Mental Illness and Demonic Possession Look Alike


Even though there are similarities between the manifestations of demonic possession and the symptoms observed in psychiatric patients, there is only a correlation. Please do not misconstrue this comparison to mean that all psychiatric patients are demonically possessed. They are not. Many natural causes, like genetics, hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrition, etc., can cause these symptoms.

Convulsing and rolling on the floor - (Mark 9:17-18) - This biblical account appears to be reporting a phenomenon that looks like epilepsy. Until the advent of science entered into the stream of time, epilepsy was thought to be caused by spirits. 

Crying out in a loud voice, howling - (Luke 4:33, 9:37, and Mark 1:23, 5:2-5) - Psychiatric patients often yell and howl. Some patients scream continuously all day, in alternating voices that sound like loud howling banshees. They switch from sounding helpless, childlike, seductive, aggressive, etc.

Teeth gnashing - (Mark 9:17) - This occurs in psychiatric patients, especially among the mentally retarded population.

Foaming at the mouth - (Mark 9:18, Luke 9:39) - Many patients drool a very aerated saliva that covers their lips. This occurs with medicated as well as unmedicated patients.

Super strength: In Mark 5:2-5 & Luke 8:29, the Holy Bible gives examples of a possessed person who could not be bound by chains. This is incredible strength. Some psychiatric patients exhibit astonishing strength. One patient pulled several small trees (10 feet tall) out of the ground like small flowers.

Cutting oneself with stones - (Mark 5:2-5) Jumping into fire (Matthew 17:15) - The possessed persons who cut themselves with stones or who threw themselves into fire were exhibiting extreme self-harm. Psychiatric patients are known to cut, bruise, and burn themselves. Self-mutilation can take many forms. One patient punched herself in the face so hard for so many years that her face and hands were permanently disfigured.

Blindness and inability to speak - (Matthew 9:32-33, 12:22, Luke 11:14) - Today, these patients are diagnosed with a medical or psychiatric disorder. Still, the Holy Bible has diagnosed these symptoms, in these cases, as having a demonic etiology.

Running around naked (Luke 8:27-28) - Some psychiatric patients pull off their clothes and run into the halls naked.

Violence (Matthew 8:28) - Psychiatric patients are often fierce and dangerous.

Ability to predict the future - (Acts 16:16) - People who are possessed and manifest their possession by predicting the future are not the type of person physicians place in psychiatric hospitals. It is the parapsychologists who have contact with this population for subjects in experiments. Knowledge of other people’s secrets - (Luke 4:41) - Psychiatric patients have startled many a clinician by spontaneously uttering things that were personal to the clinician. Jesus wanted to keep his divinity a secret, but the demons were always trying to expose him. For example, “I know you. You are the son of God.” Revulsion to holy things - Although there is no biblical evidence for this phenomenon, on the contrary, possessed people approached the Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ. During Jesus’s temptation, the demon was not recorded as appearing uncomfortable. In Job Chapter 1, Satan was in God the Father’s presence. In Zechariah 3:1, Joshua, the high priest, stood before the angel of the Lord, while Satan stood at his right hand to accuse him.

Nevertheless, exorcists report revulsion and aversion to holy things. There was a child who appeared possessed and unknowingly and accidentally touched holy water. He loudly and repeatedly screamed, “It burns.” Also, many patients report they do not read the bible or go to church because it makes them feel crazy. 

In summary, the biblical manifestations of demonic possession are convulsing, rolling on the floor, crying out in a loud voice, howling, teeth grinding, foaming at the mouth, super strength, cutting oneself with stones, jumping into fire, bruising oneself, wasting away, blindness, inability to speak, running around naked, fierceness, soothsaying, knowledge of other people’s secrets, and sometimes the person released from demons initially appears dead.  

There is a very confusing blending between the symptoms of demonic possession, natural illness, and psychopathology. Sometimes, a patient’s symptoms have co-occurring etiologies.

Demons are in the host body for evil reasons, and their desire to possess does not diminish because a minister is trying to cast them out. What does change is the demon’s ability to hold on to their captive. Just as psychiatric patients are resistant to therapy and medications, demons are resistant to being cast out. The process of exorcism or deliverance is similar to the fight a fisherman has with a powerful fish. As the fisherman must wrestle with the fish until it is sufficiently weakened and only then capture it, the minister must sometimes wrestle with the demon until it is sufficiently weakened and cast out. 

Demonic obsession differs from demonic possession. The big difference is that with demonic possession, the demon(s) reside inside the human’s body. With demonic oppression, the demon(s) are outside the human body.

Some Christian writers identify certain evil spirits as contributing to suicide. These spirits of suicide are not listed in the bible, and different writers have different groupings. Still, these are the most commonly identified demons for those who group them. Modern counseling science does not accept these spiritual causes, and many traditional denominations do not include the “spirits of suicide” concept within their theology. It is more common in Charismatic communities. One of the earlier books that embraced this concept is, “Pigs in the Parlor.” These demons include spirits of:






















sexual perversion


It seems reasonable to conclude that demonic oppression increases the probability of suicide.