Soulbook: Psychological Disorders and the Soul – Are People With Mental Illness Sinning?
Questions often arise when studying the soul concerning mental illnesses, especially that of multiple personalities or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Here are some to consider: Are people with mental illness sinning? Do people with more than one personality have more than one soul? Is mental illness something that can be healed? Is it like demon possession? How does the Soul connect with mental illness? How should Christians view the Soul with mental illness? As souls, we must consider our minds and how they are affected through mental illness and other difficulties with the brain, mind, emotions, and other inherited and external stimuli. In this chapter, we will take the questions above and explore how our souls relate to mental illness.
This is a difficult question to answer, since the range of mental disorders is very wide. Some illnesses, like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are fairly benign, while Paranoid Schizophrenia might lead to murder. However, at each level of mental illness, there are opportunities for people to make right and wrong decisions. This is also a very highly emotionally charged subject, as many people who have mental disorders or have family with mental illness often insist that the person with the illness is unable to control his or her actions. And it is very important to understand that people with mental illness are ill. They have a sickness that needs to be healed. In some cases, the illness is brought on due to actions of the person with the illness, but increasingly, mental illness is being passed along through mentally ill parents, through heredity, or environment. Either way, it is necessary to look at the whole person in order to understand where the illness lies and how it relates to the soul of that person.
For example, as we have already studied, people in general are made up of heart, soul, mind, and strength. Therefore, there is a division between the soul and the other parts of the person. Mental illness, while it affects the soul, may or may not be a disease of the soul. From a Biblical perspective, however, it is important to see how sin manifests itself in a person: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death,” James 1:13-15. “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death,” 1 John 5:17. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness,” I John 3:4. Thus, sin is breaking God’s law and all of us sin. The height and depth of the sin are not the issue. Sin is the issue. So, yes, people with mental illness sin. They, perhaps, have less self-control concerning sin, but they sin, nevertheless, just as someone who is mentally healthy sins; and they can have forgiveness in the same way.