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Sister Thorn and Catholic Mysticism in Modern America$
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Paula M. Kane

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469607603

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469607610_Kane

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Catholics and the Scientific Study of Stigmata

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Sister Thorn and Catholic Mysticism in Modern America

Paula M. Kane

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the scientific community's impact on the American understanding of stigmatization in the early twentieth century. It analyzes and contrasts the involvements of the three physicians central to Margaret Reilly's experience: Thomas Gallen, Thomas McParlan, and James J. Walsh. Margaret fell in love with Gallen, involving her in a romantic triangle that reveals the emerging challenges to rigid gender attitudes and roles in Manhattan for a Catholic woman of the period. Although Margaret loved Gallen, he married someone else, soon becoming the target of anonymous letters that were probably instigated by Margaret around the time she entered the convent. Gallen's response is unknown, but the actions and opinions of McParlan and Walsh shed light on the Catholic reception of scientific investigation of stigmata and, indeed, on the church's willingness to accept new scientific methods, including the premises and methods of psychoanalysis and psychology.

Keywords:   scientific community, psychoanalysis, stigmatization, Margaret Reilly, Thomas Gallen, Thomas McParlan, James J. Walsh

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