Mental case or demonic possession?

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

THERE seems to be a sharp surge of disturbed people around these days. As a result, we can see more people who are clearly mentally ill, with very erratic behavior. And if they are not withdrawn from the world, alienating themselves and rotting away in their own universe, they get overly aggressive, violently aggressive, in fact. Some commit suicide.

This is a problem we have to learn how to cope and to try to solve. Of course, it’s a phenomenon that can easily be attributed to the complications and pressures of the times, which in themselves are admittedly no mean things. But there must also be other factors and causes deeper than the toxic complications and pressures of the times that give rise to this world predicament.

More and more people are of the thinking that these disturbed persons are more than just mental cases, to be treated only with psychiatry, some medicine and therapy which are no mean help.

They now talk of the strong possibility that some demonic interference is involved, even demonic oppression and possession. And they cite instances where the persons concerned act in ways that are considered already beyond human possibility.

We need to have a good grip on this rapidly emerging menace. And the first thing to do is to entertain the possibility that indeed these disturbed people are both mentally sick and demonically bothered.

Yes, while it’s true that the predicament can be an either-or proposition, we should not dismiss the possibility that it can also be a both-and one. Not just disjunctive, but also conjunctive. Let’s remember that the devil is always around. It’s not paranoia to be always alerted of the devil’s existence and constant efforts to destroy us, usually in very sweet ways.

It would be good if we level up in our knowledge of psychology. This field of science is getting to be more and more relevant these days. It cannot anymore be the exclusive interest of some people. Everyone should know at least the basics of psychology and from there start accumulating relevant helpful information.

But we should never forget that the psychological and mental mechanism of a person is steeped in his spiritual dimension that can lead him either to the supernatural or infranatural world. It cannot be studied from the point of view of empirical science alone.

It has to input the truths of faith to enable it to cope with the full range of its possibilities.

This is a point that should be taken more seriously these days. The complicated challenges of our times that have brought about many good things and also many bad things cannot but make this kind of demand. We have to take our faith more seriously, assimilating it into our system and making it the guide and shaper of our lives.

With our faith, we have the answer to all the questions, the solution to all our problems, even if the answers and solutions it offers may not be the ones we want. But they are the answers and solutions that God himself gives, and not just us.

Faith is the great healer, the constant pacifier, because it brings Christ into our lives, Christ who heals and who constantly tells us, “Do not be afraid…” We should bring our faith to bear on our sciences and on our other sources of knowledge.

With respect to this phenomenon of rising cases of disturbed people, our faith can detect whether a particular case is just a purely mental or psychological problem, or something where evil spiritual forces are involved.

To be sure, the workings of the demons will always manifest themselves in some mental, psychological or emotional predicaments. But if a person is a man of deep faith, he most likely will have a very good mental or psychological health, and would know how to deal with evil spirits.