Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Religiously Preoccupied

Dear Readers,

I experienced several persons with mental illness in my many years of mental health work state with fairly certain conviction, “I am God”. They then went on to talk about having divine power over events and other persons.

It did no good to try to dissuade them of their belief. They usually looked at me intently, perhaps trying to read my response, and most times they smiled wryly knowing that I did not believe them.

Also, there were some clients that began reading their Bible incessantly. They would carry their Bible wherever they went to show their devotion.

In the mental health community there is a common conception when a person makes assertions about their own Godhood, or reads the Bible and talks about the Bible frequently that he or she is becoming “religiously preoccupied”. This religious preoccupation is usually a warning sign that the person with Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder is becoming psychotic.

What is it about a person, any person, who begins to have thoughts about God and the Bible? Is it a bad thing? Are they religiously preoccupied? Or is it their way of trying to fill a missing part of their lives?

I sometimes tell the young men in the Saturday morning Bible study at my house that the Bible is packed with good things in every corner of it, and they cannot go wrong by reading it repeatedly. I tell them not to worry about other people’s perception that scripture might be taken out of context if they do not always read it systematically.

Also, I love the persons with whom I work. They are very interesting. I never became upset when someone told me their thoughts about knowing they were God. I also never worried excessively when one of them began reading their Bible frequently. In fact, I actually want to be more like them in being "religiously preoccupied".

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

See you next time,  

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