A Question I Was Asked:

Are the Mentally Ill Affected by Demons?

The Actual Question:

When I was 22 years old, I got schizophrenia for the first time. Back then I had contact with a minister and he told me that I was demon-possessed and should never attend his church. This greatly shocked and upset me. Years have passed and I follow my medical treatment and I am, and act, very normal with it. The psychiatrist told me that this illness is for my entire life and the same thing with my treatment. I asked him what happened with me, he said I had a biochemical imbalance in my brain and this caused to me get paranoid schizophrenia. You believe and imagine a lot of things that are not real and you also feel persecution.... So, are the mentally-ill affected by demons? Thanks a lot for your help and bye for now, God bless you.

UK Apologetics Reply:

I believe that there is no one who can give a definitive answer to your question. Some evangelical (and especially fundamentalist) Christians have always claimed that any mental illness is due to demonic activity, however in my long experience, I find that few now believe that, and I myself strongly doubt that all mental illness is demonic in origin. Neither should we necessarily equate demonic activity purely with mental illness - let us note that the healings of Jesus reveal that demons could also have an involvement in physical illness.

So whilst there is no doubt that some of what is usually called "mental illness" is probably due to demonic activity, or, was originally caused by demonic activity, long experience has shown me that this would probably not be in every single case. Most "mental illness" is simply that, that is: it is an illness of the mind, just as one might have an illness of the body. The degree to which demonic activity was an original cause would be beyond what any of us could ascertain. It is only too easy to scream about demons and insist upon exorcism when we are not in a full possession of the facts. Such premature judgments have actually damaged many susceptible people who, in some cases, have been put off Christianity for life!

I myself have spent many hours working with a Christian who, in the past, has been diagnosed as suffering from a serious mental illness. It has been a long struggle and this lady still has various anxieties, but, overall, her situation is now better. I must stress that this person is a commited Christian but she will almost certainly have to live with some of these problems, and probably to continue with her medication. To what degree - if any - demons were originally involved when she was at her worst, I cannot say nor can anybody say. My strong feeling is that demons are no longer involved but that some damage was done.

May I just advise you to keep close to God in prayer, continually throwing yourself upon His abundant mercy. The lady I have mentioned also has tried to do without her medication but finds that she still does need it.
Robin A. Brace, October 19th 2009.