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Healing Demonic Possession, Mental Illness, and Similar Challenges

Updated on July 17, 2012

This article answers a question posted by Harlan Colt:

Mental Illness VS Demonic possession

In Jesus day, he expelled many devils from possessed people. Do we today, confuse demonic possession for certain forms of mental illness? I believe there is a difference, but... what would you say is the difference? How does one know the difference?

I think the difference is more an issue of the worldview of the healer than the actual condition of the patient. Before psychology, various religious traditions, including Christianity and Buddhism, explained aberrant emotional behavior in terms of demonic possession. In today's scientific worldview, some of the same behaviors are called mental illness within the field of psychology.

Some people may find the open-mindedness of this article challenging, or even offensive. Please understand that I write from my own experience, and also that I work with a wide range of people with many symptoms and many different cultural backgrounds. Also, my mother was an anthropologist, and she taught me to respect beliefs of all cultures, and to sit science next to religion in a way that is respectful to both. In today's world, the patient and practitioner can choose a worldview.

The Catholic Church accepts psychology and mental illness, and has very strict standards. Almost all cases will be called mental illness, and only when mental illness is ruled out is demonic possession considered.

There are other options besides mental illness and demonic possessions. In psychology, brain injury and brain structural or chemical abnormalities are different from psychologically-based mental illness. (For example, epilepsy is a brain-injury condition, and not a mental illness. And there is significant evidence that, until 200 years ago, many epileptics were considered to be demon-possessed.)

Hahnemann's miasm (or energetic illness) theory is another model. In this, there are energetic presences that affect behavior, and also create illness, but they are not demonic, that is, intentionally harmful. Rather, they are limited in nature, and therefore limit their hosts. (Hahnemann lived in the 1800s and invented homeopathy.)

For those who work in a Buddhist framework, including msyelf, we can look at a model that includes possession by hungry ghosts as well as possession by demons.

As a healer, I have found that the question, "Is this a mental illness, or is this demonic possession" is not very useful. For me and my clients, the useful question is: What can the patient and I do to help the patient heal? That may include a diagnosis, and then appropriate treatment.

In my own work, I find demonic possession rare. Imbalances within the individual are considered first, and then interpersonal and inter-generational issues. After that, I consider some kind of non-human involvement, usually in this order: miasm/energetic illness, hungry ghost, ghost, demon.

At the same time, being aware of all possibilities is good for safety. Demonic possession, though rare, is very powerful. Efforts at treatment may not work, may make the situation worse, and may even put the practitioner at risk. Anyone working in these arenas is strongly recommended to develop methods for safety appropriate to his or her belief system. The healer's own commitment to harmlessness is key. Meditation, prayer, mental and physical purification, and calling on protection from sources in the Light are all valuable.


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    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, James. I agree on all points. I would add that, perhaps, what we say and do has an even greater impact on our mental health than what we take in.

    • james2014 profile image

      James Barton 5 years ago from UK

      Thankyou, a very interesting topic. I think that there are some things that can make both mental illness/depression and demonic type possession more likely and so it is clear that they should be reduced or avoided altogether. For example when people take recreational drugs they are leaving themselves more open to negative suggestions and chemical imbalance. At the same time they are also making it easier for negative entities to effect and even possess them. Another example is meat eating. By eating the bodies of animals that have been treated badly and then killed, people are taking in the negative and miserable vibrations along with stress toxins etc. They are also tuning into the cruel and/or suffering victim vibrations in the universe. Despite 'conscious beliefs' to the contrary the subconscious becomes depressed and disturbed at the violence in the diet. This state of affairs also weakens the natural defenses that protect us from demonic entities and in fact is likely to attract such entities to us via the laws of sympathetic vibration.

      There are many other similar examples such as watching sadistic/violent movies, exposure to inharmonious electromagnetic energies and attachment to false/harmful belief systems. Those who habitually tell lies lose their mental clarity and can slide into madness. Also as a side effect they tune into the demonic realms and thus face bad consequences.

      The good news is that by giving up such negative things and instead embracing beneficial practices we can help uplift ourselves and others.

    • Swope profile image

      Swope 5 years ago

      thanks :)

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, Swope. God is good, and, indeed, with love and creativity, I believe everything can be healed.

      Interesting that you should mention RA. I've written a hub about how I'm helping my wife beat that one back. You might look at it for friend, as recurrence is possible, and the techniques in the hub prevent recurrence.

    • Swope profile image

      Swope 5 years ago

      Great subject! I have often thought there might be a connection between demonic possession and some people diagnosed with mental illness. A friend of mine got rheumatoid arthritis (not sure if I spell that right). She was very young and symptoms were rather sudden. She had a lot going on in her life emotionally at the time. There is a verse in Proverbs that says " heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." (Proverbs 14:30)

      She was treated for a long time with meds, that were very addictive. I began praying for her and when I told her what I thought she didn't believe me at first, but later agreed. She is healthy now. God is good.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, VisionAndFocus! I really appreciate the recognition about being matter-of-fact on controversial issues. We are all trying to heal, just in many different frameworks, and I like to show that forth. I haven't read Samuel Sagan - I tend to work primarily with ancient sources and direct inner connection. Thanks for letting me know about it, though.

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 5 years ago from North York, Canada

      Wow, I don't think I've ever read such a matter-of-fact and well-balanced account of what can be considered a highly inflammatory subject. I know an energy healer who, when she was young and inexperienced, released what she believed was a demon with very dramatic effects. I'm kinda glad you have 'demon' last on your list!

      I wonder if you've read Samuel Sagan's Entity Possession and, if so, what you think about it?

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Hello again, Mr. Happy:

      When we choose to heal ourselves, we can include the support of Western medical doctors. Most of last year, I was moving through a deep spiritual transformation and physical healing that included surviving a brown recluse spider bite that could have led to amputation of my leg. I'm very grateful for the antibiotics that helped when the crisis came. But I am glad that I didn't use them too soon, or rely on them, because I gained a much greater and deeper inner health and physical health by taking spiritual responsibility and practical responsibility, and using doctors for what they are good for, not for everything.

      I wrote more about this in another hub, Heal Yourself: The Most Effective Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis, which you might enjoy.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I am glad You saw what I was trying to say even though I sort of fumbled my words. What I see as quick fixes, are for example pills from the pharmaceutical industry. I personally do not do pills and doctors. Although to build on your point and Mrs. Theresa's (Phdst7), I would go to a hospital if I lost a limb or broke myself in pieces so to speak (lol). I am not against the practiced medicine of all doctors.

      Otherwise though, I think we have the ability to heal ourselves (if we wish, have the faith and believe in ourselves).

      Thank You for the conversation. Cheers!

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Hello Mr. Happy:

      I see your point. Spiritual healing requires a very difficult step that many people fear. Spiritual healing is not handing ourselves over to another to be healed. It is taking responsibility for ourselves and our own illness and healing. Most people fear that enough that they search for quick fixes, rather than genuine solutions, found within ourselves with loving support, allowing the Divine to enter our being.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I enjoyed your article.

      I am curious, do You find that there are those who fear spiritual healing? Or is it just me (lol).

      All the very best, may the Light be with You!

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, PH! I really appreciate your seeing what I am doing. The either / or (polarized) position is, I think, a sign of fear and stress. As we open to the joy of healing, we appreciate all the possibilities of healing and creativity, which are the gift of life itself.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      What an incredibly well-balanced Hub written with understanding and respect for both medical science, psychology, and religion. Although not trained as you are, I believe as you dothat we must be open to a range of explanations and cures for diseases. Excellent essay. I so appreciate that you do not feel the need to take an either / or position on this important subject. SHARING


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