I have no training in psychology, but I am very interested in the phenomenon of what is called “mental illness.” Most of all, I think psychology is generally barking up the wrong tree, in trying to deal with the soul (psyche) as if it were empirical, and so could be studied using scientific methods.
The proper psychology is, I think, necessarily religion. Religion commonly works in changing people’s character and in healing spiritual illness. Psychology does not, and admits as much.
Because it interferes with the religious cure, I think contemporary psychology probably does more harm than good.
“Depression,” in the religious context, is the “dark night of the soul.” It is the time of indecision, as one is caught between the nonsense of the world and the reliable truth of the spirit. Psychology works by trapping you in the dilemma, by insisting on the return to the world, when you know in your heart the world is mad.
“Schizophrenia” is the same experience, in a sense, but occurring to a different personality type. People of discipline and sincerity go through depression. These are the people Jesus describes, point by point, in the beatitudes: those who hunger for righteousness, who are poor in spirit, who mourn.
But schizophrenia is, in New Testament terms, surely demonic possession.
I ran into this interesting description of the symptoms of schizophrenia from the British Royal college of Physicians and Surgeons:
We normally feel that we are in control of our thoughts and actions, but schizophrenia interferes with this feeling of being 'the captain of the ship'. It may feel as though thoughts are being put into the mind or taken out by some outside, uncontrollable force. The body may feel as if it has been taken over, like a puppet or a robot under outside control. At worst, the whole personality seems under the influence of an alien force or spirit. This is a terrifying experience, which the person tries to explain according to education and upbringing. In 'high-tech' societies, invisible influences capable of working over a distance may be put down to radio, television or laser beams, or a computer somehow installed in the brain. In traditional and religious communities, witchcraft, angry spirits, God or the Devil may be held responsible.
(From the leaflet on schizophrenia put online by the Royal College of Physicians and surgeons. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/public/help/schiz/sch_frame.htm)”
Well, okay, doesn’t Occam’s Razor argue that the perception is simply accurate? That we are being taken over by another spirit? Demonic possession.
Moreover, this explanation has the practical advantage of preventing the person from becoming “ill.” As I witnessed in Korea, the person with these symptoms simply becomes a shaman, and, instead of being hospitalized as “insane,” has a new career. They do quite well in other respects, in daily life, and are often prodigiously creative.
In other words, without psychology, schizophrenia is not really such a problem.