Demonic possession, demonic oppression and schizophrenia:
Acts 10:38 mentions oppression by Satan which some believe is a different phenomenon than possession. 1 A person who is oppressed by a demon is having his behavior influenced in one area of his life - e.g. not being able to resist alcohol. They are harassed but are not actually possessed by indwelling demons. 2 Oppression often leads to possession.
The anonymous Website "Eternal Destinies" teaches that Satan rules the airwaves, media, and Hollywood. 4 He "has an overwhelming influence over world politics and various religions." The Webmaster differentiates between the symptoms of demonic oppression and possession:
Symptoms of oppression: abnormal and irrational fear, anxiety & loneliness; lack of goals; depression; lack of logical reasoning ability, seeking power and control; etc.
Symptoms of possession: uncontrolled swearing, extreme physical strength; unexpectedly high IQ; intense negative reaction when Jesus' name is spoken; multiple personalities; extreme fear in the presence of Christians; violent behavior; life-threatening behavior; exhibiting paranormal abilities, severe depression; etc.
Eternal Destinies believes that oppression and possession have different causes:
Causes of oppression:
activities, such as: befriending, dating, or having sex with a possessed or oppressed individual; playing with a Ouija Board, reading science fiction, viewing soap operas, looking at pornography, etc.
religious involvements, such as: following false religions or cults; engaging in chanting, non-Christian meditation, etc.
personality factors, such as: poor self-image, jealousy, bad temper, rebellion, etc.
Causes of possession:
activities, such as: extreme cases of sexual immorality; rebelliousness; blasphemy; taking tests for ESP or other paranormal abilities; involvement in astrology; going to fortune tellers; either owning or using "occultic" charms, talismans, written material, music, etc.
Pastor Steven Waterhouse has written a book from an Evangelical Christian perspective. It helps families differentiate between demon possession and schizophrenia. 3 It gives some guidelines for differentiating between possession and schizophrenia are:
Factor Possession indicated Schizophrenia indicated
Reaction towards Christianity Aversion Devout acceptance
Conversations with others Rational Disconnected; may jump between topics
Knowledge Beyond that obtained by normal learning Obtained by normal learning
Effects on other people Paranormal effects: poltergeist, levitation, mental telepathy, etc. None
Admit to being possessed? No voluntary admission Admission possible
Cured or alleviated by: Prayer Therapy, medication