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The Truth About Mental Illness and Its Causes, Part III


Author: Robert Brocato


This article is Part III of a three part series.


The Spiritual Influence

In today’s increasing secularized world, it is thought that God and science don’t mix. The truth is, without the introduction of the scientific method and inductive reasoning brought to the world by forward thinking Christians, there would be no modern science in the sense we know it today. In the past, people without God tended to mystify things they could not explain. To be sure, there were many Christians who would continue this pagan practice for some time, but eventually Christians would become more consistent with a true Biblical worldview. Believing God to be a God of logic and order, these forward-thinking Christians would change the world of physical science. At first, persecuted and belittled by their fellow Christians who clung to the failed intellectual systems introduced by the pagan societies of antiquity, the truth would persevere over time.

Zac Durant from Upsplash

Today, mysticism is on the rise in an attempt to go backward in time, away from solid truth. This will not last over time. God wins in the end. Spiritual factors to our health and our mood are very real. Keep God in your thoughts and prayers and look to Him for help.

  • A healthy mind believes in God. This can only be attained with the help of God who intervenes supernaturally through the gospel. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14, NJKV).
  • It is our responsibility to believe in God and trust Him regardless of our mental state. Believers who trust in Christ are given the promise of the Holy Spirit to aid and help in our obedience.
  • Sin and patterns of sin may produce neuropathways that are contrary to good health and contribute to the development of neurotransmitter imbalances.
  • Thinking God’s thoughts after Him can have a positive impact on our mood and mental health. “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2b, NKJV).
  • God may allow supernatural forces of darkness to directly alter a person’s mind. This was the case with Nebuchadnezzar for a short period of time (circa 582 BC). It was also the case for King Saul of Israel (circa 1020 BC).
    • “That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' [feathers] and his nails like birds' [claws]. And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom [is] from generation to generation.” (Dan 4:33-34, NKJV).
    • “Now the distressing spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing [music] with [his] hand.” (1 Sam 19:9, NKJV).
  • Disobedience to the moral law of God may affect mental health. People may sin and not significantly alter brain chemistry, at least not in an outward discernable sense. Sin may also alter brain chemistry in significant ways. Repeated sin likely tends to alter brain chemistry more than unrepeated sin. There can be many factors involved in this process from poor diet to lust and pride, all creating the means by which brain chemicals may become imbalanced. Spiritual depression may lead to physical depression in the form of chemical imbalances.
  • Brain chemical imbalances may alter behavior in a negative sense, indirectly causing outward disobedience to the moral law of God. This does not do away with our responsibility to obey the moral law. It also does not undo the power of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome. But it does mean, if we have a brain chemical imbalance, we may have a tendency to act contrary to God’s moral law. We should both repent and work on our brain chemicals.
  • Brain chemical imbalances may also alter our ability to learn cognitively, remember things, and otherwise function.
  • All creation moans and groans with the curse of imperfection resulting from the first sin of Adam and Eve. In other words, nature is fallen and will never produce perfect results. God’s judgement on sin in a general sense has made nature imperfect.
  • Sin in a general sense is the root cause of all imbalances in the world, and this includes mental health. Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Because of sin!
    Photo by kholopkin from Upsplash
    Why are we not perfect? Because of sin. Note also, we all sin and continue to carry on the original rebellion of our first parents, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In other words, all of us have a record of doing wrong against the moral standards of right and wrong God has created for us to live in them. This is the definition of sin: doing any wrong at all. God judges all such wrong doing though He is patient will His full judgement. All creation suffers as a result of His partial judgement and curse.   
  • Addressing our sins and repenting of unbelief may have a positive impact on our mental health. That said, often the root cause of chemical imbalance is not the direct consequence of our own sinful behavior. In other words, it may be a sin to destroy our own food supply, and this may cause a person who is eating the food to have mood disorders. However, it may not be the direct fault of the person eating the food to survive. The beginning of the problem is still sin in a general sense. In the case just described, the sin may be more directly linked to the person who controls the food supply, not the person eating the food.
  • Demon possession can drive people to madness. Not all demonic influence will manifest itself as madness. Not all madness has demonic origin. In fact, it is rare that madness is caused in this manner. However, it still happens from time to time.
  • The Old Testament view of mental illness was NOT that all mental illness stems from spiritual forces. When David pretended to be insane to the king of Gath, he was not expecting the king to think that he was possessed, just that he was crazy and out of balance. The king responded after seeing David’s act that David was insane, and the king further said, “Have I need of madmen?” (1 Sam 21:15a, NKJV). This was exactly the response David wanted. David was trying to NOT be asked to join with the kings forces against Israel.
  • Witchcraft and sorcery are very real sins of rebellion against God. People can commit these sins and not significantly alter brain chemistry in an outward sense. That said, it is likely that all sin negatively alters brain chemistry to one degree or another. In that sense, witchcraft and sorcery can negatively alter brain chemistry as can doubt, lust, and pride or any other sin.

Books could be written for each foundational principle given above. Each was just an introductory comment to give context to the broader discussion of mental illness. Several volumes of information could be published for each major subsection to do each sub-section justice. That said, hopefully you have begun to understand a framework of the multifaced aspects of mental illness and specifically those generally classified as “mood disorders.”

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This article is Part III of a three part series.


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