Did Jesus suffer mental health problems?


#1

Hi All

Was reading from Mark’s gospel today where Jesus cast out a demon from a Syro-phoenician woman’s daughter. I find this passage troubling for two reasons. He refers to gentiles as dogs. Secondly he believes in demonic possession.

Jesus initially refuses to help the woman saying that its not good to take the children’s bread and give it to dogs. Elsewhere he says he was sent only to the children of Israel. He does not appear to even like gentiles :shrug:

Jesus also believes literally in demonic possession. He does not appear to understand modern medical science but attributes illness physical and mental ailments to devils.

My question is this. Was Jesus himself suffering from mental health problems? These problems are demonstarted by the fact he believes that he and others are under attack from literal demons and devils, he has the power to cast out demons, can give this power to others. He is also has behavioural problems such as being hostile to outsiders (non Jews), clearly xenophobic and unhelpful to them.

Thanks


#2

Um, no, Jesus did not suffer from mental problems. Your reference to believing in demons as an indication of mental illness I guess would mean a lot of people suffer from mental problems, including the demons themselves and those who have in fact been possessed by such demons.


#3

The guy even told people he came back to life! I mean, he must have been crazy, right? :smiley:

Asking whether our Lord and Savior, the God-Man himself, the center of our beliefs, had mental problems? I usually take questions seriously, but this sounds a little too much like baiting…

It did provide some chuckles for me, though. Thanks and God Bless you!


#4

Hi Nacho, thanks for the reply.

I have not seen any research on what proportion of people today believe in demon possession, but I think a significant proportion of people believe in demons and believe themselves to be under attack by invisible entities, and as such have symptoms of mental health difficulties.

I think Mark’s gospel is the least populat today partly due to this issue. People today are more skeptical of the idea of demon possession, and Jesus exorcisms could be interpreted as superstition rather than the acts of a sane and rational person. Therefore the church tends to emphasise the other three gospels where exorcism is less prevelant and the accounts are more believable to today’s audience.


#5

Hi SecretCatholic, I realised this would be a controversial issue, but am interested in the responses, and whether anyone would actually agree. There are lots of different points of view here. Jesus has a human nature, as well as a divine one, so in his human nature, is it possible, that he had health problems. I remember the account in the garden of Gethsemene where he appeared to be having a mental breakdown. I guess the stress of the situation he was under would make anyone act in an strange manner.


#6

Yes, and then some people think they have more education than is good for them. Sadly, they are so smart the outsmart their immortal soul.


#7

Dave, don’t go too far in insulting our God with such a question, even to bait or look at responses. Honour your God before all things. He knew the devil, had power over him and used this example of saving the gentiles as a teaching the early Church had to come to grips with in accepting non-Jews. Did he not caste out the devil even though many would say she was not worthy?
If you knew the horrors before Him at Calvary, many a man would throw the chalice away. The mental anguish must have been terrible but so was His love and courage. If only all of us had such health issues.


#8

As God is rational, just and all loving, then I guess he would accept asking questions. I can’t see anything wrong with asking the question otherwise our faith will be blind and without good reason.

I am trying to figure out why Jesus and the apostles thought as they did. I think a part of it may be the stress they were under could account for how the stories of Jesus took shape. Visions of the risen Lord could have been occured in the mind of the apostles as they really wanted him to be alive and to counteract feelings of guilt for not helping him out.


#9

A lot of people have trouble believing in ANYTHING supernatural or non-material these days. That said, “demon” doesn’t necessarily have to mean what it means in popular culture. A lot of the Bible is symbolic, and Jesus constantly talks in parables and symbols. Did you expect Jesus to give a science lesson that would only have been understood in recent times or relate to his immediate audience in a way which would still be relevant for us if we listened carefully enough?

Considering that for a Catholic your question is worse than saying “Did your mother have mental problems because she thought you were a beautiful baby?” or something similarly insulting, “controversial” is an understatement.

According to the Church, Jesus was perfect both in his human and in his divine nature. That doesn’t mean he was immune from suffering as a human, and in fact, that seems to be part of the point.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then our faith is for naught.


#10

And don’t you think the “devil” is laughing all the way to his “bank!”


#11

I think it would have been helpful to his audience to teach some science and to correct any misconceptions that they had that demons were the cause of illness. He could have given them advice on the causes of physical and mental illness, fo example an explanation of germs and disease, and the actions they could take to improve their health.

I think there could be evidence of his being less than perfect. Calling a woman a dog even in jest is insulting, or referring to a group of people (gentiles) as dogs is very impolite. Although I note at the end of the gospel he asks his followers to preach to the gentiles, so maybe he changed his mind and the experience of being resurrected reformed his character?


#12

Jesus also called the Jews a “brood of vipers” at the temple. Jesus tells it like it is…not what we want to hear. Do not forget that the Jews were the chosen people of God.
To ask if Jesus “suffer mental problems” is quite beyond the pale. I think you need to not come to your own conclusions when reading parts of scripture, but to read various commentaries from those who have studied the scriptures in depth. Here is one such link that may help you understand Mark’s passage:

apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article=317

You also need to get rid of that “my Jesus wouldn’t do that” mentality. Yes, Jesus is love, kindness, etc. etc. but he also says things that may not be so nice–it is to give us a wakeup call!
My two-cents


#13

All Jews referred to the gentiles as dogs at the time. Jesus mission was to offer salvation to the Jews first (the children) which is what he told her. Some scholars think he was putting her off to test her faith, but it could simply be that it wasn’t yet time to evangelize the gentiles. That would come later, when he told his disciples to preach to “all nations”.
But he did relent in the face of her gentle insistence.

Jesus also believes literally in demonic possession. He does not appear to understand modern medical science but attributes illness physical and mental ailments to devils.

Why are you attributing demon possession to mental illness? Demons exist, then and now, and demon possession is real. That’s why the Church employs exorcists. Exorcists are trained to make the distinction between actual possession and mental health issues. The Son of God could do no less – he would know at a glance whether someone was really possessed or not.

There is indeed a difference between believing yourself to be under attack by demons and to actually be under attack by demons. But make no mistake, just because there is such a thing as mental illness doesn’t mean there is no such thing as demon possession.

I think Mark’s gospel is the least populat today partly due to this issue. People today are more skeptical of the idea of demon possession, and Jesus exorcisms could be interpreted as superstition rather than the acts of a sane and rational person. Therefore the church tends to emphasise the other three gospels where exorcism is less prevelant and the accounts are more believable to today’s audience.

The Church emphasizes the truth, whether today’s audience believes it or not.

Absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions. :smiley:

I am trying to figure out why Jesus and the apostles thought as they did. I think a part of it may be the stress they were under could account for how the stories of Jesus took shape. Visions of the risen Lord could have been occured in the mind of the apostles as they really wanted him to be alive and to counteract feelings of guilt for not helping him out.

So you don’t believe Jesus was risen from the dead? I thought Anglicans believe that Jesus is the Son of God? You yourself mentioned his divine nature.


#14

1.Jesus was testing the woman.

2.The devil and demons are real.


#15

It sounds as though, in addition to thinking that believing in the devil is a sign of mental illness, you also don’t believe in the resurrection. Is that correct?


#16

Hi, I am not sure about the resurrection. I would like to believe its possible, but am having doubts about it.

You are right on the first bit. Believing in devils in the 21st century is a sign of a mental illness. If a Muslim was to claim seeing Jinn and people being possessed by Jinn, I imagine that most here would be skeptical of that.


#17

Hi Dorothy

I think the passage in Mark proves two things:

  1. His message was to Jews only.

  2. The age he was in was superstitious (belief in demonic possession)


#18

Mark 7:24-29

"Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and** toss it to the dogs**.”

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

Jesus refers to a Syrian Phoenician woman as a dog.

Matthew 10:6 "Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel."

Jesus instructs his disciples to teach to Jews only.

]Matthew 15: 21-28

"Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment."

Jesus also says here that his teaching is for Jews only.


#19

Sometimes people struggle to believe in things which are of a supernatural nature. If there is no natural explanation, it may be beyond our natural world and fall into the supernatural.

For instance, a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. Several people prayed for him and when he returned to the doctor, there was no sign of cancer. Even the doctor, who was not a man of faith, proclaimed it a miracle. There was no natural explanation. The cancer was simply, gone. Is my friend and the well-respected doctor both mentally ill or the people who prayed for my friend? Demons are real, they possess people, and they cause all sorts of problems. On the flip side of that coin, there are many mentally ill persons in the world. This is why the Catholic Church, prior to any exorcism, goes to great lengths to rule out the possibility of mental illness, which is usually the case, but not always.

No, Jesus was not suffering from any disorder unless you want to argue His love for humanity is a disorder.


#20

I have heard this proposition that the resurrection was simply a mental event in the mind of the apostles. Indeed there was a psych paper written on the response of a cult in the sixties to the disappointment of the failure of their belief that Jesus was to return on a set date. Their response to this cognitive dissonance was to promote their failed teaching in a public manner similar to the experiences of the Apostles after the entry of the Holy Spirit in the upper room.
However, I believe that too many witnesses who had no reason for guilt acknowledged Jesus’ return after death, to give this credence.
The belief in a risen Lord who died for our sins, who was a man and also God stands beyond the reasoning of a rational man without the gift of Faith. I can understand you look for lunacy as a reasonable excuse for such belief, but the wisdom of this world is the foolishness of God. May God give you the gift of sight so you can see the reason that your faith demands as Paul would have of us.


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