Honors Thesis Abstracts

2011 Honors Thesis Abstracts: Theology

Similarities and Differences of Demon Possession throughout Christian History and the Modern Understanding of Mental Illness
Lindsey Cornelius-Theology, Honors Scholar Program

Western Medicine and contemporary clinical approaches to psychological disorders alone do not provide the best care for patients because they often do not consider the religious views of the patient and disregard the reality of spiritual disorders such as demonic possession. Unfortunately, while modern psychology does well in certain areas, it lacks a knowledge and practice of demonology. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, may aid in diagnosis due to her awareness of mental health and demon possession as well as the ability to distinguish between the two conditions. Despite the common misconception that the Church abandoned her teachings on Satan and demons, she still consistently taught and continues to teach, even increasing in the number of trained exorcist, the importance of distinguishing demon possession from mental illness. Placing scientific psychology in dialogue with religious beliefs will allow for much better patient care and is a key aspect of developing more humanistic care in the field of psychology. This thesis will attempt to bridge the gap existing between the diagnosis of mental illness and the acknowledgment of spiritual and supernatural realities in order to provide the best care for the patient.