Demon Possession: Biblical And Contemporary Presentations
In order to answer some of these questions, we need to turn to the New Testament accounts of demonisation. Jesus clearly cast evil spirits out of many people who He met . However, we are told about 6 cases in some detail:
- The demon possessed Gerasene: Mt 8:28-34 Mk 5:2-20 Lk 8: 26-39
- A demon possessed mute man: Mt 9:32-34 Lk 11:14-26
- A demon possessed blind and mute man: Mt 12:22-28
- The Canaanite or Syro-Phoenecian woman’s daughter: Mt 15:22-28 Mk 7:25-30
- An epileptic boy: Mt 17:15 -21 Mk 9:14-2 9 Lk 9:3 8-43
- The man in the synagogue at Capernaum: Mk 1:21-28 Lk 4:33-36
Delusions Of Possession And Religious Coping In Schizophrenia: A Qualitative Study Of Four Cases
- Research Centre for Trauma and Dissociation, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Katowice, Poland
The notion of evil spirits influencing human behavior or mental processes is used in many cultures to justify various symptoms or experiences. It is also expressed in psychotic delusions of possession, but there is limited research in this area. This study explores how patients with schizophrenia came to the conclusion that they were possessed, and how this affected help-seeking. Interviews with two men and two women about their experiences and meaning-making were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three main themes were identified: Links between traumatic experiences and psychotic symptoms, The emergence of religious themes in delusional contents, and Reluctance to use medical treatment and instead to seek exorcism. In each case, attributing problems to possession was supported by the local environment and media, led to seeking spiritual help, and delayed diagnostic assessment and treatment. However, using religious coping contributed to the sense of predictability and social support. Clinicians are encouraged to explore the experiences and conflicts expressed by the symptoms which people ascribe to possession and to negotiate alternative explanatory models with their patients.
Spirit Possession And Mental Illness
Being possessed by demons or evil spirits is one of the oldest ways of accounting for bodily and mental disorders. The idea that spirit possession and mental illness are related has a long historical legacy. Throughout history mental illness has been attributed to demonic possession the oldest references to demonic possession derive from the Sumerians, who believed that all diseases of the body and mind were caused by sickness demons called gidim or gid-dim. The Gospels report Jesus regularly exorcising evil spirits. During the middle ages of Europe, possession was considered as one of several causes of mental illness. Astrological theories prevailed during this period of history, in addition to the humoral theories of medicine. In addition, distinctions were made between eccentricity, madness and religious visions and revelations. A large number of the alleged witches and possessed persons who were burned had probably had mental disorders.Reference Høyersten5
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Demon Possession And Mental Illness: Conclusions
Demon possession and mental illness, then, are not simply alternative diagnoses to be offered when a person presents with deliberate self harm or violent behaviour, although they may need to be distinguished in such circumstances, whether by spiritual discernment or the application of basic psychiatric knowledge. It would seem reasonable to argue that demon possession may be an aetiological factor in some cases of mental illness, but it may also be an aetiological factor in some non-psychiatric conditions, and in other cases it may be encountered in the absence of psychiatric or medical disorder. Furthermore, demon possession is essentially a spiritual problem, but mental illness is a multifactorial affair, in which spiritual, social, psychological and physical factors may all play an aetioIogical role. The relationship between these concepts is therefore complex. Differential diagnostic skills may have a part to play in offering help to those whose problems could be of demonic or medical/psychiatric origin. However, spiritual discernment is of at least equal, if not greater, importance in such matters.
- More from nucleus: autumn 1997
Faith Healing Is Not Effective For Schizophrenia
As if the multiple-demons-cause-auditory-hallucinations idea was not absurd enough, Irmak goes one step further in the last section of the paper. In a cloud of anecdotes and evidence-free assertions, he wants to promote the cooperation between medical authorities and faith healers:
It has been shown by World Health Organization studies that faith healers may help patients with psychiatric disorders .
The reference provided is a 23-year-old paper that investigates the delays in various treatment facilities for psychiatric conditions in eleven different countries. It has nothing about the efficacy of exorcism performed by faith healers:
The variation in treatments offered by native or religious healers reflects the heterogeneity of centres studied . Almost all the patients who saw native or religious healers in Ujung Pandang and Bangalore say they received some form of treatment from them. In Ujung Pandang this is usually native medicine, but in over a third it is practical help a main treatment rarely found in any other setting. In Bangalore and Aden a ritual cure is most common followed by herbal remedies, while in Rawalpindi prayer or other spiritual forms of support are common.
In other words, religious healers provide patients with herbs, prayer and practical help. It has nothing to do with demons. After this obvious false characterization was not enough, Irmak provides a single anecdote for his efficacy claim.
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How A Scientist Learned To Work With Exorcists
In the late 1980s, I was introduced to a self-styled Satanic high priestess. She called herself a witch and dressed the part, with flowing dark clothes and black eye shadow around to her temples. In our many discussions, she acknowledged worshipping Satan as his queen.
Im a man of science and a lover of history after studying the classics at Princeton, I trained in psychiatry at Yale and in psychoanalysis at Columbia. That background is why a Catholic priest had asked my professional opinion, which I offered pro bono, about whether this woman was suffering from a mental disorder. This was at the height of the national panic about Satanism. So I was inclined to skepticism. But my subjects behavior exceeded what I could explain with my training. She could tell some people their secret weaknesses, such as undue pride. She knew how individuals shed never known had died, including my mother and her fatal case of ovarian cancer. Six people later vouched to me that, during her exorcisms, they heard her speaking multiple languages, including Latin, completely unfamiliar to her outside of her trances. This was not psychosis it was what I can only describe as paranormal ability. I concluded that she was possessed. Much later, she permitted me to tell her story.
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How To Differentiate Demonic Possession From Schizophrenia
Pastor Steven Waterhouse has written an excellent book called, Strength for his People: A Ministry for Families of the Mentally Ill. It will be useful to those who have a devout belief in Catholicism and an interest in neurobiological disorders . The authors younger brother suffers from schizophrenia. The following is a paraphrasing of one chapter of the book that interested me. The arguments in the book are more solidly expressed than this abbreviation.
Schizophrenia can strike anyone, including individuals from deeply religious homes. The concepts of devils, heaven and hell is part of Catholicism. Demonic influence is a rare, but integral belief of many. And many Christians who research schizophrenia wonder about the demonic. Is my relative possessed? The New Testament mentions demons over 100 times including Matt 8:29 Matt. 10:1ff and John 16:11.
Even those who have other beliefs or choose to remain skeptical still must relate to Christians who do believe in the supernatural. Many Christians who endure a family members battle with schizophrenia will have questions about demonic involvement with a loved one and deserve real answers instead of a condescending response which dismisses such concern as nonsense on the part of ignorant people.
The Bible itself makes a distinction between disease and possession . Thus, Christian theology should recognize the difference.
At least six factors differentiate schizophrenia from demonic possession as described in the Bible.
The Relationship Between Demonisation And Mental Illness
Why, then, is psychiatry particularly thought of as being the area of medicine in which demon possession is most likely to be encountered? It is true that behavioural disturbance, and deliberate self harm, such as that presented by the Gerasene, might also accompany psychiatric disorder. In fact, the range of possible differential diagnoses in this case is probably quite wide. In the other Biblical cases, loss of sight or hearing, and epilepsy, could all have an hysterical basis rather than being due to a neurological diagnosis. Roy Clements has also suggested that the voices reported as those of demons might be the alter-egos of multiple personality disorder. . However, there are no scriptural accounts of demonisation which sound particularly like schizophrenia as we see it today. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that most prevalent psychiatric disorders may have more to do with environmental stress, psychological or biological vulnerability, and social deprivation rather than the influence of evil spirits.
Psychiatry, then, is not the only domain within which we need to be aware of demonic influence, and perhaps it is not even the most important such domain. Furthermore, we cannot expect to make a simple differential diagnosis according to certain signs or symptoms of demonisation. However, this does not exclude the need to consider other possible links between demonic activity and mental illness.
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Female Lecturer Says Speculating That Demon Possession Might Be Linked To Schizophrenia Is Bizarre
Rebecca Roache published her own paper calling Irmaks argument both dumbfounding and shocking, especially considering it was published in a post-medieval peer-reviewed journal, she scoffed.
Roache is apparently of the persuasion that Irmaks position is beneath her and unworthy of appearing in a credible science journal. To her, Irmaks hypothesis is no different than crediting financial compensation for a childs tooth loss with the existence of the tooth fairy.
Further calling Irmaks premise bizarre, Roache questions how an editorial board and peer reviewers ever could have come to the conclusion that Irmaks work deserved to be published in a scholarly publication.
Those who have espoused similarly fanciful hypotheses about other sorts of misfortunes have, in recent years, been lambasted, she writes, pointing to another study that links past sins to current disability.
Such views are dehumanizing and disrespectful to disabled people, and they shift focus away from serious efforts to improve these peoples lives, Roache contends.
The only explanation Roache was able to come up with for how Irmaks work ended up in a credible scientific journal is that the board must have committed a gross editorial oversight.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us know below in the comment section.
Mental Illness And Demonic Activity
Simonetta CarrThursday, 3 September 20
Mental illness can cause mystifying changes in both appearance and behavior. Many relatives of people with schizophrenia, for example, have learned to detect changes in brain activity by looking at the eyes, which can go from a dead stare to rapid movements or incessant blinking. This is both frightening and puzzling.
For this reason, many Christians throughout history have chosen to make simple associations. Since some people in the Bible who had a strange and scary appearance and lost control of their movements were possessed by demons, Christians today assume that those who exhibit similar traits must fall into the same category. This type of reasoning creates a host of interpretative problems.
First of all, trying to find a biblical correspondent to a mental health issue is poor exegesis and can be grossly misleading, because correlation doesnt imply causation.
Second, the symptomsexhibited by the demon-possessed in the Gospels vary so much from one individual to the other that this correlation would have to extend to neurological or physical conditions , which few Christians would identify as demonic.
Can a person be inhabited by both Gods Spirit and the devil? Since the Scriptures answer in the negative , the only way to maintain this reasoning is to say that a person can lose his or her salvation. Here is where some people let their experience inform their biblical interpretation, instead of doing the opposite.
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Dogmatic Religious Beliefs Masquerading As Disinterested Analysis
The next section of the paper provides additional details:
As seen above, there exist similarities between the clinical symptoms of schizophrenia anddemonic possession
An assertion is not an argument. Irmak has not shown that there are similarities between schizophrenia and being possessed by demons. He has merely asserted it. He has provided no evidence for the existence of demonic possessions or that they have similar clinical symptoms.
Common symptoms in schizophrenia and demonic possession such as hallucinations and delusions may be a result of the fact that demons in the vicinity of the brain may form the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Why should we propose an extremely unlikely explanation when the scientific model can explain the existing evidence? If you come home and see a broken window and a baseball on the living room floor, why should we jump to the most unreasonable explanation instead of the obvious one? Saying that it may be an extremely unlikely explanation does not cut it. Hypothetically possible does not imply probable or plausible.
Delusions of schizophrenia such as My feelings and movements are controlled by others in a certain way and They put thoughts in my head that are not mine may be thoughts that stem from the effects of demons on the brain.
Why should it? Irmak provides no evidence or argument.
Is Demonic Possession
The Demonic gains a foothold: Permission will be granted for the inhuman entity to enter. This could involve dabbling in the occult, or using divining techniques such as the Ouija board. In some cases the permission given will not have been so obvious in the victims memory.
Infestation: Poltergeist-like activity generates fear, which, in turn, fuels the demonic.
Oppression: Because time has no meaning to the inhuman entity, this stage can vary from weeks to even years. Paranormal phenomenon intensifies such as the movement of objects increasing in scale and tapping or knocking becoming loud pounding. Injury without obvious cause will occur such as scratches or bites. Nightmares and sleep depravation break down the constitution of the individual. A persons weaknesses will be targeted with the ultimate desired result on the part of the demonic: Possession
Key Points about Schizophrenia and Demon Possession:
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Who Is M Kemal Irmak
The author contact information states that he is part of the High Council of Science at the Gulhane Military Medical Academy in Ankara, Turkey. At first I thought this paper was a hoax, written by someone who wants to reveal bad quality control in smaller journals. A quick PubMed search shows that he has published around 30 papers, including one about a hypothetical scenario where a woman gives birth to a child without a father. Naturally, this was published in another crank journal .
Theme : The Emergence Of Religious Themes In Delusional Contents
Initially, religious motives were not present in their delusional experiences, but emerged under the influence of the environment. They were inspired by cultural beliefs and evolved as participants’ interpretations of unusual experiences. When her father moved out following a divorce, and domestic violence stopped, Kathy started sharing his interests in the occult and read his books. She thought spirits influenced her behavior and convinced herself she had gained special powers in order to save demons. Subsequently, she developed and performed purification rituals.
I often scream at home with the voices of these demons, because I have to purify them. I have to connect to them energetically and use a special prayer for cleansing them of their sins. I developed this method based on my own observations, or films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose. These spirits went to hell, which I think is more of a mental realm. They simply did something, killed a family member or were cruel, and later on they felt guilty for their actions, and this condensed in a single unit of time .
Alice initially heard positive voices of her deceased friends or people she had recently met in real life. When she was told that these auditory hallucinations were demons, the voices proliferated and some became distressing, so she wanted to get rid of them.
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