Struggle of the mind: Demon possession versus mental illness – Part 2

    mental illness 2So at the end of Part 1, I left you with a challenge. Watch the video of Elliot Rodgers, the 22 year old son of The Hunger Games assistant director Peter Rogers, minutes before he slaughtered six people in Isla Vista near the University of California, Santa Barbara on May 24, 2014 and see what you think. So what do you think?

    Obviously he seems “not in his right mind.” As a Christian who has read the bible extensively, it’s pretty clear to me – someone or something had taken over his mind and was speaking through him. His words in certain parts of the soliloquy sounded like they were coming from an adversary to the human race. The entity most opposed to the human race would be the devil, or one of his minions, whether that be fallen angels or demons. Or could it be that he had been so wronged by the members of the human race that his wounded, suppressed subconscious began to seek retribution for the pain inflicted upon him that it created an alter ego to actually execute payback? And how does our mind create an alter ego?  Whether believing in either evil spirits or believing in theories of unmeasurable sub-consciousness manifestations both require a leap of faith.

    Psychologists and Psychiatrists often attribute emotional or physical trauma, especially sexual abuse, as the root cause of multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder.Those with the disorder seem to section off their consciousness into personalities to hide from their abuse, creating other entities to deal with it. Christians who practice deliverance would say that when evil befell these people in the form of physical abuse, especially sexual, that demons were allowed to enter from the sin and those demons have taken up residence causing specific problems. We ourselves sometimes “take on” entities because we are too fearful otherwise to perform some feat, whether it’s in sports or the arts. Beyoncé created an entity – Sasha Fierce – to perform on stage because she was to shy.  You’ll have to watch the YouTube videos describing Sasha Fierce and the Crazy in Love video where she meets Jay Z and decide for yourself what you think. As a believer in God and the devil and spiritual warfare, it was an easy decision for me.

    So we do not know the exact origin of the entity speaking through Peter Rodgers, but it’s pretty clear to me it is some form of evil. It could be demons, unclean spirits or the devil himself. The devil has entered people as described in John 13.27 when Judas began his betrayal of Jesus at the last supper, “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.” Judas later leads and identifies Jesus to the authorities. But does that mean every crazy or evil act is from the devil or his or minions?

    Not necessarily. Some form of mental illness affects over 60 million people in the united states with the majority, close to 40 million, comprised of the anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), generalized anxiety disorders (GAD), panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) or social phobias. While some would argue these could be caused by demons, the distinction is not as obvious as to me as the Peter Rogers saga. I would not rule demons out in any alteration of the mind, especially if conventional methods of treatment do not work. Other mental illnesses include the mood altered disorders like depression or bipolar disorder (manic/ depression) in almost 20 million, and personality disorders, eating disorders and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia occurring in several million each.

    In reviewing the scientific studies in the medical literature on mental disorders, several concrete physical findings have been made over the last several decades. Differences in enhancements on PET scans and functional MRIs between the brains of the mentally healthy and the mentally ill have lead researchers to believe the brain tissue itself is affected.  The strongest argument that mental conditions are medical diseases of the brain tissue is the identification of alterations found in the composition of neurotransmitters in certain sections of the brain in mentally ill patients compared to adults with no mental illnesses, and that replacing or varying the chemical deficit can bring a patient “back to a normal” mental state or at least get relief.  Scientists are aware of a cadre of neurotransmitters in the brain including serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, GABA, endorphins, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine.  It is interesting that in many psychiatric illnesses, including anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disease and depression, there are several biochemical changes that are documented and many different categories of medicines work, whether they are dopamine blockers or selective serotonin and/or norepinephrine  reuptake inhibitors (like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Cymbalta, and Effexor). It is true, the more we learn what the specific biochemical problems are, the more we can target medicines directly at the chemical deficit, just like giving insulin for diabetes. And lots of good directed work has occurred with schizophrenia and mood disorders like depression and bipolar disease, so the treatments are getting better.

    It is also true the Lord is making more people aware of the power of deliverance. Lisa Ling in the first episode of her final season which initially aired on Oprah’s OWN network May 29, 2014, produced an unbiased look at spiritual deliverance. It followed two churches in Georgia and Florida that believed in casting out demons. In the Georgian church, the parishioners were vomiting in bags and writhing on the floor when demons were expelled. In the other church in Florida, the deliverance occurred in a counselor’s office with weeping and hugging. All individuals that were freed of demons in each of the churches and methods and felt better. In fact, they were freed in a way that years of previous counseling could not achieve. All improved knew this was not necessary permanent and they would have to stand guard with the Holy Spirit to not let other demons back in, as well as continue to seek deliverance for unresolved issues, but they were better.

    So what do you do if your loved one is having some form of mental disorder? You seek help. You seek a psychologist with an expertise in whatever affliction is occurring – anxiety, psychosis or depression. You seek counsel with a psychiatrist. You seek counsel with your priest, preacher and other followers of Christ. You seek people in your area that have a track record of deliverance from these conditions. And you don’t hesitate to question what kind of treatment you are getting from any of them – doctors or preachers. No one always has the right answer. You have to seek all avenues. If one thing is not working, move on the next.  

    So as a surgeon scientist led by the spirit, I believe you should exhaust all you’re your resources. I have had frequent contact with people professionally and personally with mental disorders, and treatment approaches are not one size fits all. If someone tells me they are the devil or demon possessed and they hate humanity, based on my knowledge of science as well as good and evil, I’d believe them and try to get them to a deliverer. If they have suicidal or homicidal thoughts, I’d get them to a hospital and work out the details of demons verses dopamine later. Do what needs to be done for each individual. That’s good medicine and good service in the name of Jesus.

    John E. McClay, MD is a pediatric ENT and board certified as a Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery. He has been married for 24 years and is the father of three girls. He is a native Texan, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Texas A&M. He obtained his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas. 

    He has be been named one of D Magazines Best Pediatric Specialists every year since its inception in 2003. He has also been named best pediatric specialists in the state of Texas by Texas Monthly for the last eight consecutive years. Dr. McClay has presented at national and international medical meetings as an invited lecturer. He has appeared on local radio and television programs. He is actively involved with the LEAP foundation. He is also the creator of the PediatricSinusCenter.com, providing comprehensive information to parents about all aspects of their child’s sinus and allergy problems. Dr. McClay is a follower of Jesus Christ. His prayer every morning is that he performs the good works that God has laid out before because he knows that’s where life is. 

    John E. McClay MD
    John E. McClay MDhttp://www.mannaexpressonline.com
    is a Pediatric Otolaryngologist, - an ear nose and throat surgeon for children.

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