has served as a “consultant” for a growing network of exorcists in the United States.

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Originally, while studying medicine at Yale University, Gallagher had concluded that biblical accounts of demonic possession were the attempt of an archaic culture to explain mental disorders. But in the intervening years, he has experienced enough cases that defied psychiatric explanation to come to believe in the frightening reality of demons and their ability to possess a living body. Over his long career, Gallagher maintains that he has witnessed victims suddenly speaking perfect Latin and other languages; people revealing personal information or secrets about others that they could not have conceivably known otherwise; sacred objects flying off surfaces; and hearing other, demonic voices emanating from an afflicted person. In one interview he described the following encounter:

"There was one woman who was like 90 pounds soaking wet. She threw a Lutheran deacon who was about 200 pounds across the room. That's not psychiatry. That's beyond psychiatry."

And yet, most medical professionals are hesitant to treat, evaluate, or even believe in the possibility of demonic possession - believing instead that doctors like Gallagher have been tricked by their own patients, and are enabling them to continue in their mental illness by using demonic possession as an “easy out” for their troubling behavior. These health professionals choose to consider spirituality as the antithesis of scientific knowledge, rather than as a (largely unexplored) companion to it - a fact that needs to change if the demonically possessed are to receive serious help for an afflication that affects not only their minds, but their souls. 

Additional information about Dr. Gallagher and his insight and experience with demonic possession can be read here.

Not included in Dr. Gallagher’s observations but something perhaps worth noting is the recent rise in teenage mental illness, which has also been attributed in part to internet activity: 

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“In surveys of over five hundred thousand American adolescents, psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues found that adolescents, especially girls, who spent more time on screen activities (smartphones, Internet, and social media) were significantly more likely to have symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation than those who spent their time on non-screen activities...” (The full article is available by clicking here.)

This troubling piece of information raises at least two important questions linking both psychiatry and spirituality:

1) To what extent have we allowed the internet to take over our minds (and spirits)?

2) How much overlap is there between the remarkable increases in both demonic possession and mental illness? 

The answers needed here are by no means easy to come by. According to Dr. Richard Gallagher, demons certainly won’t submit themselves to lab studies or other means of obtaining “scientific proof” of possession. Their purpose is in fact the opposite - to sow doubt and cause derision. Adding to that supernatural complication is the unwillingess of a critical medical field to expand their thinking beyond what can be tested and quantified by scientific explanation. But in the end, mental illness and demonic possession are increasing by the caseload, suggesting that they are both very serious, and very real. It may be time to consider, as Dr. Gallagher does, how members of the mental health field and members of the church can offer treatment for afflictions of both the mind and of the spirit, in order to heal those who may be suffering in one or the other - or both.

Post updated 12/19/18.

Written Confession: My Husband Sees Demons

The following Confession was shared by Sherilyn N. via email:

I have a special husband who has the gift of seeing angels and demons. Unfortunately he mostly gets demons. It's taken me forever to type it out for him and I wanted to share it with you.

I'm going to write it from his point of view because it's much easier to explain. His name is Adriel.

Adriel

I was about 9 or 10 years old when I saw my first demon. It was nighttime and I wanted to sleep in my brother's room because I don't like to sleep in my room for some reason. My brother's and I would do that a lot for some reason; sleep in each others' rooms. My brother has a twin sized bed so we both were definitely not going to both fit which means I was sleeping on the floor next to the closet. Yep. Across the room there is a window; side note: we live in a two-story house with our rooms upstairs and parents' room is downstairs. In the middle of the night I "wake up" where it's not my body that's awake but more like an awareness that I'm "awake" and can see the entire room. It felt like it was my physical body but not really. I was sleeping on my side and lifted my head to look at my brother sleeping and wanted to see the rest of the room in this "state" of being when behind me I saw him. I knew it was a man because he had a more masculine face. He was crouched over looking at me from about a foot or so away so he wasn't crouching over me. He had his hands on his knees and had long sharp nails like the kind girls are doing today. It was dark so it was hard to see a lot of details but he had pants that looked like he pushed up or rolled up to his calves like capris, no shoes and I saw his toes had long nails like if they weren't being maintained for a while. He had a shirt that was kind of like a muscle shirt without sleeves and a little singed looking throughout, the pants also were in the same kind of condition. His skin was dark greenish like rotting flesh green and had something that looked like cracks. When I looked at his face he was looking straight at me and smiling like he was thinking "hi, I can see you" with his head tilted to the side. His face also had the same cracks as the rest of his body and his eyes were normal looking with the whites but the entire iris and pupil was just black. His teeth were sharp and he had spiky styled hair. I just stared at him with my mouth open and he just stared back unmoving for what felt like minutes but was probably 20 seconds. I had a feeling and slowly turned away from the demon towards the window where I saw a being jump through and land on his feet in front of the window. He was bright and I couldn't see his face like I wasn't allowed to see it. He wore a robe and was tall enough to almost graze the ceiling. He had sandals on (of course) and his skin was sort of translucent but I could tell it was skin. He stood there for only a moment and ran forward around the bed to where I was laying. He stood across from the demon who hadn't realized he was there yet. The demon acted like he knew the angel was there but he didn't really care much until he turned from me to actually look at the angel. The demon literally did a double take like if he knew who was there or which specific angel it was. The look on his face was surprise and terror at the realization. I don't know who it was. They had a brief stare down then the angel darted towards the demon. The angel placed one hand on the demon's forehead and the other hand on his chest and pushed him through the wall behind him. The both of them disappeared into the wall and I remember seeing the complete fear on the demon's face as he kind of tried to fight back but failed and they were gone.

THE NEXT DAY. I kid you not, in the morning I was sitting down in the kitchen eating cereal waiting for my dad to finish showering so he could take me to school. I was shoveling spoonfuls of cereal in my mouth when I looked up and there SHE was. I'll try to explain how the house looks like. There is a little hall leading to the kitchen which is really just the pantry on one side so it's not a huge hallway. If you're sitting where I was you can see straight down the "hall" to the front door and to the left there is the living room. The living room isn't visible from there because the pantry and kitchen wall are there. So the female demon was coming from the living room which is "behind" the wall of the pantry tip-toed like she didn't want to make any noise and walked right through the wall. I literally had a mouthful of cereal with my hand halfway going up when I looked up to see her doing to creeping. I stared at her with my mouth open and she was looking at me with a smile on her face like the one from last night while creeping. I blinked a couple times, swallowed my cereal and looked back down to just keep eating since it was gone. I had another spoonful in my mouth when I looked up and saw her sitting in the chair across from me. She had her elbows on the table and her chin propped up on her hands with the sharp-tooth smile still there. She was also sitting really weird in the seat like she was kneeling on it like some kids do, but I could see that her legs/feet were folded up on the back of the seat. I literally just stared at her and she stared back smiling before she disappeared. I put my spoon down and just yelled "Papiiiiiiii" for my dad. From what I remember was wearing rolled up pants like the other one and no top which is how I knew it was a girl. But it was weird because she didn't look like she was naked on top. I could tell she had bumps like breasts but no nipples to really seem like she was nude. Her skin was green-grey looking with the same burned cracks that the one last night had. She had no hair at all. Basically she looked exactly like the male demon (like twins or a couple) but was distinctly female with lighter skin.

Next one is quick and was at the same age, probably in the same year. I was outside by myself riding on my bike in the neighborhood, it was kind of close to sunset. I had accidentally run into a parked car and my bike was stuck so I was trying to pull it out. I looked up and saw a figure wearing a red cloak with the hood up. He had the cloak completely closed so I saw nothing of the body and nothing of the face. I stared at him for a couple of seconds when he just sunk down into the ground.

End

He has less detailed stories of more shadowy type stuff that are really short or sounds. He still sees them because a week ago he told me something was going "pst" at him from the kitchen and he could tell there was something out of the corner of his eye but when he turned to look he didn't see anything. If he turned away he could still see it from the corner of his eye. I won't be going in the kitchen by myself anymore. He has also told me about having various episodes of sleep paralysis which I think I have seen for myself. Sometimes I heard him breathing hard and making sounds like he's trying to speak and I wake him immediately to get him out of it.

That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed!

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