Friday, August 5, 2011

The "Evil Spirits" Myth

I noticed this week that my blog came up under a search for the phrase "do evil spirits cause bi-polar." My blog was a search result probably because of the previous post I did about what religion has taught me about mental illness over the years. In my younger years it was not a positive message.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this blog about bipolar and spirituality was to help dispel this myth that evil spirits cause bipolar disorder. Whenever I would do a search of "bipolar spirituality," the evil spirits myth would pop up as a search result.
Photo by Jeff Norris

Besides the fact that it is just not scientifically possible for evil spirits to take you over, I also don't like that this line of thinking implies those of us with mental illness have no agency. If something else has taken us over and controls us, then there is nothing we can do. It is like being a puppet. We can't get better, we have no free will, we also have no responsibility. What that really means is that we have no hope. For me, hope is one of the things I need in order to live with this illness.

In the midst of deep depression, during mania, or thoughts of what life would be like without me here, I need hope. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had. I want a happy and healthy life. Hope tells me that I can keep going. It says this whole month might be bad, but maybe one day next month will be good. Hope reminds me that I can learn to manage my illness. I can know myself well enough to notice triggers and stop a downward spiral.

It is extremely devastating and dangerous to promote the myth that bipolar disorder is caused by evil spirits. There are actual counseling centers and religious institutions that teach this myth. I really feel that for counseling centers, it should be considered malpractice to tell people they are taken over by evil spirits. I have no words for how scary it is to think something evil possesses you.

For all of you who, like me, were taught that mental illness is caused by evil spirits, it's not true. It is a chemical imbalance, it may be hard but you can manage it, and you have choice in your own life.


Rev. Katie


  1. Great post!

    I personally haven't heard the evil spirit thing, How scary for anyone to say that and to make someone think that and to genuine believe that about any mental illness. Very sad.

    But I certainly have been told that if I just prayed harder and believed better and had more Faith, I would be cured!

    I prayed, believed and had faith stronger than anyone, and found myself actually going 'crazier' (pardon the terminology) because of the influence of some zealots in my life who thought they knew it all.

    I'm much saner and healthier now I've stepped away from that group and have been taking matters into my own hands.

    I would be very interested in hearing more about Unitarian Universalism. From your other post it seems based on the right things!

    Thanks for sharing, looking forward to seeing more from your blog.

  2. Hi Annmaree,
    Thanks for your kind comments. I am glad you are finding your own spiritual path. I tried the praying harder thing too,and it didn't work.

    You can find out more about Unitarian Universalism at We have an online church actually which serves people in areas where we do not have churches because we are a smaller denomination. It is

    You can also email me any time at Katie at movinginwithdementia dot com. I need an email for this blog. Just realized I don't have one.

    I looked at your blog. What beautiful cards! I am a scrapbooker and it has been important in managing my bipolar. I even taught an adult religious education class in one of our churches called "Scrapbooking as a Spiritual Practice."

    Do you find your art is helpful to you?


    Rev. Katie

  3. Thanks I'll checkout those websites!

    Yeah I love being creative, even tho I don't think I am very good at times. But its a therapy outlet, and something to keep me busy when I'm manic, or busy when I'm depressed, and I've been able to meet lots of great people and encouragement and support through blogging too, so thats a real bonus!

    Its amazing how when you share your story, many others step forward too, its inspiring and heart warming and very beneficial I feel!

    Have a great weekend, all the best!