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Devils, Demons And Schizophrenia


skyseeker
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Okay, this is probably a difficult matter for me to tackle, but I want to try it, if only to see how progressive christians respond to it.

 

The issue is this, I am diagnosed with schizophrenia for about 14 years now. And for quite a length of time in it I was told by conservative christians that my medical problem has to do with demons. I cannot remember to ever have had to do with the occult, beyond listening to some gothic music when I was young, and having had some juvenile, short and, for me, rather meaningless engagement with satan when I was a youth.

 

If I would describe it, then I have to say it's like this, sometimes in my mind I hear voices. They tell something about this or that, but usually they seem to try to change my thoughts, or maybe I can say they are like second thoughts that involuntarily contradict my own thoughts. For example, if I wanted to think, God is good, I might hear a thought in my head that says, God is shitty, or something like that. When this occurred for the first time, while i was trying to become a christian, in a conservative christian setting, I was immediately very terrified that I might become damned for such thoughts because they would constitute blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I was very unsure about what to do with this, and the following years were very hard. I had a very troubled mind, experienced hallucinations of people coming into my room and playing Jesus and chiding me. When I read the bible I heard the words repeated in an angry and raging tone which only ended when I began reading different translations like the one from german chassidic jew Martin Buber.

 

Nowadays I have more mental sanity after a new bottom-up medicine change that my new doctor searched out for me. I am only taking as minimal dosage of neuroleptics and ironically this works much better than my previous heavy medication under which I had lot's of hallucinations and was very delusional about people frequently.

 

But while I am emotionally better off now without the old feelings of fear, I am now anxious not to fall into the strange old conservative traps again, and following the bottom-up change of medicines I also want to renovate my beliefs from bottom-up. For example, I don't quite believe anymore that I ever had demons or that such beings actually exist, I think it is more sensible to assume that I was simply sick. Also, there are many many people on this world, the majority of us in fact, who never have issues with demons or devils while conservative christians insist that the devil is a persistent and world-encompassing problem. One solution that I found was that the devil, in a reading of the bible, is just a synonym for true evil in general. He doesn't really exist, much like evil and sin don't have a genuine existence like matter and life. But in other ways, evil does exist, and very much so, because many people suffer from evil things in the world.

 

But, and this is another explanation that I found, much of the problem of good and evil has to do with our skewed perception about these things. Remember the story of paradise and the tree? We were allowed to eat from every tree, the tree of beauty, of humour, of wisdom, of fun, of love, of longing, of art, of science, of stories, of politics, of war even, they were all okay for us. But we were not supposed to "base our knowledge" on the good and evil dualism. Because, whenever we find something good, our minds are now bent to fear an evil that might destroy the good, or whenever we find something evil, our minds are bent to seek to destroy it or fear its destructive powers. The knowledge of good and evil does not lead us to fight the evil with the good, it leads us to be perceptively caught up in morality systems instead of being safe and sound in ethical and philosophical systems. For example, I think it is wiser to combat what we call evil by using the powers of truth and wisdom and love, instead of simply sacrificing another good thing to it. A good iteration of this is how Jesus saw love of the enemy. Normally the enemy is the evil person for us, and it is good to fight him with all your power until you have won out over him. But the wise person turns the enemy into a friend so that there would not be a lifelong struggle with all the hate, envy and revenge such struggles have inherent to them.

 

This is the kind of thing I'm thinking of now. Demons and devils really have no place in them, except in an explanation of how we can be misled much by living in a fantasy world of good and evil where there also agents of the devil. In fact, living in a struggle of good against evil under religious terms actually invites images of demons and devils for the mentally sensitive and fragile.

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Daniel,

 

It sounds to me that you are finding out the truth for yourself and coming to your own logical and spiritual conclusions that the devil and demons don't exist in any personal sense, and that your schizophrenia is simply an illness and mental disorder. I don't mean there is anything 'simple' about having schizophrenia but rather that in a medical sense it is no different to any other illness or mental disorder we as humans may inherit or develop. I don't believe for a minute that someone with cancer is demon-possessed, or a child born with MS or autism is demon-possessed, and similarly your schizophrenia has nothing to do with demons and/or demon-possession.

 

I wish you well and hope that participating here is benefiting you on your life journey.

 

Cheers

Paul

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  • 2 weeks later...

I managed a half way house for emotionally disturbed and we had many people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Many found it was induced by a chemical imbalance and medication worked. I remember we had a psychiatrist that met with the staff once a month because he was checking for transference. I told him I saw no difference from the residence and myself and he remarked you hear voices also, but you are aware that they are in your head. He said you can dream and come back, but the people with schizophrenia have a difficult time. I don't think it has anything to do with demons.

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Hi Sky seeker. I have worked in psychiatry since 1978. There is much online about the illness but if you do not mind me sharing a few off the cuff thoughts of my own. I am sure that the voices have not got anything to do with demons. One thing that seems to be a common occurrence (IMO) for those who do hear voices is anxiety often makes them worse. I have often noted how some people who hear voices often attach the voices to something they fear or have a concern about. I have known some who hear voices say that they are a pedaphile or a murder or that someone is out to get them and yet there is no evidence that any of these things are true. I read your post of the voices saying God is shitty. I wonder if this is something you have a concern about thinking.

I have often heard people say their voices say terrible things about them and yet none of this sits well with the often lovely person I see before me.

I am not saying this is a cause of schizophrenia because I think they are still working out what that is but I do believe there is a connection between anxiety and the voices. I often note that those who spend a lot of time on their own often come off worse because if there is no gentle distractions and the main focus of the person is on the voices and their thoughts. Trouble is the illness is known to cause some to isolate themselves and the medication and illness makes it hard on those finding the motivation to seek out company. One thing seems to be noted according to one study is that people who suffer schizophrenia also suffer more anxiety then those without the illness. Yet, it has also to be noted that this may be in response to the illness as well as a possible indicator of the things the voices are saying to the person or a contribution to the illness.occurring . See:- http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/706244_2

 

As for the demons I agree with what you have said "This is the kind of thing I'm thinking of now. Demons and devils really have no place in them, except in an explanation of how we can be misled much by living in a fantasy world of good and evil where there also agents of the devil. In fact, living in a struggle of good against evil under religious terms actually invites images of demons and devils for the mentally sensitive and fragile." I also think it makes some people fear to question what some churches are saying and therefore I believe there is an element of controlling people by causing them fear. Something I personally do not approve of.

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Hello again, Skyseeker.

 

As I told you in another thread, a number of years ago I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. One of the drugs the docs used on me was Haldol. I had a very bad experience while taking this "medication." It caused what I would describe as a hollowness inside my head. I felt like I was inside an echo chamber. My thoughts felt like they were audible, and they were making me increasingly paranoid. The guilt I mentioned in the other thread intensified to a point that pushed me to the verge of insanity.

 

I checked myself in to a local psych ward because I was afraid that I would hurt myself. They took me off of the Haldol immediately and put me on the Lithium.

 

 

But, and this is another explanation that I found, much of the problem of good and evil has to do with our skewed perception about these things. Remember the story of paradise and the tree? We were allowed to eat from every tree, the tree of beauty, of humour, of wisdom, of fun, of love, of longing, of art, of science, of stories, of politics, of war even, they were all okay for us. But we were not supposed to "base our knowledge" on the good and evil dualism. Because, whenever we find something good, our minds are now bent to fear an evil that might destroy the good, or whenever we find something evil, our minds are bent to seek to destroy it or fear its destructive powers. The knowledge of good and evil does not lead us to fight the evil with the good, it leads us to be perceptively caught up in morality systems instead of being safe and sound in ethical and philosophical systems. For example, I think it is wiser to combat what we call evil by using the powers of truth and wisdom and love, instead of simply sacrificing another good thing to it. A good iteration of this is how Jesus saw love of the enemy. Normally the enemy is the evil person for us, and it is good to fight him with all your power until you have won out over him. But the wise person turns the enemy into a friend so that there would not be a lifelong struggle with all the hate, envy and revenge such struggles have inherent to them.

 

 

 

This is a very good analysis of the problem of good vs evil.

 

I hope you are on the road to wellness, Skyseeker. I know what is like to question what is real and what is delusional. For what it's worth; I think that demons do not exist and that evil is how we describe that which we cannot yet understand.

 

 

NORM

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  • 4 months later...

Skyseeker, I see that you have received some excellent reply's from PaulS, Soma, Pete, and Norm. My only topic is the Fall of Man story in Genesis. I say "story" because I think that story is a myth. Without one definitive explanation available, we must derive our own interpretation. My take on the story is this:

 

Adam and Eve acquired the knowledge of good and evil. After eating the fruit, they entered into the world of duality. There was no longer one interaction with the world and each other. With duality came a double take on the world, actions, and thought process. With duality, every thought has an opposite thought creating a conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, good and bad, truth and falsehood, etc. It is enough to drive anyone split in the head. Until a synthesis of good and evil is achieved, that bipolar thinking continues causing a split. Zen meditation is an excellent way to bring synthesis. So is Contemplative Prayer. At bottom is belief that conflicting thoughts can come together. Demonic possession or influence is just a primitive answer to the problem of duality. You are past that ancient belief.

 

I think the serpent representing our inner urge to grow up. The garden is the ideal stage of innocence in the first few years of life. Because we lose our innocence, we must then live in often harsh world of accountability with positive and negative consequences when we exhibit "evil"d behaviors. As we further develop, our conscious, intended to help us learn the difference between right and wrong.

 

Thank you for your original post.

 

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