There are several accounts in the Bible of Jesus casting out demons from people. Some of the demon-possessed were mute and/or blind (Matthew 9:32-24, 12:22). Others were incredibly strong, violent, and prone to self-injury (Mark 5:2-20/Luke 8:26-39/Matthew 8:28-34), another poor boy suffered from convulsions to the point he would fall into the fire or water because the demon was trying to kill him (Matthew 17:14-20/Mark 9:14-29). The latter was an especially difficult case where the disciples were not able to cast out the demon(s) and Jesus had to do it.
I have a dear friend who works with severely autistic children in public school. I’ve seen the bite marks and bruises left on her by a tween girl who became incredibly violent and was also prone to self-injury. She often was forced to wear gloves and had to be bound to prevent her from hurting herself. Why would a child be afflicted like this from childhood? Is it a chemical problem in the brain outside the understanding of medicine and science? So far, yes, because they have yet to find an effective treatment for her. But I’ve often wondered whether certain cases of mental illness, especially when the parallel Bible symptoms, could be more spiritually than physically based.
Last week I read a fantastic novel by Andrew Klavan called Crazy Dangerous. Part of the story is told from the POV (point of view) of a girl that can hear demons speaking and sees things that no one else can see. This ability appears to be linked to prophetic warning visions. You spend the book, along with the main character, wondering about the basis for her visions. Andrew Klavan connects to dots for one way demons and metal illness might be compatible. I’m not going to tell you what it is, because that would ruin the book for you and it is certainly a book worth reading.
So what are the implications of demon possession on mental illness. I don’t have an answer for you and I’m only going to dip my toe in the waters of speculation because I am not an expert on this subject. Not at all.
What I will say is that in Bible times, demons caused a variety of physical symptoms including muteness, deafness, violence, and convulsions. Some mentally ill people still experience those same symptoms today. Does that mean they are demon possessed?
I think the parents of a profoundly autistic child would take umbrage with the notion their child was demon possessed. So would the parents of a child that suffered from epilepsy, particularly if the epileptic was a believer. If the Holy Spirit resides within us, we’re safe from demon possession.
So where does that leave us? If it’s in the Bible, then there is a possibility that demon possession exists today–possibly more than a possibility. Many people believe that miraculous gifting (healing, prophecy, visions, speaking tongues) ceased at the end of the apostolic age. It could be that demon possession ceased then as well. God knows and I do not. What I do know is that medical professionals should be consulted. Medicine is part of God’s grace to us. I would suggest involving a certified Christian counselor. I would also recommend lots and lots of prayer. Nothing is impossible with God. He is the Great Healer.
Alright, I’m opening up the floor? What do you guys think?