On July 1, 2016, I was surprised to find an article in the Washington Post on the topic of demonic possession. What’s remarkable about this article, written by Dr. Richard Gallagher, is that a major U.S. newspaper had the courage to print it. Editors didn’t dismiss his story as a hoax, misunderstanding, or Hollywood hype; his first-person account of paranormal activity was feature news. The ostensible reason is the author’s credentials. Dr. Gallagher is a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College and holds degrees from Princeton, Yale, and Columbia. The credentials most relevant to readers, however, are his deep-seated Catholicism and extracurricular work for the church, which is the stimulus for the article’s provocative title: "As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession."
Readers will note that many of Dr. Gallagher’s concepts support basic principles put forth in the Edgar Cayce readings. Among them is the reality of spirit possession. As Cayce tells us in reading 5753-1, "Discarnate entities… may influence the thought of an entity." Cayce goes further in 5221-1, by identifying "discarnate entities" as the root cause of a woman’s physical illness. At the onset of 638-1, given for an elderly patient suffering insanity, Cayce overtly declares: "We have possession."
The challenge that Dr. Gallagher highlights is the difficulty differentiating possession from mental illness. Cayce presents a broader range of options, and goes further by identifying causes for conditions that can give rise to both mental illness and possession. For instance, Cayce identifies spinal injury as the root cause for a loving husband who, seemingly possessed, starts beating his wife and children (1513-1), and for an artist whose sudden and inexplicable self- destructive behavior requires that she be tied to a hospital gurney (1789-1). Add stress-related psychosis into the mix (3315-1), blood deficiency-inducing nightmares (4519-1), and cancer- created delirium (1004-1), and proper assessment requires help from the Akashic records. The problem is compounded because trauma and poor health lead to insanity, and insanity can lead to possession. This is the message in 281-24, conducted for the "Glad Helpers" healing group.
The most striking difference between what Dr. Gallagher reports and what appears in the Cayce readings may be the point of view. Using the standard protocols required by the Catholic Church, only one individual profiled in the entire body of Cayce readings exhibits the severity of behavior that might qualify for exorcism. He is the alcoholic husband of 1183, a man who undergoes a chilling Jekyll and Hyde transformation when he becomes intoxicated and, according to Cayce, a malevolent spirit takes control of his body.
Church doctrine presents other limitations on our understanding of the spirit world as well. For instance, as the readings make clear, not all spirit communications are diabolic, and not all discarnates have demonic motives. This is conveyed in 5756-13, in which departed loved ones provide comfort to the living. Reading 5756-14 contains a message from a deceased father to his daughter telling her that love knows no boundaries. Furthermore, possession may have a karmic component that is not recognized by the church. In 436-2, for example, there’s a warning for an elevator operator susceptible to the influence of a spirit identified as "Big Rock, Black Rock," with whom he had been entangled in a previous incarnation. Reading 693-3 chronicles the haunting of a child who, as an adult two centuries earlier, persecuted witches in Salem.
Given the complexity of these cases and what psychiatrists (and priests, too) encounter in the field, Dr. Gallagher should be applauded for giving voice to a subject dismissed by his medical colleagues as mere superstition. But where the American Psychiatric Association maintains no official opinion that might help possessed individuals, and Dr. Gallagher advises psychiatric counsel and Vatican-certified exorcism, Cayce’s recommendations may prove to be the most effective. His preventative advice includes massage and osteopathy, use of low-voltage impedance devices such as the Radiac, positive and uplifting prayer and meditation, and in cases featuring karma, forgiveness for oneself and others. By filling one’s mind with the holy, Cayce says, there is no room for the demonic.
One can take an even more proactive approach as described in a reading conducted for a woman battling discarnates (422-1). Similar to a priest’s marching orders at an exorcism, Cayce instructs her to demand that the intrusive spirits acknowledge the supremacy of Christ. Should the spirits fail to comply, the woman must order their expulsion: "Get thee behind me," and "I will have no part with thee," she is to proclaim. "Through His name only will I… ACCEPT direction."