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By On October 7th, 2013

Mental Disorder or Demonic Attack?

veiled face and hand

Have you come across someone who was screaming for no apparent reason? Maybe they are yelling profanities, talking to themselves, or they are thinking of suicide? Before there was psychology, people assumed that this behavior was always demonic possession.  Some Christian churches still believe in demonic possession, but today more are being taught about mental disorders. So the big question: is this person demon possessed or do they have a mental disorder?

Let’s look at both sides of the coin. Demon possession is a supernatural occurrence and involves powers above our thinking and comprehension. We can’t fully understand how demon possession happens. So this is what we do know according to The Bible. Jesus in the New Testament (Mark 5) came across a demon possessed man.  This man had superhuman strength, was cutting himself, randomly took off his clothes, and exhibited irrational behaviors.   After the demon possessed man met Jesus he healed him from the demon.

Now, we know from neuroscience that we have chemicals in our brain. Sometimes these chemicals can become imbalanced which can cause a mental illness. A simple example “LSD changes the chemicals to cause a high feeling and hallucinations”. We now know we can change the way we think and act with a drug good or bad.  Seeing the science behind mental illness helps us understand that it is not the person’s fault. Some of the disorders are a psychiatric diagnosis for mood disorder. Patients who suffer from this mental disorder can have terrible mood swings, and, consequently, maintaining a good quality of life can be very difficult. Those who suffer from it find it difficult to overcome the many problems associated with it. Patients who suffer from a mental disorder do not only need to seek professional help, but also need the support from their family and friends.

Although mental illness is affecting a lot of Christians in distress, it is considered a hidden disability that is not readily accepted by everyone. For instance, if a person experiences psychotic symptoms like delusions, they may be accused by some at churches of being under satanic influences and, the suggested treatment might involve casting out demonic influences. While some churches accept mental illness whole-heartedly, there are still others that deny it as a valid illness. This is one reason why people who suffer from mental disorders might refuse to seek treatment or take medication. Most Christians believe that mental illness is a disease like any other, and understand it is caused by the imbalance of biochemical hormones to make the brain function properly. On the other hand, it is important to take note that God’s love is unconditional and can provide healing.

Fortunately, those who suffer from mental illness need not feel ashamed of their condition as the church and its leaders are now more open to the fact that despite their strong faith, some Christians will experience mental illness. This is the reason why some churches offer support groups to their members who suffer from such disorders. It is important to treat the whole person, mind, body and spirit.

At Brookhaven Hospital’s upcoming pastoral seminar, Amy Kessner, PhD, LPC, LADC and Johnathan Hines, MA, LCCC will look at some of the issues in this blog as they present “Spiritual or Mental: Prayer or Prozac?”.  This seminar will examine where demonic possession fits into our treatment world.  Case studies will be presented and the differences and similarities between schizophrenia and demonic possession will be discussed.  Call 918.289.2033 or email [email protected] to register to attend this seminar that is free for pastors to attend.

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