Today, paganism is making a comeback. Practices like Wicca and Satanism have growing numbers of adherents. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram offer detailed instructions for every aspect of witchcraft. Believers who claim they are tapping into ancient demonic powers conduct religious ceremonies at ancient pagan monuments like Stonehenge or significant locations of modern witchcraft like Salem, Massachusetts.
Demonic Foes offers a perspective on some consequences of this trend. Dr. Richard Gallagher is a board-certified psychiatrist and faculty member of Columbia University Medical school. He graduated from Princeton and received his medical training at Yale University School of Medicine.
Dr. Gallagher was forced to revisit his scientific assumptions after being consulted on a series of unusual cases. He was asked by exorcists to give psychiatric evaluations of individuals who claimed to be possessed. The exorcists wanted to know if these people were mentally ill or were suffering from something outside the realm of psychology.
It turns out that many of these patients were psychologically normal and physically healthy. Their experiences were not typical of hallucinations, schizophrenia, or any other psychiatric condition he had seen. As Dr. Gallagher conducted tests and heard them describe their unusual symptoms, many of which were consistent across patients, he realized he had stumbled onto something beyond his training as a psychiatrist.
Demonic Foes is the product of Dr. Gallagher’s twenty-five years as a consultant, outside of his regular clinical practice, in cases of demonic possession. It is the first full-scale scientific analysis of demonic possession conducted by a medical professional who is also the world’s leading expert on possession. Dr. Gallagher approaches demonic possession as a scientist, recording its symptoms, its origins, and how some of the patients he consulted ultimately overcame it.