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September 28, 2005



Presumably it upset "secular therapists" because literal demons in fact *don't* play any observable role in mental illness?


That's the interesting question, Michael, that so many folks at Fuller debated. Nothing like spending time around Christian psychology students! Seriously, if one were to believe in demonic possession, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that those most vulnerable to such possession would be those whose sanity had already been compromised by organic mental illness.


If one were to believe in demonic possession, one would be capable of believing in anything. I think that any student of any discipline who attempts to approach their studies from a uniquely "Christian" perspective needs to be paired with a Hindu or a Taoist student to broaden their perspective. Demonic possession may be fun to talk about, but it's not psychology -- not in this century, anyway.

(And what is "Christian" about demonic possession, anyway? Isn't that a fairly pagan belief?)


Don't worry, Michael, students at Fuller aren't taught that they must believe in demons! Rather, claims of possession are seriously considered rather than discarded as bunk. Christian psychologists are broadly trained, and as part of their training at Fuller, do get exposed to other religious beliefs.

The Gonzman

Ah, yes. I know a formerly purely secular therapist who was specifically asked to be part of an exorcism, in order to keep it honest, just in case there was some organic thing going on.

The "formerly" is an important point.


There needs to be a distiction made between possession and exorcism (rare) and oppession/deliverence (common) by evil spirits/demons and the influence that those spirits can have on people. It is uniquely Christian and central to Christian doctrine--good vs. evil, The doctrine of the Fall and Satan's role in that. The ministry of Jesus is filled with examples of Jesus driving out evil spirits. Granted, most Christian denominations are fairly void of teaching and ministry in this area. Unfortunatly, (in my opinion) psychology has replaced the Christian Church as the authority on emotional/psychological healing. And I believe that much of what we regard as mental illness to be "cured" by therapy/ medication is emotional brokenness and/or oppession from evil spirits that could, in many instances, be restored thru prayer for inner healing and/or prayers for deliverance from evil spirits. A good, contemporary book in this area is "Deliverence from Evil Spirits" by Francis MacNutt.


And I believe that much of what we regard as mental illness to be "cured" by therapy/ medication is emotional brokenness and/or oppession from evil spirits that could, in many instances, be restored thru prayer for inner healing and/or prayers for deliverance from evil spirits.

You know, if you were to go to a person who'd been suffering for years from schizophrenia or severe depression, and tell them that God could have lifted their demons at any time, but he won't until they ask Him nicely - well, I don't know exactly what they'd say, but it wouldn't be pretty.

I don't know for a fact that prayer doesn't work to alleviate illness and/or demonic possession; perhaps it does. But it's surprising to me that people don't seem to notice what profoundly unpleasant things that says about God's personality. If you're right, virtuous unbelievers are doomed to agonizing mental torment and God won't lift a finger to stop it, just because they don't ask him to.


This is an interesting site!

I remember feminists had big problems with Scott Peck a few years back, but forget the core complaint, if anyone remembers and cares to comment thanks in advance.

I have been diagnosed with major mental illness, and am on disability for it, have been on over 50 drug trials and undergone 22 years of useful psychotherapy from the secular, humanistic school of psychology. I resent what Redeemed had to say about mental disease, and Sophonsiba, I appreciate your reply!


Someone mentioned possession as a "pagan" idea. Without addressing the merits of that argument (as a side note, I think Apollonius of Tyana was reputed to be an exorcist, too), I do want to add a comment.

Perhaps the good vs evil notion is too restrictive. It was standard practice in (I believe..I'm getting this idea from Dodd's "The Greeks and the irrational") when dealing with a problem of this nature to attempt to discern _which_ God was behind the problem and what was required to propitiate Him or Her.


I've read a few articles on M.Scott Peck being inherently "un-Christian" - which I think is very odd! If anything, just like Zen and Sufism were to me too, Peck's books were a very, very good foundation for finding Christianity. The parallels between mental health and Christianity are are lot more "real" than anything else in the "self-help" books available today, which seem to be plagued with whimsical opinions that lead you nowhere rather than anything of real substance, with actual scientific questioning, that can actually lead you to a relationship with God.
Like him or not, he definitely has bridged a gap between science and spirituality. Good on him. Sad to see how he was slammed in articles...which focussed more on his short-comings than his massive contributions...sad.

Michelle Gray

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