The reason this post was one of my favorites over on my blog is simply because the topic interests me. I don't necessarily think that I've said anything so brilliant, or that you couldn't think of for yourself, but I am interested in your response to my ending question:
Is mental illness ever related to demon possession?
If you've read this blog much you know that I have a heart for mentally ill adults. Since I have a sister who is a paranoid schizophrenic, and I'm a CA licensed nursing home administrator who has ran secured psychiatric facilities serving the chronically mentally ill for the past 9 yrs, I've had lots of experience with mentally ill folks.
I've seen up close how much mentally ill people can suffer.
There are some groups of extreme belief type Christians who think that all mental illness is caused by demon possession. On the other hand you get folks like Michael Spencer over at the Internet Monk who wrote a post entitled Is mental illness demonic that cautions us as to how we should read the gospel accounts where Jesus cast out demons. Spencer states:
"The Bible was written in the narrative world of ancient, prescientific cultures that often interpreted reality and events through a grid quite different from our own way of looking at the same reality. When the Bible speaks to us from its ancient setting, it does not “update” its cultural interpretations of causation for commonly observed phenomenon. Instead, it speaks in the cultural norms of the time. Those cultures tended to see most of what we call mental illness as the result of demonic influence or as a punishment for sin. Now, Christians have been entirely free, in their own settings and cultures, to appropriate, interpret or re-interpret these Biblical explanations. "
I see Spencer's point and agree with the principle. Just as the Bible parables relate to a different culture, so do the accounts. So it may be that some of the people we read about in the Bible who acted in ways we see Schizophrenics behave today, may have been healed of Schizophrenia and it was explained in terms of demons because that was the understanding of the day.
But I do not think it's an either or situation. It's very difficult for me to separate out the physical and spiritual so completely. I think it may be that we have both physical and spiritual phenomena occurring simultaneously. The fact that the voices that many Schizophrenics hear talking to them in their heads (I've met at least 300 individuals on whom I'm basing this statement) are always negative, leads me to seriously question the origins of these voices.
My guess is that in some instances, mental illness is almost exclusively a physiological phenomenon. In these cases the person has a physical anomaly that is causing the mental illness, and the enemy tries to use against the person , as well as his loved ones, just as in any other serious physical illness such as cancer. I would also guess that this is the most frequent case for mental illness.
But I'm also quite certain, from many situations I've observed through the years, that there are cases where what is manifesting as mental illness is almost exclusively spiritual.
But, if I'm being totally candid here, I would never let some religious group come into my facility and start casting out demons.
I really don't have any great insights or answers to this issue, just thoughts and questions.
What do you think, is mental illness ever related to demonic possession?