I recently spoke with a seer who is seeing a mental health therapist. Many of the seers I speak to see therapists to deal with mental health struggles. It’s very difficult for people who regularly see into the spirit realm and the unseen war around us to cope in “normal” ways with reality, as defined in our Western scientific materialist culture.
For that matter, I too regularly speak with a therapist. I’m even married to a therapist, who is highly specialized in working with children. There is nothing wrong with attending therapy and in fact, I encourage it. They have a way of helping normalize life and get us through extraordinary situations.
This particular seer struggles with depression and she has other concerns regarding mental health issues in her family. Many seers so struggle, actually.
She told me she visits a “Christian counselor.” But she added that she hasn’t told her Christian counselor that she is a seer: she sees demons and shadows and orbs all the time. She said sharing something like this was “deeply personal” and she didn’t “want to get shipped off to a hospital.”
I’ve written before about seers who seek help from therapists but are afraid to reveal this deepest secret: they can see the unseen.
This begs the question of what good having a therapist who is a Christian is. Theoretically, a Christian is someone who believes Jesus died and came back to life, and will return to earth again someday. They also theoretically believe in some kind of future resurrection and judgement. Aren’t these supernatural beliefs? And if they can believe something so incredible as life-after-death, then why not believe that demons and angels exist and some people can see them?
Because the Bible Says So
I suppose the answer is “the DSM-V”, the bible of the American Psychiatric Association. American therapists rely on it over their own religious texts for guidance in how to treat mental illness (and, says one therapist who shall remain anonymous, when it comes to billing Medicaid).
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition is the attempt by the American mental health field to apply hard science to mental health. The culture of America’s mental health field promotes looking at humans as mainly bodies of chemicals, which can be shaped to produce socially-acceptable behaviors. The DSM-V argues “reliable diagnoses are essential for guiding treatment recommendations”, but acknowledges, “past science was not mature enough to yield fully validated diagnoses.” 1
The science of mental health disorders continues to evolve. However, the last two decades since DSM-IV was released have seen level and durable progress in such areas as cognitive neuroscience, brain imaging, epidemiology, and genetics.
Applying science to mental health disorders related to spirituality is beyond problematic because science is not equipped to explore the spirit realm or the existence of God or other spirits. The “supernatural” is beyond the realm of what science can explore because science is equipped to study “the natural”, not the “supernatural.”
But the DSM-V gives it a whirl anyway because billing is important and they wear white coats and they really, really want to stand proudly next to physicists and biologists and chemists and other scientists.
Seers and Schizophrenia
According to the DSM-V, people who can see into the spirit realm would have some symptoms of schizophrenia. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, candidates must exhibit two or more of these symptoms:
- Delusions: fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. Grandiose delusions are when an individual believes that he or she has exceptional abilities, like seeing demons. Delusions are deemed bizarre if they are clearly implausible. 2
- Hallucinations: perception-like experiences that occurs without an external stimuli. They are vidid and clear, with the full force and impact of normal perceptions, and not under voluntary control. They can be visual or auditory. Auditory would include hearing voices. 3
- Disorganized speech
- Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
- Negative symptoms.
The disturbance must affect major areas of their lives, such as work, interpersonal relations or self-care. Since most seers that I have interviewed experience at least two of the above list, but their ability to perceive in the spirit realm does not cause a disturbance in a major area to their lives, they would still not be classified as schizophrenic, according to the DSM-V. They might be diagnosed with “Brief Psychotic Disorder” instead. Oh believe me, the DMV-V will find something to diagnose basically anyone. Billing is that important, you see. Er, I mean, …yay science!
I found this interesting, under Culture-Related Diagnostic Issues. 4
Cultural and socioeconomic factors must be considered, particularly when the individual and the clinician do not share the same cultural and socioeconomic background. Ideas that appear to be delusion in one culture (e.g., witchcraft) may be commonly held in another. In some cultures, visual and auditory hallucinations with religious content (e.g., hearing God’s voice) are normal part of religious experience.
I found this fascinating. Science, apparently, is influenced by culture! What is a scientifically-labelled illness in one culture is normal in another! If seeing spirits in one culture is normal, then the seer is normal; but if seeing spirits in another culture is not normal, then the same seer is mentally ill.
A couple years ago, a college student from Ghana was studying biology in our local university and she came to a small group I led for a few weeks. When she learned we viewed the world through a lens that included the supernatural, she told us that everyone in her home town was aware that demons were real and active, and at night, she could see shadows passing and haunting the streets; but the shadows wouldn’t approach the homes of the Christians. They just afflicted the pagans. She said she knew she could not speak of this in America because Americans were not grounded in reality, but chose to view the world through a materialistic lens instead. Notice this student was in a Master’s program studying Biology. She had no problem incorporating hard sciences within her supernatural worldview, but was reticent to share this in America because here, she’d be labeled with a psychotic disorder, according to the science of the DSM-V.
Ha. It seems even the American Psychiatric Association cannot fully quantify what is mental illness and what is normative in a culture. What happens when someone who can hear God’s voice and is considered normal in his or her home moves to a culture that does not accept this behavior as normal? Is that person, like the college student, suddenly mentally ill and a danger to society? What about the student who was raised in America and could always see spirits? Is he or she psychotic?
Or could it be the culture to which he or she lives is amiss?
I also found it interesting that the example from the DSM-V is “hearing God’s voice.” What about “seeing angels and demons?” As considered here, a culture that accepts that hearing God’s voice is normative could still error in assuming the voice a prophet hears was actually hearing from God or a demon. That’s where theology and worldview really comes into play, which we started exploring in the series on Hearing God.
The problem of course is the worldview the American Psychiatric Association is writing from is flawed. It’s scientific materialism, and while this worldview has given us a lot of benefits, it’s ultimately beginning to collapse in on its own inconsistencies.
The best worldview incorporates both the natural and the supernatural in the same way that Jesus did. See the Reveal the Kingdom page for more discussion on this. It’s still an early work in progress.
Christian Mental Health Providers
Again, I come to the question of why is the seer afraid to share his or her ability with his or her therapist? One of the therapists I saw, a psychologist with his Ph.D., fully accepted the supernatural, and we invited the Holy Spirit to join us in our sessions. He could easily move with deliverance or inner healing. Most issues of inner healing would produce deliverance anyway as I began to believe truths instead of lies. The enemy, clings to you through the lies you believe in and when you set your mind on who God says you are and what God thinks about you, the enemy no longer can hold onto you. I’m digressing.
But let’s be honest. This psychologist is a rarity and he would not bring up the supernatural unless he knew I was open to it. We know most Christian therapists in America do not hold to a supernatural worldview. They don’t accept the supernatural interacts with the natural. Their world is defined not by the worldview of the Bible but the worldview of the DSM-5.
My challenge to mental health professionals who are Christians is this: open your hearts and mind to the reality presented in the Bible. The world around us is not limited by scientific materialism, but includes a supernatural reality, an unseen realm. Consider the world and your clients as Jesus did, and your practice will flourish with God’s blessing.