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The Church and Mental Health

There is a common #misperception that individuals who are devoutly #religious and expressive in their faith beliefs are having an experience of psychotic delusion. Can devoutly religious individuals with no history of mental illness suddenly present with a psychotic delusion? In a traditional sense of #Christianity, psychotic delusion has been addressed as spirit possession or a demonic attack. Many #churches purportedly attest to that there must be obvious undealt with sin in an individual’s life. Suggesting that the individual “should go lay on the alter” or even undergo an “exorcism”. However, with church’s adapting to awareness of mental illness, it is attributable to those individuals with traditional-faith adherence backgrounds having strong religious beliefs can dually interpret both a religious experience and psychotic processes but being able to distinguish the differences (Dehoff, 2015). In being able to distinguish between both religious experiences and psychotic delusion it is perhaps useful in understanding mental disorders that involve psychosis. A religious episode will not have a long-lasting effect or have transiency of a lengthy period, but rather a duration of a short interval. Many pathological disorders, like #depression, #paranoia, and/or #schizophrenia are persistent with lasting for very long periods, and are likely to cause some mental suffering for individuals (Kate et. al, 2012). Through interpreting with diagnostic assessment for similarities of a potential psychotic episode, and/or a religious experience it is definitive of assessing the duration or length of time an individual has experienced these associative disturbances. In knowing the differences between a religious experience and a psychotic delusion by evaluation or diagnostic assessment leaves out guesswork or misperceptions. In assessment, investigating whether the individual’s current presentation is not caused by biological components, neurological factors, substance abuse, or another medical condition may accurately depict if the experience was a religious expression, or a psychotic delusion. The church response can incorporate duality with helping individuals understand traditional faith-beliefs and practices, whilst also being aware of an individual’s current mental culpable state.

Marquese Walker, MA, LPC


DeHoff, S. L. (2015). Distinguishing mystical religious experience and psychotic experience: A qualitative study interviewing Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) professionals. Pastoral Psychology, 64(1), 21–39.

Kate, N., Grover, S., Kulhara, P., & Nehra, R. (2012). Supernatural beliefs, aetiological models and help seeking behavior in patients with schizophrenia. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 21(1), 49.

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