Occult spiritual and mental illness discussion

This is a topic that I feel should be addressed more from different angles.
Some posts here had me thinking that this person should seek psychological help.
At the same time I know that if I discussed a conversation I had with a demon telling me that I have enemies plotting against me then I’d be diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and given pills or taken to the psychological hospital.

Also very now and then something on the news brings up the topic.

Like this one today claiming a spirit Maggie told her to kill.

This other one from a few months back more famous.

Obviously there’s legitimate spirituality and there’s crazy.
Then there’s spirituality that can make you crazy

This seems like a tougher topic to deal with in general because there’s a risk of either dismissing a spiritual problem (with mainstream) or ignoring psychological issues.

Want to hear people’s input on this topic.

1 Like

There are some members here who don’t believe in modern psychology and the concept of mental illness so this thread could get a bit heated, but it’s a good topic, especially since we have had people in the past come on here posting about wanting to die, or to harm themselves and others ( baneful work not included). Fortunately, Lady Eva is good at catching them and pointing out appropriate resources.

I myself have read posts and the first thing to pop into my head is that the person is seriously delusional and in need of help, but as far as psychology goes, the DSM-V no longer considers magical thinking as a sign of mental illness, as long as it does not negatively affect someone’s ability to function in the world. It also must be evaluated within a cultural context. Telling someone a demon told you someone’s out to get you may make them look at you weirdly but it’s not likely to send you to a psychiatric hospital. At least not right away.

A “witch doctor” in the Congo who walks with spirits is not considered mentally ill because in his culture it is normal to walk with spirits and he is able to function just fine. A teenager in the suburbs who talks openly to imaginary friends may very well be considered mentally ill, if he is unable to interact with other people around him without scaring them or making them uncomfortable. Is he able to hold a job? Support himself? Is he violent towards self or others? These are the things that are supposed to be taken into consideration when evaluating magical thinking in the context of possible mental illness. When a disembodied voice tells you to buy every yellow pencil sharpener you see, then something is wrong (this was an actual bipolar case study in my clinical psychology class when I was working towards my BA).

However, magick itself, is a destabilizing force, and someone who is mentally and emotionally unstable (not necessarily mentally ill) can have a hard time of it because the forces themselves can knock them further off balance and into the realm of mental illness.

That is why, occultists like Franz Bardon, and Eliphas Levi, recommended anybody getting deeply into magick seek out a therapist so they can learn to handle whatever their subconscious dredges up. It is also why, in various schools of Taoism and Buddhism, true cultivation was not taught to anyone under 40 because it was understood that prolonged meditation can be hazardous if you are not grounded in the world. It was a requirement to have a job and a family (most sages eventually gave up these things but they were the foundation on which their practice was built and some returned to them once they reached enlightenment or immortality.)

A lot of religious people, especially evangelicals, practice magical thinking, but they are rarely, if ever, thought to be mentally ill, though some of what they say and do could be considered quite delusional. The same can be said of the people on this forum, but most of us have jobs, a social circle, a wife or girlfriend, or husband or partner. We are functional in the world, and so do not fit the criteria for mental illness as far as magical thinking goes. It is fine to believe that you can alter the weather, as long as you can still do the dishes and take out the trash and pay your bills.

I have a diagnosed mental illness, dysthymia, which is a constant low level depression. It’s not as severe as clinical depression, and it doesn’t cycle it’s ups and downs. It is just a constant blah feeling that never ever goes away. Suicidal thoughts come and go, mainly because there is no relief from the constant blah. All my senses are dulled, other emotions are muted, and physical pain can barely register sometimes. Fortunately, through the proper medication, and meditation, I am now more in control of my thoughts, and thus my world. I am also very grounded and rational naturally, and it has only helped my magical pursuits. Earth and Fire seem to be my primary elemental make up.

Personally, I believe the purpose of magick and spirituality is to make your life better, to steal the fire from the gods and bring it to earth. If you fall so far down the rabbit hole that you are unable to function in consensus reality, then, in my opinion, you’ve missed the entire point. The witch doctor walks with spirits to aid his community and its people, but it is a hazardous job and a magician’s job is no different. If you are employed at a chemical plant, you wear protective equipment and are usually trained in how to handle toxic chemicals. If one wishes to become a god, it is pointless to spend hours at a time zooming around the astral, thinking you’re something special with amazing powers, and destined for greatness, while your body smells bed, and your house is a mess, and you have no friends. Ancient magicians all understood the importance of balance, but sometimes i think a lot of practitioners, especially newcomers to magick, fail to grasp the concept and so exacerbate any instability they may already have. I don’t think magick can cause mental illness, but I do think it can bring it out in those predisposed to it (some illnesses, like schizophrenia, are believed to have a genetic component. If someone in your family tree had it, you are susceptible to it).


I struggle with anxiety and depression so I think about this a lot. There are a lot of cultures that have spiritual practices that we would consider “crazy” in modern society.

Are people that are able to speak to spirits just more prone to anxiety and depression because thats how their brains are wired?


I personally think it comes down to whether or not if anything supernatural is taking place. This would be needed to justify and or rule out mental illness diagnosis.

A lot of magicians use the psychological paradigm relying on the subconscious programming of the mind, Some would chalk this up to be “mental masterbation” at best or self induced Schiztophernia at worst.

For me it comes down to supernatural phenomena that can be proven objectively over and over I.E Telekinesis, Manifestation of orbs (entities).
This would help to determine whether or not this person is mentally unstable.


Sadly psychological evaluations are what whoever is evaluating you at the time judges you to be. Purely subjective. I was told that my MRI, X-ray, scintilography proven inflammatory bone destruction was actually wait for it… That I was trying too hard to please! I was a pleaser. Not an autoimmune condition, no, but a personality defect.

Whoosh one fell swoop all respect gone for her profession…


There’s the added thing as well that a person who’s not too tightly wrapped may ALSO be genuinely psychically sensitive, and being either troubled by spirits who don’t understand they’re causing a problem, are maybe even trying to help in their own way, or malicious and parasitic spirits who think it’s fun.


Well the first thing is to consider what constitutes a mental illness. I am inclined to agree with what @DarkestKnight said:

For me, the difference between mental illness and thinking which is outside societal norms absolutely comes down to the person’s ability to function in a manner which maintains health and causes no direct harm to anyone. The problem is the subjective nature of diagnosis, as @HermesHorse explains:

The person diagnosing has an even greater impact than that, especially if they are one of the first to diagnose you. Once an accredited psychologist puts a condition next to your name and that paper winds up in your folder you can be certain it will have some influence on the diagnosis you will receive from any future psychologists who read your file.

I believe mental illness is real, but I am having less and less respect for psychology as a science in the modern era. With some of the things passing as mental illnesses these days many psychological diagnosis are founded in little more than pseudo science. Consider that the intelligence of the person being analyzed has a lot to do with the outcome of the analysis. You are in worlds of trouble if the person analyzing you is dumber than you are, because the idea that you can break down qualifying symptoms on a checklist is a fallacy, and if the tester’s brain functions on a lower level than the testee, the tester might not grasp what a person is explaining and thus relegate something they say to the realm of delusion or lunacy.

Regarding the girl involved in the Slender Man killings; She is a fucking nut, and this is why: the fact that entity may or may not have spoken to her is irrelevant. The fact that she killed for it, or killed someone using it as an excuse is everything. If an entity speaks to one of us are we crazy? Here of all places I would have to say no. But if the spirit told you to kill someone by going shiv happy on them, would you do it? I should think not. A person who talks to spirits but does not stab people is functional in that aspect and so not neccessarily insane. A person who talks to spirits that tell the person to stab people, but then chooses not to do it is still functional in that aspect (albeit not in a great spot) and so not neccessarily insane. A person who stabs someone because a spirit tells them too is unstable in that they pose an existential threat to others not involved in the conversation and should be considered unstable at least, and probably a bit looney on some level. A person who chooses to stab someone and then blames it on a spirit is not insane, but they are most assuredly a psychopath.


I’m sure there are a lot of real Psychological disorders and illnesses that exist
but I’m very positive that there are a lot of BULLSHIT disorders and illnesses made up by people in the medical field to explain the unknown rather than actually researching deeper into that individual.


I agree, that is a very real possibility but how could we go about demonstrating this? Perhaps in ruling out physical damage to the brain Like large ventricles found in people with schizophrenia and or plaque build-up in people with dementia we could then utilize methods in parapsychology to help determine what is taking place.

1 Like

I’d like to point out one other thing here and this has been proven scientifically although I am not in a position to cite any references at this point - in an experiment one person presented with faux psychiatric condition to a panel of professionals (individually) for assessment.

They were each requested to evaluate the individual and give their view as to the underlying condition - the patient (an actor without any kind of disorder) was diagnosed with several disorders. Each professional came up with a different diagnosis and wrote up a different set of treatment criteria.

This is something I find truly frightening.

This science is not based upon objective research but subjective observation and personal opinion and dare I say it prejudice.

I understand that the original experiment was carried out with a white actor but I would love to see how this plays out with a double blind experiment with a white and a melanated actor presenting the exact same symptoms.

To me the idea that physical pain is now regarded as a psychological or character flaw is untenable.


I don’t have anything bookmarked for that, but this different experiment was pretty damning:

Hospital notes indicated that staff interpreted much of the pseudopatients’ behavior in terms of mental illness. For example, one nurse labeled the note-taking of one pseudopatient as “writing behavior” and considered it pathological. The patients’ normal biographies were recast in hospital records along the lines of what was expected of schizophrenics by the then-dominant theories of its cause.

The experiment required the pseudopatients to get out of the hospital on their own by getting the hospital to release them, though a lawyer was retained to be on call for emergencies when it became clear that the pseudopatients would not ever be voluntarily released on short notice.

And check this bit for the truly fucked-up part:

Once admitted and diagnosed, the pseudopatients were not able to obtain their release until they agreed with the psychiatrists that they were mentally ill and began taking antipsychotic medications, which they flushed down the toilet. No staff member noticed that the pseudopatients were flushing their medication down the toilets and did not report patients doing this.


I was just talking about Shaman Sickness with someone the other day.


Basically psycho-somatic illness related to spiritual practices. Ya feel funny in the head and physically ill. I think that fits here.

There are legitimate dangers to magickal workings. Strength comes from overcoming adversity, but what is to be over come shouldn’t be downplayed in my opinion.

1 Like