Location

Schewel Hall Room 231

Access Type

Event

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Event Website

http://www.lynchburg.edu/academics/red-letter-day/student-scholar-showcase/

Start Date

6-4-2016 8:45 AM

End Date

6-4-2016 9:00 AM

Abstract

Depictions of the mentally ill, even in the modern media, have often been reduced to a trope of demonic possession which has been detrimental to the treatment of those who are mentally ill. This paper explores the connection between the religious backgrounds of demonic possession and how the evolution of beliefs overtime contributed to the stigmatization of the mentally ill. Starting with ancient Jewish beliefs found in the Old Testament, the analysis follows ideological developments about demons and psychology over various periods. This includes belief sets found in the New Testament, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and the present day. The paper also looks at several variables, including the difference between “good” possession and “bad” possession, as well as the treatment of women in the context of possession and mental health. The study shows that there is a direct correlation between depictions and beliefs about demonic possession over time and the continued treatment of the mentally ill today. The paper is important as it questions long held societal beliefs regarding the mentally ill and gives a starting point for a dialogue on the topic of mental health in the presence of religious beliefs.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Amy C. Merrill Willis

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Apr 6th, 8:45 AM Apr 6th, 9:00 AM

The Devil Made Me Do It: How Depictions of Demonic Possession in the Bible Influenced the Treatment of the Mentally Ill

Schewel Hall Room 231

Depictions of the mentally ill, even in the modern media, have often been reduced to a trope of demonic possession which has been detrimental to the treatment of those who are mentally ill. This paper explores the connection between the religious backgrounds of demonic possession and how the evolution of beliefs overtime contributed to the stigmatization of the mentally ill. Starting with ancient Jewish beliefs found in the Old Testament, the analysis follows ideological developments about demons and psychology over various periods. This includes belief sets found in the New Testament, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and the present day. The paper also looks at several variables, including the difference between “good” possession and “bad” possession, as well as the treatment of women in the context of possession and mental health. The study shows that there is a direct correlation between depictions and beliefs about demonic possession over time and the continued treatment of the mentally ill today. The paper is important as it questions long held societal beliefs regarding the mentally ill and gives a starting point for a dialogue on the topic of mental health in the presence of religious beliefs.

https://digitalshowcase.lynchburg.edu/studentshowcase/2018/presentations/99