Demonic Possession and Schizophrenia


Schizophrenia can strike anyone, including individuals from deeply religious homes. The concepts of devils, heaven and hell are part of Catholicism. Islam, and Judea “Demonic influence” is a rare, but integral belief of many. And many faithful who research schizophrenia wonder about the demonic. “Is my relative possessed, and I possessed?”

The New Testament mentions demons over 100 times including Matt 8:29; Matt. 10:1ff and John 16:11.

The holy book of Quran mentioned the Jinn, Devil more than that and there is a full chapter called the Jinn , that explain everything about them. The word Jinn mentioned in the Quran 29 times.  demon 88,angel 88, and devil ( shaytan 88).

Even those who have other beliefs or choose to remain skeptical still must relate to the faithful who do believe in the supernatural. Many faithful who endure a family member’s battle with schizophrenia will have questions about demonic involvement with a loved one and deserve real answers instead of a condescending response which dismisses such concern as nonsense on the part of ignorant people.

 The Bible itself makes a distinction between disease and possession (Mark 6:13). Thus, Christian theology should recognize the difference. At least six factors differentiate schizophrenia from demonic possession as described in the Bible. Same facts echoed by the Quran.

These factors can be helpful when trying to determine if an individual is possessed

  1. Attraction to vs. Aversion to Religion. Demons want nothing to do with the faithful. Conversely, people with NBD are often devoutly religious.
  2. Irrational Speech vs. Rational Speech. In New Testament accounts involving demons, the demons spoke in a rational manner. Untreated people with schizophrenia will often speak in nonsense and jump rapidly between unrelated topics.
  3. Ordinary Learning vs. Supernatural Knowledge Demons in the New Testament would speak through people to convey knowledge that otherwise could not have been known to the possessed individuals. Those with NBD have no such ability to know facts which they have not acquired by normal learning.
  4. Normal vs. Occultist Phenomena. There is an aspect to demon activity that is just plain spooky (ex.: poltergeists, levitation’s, trances, telepathy). These have an impact on others in the room not just the possessed. With schizophrenia, the effect of the disorder is only on the disordered, not others.
  5. The claim to be possessed Authors who have clinical experience both with demon possession and mental illness, believe those who claim to be possessed are very likely not possessed. Demons wish to be secretive and do not voluntarily claim to be present.
  6. Effects of Therapy. If prayer solves the problem, then it was probably not schizophrenia. If medicine helps alleviate the problem, it was not demon possession.

This ignorant, even maliciously unscientific, portrayal of psychiatric symptoms is an appalling disservice to all our patients who struggle with a potentially disabling neuropsychiatric disorder. Regrettably, some religious entities still propagate the fallacy of possession by an evil spirit and call for exorcism of bizarre behaviors sometimes associated with psychosis. what is really needed is an exorcism of unscientific and harmful misconceptions that mental illness is the nefarious work of Beelzebub or Lucifer.

Strange manifestations beget weird explanations
I can understand how ignorance about the neurologic basis of unusual delusions and behavior can trigger absurd religious explanations for their cause. Sometimes, brain pathology can have strange clinical manifestations that are beyond the ken of the average layperson, which invites metaphysical, religious, or philosophical explanation. Here are examples of neuropsychiatric symptoms in the category of “very unusual” that might summon a demonic malfeasance.

Is it a Delusion of possession or an alien control? Some people complain of being possessed; delusional people who have a strong religious background might believe they are possessed by Satan himself. Some of my patients with psychotic depression believe this, expressing great guilt and anguish about being doomed to go to Hell.

Alternately, patients with schizophrenia often think they are under the control of an “alien force” that shapes their behavior, feelings, and thoughts (a Schneiderian first-rank symptom). In a 2012 editorial, I proposed that this “alien intruder” is the unintegrated right hemispheric consciousness, and that disintegration of the 200 million inter-hemispheric white matter fibers of the corpus callosum might be the cause of the loss of integration of the right hemisphere into the dominant left hemisphere.

Some people attribute external control on their lives to a government agency, a foreign country, or a spiteful neighbor; others believe it is the work of evil spirits. Whereas the foundation of the delusion is brain pathology, the content of the delusion is colored by the affected person’s cultural and religious background.

Apotemnophilia is A neurologic disorder that manifests in a bizarre clinical symptom that invites faulty explanation: A person demands amputation of a leg because “it doesn’t belong to my body.”The cause of this strange and confusing disorder has been misinterpreted as a paraphilia, a desire by the affected person to achieve greater sexual satisfaction by having a stump. It was first reported in the September/October 1972 issue of the magazine Penthouse, where it was described as the motivation to heighten one’s sexual appeal because stumps can be sexually exciting to their partners.

It took many years of neurologic research to demonstrate that Apotemnophilia is caused by pathology in the parietal lobe, where the physical representation of the body is located. Incomplete neurodevelopment of the parietal lobe can cause a person to fail to recognize a leg as a “legitimate” part of his body, and he (she) then desperately seeks amputation of the so-called alien limb (see the description of xenomelia below) that is attached to his body.

When an affected person is asked to delineate the borders of an alien limb, he draws a line on the skin at the precise border between the alien limb and the rest of his body—where the amputation should take place.

Requests for surgical amputation were adamantly denied when the disorder was thought to be a weird sexual practice, but elective amputation in the context of neuropsychopathology is seriously debated now—and has, in fact, been reported. The term “body impaired integrity disorder” has been proposed, but neurologists consider the disorder an example of xenomelia.

Cotard syndrome is A nihilistic delusion of the nonexistence or dissolution of a body part; in extreme form, the delusion of being dead or nonexistent. The syndrome sometimes occurs in the setting of severe depression. Research has shown an association with atrophy of the insula,9 which is responsible for internal proprioception (interoception).

[Quran 23:97] Say, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the whispers of the devils.
[Quran 23:98] “And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they come near me.”

The Most Merciful educates us about our enemies. Detailing the traits and the behavioral patterns of Satan, his descendants, and all of his followers in Quran shows us how God insists to enlighten us and warn us against the harm of these entities and of associating ourselves with them. Only the intelligent would take heed 2-269 and only the believers would reverence God’s warnings 50-45 and benefit from His reminders 51-55.

The following are some attributes of Satan as stated by God almighty in Quran:

Satan is the human’s ardent enemy:

[Quran 2:208] O you who believe, you shall embrace total submission; do not follow the steps of Satan, for he is your most ardent enemy.

[Quran 6:142] Some livestock supply you with transportation, as well as bedding materials. Eat from God’s provisions to you, and do not follow the steps of Satan; he is your most ardent enemy.

Satan is a temporary god on earth:

[Quran 2:30] Recall that your Lord said to the angels, “I am placing a representative (a temporary god) on Earth.” They said, “Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?” He said, “I know what you do not know.”

Satan was an Angel:

[Quran 2:34] When we said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam,” they fell prostrate, except Satan; he refused, was too arrogant, and a disbeliever.

[Quran 7:11] We created you, then we shaped you, then we said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam.” They fell prostrate, except Iblees (Satan); he was not with the prostrators.

Satan is arrogant and raciest:

[Quran 7:12-13] He said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I ordered you?” He said, “I am better than he; You created me from fire, and created him from mud.” He said, “Therefore, you must go down, for you are not to be arrogant here. Get out; you are debased.”

He is rebellious and unappreciative:

[Quran 38:74] except Satan; he refused, and was too arrogant, unappreciative.

[Quran 38:75] He said, “O Satan, what prevented you from prostrating before what I created with My hands? Are you too arrogant? Have you rebelled?”

Satan’s existence on earth is only a temporary respite:

[Quran 7:14-15] He said, “My Lord, respite me until the day they are resurrected.” He said, “You are granted a respite.”

Satan and his descendants are liars and will disown their followers and feud with them on the Day of Judgment:

Satan Disowns His Followers[Quran 14:22] And the devil will say, after the judgment had been issued, “God has promised you the truthful promise, and I promised you, but I broke my promise. I had no power over you; I simply invited you, and you accepted my invitation. Therefore, do not blame me, and blame only yourselves. My complaining cannot help you, nor can your complaining help me. I have disbelieved in your idolizing me. The transgressors have incurred a painful retribution.”

[Quran 50:27] His companion said, “Our Lord, I did not mislead him; he was far astray.”
[Quran 50:28] He said, “Do not feud in front of Me; I have sufficiently warned you.
[Quran 50:29] “Nothing can be changed now. I am never unjust towards the people.”

Satan and his descendants are hypnotists:

[Quran 7:179] We have committed to Hell multitudes of jinns and humans. They have minds with which they do not understand, eyes with which they do not see, and ears with which they do not hear. They are like animals; no, they are far worse – they are totally unaware.

They deceive their targets by many tools and schemes only to divert them away from the divine source of guidance:

[Quran 6:112] We have permitted the enemies of every prophet – human and jinn devils – to inspire in each other fancy words, in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their fabrications.
[Quran 6:113] This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such fabrications, and accept them, and thus expose their real convictions.
[Quran 6:114] Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt.

[Quran 15:14] Even if we opened for them a gate into the sky, through which they climb;
[Quran 15:15] they will say, “Our eyes have been deceived. We have been bewitched.”

They promise nothing but illusion:

[Quran 4:120] He promises them and entices them; what the devil promises is no more than an illusion.

Satan and his descendants will do anything to misguide the children of Adam:

[Quran 17:64] “You may entice them with your voice, and mobilize all your forces and all your men against them, and share in their money and children, and promise them. Anything the devil promises is no more than an illusion.

[Quran 7:17] “I will come to them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left, and You will find that most of them are unappreciative.”

They promote evil:

[Quran 24:21] O you who believe, do not follow the steps of Satan. Anyone who follows the steps of Satan should know that he advocates evil and vice. If it were not for God’s grace towards you, and His mercy, none of you would have been purified. But God purifies whomever He wills. God is Hearer, Knower.

They prohibit lawful things:

[Quran 2:168-169] O people, eat from the earth’s products all that is lawful and good, and do not follow the steps of Satan; he is your most ardent enemy. He only commands you to commit evil and vice, and to say about God what you do not know.

[Quran 34:18] We placed between them and the communites that we blessed other oases, and we secured the journey between them: “Travel therein days and nights in complete security.”
[Quran 34:19] But they (turned unappreciative and) challenged: “Our Lord, we do not care if You increase the distance of our journeys (without any stations).” They thus wronged their own souls. Consequently, we made them history, and scattered them into small communities throughout the land. This should provide lessons for those who are steadfast, appreciative.

[Quran 34:20] Satan found them readily fulfilling his expectations. They followed him, except a few believers.
[Quran 34:21] He never had any power over them. But we thus distinguish those who believe in the Hereafter from those who are doubtful about it. Your Lord is in full control of all things.

Satan will claim the majority:

[Quran 17:62] He said, “Since You have honored him over me, if You respite me till the Day of Resurrection, I will possess all his descendants, except a few.”

Satan has no power over God’s worshipers:

[Quran 17:65] “As for My servants, you have no power over them.” Your Lord suffices as an advocate.

[Quran 15:40-42] “Except those among Your worshipers who are devoted absolutely to You alone.” He said, “This is a law that is inviolable. “You have no power over My servants. You only have power over the strayers who follow you.

[Quran 16:99-100] He has no power over those who believe and trust in their Lord. His power is limited to those who choose him as their master, those who choose him as their god.

[Quran 38:82-83] He said, “I swear by Your majesty, that I will send them all astray. “Except Your worshipers who are devoted absolutely to You alone.”

Satan and all his descendants are excluded from witnessing the creation process:

[Quran 18:50] We said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam.” They fell prostrate, except Satan. He became a jinn, for he disobeyed the order of His Lord.* Will you choose him and his descendants as lords instead of Me, even though they are your enemies? What a miserable substitute!
[Quran 18:51] I never permitted them to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor the creation of themselves. Nor do I permit the wicked to work in My kingdom.

Satan and his descendants are the worst companions:

[Quran 19:83] Do you not see how we unleash the devils upon the disbelievers to stir them up?

[Quran 4:38] They give money to charity only to show off, while disbelieving in God and the Last Day. If one’s companion is the devil, that is the worst companion.

[Quran 43:36] Anyone who disregards the message of the Most Gracious, we appoint a devil to be his constant companion.
[Quran 43:37] Such companions will divert them from the path, yet make them believe that they are guided.
[Quran 43:38] When he comes before us he will say, “Oh I wish you were as far from me as the two easts. What a miserable companion!”

[Quran 41:25] We assign to them companions who adorn everything they do in their eyes. Thus, they end up incurring the same fate as the previous communities of jinns and humans, who were also losers.

The deception and the illusion that comes with it must not be underestimated by the believers, otherwise God would have not stated the following for us in Quran:

[Quran 7:30] Some He guided, while others are committed to straying. They have taken the devils as their masters, instead of God, yet they believe that they are guided.

[Quran 43:37] Such companions will divert them from the path, yet make them believe that they are guided.

[Quran 6:22] On the day when we summon them all, we will ask the idol worshipers, “Where are the idols you set up?”
[Quran 6:23] Their disastrous response will be, “By God our Lord, we never were idol worshipers.”
[Quran 6:24] Note how they lied to themselves, and how the idols they had invented have abandoned them.

[Quran 18:103] Say, “Shall I tell you who the worst losers are?
[Quran 18:104] “They are the ones whose works in this life are totally astray, but they think that they are doing good.”

Again, believers heed the guidance and reverence the warnings. Satan would try to get the worst out of us just as he did with Adam and his wife in Paradise 7;19-25. Any time we listen to him we allow him to remove our garment of righteousness and expose one of our weaknesses just as he did to our parents in Paradise and exposed their bodies. The following warning for the children of Adam wraps up the whole story for us in a clear and powerful allegory:

[Quran 7:26] O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of God’s signs, that they may take heed.
[Quran 7:27] O children of Adam, do not let the devil dupe you as he did when he caused the eviction of your parents from Paradise, and the removal of their garments to expose their bodies. He and his tribe see you, while you do not see them. We appoint the devils as companions of those who do not believe.

[Quran 114:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
[Quran 114:1] Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of the people.
[Quran 114:2] “The King of the people.
[Quran 114:3] “The god of the people.
[Quran 114:4] “From the evils of sneaky whisperers.
[Quran 114:5] “Who whisper into the chests of the people.
[Quran 114:6] “Be they of the jinns, or the people.”

 Steve Ramsey, Okotoks , Alberta – Canada

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