A Healthy Mind: Dementia and Mental Illness in the Bible

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Faith and Leadership

Healty Mind


20228873_1490840277642799_5385441953393498167_n (1) Omar Liles, D.Min, CDP, Associate Editor

7/19/2018 12:00 PM CST

Since the early days of the bible, “Mental Illness,” has been a serious issue. Research has shown us that many times in history, people were dismissed and easily disposed due to lack of resources, and even in the faith community-there were lack of resources. For our purposes, we would like to highlight, a few biblical examples of mental illness and minus the effects of healthy living: 


Genesis 5:5) And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years and he died. This is a period in history where man was able to live for long periods and was able to think better.

Cain slew Abel: insanity would also drive a person to kill (Genesis 4:8) and Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against his brother, and slew him.


David faked mental illness and was wrongly accused of being insane by King of Gath. So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “ Behold, you see the man behaving as a man. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack as a madmen that you have brought this one to act as the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house? (1 Samuel 21:12:12-15) (bible.ca) by Steve Rudd

(The problem here is that Achish wasn’t a welcoming person and he himself had this and many issues- even though David wasn’t a man with Mental Illness.)

What are we to do?: Reach Out

In order to reach out and correct this problem- Christians and those in the world must be humble and ready to receive any and everyone with open arms. As a community of faith we can deal with the problem of mental illness, and in truth it is a current problem, but we must remind ourselves that “Mental Illness,” has been around for thousands of years. After the acknowledgement then we must pursue ways to address whatever issues are present both from a faith and position of health. 

Another example-“King Saul who drove himself insane out of hatred for David and rebellion to God: “ Now it came about the next day on that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the Harp with his hand (as usual) and a spear was in Saul’s hand. Saul hurled the spear for he thought, ‘I will pin David to the wall” excerpt from (bible.ca).

The Key word that’s not here is “LOVE”

What do we need to teach people about is love? People need to be told that they are loved also.

(Now that we have reviewed biblical examples-Let’s proceed with identifying various mental illnesses and real causes) 


Types of Behaviors with Mental Illness

Panic attack
Dementia: loss of reason
Believing lies: false view of reality


Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities

(Daniel 4:31–34)

Nebuchadnezzer was stricken with dementia and loss of reason by God for his pride: “While the word was in the Kings mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, “king Nebuchadnezzer, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’ “Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. “But at the end of that period, I,

Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.”

(bible.ca) by Steve Rudd

Nebuchadnezzer’s fall was associated with pride, God had to show him that his position was there only because God put him there. The same way that modern society discards people with dementia and mental illness, perhaps it should me noted that people were treated even harsher in the ancient world. “Nebuchadnezzer was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle” They often drove them out of the community and do not care for them.


Results from Dementia:

Dementia brings confusion
Loss of Memory
Personality change, and Impaired Intellectual functions

How can we help?

• Find places of comfort to live.
• Find consistent counseling
• The church family could help comfort them.
• Make sure that they are properly fed and eating habits are balanced.
• Education and study can help prolong and fight mental illness.

What we as Christians can do is find help by reaching to local agencies

Mental Health
Mental Health Association of Nj

Alzheimer’s Association ( alz.org)
Dementia Society of America 1-800-336-3684


20228873_1490840277642799_5385441953393498167_n (1)

Omar Liles is the Associate Editor of the Faith and Leadership Journal. Omar is certified as a Dementia Practitioner with The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners and a graduate of New York Divinity School with a Master of Religion and received a Doctorate of Ministry from  Andersonville Theological Seminary, he is a member of Ecclesia Scholars Society from Trinity College of The Bible  and member Urban League Young of Essex County Young Professionals.A Volunteer Substitute Teacher Assistant at New York Divinity School, member of The King  Movement and Worships at Christ Resurrection Missionary Baptist Church.


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2 thoughts on “A Healthy Mind: Dementia and Mental Illness in the Bible

    GailJean said:
    July 20, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    I really liked your insight into the history of mental illness and the link to today’s issues. I have Bipolar, Anxiety, Depression, and moderate Neurocognitive deficits( similar to Dementia). I would love to follow you, but I’m new and don’t know how to do it. Could you look me up? GJGROCKS GailJean.

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