Mind, Brain & Demons: Understanding Mental Health Mechanics

In every field of study, a lack of understanding results in false assumptions being made. For example, in the world of cooking, if you don’t understand that oil has a bizarre way of bonding to metal, you could end up permanently wrecking your metal baking sheets after using a non-stick spray on them while making a batch of cookies. While human societies tend to honor certain professions while trivializing others, I’ve always found it fascinating that every field has its secrets and “expert” tips. When I meet someone who has a lot of experience in a certain line of work–whether it’s cleaning office bathrooms, repairing cars, managing a city’s power lines, or policing the streets–I’m always keen to hear what some of their expert tips are. Experience is the ultimate teacher, and it’s by collecting experience in a certain line of work that we learn how wrong a lot of our initial theories are about why things are the way they are.

Now if you wreck a cookie sheet because you didn’t understand certain principles of kitchen chemistry, you can simply throw it out and get a new one. But when you’re working as a psychological or spiritual counselor and you misdiagnose a human who has come to you for help, the consequences can be devastating. As a counselor who deals with both spiritual and psychological issues, I see this sort of thing happen all the time. Humans who are already feeling overwhelmed by stress and confusion go to an “expert” for help, only to be told that they have a problem that they don’t really have.

Very few spiritual counselors have a proper understanding of psychological mechanics, and this causes them to misinterpret signs of psychological stress as signs of demonic involvement. What happens when you tell someone who is in a severe state of psychological stress that her physical body is infested with a legion of malicious supernatural entities? You cause her stress levels to shoot even higher and run the risk of overwhelming a system that is already barely holding it together.

Assuming demons are involved when they aren’t always makes problems worse. But ignoring the involvement of demons can be just as bad. In many psychiatry offices, clients who are being intensely harassed by demons are being told that the terrifying symptoms that they are experiencing are just evidence that their minds are severely malfunctioning. What happens when you tell a functional mind that it is actually a screwed up mess? The client feels devastated, of course. There’s nothing more terrifying to humans than feeling like they can no longer trust their own minds.

Now in real life, demons are often involved in cases of psychological distress. To correctly address this kind of problem, a two-prong approach is needed. First, the true cause of the mind’s distress needs to be sorted out so that the mind can be guided towards helpful psychological solutions. Second, the reality of third party involvement needs to be recognized so that the person can be taught useful spiritual defenses when demons are start hassling them.

If a boy has a bad toothache, he needs someone to take him to a dentist so he can get help with his physical problems. But if the same boy is also getting severely bullied at school, simply taking him to the dentist won’t address that issue. If instead the boy’s parents only focus on the fact that he’s being bullied without recognizing that his tooth problem is a separate issue, then no matter how many great tips his parents give him about how to handle his social problems, the boy will still be in a crisis due to his throbbing tooth.

Unfortunately, not believing in the existence of demons doesn’t make you immune to being hassled by them. Instead, demons’ advantage over you greatly increases when you reject their reality. Just as I will have a very easy time distressing you if I can sneak about your house doing pranks while I’m both invisible and silent, demons have the easiest time messing with humans when those humans are unaware of their reality. Demons really want you to remain ignorant of their involvement in your life. It’s fantastic for them when you misinterpret their shenanigans as evidence that you’re having some kind of psychotic breakdown.

Mind vs. Brain

Your mind is not the same thing as your physical brain, but these two elements have a very complex relationship with each other. Along with the rest of your physical body, your brain depends on your mind to help it function. A car can’t drive itself to the gas station to get refueled; instead, it needs a human driver to take it there by working the car’s mechanical controls. In the same way, your physical brain can’t maintain itself without the guidance and help of your non-physical mind.

But now suppose that when you try to drive your car to the local gas station, it starts lurching and stalling due to some kind of mechanical problem. In this situation, the car’s physical malfunctions are interfering with your ability to get it refueled. In the same way, your physical brain can develop physical problems which interfere with your mind’s ability to help it run smoothly.

If you were to see a car swerving all over a highway, it would be quite obvious that some kind of crisis was happening, but how could you tell from a distance if the problem was with the car or the driver? Perhaps there was nothing wrong with the driver, but his vehicle was simply refusing to respond to his commands due to some mechanical breakdown. Or perhaps the car was mechanically sound, but the driver was having some kind of panic attack and jerking the steering wheel back and forth. As a distant observer, both problems would look the same to you, yet they would require very different solutions.

In the world of mental health, things are often quite complicated. For example, there are many mental health problems that result in the brain being unable to maintain a proper balance of the chemicals it needs to function well. But if a test result reveals that a patient has low serotonin levels (which is one of the chemicals your brain needs to feel happy) , simply giving them more won’t necessarily fix their root problem. Why is the brain’s chemical balance so off kilter? Is there a physical malfunction happening within the physical organ, or is the brain’s imbalance really being caused as a response to something the mind is doing?

A traumatized mind will sometimes act like the stressed out driver of a car who starts jerking the steering wheel about and stomping erratically at his brake and acceleration pedals. When minds start behaving this way, the physical brains and bodies that they are influencing start exhibiting all kinds of physical problems. In such cases, simply trying to patch up the body with a variety of meds will have very limited success. For the brain to have the chance to really recover, it needs its driver to calm down.

In other cases, the mind is trying to run its physical vehicle smoothly, but the body itself has some severe physical problems. If a man loses his leg in an accident, for example, his body becomes permanently crippled. How can his mind cause his body to walk normally when its missing one of its limbs? In this kind of situation, giving the man a prosthetic limb can be a fantastic help, because it will give his frustrated mind the option to walk his body again.

The Value of Psych Meds

Understanding the principles I’ve just explained becomes especially helpful when you are trying to understand the purpose of psychiatric medications. Within many religious communities, taking psych meds is often viewed as a shameful failing or even an act of spiritual rebellion. It’s quite possible to have sincere respect for God without having any understanding of how He designed human beings to function. This results in a lot of well-meaning people teaching that God actually takes offense when you put your “faith” in a bottle of pills instead of in His ability to instantly fix whatever is wrong with you. Well, no, this is utter rubbish. If your car is out of gas, simply praying for fuel is not going to give you a full tank. Of course God is quite capable of miraculously refueling your car, but God being able to do something is quite different than Him being willing to do it.

God is the Genius who designed your mind and brain to be so interdependent on each other, and being the variety loving Creator that He is, God is simply not willing to instantly fix all of our problems for us. This is because God created humans for the purpose of having them develop and mature, not forever coast in a state of perpetual bliss. The same God who designed trees to develop stronger, deeper root systems in response to being battered by storms also designed humans to mature through the process of grappling with problems. In other words, God brings problems into your life to benefit you. Now of course we humans aren’t fans of this set up, because we find it very tiring to deal with a never ending stream of hassles. But while we’re focused on how uncomfortable we’re feeling in the midst of our current troubles, we fail to see what tough little troopers we are. Beneath our fragile exteriors, we humans are incredibly resilient and adaptable. To put it simply, we were designed for conflict: to not only survive it, but to be improved by it in a myriad of ways. While there is nothing wrong with having fun and easy times, it’s the tough times that really spur us forward on our individual paths of growth.

It is extremely challenging when your body is malfunctioning. In such cases, there is nothing shameful about seeking out physical aids for your physical problems. There are many mental health issues that are massively helped by a steady intake of wisely chosen medications. Since the body is so incredibly adaptable, it’s often necessary to keep adjusting psychiatric medications when their positive effects get neutralized. Is the Architect of your physical body insulted when you use physical patches to try to fix physical deficiencies? Of course not. Using medications to supply your brain with critical chemicals that it needs is like using some physical goo to patch up a hole in your bike tire: it’s not a moral or spiritual issue. While many spiritual leaders associate popping pills with a lack of faith in God, a better way to look at it is that you’re actually expressing respect for who God is by not demanding that He align with your preferences. We’d all love to get a miracle cure, and God does indeed hand them out now and then. But what makes miracles miraculous is their rarity. Far more often, God chooses to help us through more “normal” channels: through doctors, pills, and counselors. Does it mean God is less involved in your life or less interested in your problems if He hands you a bottle of pills instead of a miraculous cure? Certainly not. Your body’s ability to ingest a substance, break it down into its basic components, then strategically distribute those throughout its system is truly incredible. God’s personal involvement in your life is on display every moment of the day as you maneuver about in the fantastic machine that He custom built just for you. There’s no such thing as a human who God isn’t involved with, so when we try to shame each other for following God’s leading in our lives, we’re being ridiculous. The right medication at the right time can flip a person’s mood from suicidal to joyful. Such Divine assistance should inspire gratitude and celebration, not shame.

Recognizing Demonic Involvement

Now it’s an unfortunate reality that while one group wants to turn your pill consumption into an act of spiritual rebellion, a lot of the folks who do the suggesting and prescribing of psychiatric medications scoff at the idea of supernatural entities being involved in your situation. When the voices telling you to kill yourself suddenly stop when you switch meds, you’re told to interpret that as evidence that your own mind was the one producing those creepy hallucinations. But is this really the case?

Demons are malicious supernatural creatures who are very limited in power. Because they aren’t nearly as capable as they claim to be, they are forced to function as opportunists. Demons are an entirely different kind of being than you are, and they have a very different perspective of you than you do. While you see yourself as a whole unit, demons see you as a series of components that are working together in intricate ways.

When most of us see a wristwatch, we simply see a device that can be handy for telling us the time. We focus on the finished design, not its inner workings. But if we were thinking like demons, then when we looked at watches, we would focus on inner mechanics, and we’d see a complex series of gears that could be manipulated in countless ways.

Demons don’t like or respect human beings, but they are very interested in seeing us miserable. In religious communities, you can find all kinds of dramatic theories being promoted about why demons care about human affairs, most of which are utterly ridiculous. It’s very difficult to find accurate teaching about supernatural beings. Humans tend to either ignore demons or obsess over them, neither of which is helpful. Dealing with demons effectively starts with putting them in proper perspective. Yes, they are different than humans, but they are still created beings who rely on the same God that we do to sustain their existence. Giving demons too much respect will only make you easier for them to terrorize. But not respecting them enough will also play into their favor. Balance is the key here. There is great value in learning how to recognize when demons are trying to mess with you personally, but trying to dig too much into why demons are the way they are will only get you tangled up in a bunch of harmful soul beliefs.

Demons understand how your various elements work together far better than you do. Unlike your human helpers, demons can easily tell which element of your being is currently causing you to feel so stressed out. To demons, your soul, mind, body, and brain each have their own complex set of internal mechanics that can be manipulated in many ways if demons are given the opportunity to do so. But just as the casing of a watch must first be pried open before you can start messing with its internal gears, there are similar kinds of barriers that exist within your various elements. Some of these barriers can be moved by demons, others can’t. Some of these barriers naturally slide about as you go through your day. For example, when you are physically tired or emotionally stressed, demons have an easier time upsetting you than when you are feeling energized and upbeat.

There are very logical reasons why humans generally experience a greater surge of demonic harassment when they are alone, upset, and feeling physically vulnerable. Changes to both your external and internal environments have a direct impact on how easy you are for demons to mess with. If they are hanging about at a time when a juicy opportunity presents itself, and if they are interested in personally hassling you at that moment, then they will take advantage of the opportunity that they see.

Now because mental stress makes it easier for demons to harass you, demons are very attracted to hassling people with psychological problems. Observing this pattern has caused many religious counselors to misdiagnose psychological problems as being entirely demon problems. What happens in these cases is that people accurately identify signs of demonic involvement, but then they stop there and decide that everything that’s wrong with the person can be explained in terms of malicious spirits. Well, no, demons are opportunists. They have a much easier time fanning existing sparks into flames than they do building a fire from scratch.

Suppose I want to terrorize a human driver by chucking rocks at his car. When I see you and your friend driving in my direction, I get ready to start hurling rocks at your vehicles. Now your friend’s car is in great condition, and he roars past me so fast that I don’t get a chance to line up a good shot. But your car happens to have some major problems at the moment, and the best it can do is slowly lurch down the road. When I see how slowly you’re moving, I see a fine opportunity. Chasing your friend would require a lot of effort on my part, but you’re a sitting duck. So naturally, I’m going to focus all of my bullying efforts on you simply because you are the most convenient target.

This is how it works in the world of demons: as a general rule, they focus their efforts on the easier targets. Malfunctioning bodies, stressed out souls, and stressed out minds all cause us to look like easier targets to demons, which is why having a bunch of personal problems in our lives attracts demons towards us. It’s not because we’re trying to look for trouble, or because we’re spiritually “flawed”–it’s because our internal struggles cause our internal mechanics to shift about in ways that make it easier for demons to mess with us.

So what’s the good news here? Well, those same internal mechanics that cause you to be more vulnerable to demonic harassment can also shift back in ways that will cause you to be less vulnerable. This is why it is so important to correct any false beliefs that your mind and soul are carrying about. When your mind is carrying around a belief that you are powerless compared to other humans and destined to experience a lifetime of pain, that false belief gives demons a great opportunity to mess with you. When your soul believes that you are some despicable pervert who deserves to be eternally punished for all of the disgusting things you’ve done, that false belief sets you up to be extra easy for demons to distress.

A child who believes that there is a monster lurking in his closet is much easier to terrorize than a child who thinks bedroom monsters are a bunch of nonsense. When the first child hears a bunch of growling and knocking about, he’ll attribute those sounds to the closet monster and be terrified. This will be quite hilarious to the person who is making the noises, because that person finds it entertaining to scare kids. If we want to help the frightened child, we need to recognize that there are two things going on. First, there is the fact that the child really believes there is a monster in his closet. That is a psychological belief that is causing his mind to panic because the child’s mind cares about keeping him physically safe. Second, we have this twerpy human who is trying to capitalize on the poor kid’s fears. If we simply chase away the noise making antagonist, the child will still be afraid because we haven’t addressed the root of the problem, which is his psychological belief.

Dealing with root causes is always the most effective way to help someone. Suppose we can’t get rid of that person who is hassling our kid. If we help the kid with the root of his problem by helping him understand that closet monsters aren’t real, he will be a lot less distressed by all of the spooky noises his antagonist is making.

In real life, demons can’t be conveniently chased away any time we want. When you stop looking at root causes and only focus on demon involvement, you spend all of your effort trying to chase away creatures who just won’t leave. But if you focus instead on dealing with root causes, while also acknowledging that there are third parties who are intentionally trying to make your problems worse, then you’re going to be much more likely to make positive progress while also getting better at recognizing when demons are messing with you.

Conclusion

I often say that humans are complicated little things, and the purpose of this post is to help you gain a greater appreciation of how multi-layered human problems can be. Understanding the difference between root causes and surface symptoms is an important part of the diagnostic process. Recognizing the involvement of supernatural beings is also very important. When multiple elements of a person’s being are upset, each element will need help in identifying ways to calm down. The things that help a stressing body will be different than the things that help a stressing mind or soul. Effective therapy often requires fighting a battle on multiple fronts, and using a variety of approaches to address the various aspects of the problem. As healing occurs, the mind might progress faster than the soul, or vice versa. If demons are involved, they might step up their aggression or lose interest and back off. Every case is unique, because every human is unique. This is why, in all branches of healthcare, we must always be ready to revise any theory we have about how humans function.

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