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Mental illness as a form of demonic possession/oppression?


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#1 Jake A.

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:27 PM

How does the Church view mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, etc? It is to my belief that people who suffer from mental illnesses suffer from a form of demonic oppression, not necessarily possession. For example I once talked with a very well traveled woman who, during the time of USSR, whitnessed (according to her words) an experiment conducted with holy water where mental patients were subjected to choose an unlabeled cup of water out of a number of them, with only one being filled with simple tap water and the rest holy water blessed by a priest, and the study showed that most mentally ill patients always went for the tap water without even the slightest knowledge of what was in the other cups, and ever after random rearrangement of cups. Also there is no cure for mental illnesses, the doctors just drug the "patients", so most of the time they are completely out of it, never really providing a cure.

#2 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 03:43 AM

Although I don't doubt demonic oppression exists, I don't think we can lump all mental illness in that category at all. It's a very wide spectrum of phenomena. Much of this is beyond our understanding...




Ps. the random link of the musical savant I did not mean necessarily in response to your question of schizophrenia (a disorder medical science actually understand quite a bit more in the last few decades) but just that sometimes mental illness can be accompanied by gifts such as this one, and I doubt there is anything demonic about that...

#3 Anton S.

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 06:59 AM

Demonic possession and obssession do exist. It has been the teaching of the Orthodox Church from its very foundation and I see no grounds to doubt it. However, as far as I can judge, the Orthodox Church does distinguish between mental illness caused by natural phenomena and demonic possession/obsession. It is the patient's reaction to holy objects (the eucharistic Chalice, holy water, cross, etc.) that allows to determine what we are dealing with. People suffering from 'natural' mental illness do not normally have any aversion to such objects, while demonically possessed ones react to them violently.

A very vivid example of diabolical possession is the case of Nikolay Averin who killed three monks in the famous Russian monastery of Optina in 1993 inflicting 'the injuries with unusual professionalism, "deliberately—they were not too deep—to make the victim bleed to death over a long time." The knife was double-edged, five centimeters wide, and resembled a sword. It was engraved on its blade with "666" and "satan"'. (Cf. http://orthodoxwiki....f_Optina_Pustyn ). He later said that he had heard a voice that commanded him to kill the monks on Easter night. I remember reading somewhere that he had previously tried to rape a woman on Easter night also in obedience to that voice in his head.

I am beginning to wonder if some modern politicians, like the current British Prime Minister are demonically obsessed. For 'obsession' seems an apt word to characterise their attitude to the Holy and Life-Giving Cross. Do they hear voices instructing them to ban the cross?

#4 Andreas Moran

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 09:41 AM

Just to be clear - the cross is not banned in Britain nor are there plans to ban it. It can be seen everywhere on public buildings as well as on churches. The UK's flag consists of crosses, and the flag of England is St George's cross. I have the cross and icons in my office where I see Muslim students.

#5 Anton S.

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:37 AM

Just to be clear - the cross is not banned in Britain nor are there plans to ban it. It can be seen everywhere on public buildings as well as on churches. The UK's flag consists of crosses, and the flag of England is St George's cross. I have the cross and icons in my office where I see Muslim students.


Yes, I am well aware of it. But firing people for wearing a cross at workplace is something which would have been unthinkable in the UK 60 or 70 years ago. Now it is happening. In view of the general trends in religious and social life in the UK, I have no doubt that, little by little, the cross will be banned from public places. This is a slow but relentless process.

If life proves me to be mistaken, I will be very glad.

#6 Andreas Moran

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 12:57 PM

Yes, I am well aware of it. But firing people for wearing a cross at workplace is something which would have been unthinkable in the UK 60 or 70 years ago. Now it is happening. In view of the general trends in religious and social life in the UK, I have no doubt that, little by little, the cross will be banned from public places. This is a slow but relentless process.

If life proves me to be mistaken, I will be very glad.


We have a thread which addresses this issue and as I have indicated there, the matter ought not to be characterised as 'employees banned from wearing crosses' - it isn't as simple as that.

I hope this is not too off topic, but my wife told me today that she senses a kind of demonic cynicism in Russia - she said this in connection with a woman who needed a caesarian child birth in a state hospital and though this treatment should be free the medical staff demanded 20,000 roubles and when the woman didn't pay the child died.

#7 Kusanagi

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 01:19 PM

I dont think all mental illnesses are of demonic possession or opression. St John Maximovitch visited such patients often and he knew which were possessed or not.
Those that are influenced or possessed by demons are against holy things from the Church.

More articles here:

http://www.johnsanid...al-illness.html

http://www.johnsanid...possession.html

http://www.johnsanid...ulos-on_12.html

#8 Michael Demin

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 01:43 AM

From what I understood from the book by Jean Claude Larchet "Treatment of mental deceases. Experience of the Christian East of the first centuries" (Russian edition), there are 3 kinds of mental illnesses: natural, spiritual and demonic. Natural and demonic are the illnesses of the body (brain) while spiritual is the illness of the soul so that, for example, the spiritual illness remains in the soul if the person dies.

Spiritual illness like very strong pride and other passions can be mixed or can cause natural illness that should be treated with medicines. Demonic illness can also cause a natural one, so that when the demon is expelled, some deviation of logic may remain.

Also, at least in my opinion, often natural and demonic illnesses are allowed by God to humble person and to cure a spiritual illness of pride or to prevent it. There are many examples in the mentioned book from the living of the Saints etc. how Saints could distinguish the origin of the illness and were using different means to cure it.

#9 Steven Burton

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 02:58 AM

I not sure what you are talking about patients being drugged so they are completely out of it all day. Unless you are referring to those who have been institutionalized, which happens when they have become a threat to themselves or others. There have been cases when the person's brain with mental illness have been reset and the chemicals are getting released in proper quantities (doctors are not sure what caused the reset). Most doctors agree with the problem of chemical imbalance in the most common mental illness in the United States which seem to be depression. I am what you would called a drugged patient and I am not out of it all day. Actually I can function quite normally with the drugs (although I do take on that causes me to fall asleep and stay asleep which is what I need at night to help me sleep).

#10 Anton S.

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:28 AM

We have a thread which addresses this issue and as I have indicated there, the matter ought not to be characterised as 'employees banned from wearing crosses' - it isn't as simple as that.

I hope this is not too off topic, but my wife told me today that she senses a kind of demonic cynicism in Russia - she said this in connection with a woman who needed a caesarian child birth in a state hospital and though this treatment should be free the medical staff demanded 20,000 roubles and when the woman didn't pay the child died.


Please, don't misunderstand me. I am not trying to affirm that 'Russia is better than UK'. I am appalled by lots of things that are happening in Russia, especially in connexion with health care, abortions, orphanages, family crisis... I have no intention of judging and condemning the UK or any particular nation. I am just worried about the pronounced anti-Christian trends in the political line pursued by Western governments. I am as much worried by the increased activity of anti-Christian forces in Russia. I am sure that all these things are diabolically inspired.

Let us not pursue this off-topic subject. If you wish to discuss what is going on in Russia or in the UK I would be happy to discuss it via personal messages. In fact, I am very much interested in your opinion and have greatest respect for it. I also greatly respect your country, though not the people who are ruling her at the moment.

#11 Phoebe K.

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 10:11 PM

From my experience mental illness can be both biological and demonic, the latter is very rare and userly asoceated to incidents where there are activities which are specificity band by our lord. Most oftern mental illness is a biologicalry origanated problem although it can also have perfound spiritual effects on the sufferer, spiritual council is an important aspect of recovery from mental illness alongside the medical interventions. I do not say this with any authority other than having fort mental illness myself for a number of years and only finding true relafe in coming to orthodoxy (I was received as a catacumin last Sunday).

#12 George Y

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 05:47 AM

I have a story to relate.

My sister is a very devout Orthodox Christian who told me of how one day she was entering a subway with her husband and children when they saw a disheveled man screaming at people approaching the turnstiles. He was frightening everyone there, keeping them all hostage as he shouted in their faces if they moved. My brother in law worked in an insane asylum for many years, so he is accustomed to this behaviour and told my sister to stay back and he approached the man to calm him and escort him out of the building. He tried calming the man, but to no avail. The man could not be reasoned with and grew increasingly more hostile toward my brother in law. My sister, fearing for her husband, began to internally recite The Lord's Prayer. The man instantly stopped shouting, paused for a moment to look past my brother in law directly at my sister. Without warning he shoved my brother in law to the ground and ran straight at her, stopping inches from her face and shouted, "Stop it! Stop saying that!" When she wouldn't, he turned and fled from the building into the street screaming.

I'm not sure if mental illness is a form of demonic possession, but one thing I have pondered is something I noticed about schizophrenics. I have worked in Toronto's downtown core many times over the years, and I am always mindful of others' bevaviour. I've seen homeless people shuffling along, talking to themselves and inevitably they become irritated and angry. This has made me wonder if they are all carrying on a conversation with the same person (who happens to be a jerk). He just visits them for short periods, then is off to agitate another schizophrenic. After all, I've never seen two talking to an imaginary person at the same time. :)

#13 Antonios

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 06:54 AM

I rarely ever tell about an experience I have had in the ED, even with my wife. But once in a blue moon, such an experience happens which moves me to share it with those I care about. (Of course while respecting the privacy of those involved.)

In the ER, I deal with many patients who come in for 'psych' reasons, usually with suicidal ideation, severe depression, anxiety, as well as the occasional floridly psychotic patient breaking their own skull by repetitively hitting it against a cement wall. I sometimes wonder whether some of these patients are indeed possessed.

(as an aside, if anyone does not think synthetic drugs and mood stabilizers need to be used in certain times to protect the patient and the people around him, and thinks they know a better, more natural and humane approach, then I am glad to send these patients to you where you work so that you can fix them up and get them all better in a more holistic and fulfilling way. Just do it quick, because in less then 10 seconds he may have you or one of your friends unconscious. ;)

But getting back to the story...

In recent history, a young girl (twin) came in around 12 years old and caused quite an impression. According to her mother, she was the vast majority of the time a nice, lovely girl, and then other sporadic times often with no warning, she would transform into a monster, her very face seeming to change. So many small experiences happened that day amongst those who were around her, that I can't remember them all. My favorite part was that when she was placed in the ambulance by the EMS providers, the rig's electrical power turned completely off, all the lights went out, even the emergency lights that are never off and are on separate battery power. Apparently, she was speaking in different voices, projecting her voice across the room, in deep voices which sounded foreign and apart from her and unintelligible most times. She was lashing out, biting and spitting and reading people's minds who were in her presence. In fact, after she finally left the department, even before the room could be cleaned, a Catholic Priest was sent to excorsice the room because no one wanted to go in it. (and I am in a secular community hospital with no religious affiliation). People claimed that there was a coldness and darkness in the room, a presence in there which feared everyone who entered in. This is HIGHLY unusual. I have never heard of this being done before where I worked.

One member of the staff, the ED tech, told me that when she went in to gather the patient's belongings, she was silently saying prayers. The young girl turned to her with glaring eyes and said in a loud voice which seemed to come from many directions 'There is no use to your prayers!' and started mocking what the ED tech was praying in her mind earlier.

When I saw her it was on the second time she came in. I was standing to the side and stood quiet and to the far wall while the female psychiatrist was interviewing the patient. The young girl was either looking down in tense defiance, or glancing up time and again to an exact same location on the left side of the room where there was nothing but wall.

The only time she ever looked in my direction was when she gleamed into my eyes the moment I lifted my hand and crossed myself and prayed to God to have mercy and grant His peace. It was just a brief moment. Neither of us said a word the entire time I was there. After that, as she continued to look down in utter silence, I soon left the room and allowed my colleague (the excellent psychiatrist) to finish her interview.

In this part, my amazing colleague did her usual amazing work and the patient started to calm down and relax and open up.

The girl revealed to the psychiatrist that there was someone else in the room who keeps telling her to think things and to hurt her mother. She gave little else but eventually calmed down.

Her workup complete and her condition improved, the mother was given phone numbers and contacts for a Roman Catholic priest (by the psychiatrist) and an Orthodox priest (by me).

She went home, diagnosed with demonic possession, and it was the first time I ever saw that as the official diagnosis.

(BTW, when she left the ED, she was a completely different child- lovely, innocent, a happy girl, normal in every way. Her face said to be different from when she came in.)

I pray her mother took her to a priest as soon as possible. Demons can be relentless. She needs the prayers of a priest, be anointed with Holy Unction, and receive Holy Communion.

Edited by Antonios, 08 August 2012 - 07:22 AM.


#14 Alice

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 09:10 PM

I rarely ever tell about an experience I have had in the ED, even with my wife. But once in a blue moon, such an experience happens which moves me to share it with those I care about. (Of course while respecting the privacy of those involved.)

In the ER, I deal with many patients who come in for 'psych' reasons, usually with suicidal ideation, severe depression, anxiety, as well as the occasional floridly psychotic patient breaking their own skull by repetitively hitting it against a cement wall. I sometimes wonder whether some of these patients are indeed possessed.

(as an aside, if anyone does not think synthetic drugs and mood stabilizers need to be used in certain times to protect the patient and the people around him, and thinks they know a better, more natural and humane approach, then I am glad to send these patients to you where you work so that you can fix them up and get them all better in a more holistic and fulfilling way. Just do it quick, because in less then 10 seconds he may have you or one of your friends unconscious. ;)

But getting back to the story...

In recent history, a young girl (twin) came in around 12 years old and caused quite an impression. According to her mother, she was the vast majority of the time a nice, lovely girl, and then other sporadic times often with no warning, she would transform into a monster, her very face seeming to change. So many small experiences happened that day amongst those who were around her, that I can't remember them all. My favorite part was that when she was placed in the ambulance by the EMS providers, the rig's electrical power turned completely off, all the lights went out, even the emergency lights that are never off and are on separate battery power. Apparently, she was speaking in different voices, projecting her voice across the room, in deep voices which sounded foreign and apart from her and unintelligible most times. She was lashing out, biting and spitting and reading people's minds who were in her presence. In fact, after she finally left the department, even before the room could be cleaned, a Catholic Priest was sent to excorsice the room because no one wanted to go in it. (and I am in a secular community hospital with no religious affiliation). People claimed that there was a coldness and darkness in the room, a presence in there which feared everyone who entered in. This is HIGHLY unusual. I have never heard of this being done before where I worked.

One member of the staff, the ED tech, told me that when she went in to gather the patient's belongings, she was silently saying prayers. The young girl turned to her with glaring eyes and said in a loud voice which seemed to come from many directions 'There is no use to your prayers!' and started mocking what the ED tech was praying in her mind earlier.

When I saw her it was on the second time she came in. I was standing to the side and stood quiet and to the far wall while the female psychiatrist was interviewing the patient. The young girl was either looking down in tense defiance, or glancing up time and again to an exact same location on the left side of the room where there was nothing but wall.

The only time she ever looked in my direction was when she gleamed into my eyes the moment I lifted my hand and crossed myself and prayed to God to have mercy and grant His peace. It was just a brief moment. Neither of us said a word the entire time I was there. After that, as she continued to look down in utter silence, I soon left the room and allowed my colleague (the excellent psychiatrist) to finish her interview.

In this part, my amazing colleague did her usual amazing work and the patient started to calm down and relax and open up.

The girl revealed to the psychiatrist that there was someone else in the room who keeps telling her to think things and to hurt her mother. She gave little else but eventually calmed down.

Her workup complete and her condition improved, the mother was given phone numbers and contacts for a Roman Catholic priest (by the psychiatrist) and an Orthodox priest (by me).

She went home, diagnosed with demonic possession, and it was the first time I ever saw that as the official diagnosis.

(BTW, when she left the ED, she was a completely different child- lovely, innocent, a happy girl, normal in every way. Her face said to be different from when she came in.)

I pray her mother took her to a priest as soon as possible. Demons can be relentless. She needs the prayers of a priest, be anointed with Holy Unction, and receive Holy Communion.


Dear Antonios,

Thank you for sharing that. It was quite interesting, and I am sure frightening as well. May the Lord liberate that precious child and grant spiritual insight and courage to fight the true cause of her problem to her poor parents.

Perhaps here we are preaching to the choir, but in many of the mass school and university massacres of recent times, I have briefly heard mention of the perpetrator having heard voices to do it (by the press), and/or they were involved (by searching their computers) in satanic sites, etc., and then nothing more is heard.

I have always been convinced that these inexplicable acts we hear of, more and more, are of demonic nature as our monastic Orthodox tradition teaches us...so many young people today are born into non-religious families, and are also in a societal generation that is not religious and increasingly non-believing; and on top of that, they easily delve into occultic or demonic activities which leaves their souls open to evil.

I have heard said that the greatest victory of the evil one these days is that so many refuse to believe in his existence.

Kyrie Eleison!

In Christ,
Alice

#15 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 05:24 PM

Instead of treating the subject in theoretical terms, it seems to me that there is a crying need for a seriously Orthodox hospital somewhere that practices prayer and spiritual healing in conjunction with conventional biological methods.

#16 M. T. Magdalene Noah

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 04:01 AM

I not sure what you are talking about patients being drugged so they are completely out of it all day. Unless you are referring to those who have been institutionalized, which happens when they have become a threat to themselves or others. There have been cases when the person's brain with mental illness have been reset and the chemicals are getting released in proper quantities (doctors are not sure what caused the reset). Most doctors agree with the problem of chemical imbalance in the most common mental illness in the United States which seem to be depression. I am what you would called a drugged patient and I am not out of it all day. Actually I can function quite normally with the drugs (although I do take on that causes me to fall asleep and stay asleep which is what I need at night to help me sleep).


I am mentally ill. I have no less than 5 different diseases which affect my brain. I love my LORD and I seek to please Him. I have been on medications that put me to sleep for 3 years. It was a drug called Seroquel and while it works nicely for some, it literally put me out for years. I am no longer on it. I am also writing about about the neuroscience of mental illness and the differences between it and demon possession. I am interested to hear other's experiences. I have been accused of being demon possessed, but I approach the Chalice, kiss it, love my Lord, and take Eucharist. I make every effort to get to Church for the LIturgy, I generally miss it due to distance and a lack of vehicle, but I save and scrimp to be able to afford gas money for my friends when they can take me to Church. I talk to my priest at least once a week. I know I'm not possessed. Hence the book. Ignorance must be dispelled in the most gentle, loving way possible. Thanks for listening folks.

#17 Owen Jones

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 02:45 PM

Thanks very much for your inspirational comments, Mags. Could it be that the line between the organic/material and the spiritual is not clearly drawn? I'm inferring from your comments that the Lord, through the Church, has substantially helped your mental illness. Hope you succeed in your work.

#18 M. T. Magdalene Noah

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 05:15 AM

Thanks very much for your inspirational comments, Mags. Could it be that the line between the organic/material and the spiritual is not clearly drawn? I'm inferring from your comments that the Lord, through the Church, has substantially helped your mental illness. Hope you succeed in your work.


Hello, Owen and everyone.

I have in the past had some situations that were not explainable by medical means. As a result, I have instituted a method by which I determine if I need to see my priest and kick up my ascetic labors a notch along with my prayer and confession.

If I am stable on my medication and I am STILL hearing/seeing things unseen, then I go to the priest and do as I mentioned above. If I am NOT stable on my medications, then I GET stable first, then, if the problem persists I go to the priest and we work out how to increase my ascetic labors, my prayers, etc.

Yes, Church helps a lot with my mental illnesses, but also, taking medicines regularly and being in the care of a psychiatrist is very helpful as well. I have seen a lot of comments that claim that all mental illness is rooted in some sin issue or other, or that it is demon possession. Not necessarily here --- I roam the 'net far and wide --- I can tell you that one of my illnesses is actually genetic in origin. My mother has it, her mother had it, etc. That one has nothing to do with sin and everything to do with the wonders of genetic variation! GOD's a genius!! (NO SARCASM THERE) Then the other four illnesses are related to OTHER PEOPLE'S sins. I was on the receiving end of a lot of negative behavior as a child and young woman. It's amazing to me that other people's behavior can actually influence your brain chemistry, but it can! I struggle to function, but I am able to do what little I can by the grace of God.

Thanks for listening, again.

#19 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 09:38 AM

I don't recall reading anything that claimed that all mental illness was the result of demonic possession. But I can't discount it being a factor in virtually all cases, because the demons will always take advantage of a weakened condition. Through love and discipline, I have personally seen tough cases get better.

#20 Ilaria

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 05:33 PM

I would also like to tell you a 'real story', which happened at my church some years ago, with
the mother of a monastic, a close friend of us, diagnosed with Parkinson. Because her disease evolved, she has been given stronger medicines but, unfortunately, her doctor left for holiday two days after changing her chemical schedule. She could not sleep ever since and, after other two days, she began to 'see' people. She changed considerably. The people she saw were so 'real' that we could not contradict her. All of them behave badly with her, occupied her bed so that she could not go to sleep, they interrupted her from saying her prayers. We did not know what to do, the doctor was away. We received this advice from another doctor, to slowly reduce the chemical schedule, not to cut it at once. But she was worse. We brought her to the church, the priest took her to a miraculous icon of the Mother of God (Pantanassa) and read the prayers for health and for healthy sleep. She behave absolutely normal. After the prayers, she said she feels falling asleep and she slept for at least four hours. She was healed. She never saw anything from that instant. She did not take the medicine anymore. She still have the Parkinson, but she take something lighter'.
Of course, our Pantanassa helped her, but I wonder: what is happening with this chemistry, what processes happens? What is with this 'unseen' people?




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