Spiritual Schizophrenia

Study No. 125

  Schizophrenia is one of the leading types of mental disease. It literally means "splitting of the mind," or "split personality." Schizophrenia is characterized by retreating from reality, indifference, withdrawal, hallucinations and delusions of persecution and omnipotence, often with unimpaired intelligence.

False perceptions, or hallucinations, can appear in the form of sounds. The schizoid person may "hear" voices and believe in their reality, or even "see" things which the normal person cannot see.

False beliefs, or delusions, are another symptom of this disorder. There is a distortion of the usual logical relations between ideas, and a separation between intellect and emotions so that the person afflicted exhibits irrational behavior that is not appropriate to the circumstance. There is a reduced tolerance to social intercourse, and thus a retreat into a fantasy world of delusions and hallucinations. The fantasy life or eccentric behavior is sometimes characterized by nomadism or by religiosity. R.S. Banay said, "Extreme devotion to religious pursuits . . . is common among schizoids."

Although it is not a popular belief, we understand through the New Testament that many mental diseases are precipitated by demonic influences. Psychologists do not know the cause of schizophrenia, and thus cannot attack the malady directly. Their methods of shock therapy, drug therapy and physchosurgery have varying results. Many "experts" believe that relations with the family, especially with the mother during early life, play an important role in the development of schizophrenia. A warm, understanding relationship in the family, they believe, is the best prevention for this disorder. As we shall see, this is an accurate observation.


Spiritual Schizoids

This world is insane. Therefore, it is not surprising that mental disorders can and do affect followers of the Bible. Some today are afflicted with spiritual schizophrenia. Here are some symptoms we have noticed:

(1) Withdrawal from fellowship with others, even those who have been close spiritual brethren. The truth is, that only through fellowship can we grow to spiritual maturity.

(2) False beliefs (delusions) and perceptions (hallucinations). For example, strange and weird prophetic beliefs adamantly held, or completely inaccurate snap judgments of other people based on a supposed ability to interpret statements in a negative light. As the saying goes, we should believe only half of what we see, and very little of what we hear. However, some believers have delusions of grandeur and think they can read hearts and minds of other brethren by always twisting everything they do or say in a judgmental tone. This is just as bad as "hearing" strange voices.

(3) Irrational behavior. Some fight over issues of no importance. Their actions are totally unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous. They may rail against someone else who is supposedly sinning, when they are doing the same thing or worse.

(4) Split personality. Some have a "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" personality. At one time, they are friendly and kind. At other times, they are vicious and attacking. You never know what they are going to do. The Christian should have a character known by all as being constant. That takes spiritual growth to exhibit.

(5) Extreme religiosity. Spiritual schizoids may expend great efforts for "religious" work, yet it is without substance. I still chuckle at the minister who brags about the thousands of hours of study he has made, and his "copious notes," all the while he is as cold and emotionless as a cucumber in relationships with others.

(6) Lack of warm emotions to others. Here is the "dead ringer" that identifies todayís lukewarm society. Where can you find, among the Church of God, many really warm and outgoing individuals? Instead, influenced by todayís selfish "me generation," all too many are introverts, spiritual hermits. Others make sallies from their retreats to bang others on the head, only to retreat back to solitude again. Such behavior fulfills the saying, "There is something rotten in the state of Denmark." There is something rotten in the personal characters of those who fail to exhibit kindness, meekness, gentleness toward their spiritual brothers.


Remedy for Schizophrenia

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." II Timothy 1:7. The word for "power" in this verse comes from the same Greek word we get the word dynamite from! The Holy Spirit should exert a powerful, life changing effect upon our lives. Why doesnít the Holy Spirit do its job in the lives of some brethren? Because they donít let it operate.

I Thessalonians 5:19 says "Quench not the Spirit." This means donít suppress, or stifle, the operation of Godís Holy Spirit in your life. How could one do this? The Bible gives the answer in Ephesians 4. There is one body and one Spirit (verse 4). Neither Godís Church nor Godís people are to have a split personality. The function of the ministry is to ground us in the Messiahís character so that we will not be carried about with doctrinal changes, verses 11-14. In the past, we were all mentally deranged, verses 17-19. With the receipt of the Holy Spirit, we have the power to put off the old mentally and spiritually sick man, and put on the new man. Thatís the way the Holy Spiritís dynamic power should work. But why doesnít it operate in some cases? Because some of us succumb to corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking against our brethren. The result of this is the grieving of the Holy Spirit, verses 25-31. Instead, verse 32 says, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christís sake hath forgiven you." The Holy Spirit is quenched when we attack our brethren and fail to love them.

A man recently baptized wrote "It still amazes me at the warmth and charity that practically everyone who is privileged to know Godís Truth shows." John 13:35 in action is a beautiful thing to behold. As psychologists say, a warm, understanding relationship in the family is the best prevention for mental schizophrenia. The same holds true for spiritual schizophrenia. A warm, family relationship in the Church of God is the best prescription for spiritual schizophrenia.

Those who read this article may know of someone afflicted with spiritual schizophrenia. Shock treatment and drug therapy are not the answer to this problem. The love of the Savior is the only solution. "True holiness" (Ephesians 4:24) is speaking the truth in love to your brethren. There are going to be problems and quarrels between people, even in the church. However, we must bury our contentions and problems, and gripes, by sundown, verse 26. The surest road to spiritual schizophrenia is to let problems fester, to let your anger and peevishness continue past sundown. This gives place to the devil, and allows him to enter our mind as a "Mr. Hyde."


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Adolph Hitler must have been schizophrenic. Many who knew him said there were two contrasting personalities, and a transitional stage. The normal, congenial Hitler had a pleasant voice and was a charming host. In transition, Hitler had glassy eyes, a seemingly blank mind without facial expression. Then the other Hitler came on: blazing eyes, shrill voice, the Hitler who sent Germans into mass hysteria. This Hitler was probably the possession of Satan.

Robert Louis Stevensonís novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a study of the conflict between good and evil in man. Stevenson believed that man was always suppressing his evil nature. His story tells of the good Dr. Jekyll, a wealthy English doctor who unselfishly treated the sick. Jekyll dabbled in magic and the supernatural, and discovered a potent drug that changed him into his evil nature, represented by Mr. Hyde. He relished living evil, then did penance when he changed back into Dr. Jekyll. For a while, he led two separate lives, drinking more potion to switch back and forth between the good Dr. Jekyll and the evil Mr. Hyde. Soon, the evil Hyde gained the upper hand and murdered a man. In a desperate struggle to change back to Jekyll, to avoid being caught and executed for murder, Hyde could not make the transition, no matter how much potion he drank. Hyde died from an overdose of the drug.

Since the Garden of Eden, with the knowledge of good and evil, every man has had the potential for evil. The purpose in life is for us to conquer that evil human nature within us, Genesis 4:7, Romans 7:14-25, 8:7. We cannot be servants of two masters, Romans 6:11-18. We will be either a Dr. Jekyll or a Mr. Hyde. One of these will ultimately gain the mastery in our lives. In Ephesians 4:22-24 we are told to put off the "old man" which is deceitfully corrupted by lust, and instead put on the "new man" which is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Colossians 3:5-15 likewise instructs us to put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, lies and filthy communication. We should put on mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness and longsuffering, putting up with one another and forgiving one another.

The "Mr. Hyde" in all of us needs to be crucified, and kept on the stake. We must never let him get off that stake and come back to life in us. Dr. Jekyll got tired of doing good. He came to relish the "freedom" of lust and sin when he became Mr. Hyde. He went too far and could not return. That is a serious lesson for us. Those who withdraw from doing good, who become spiritual recluses, are on the road to spiritual ruin. Our mind cannot be split between the Savior and the World. Spiritual schizophrenia is a terminal disease. Let us in singleness of mind serve the Creator and love the brethren. W

 Bible Study Index