Being a Paranormal Investigator is a dangerous job, particularly if you are specialist like former NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie—the subject of the new paranormal thriller Deliver Us From Evil. The movie depicts the beginning of Sarchie’s career as the NYPD’s most recognized demonologist. Throughout his 16-year career as a cop, Sarchie has arrested over 300 criminals, been shot at, dealt with vicious homicide cases, and has assisted with more than 20 exorcisms.
Being the resident exorcist wasn’t exactly what he had in mind when he joined the NYPD, however with a strong Catholic background, Sarchie saw the need to deal with the root of evil. In his book Beware the Night, Sarchie writes, “The problem today is that many priests, clergy of other faiths, and even bishops of the Catholic Church don't believe in the Devil…” Because of this, professionals like Sarchie, take it upon themselves to reinforce traditional Catholic practices.
Even with similar beliefs, being a demonologist or a paranormal investigator is not a job for just anyone. Regardless of where motivation for the job comes from, there are certain threats that go hand and hand with the profession. “The most common danger involved with investigating the paranormal is the potential to get an attachment. I have heard countless stories of investigators that have gone to a location, and then began experiencing issues afterwards as a result. Attachments can be relatively benign, or they can be extremely aggressive and hostile and cause a great deal of stress and other problems for that person and their family,” says Bill Wilkens, founder of paranormalsocieties.com. “The biggest concern many investigators have is that they do not want to bring anything home that will affect their families, but it seems to be happening on a regular basis. Much of it can be due to people who think investigating the paranormal would be a fun way to spend a Friday night, and they are completely unprepared to deal with legitimate hauntings.”
The threat of an “attachment,” a spirit or entity that connects itself to an investigator and follows them home, is a threat that even a veteran like Sarchie deals with. Beware the Night warns against even discussing particular cases, because the very mentioning of a demonic spirit can draw that spirit to you. Sarchie notes that being professional in his field lies in the ability to resist obsessing over the very occult horrors that create the necessity for the job.
However this is not to say there aren’t different views, even amongst experts in the field, about the dangers of the paranormal. Paranormal researcher, writer, and lecturer for more than 20 years, Stephen Wagner, argues that, “the greatest dangers to the job when researching an old haunted location is getting physically hurt—and I don’t mean by ghosts.” Considering that paranormal phenomena often occurs in abandoned and neglected environments, dangers like falling through a floor, or getting cut by some shattered glass or jagged metals, are always a risk to be mindful of, and for demonologist the physical threat of the possessed is something to be even more cautious of.
Wagner, who has participated in fieldwork with the Central New York Ghosthunters, and has been the paranormal phenomena expert at About.com since 1997, is still skeptical of on-the-job paranormal dangers. Yet Wagner, Wilkens, and Sarchie share a similar warning against, perhaps, the biggest danger for those involved in the paranormal: fear. Wagner says, “Usually, people’s fears are their own worst enemies. If they fear the unknown, ghosts, Ouija boards, etc., they are bound to have negative experiences with them.” Sarchie shares this sentiment, stating that because of his religious beliefs there is no fear. To learn more about the dangers of the paranormal, check out Deliver Us From Evil .