A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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It was not to the Glory of God that men should be ill, but that they should be well. It was not good that they should suffer, but that they should be saved from suffering. To this end Jesus Himself suffered : but His was a higher suffering. When He saw that at the root of suffering there was a sense of guilt, He relieved it by forgiveness : for anxiety He substituted peace.
Associated with His attitude to physical and mental suffering was one point which gave rise to impassioned criticism and greatly exercised the minds of His followers. Read without any critical insight, the Gospels as they stand suggest that He regarded mental patients as being devil-possessed. But is this true ? Of the fourteen cases we have discussed there are three which were undoubtedly mental: the epileptic in the synagogue at Capernaum, the Gerasene maniac, and the epileptic boy. As has already been remarked, any Jewish student would have classified epilepsy as a disease quite outside the domain of the devil; he would be far more likely to have attributed it to an affection by the moon, and as such it is spoken of in Matt, xvii, 15. Jesus must have read the best available books and have obtained from them all that they had to give. He knew what it meant to be a learned scholar bringing out of His treasury ' things new and old \ The narratives suggest that He knew the two cases of epilepsy to be of a kind which were not susceptible of treatment by the exorcism of which the Evangelists speak. What might conceivably be thought to indicate a belief that there was devil-possession is the injunction to the epileptic in the synagogue to ' keep silence', but that was during the hallucination preceding the fit. The question to the father, ' How long has he been like this ? ' is a clear indication that Jesus did not attribute the complaint to devil-possession.