Church of Scotland warned over mental health

By staff writers
28 Feb 2003

Church of Scotland warned over mental health

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The Church of Scotland has been warned by mental health campaigners that a group set up to help people who believe they are possessed by demons could increase the stigma associated with psychiatric illness.

The group made up of ministers and psychiatrists has reconvened for the first time in fifteen years to address concerns that not enough is done to help members who feel ìpossessedî.

Called the 'Deliverance Group' it aims to establish guidelines for ministers who encounter people who believe they are suffering from demonic possession.

But the warning is likely to stir up debate about the link between mental illness and ideas of demon possession once again.

Mental health campaigners such as Richard Norris from the Scottish Association of Mental Health claimed that talking about demon possession conjured up "disturbing" and "medieval" images about mental health which would not be welcome to many.

Whilst Douglas Irvine, convener of the Deliverance group, admitted that the Kirk's understanding of demon possession was wanting he said he still believed it was time to revisit the subject.

ìWe would recognise that in a lot of cases people are mentally ill, but there are situations we do affirm in the Church where people are not sick in the mind but they are diseased in the spirit,î he said.

The Church of Scotland has been warned by mental health campaigners that a group set up to help people who believe they are possessed by demons could increase the stigma associated with psychiatric illness.

The group made up of ministers and psychiatrists has reconvened for the first time in fifteen years to address concerns that not enough is done to help members who feel ìpossessedî.

Called the 'Deliverance Group' it aims to establish guidelines for ministers who encounter people who believe they are suffering from demonic possession.

But the warning is likely to stir up debate about the link between mental illness and ideas of demon possession once again.

Mental health campaigners such as Richard Norris from the Scottish Association of Mental Health claimed that talking about demon possession conjured up "disturbing" and "medieval" images about mental health which would not be welcome to many.

Whilst Douglas Irvine, convener of the Deliverance group, admitted that the Kirk's understanding of demon possession was wanting he said he still believed it was time to revisit the subject.

ìWe would recognise that in a lot of cases people are mentally ill, but there are situations we do affirm in the Church where people are not sick in the mind but they are diseased in the spirit,î he said.

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