Mental illness or possession

EDITOR, The Tribune.

The print media published some months ago a tragic incident involving a mentally ill individual who was put down by law enforcement officers in New Providence. I believe that it was in December that the Senate rubber stamped the Progressive Liberal Party’s Mental Health Bill (2022), which repealed the Mental Health Act of 1969.

The state is cognisant of the alarming number of Bahamians battling health illness, and has decided to put in place legislative safeguards to protect them from abuse. The PLP had made the moral decision in seeking to protect those who are not mentally fit to protect themselves. However, I believe that in many instances in The Bahamas, persons who are exhibiting signs of mental disorder are possessed by malevolent spirits (or demons). This is not to suggest that mental illness is not a legitimate ailment. Many Bible seminaries in the US and Great Britain offer courses in psychology. For years, however, Christian fundamentalists have been very distrustful of psychology and psychiatry. For example, the late Dave Hunt in his The Seduction of Christianity argued that the modern field of psychology is rooted in the anti-Christian ideology of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Hunt alleged in his volume that psychoanalysis is a religion hidden beneath a scientific verbiage. According to Hunt, science can deal with such things as nutritional deficiencies or chemical imbalances in the brain, but it has nothing to say about the mind.

Another prominent evangelical opponent of psychology was the late Dr Jay Adams, who employed an entirely biblical approach to counselling dubbed Nouthetic counselling. Psychology is often linked with Christian counselling. Two examples of this would be Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Dr Gary R Collins, whose Christian Counselling volume is widely distributed throughout the church. While both have come under fire by critics of psychology, the Christian Research Institute in the US published a four part article, titled Psychology and the Church by Bob and Gretchen Passatino. The Passatinos sought to present a middle ground synopsis of this controversial subject. In any case, Bahamian psychologists are adept at diagnosing mentally ill individuals as suffering solely from a mental illness, often without any considerations to demonic involvement. This brings to mind famed Christian apologist C S Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, which is a fictional correspondence between two demons, Wormwood and Screwtape. Screwtape offers his inexperienced nephew, Wormwood, practical advice on destroying human beings without being detected. Modern psychology’s major shortcoming is its unwillingness to recognise the reality of the spiritual realm and its massive influence in the physical realm.

Many of the “mentally ill” persons I have personally encountered seemed to have been demon possessed. I know that this is an awkward topic in our increasingly human secular nation. The topic of demon possession is mentioned (indirectly) in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 16 regarding the apostate King Saul. Throughout the synoptic Gospels and Acts in the New Testament, the activity of demon possession increases exponentially. The proliferation of demons in the New Testament is due to the arrival of Jesus Christ, Who in Matthew 12:29 overpowers the strong man, Satan. In a sense, they were flushed out of hiding like cockroaches fleeing from Baygon spray. Two thousand years removed from the First Advent, we remain in the New Testament epoch. Hence, the continued proliferation of demons, even in The Bahamas.

Concerning the “mentally ill” Bahamians I have encountered, their symptoms were eerily similar to the Gadarene demoniac in Mark 5 and the soothsayer demoniac in Acts 16. I’ve seen many of them wandering the streets and talking to themselves. Many of them resort to using alcohol and illicit drugs as coping mechanisms. When inebriated, the signs of demonic possession becomes more pronounced. Many of them are homeless and lack gainful employment. And many of them are suffering from some form of post dramatic disorder due to some tragic event in the past, like being molested as a child; a family member being murdered or catching a spouse in a compromising position. These individuals are in dire need of spiritual deliverance and counselling - something that humanist psychology is woefully unable to offer. I’m afraid that the PLP’s Mental Health Bill does not fully address the issues involving mental illness and the possibility of demon possession.


Freeport, Grand Bahama

January 26, 2023.


hrysippus 1 year, 3 months ago

Since Mr. Evans believes in the existence of a talking snake demon possession. is not much of a stretch. A short hundred years or so ago most people believed that many diseases, leprosy for example, were punishments for sins committed, the established church in Europe fought and preached against the use of vaccines for smallpox; if you caught smallpox and died then that was the will of The Lord and not to be prevented. Blaming mental illness on demons seems very similar. I am just glad the country is a democracy and not a theocracy, can you imagine if a religious zealot was in charge of making and enforcing our laws.


michellenewton 1 year, 3 months ago

Legislation cannot address the spiritual dimension of mental illness. Such an expectation is unfair. However, there are certain aspects of mental illness for which science is at a complete loss to explain. Ignoring this reality in the name of modernism is akin to burying one's head in the sand.

There are practitioners of psychiatry who recognize the phenomenon of demon possession and work with exorcists to treat certain patients. What we need in The Bahamas are more psychiatrists with experience in identifying demon possession and a greater number of devoted Christians in the deliverance ministry (exorcism). A large part of Jesus' ministry on earth was dedicated to exorcism, i.e. the casting out of demons. The present day Catholic Church has an official exorcism ministry.

A cursory Google search on clinical evidence of demon possession will yield a treasure trove of articles on the subject. Below is a link to a Washington Post article about a Princeton trained psychiatrist who collaborates with exorcists to treat mentally ill patients.



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