Psych Central

Dad Thinks My Brother is Demon Possessed

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My brother is very very depressed. He is not currently on antidepressants, although he has been since he was 15 (now 22). He has had issues with drug abuse since he was 17/18. He has attempted suicide numerous times. Currently he is on medication for anxiety and something else to help him concentrate.

Anyways he suffers from his mind fighting with itself. He describes it as his subconscious fighting with his conscious. Typically he feels his subconscious is negative and he has bad thoughts about himself or what he should do. He hates himself and feels very sad and depressed all the time. He wants to stop his brain from thinking, his thinking makes him crazy and gives him panic attacks. He can’t stop his thoughts so he usually self-mutilates or drinks/drugs to sedate himself. He has seen therapists but either at the time isn’t open to their suggestions or as my mom would put it (the therapists don’t get him and can’t help him).

My dad is convinced my brother is possessed by demons. He thinks that only spiritual intervention can help him. My brother lives at home, is in severe debt (from hospital bills), doesn’t have a job currently, and does not take care of himself (eating/hygiene).

I guess I am wondering what sort of mental disorder could explain my brothers crazy mind and relentless thoughts that don’t allow him to function (can’t relax, can’t sleep, etc). How can he get help? He is not currently abusing drugs (just klonopin for anxiety and whatever he has for concentration). He needs help or he’s going to eventually kill himself – what sort of therapy does he need?!

A: If spiritual intervention is only your father’s idea, not your brother’s, it’s not likely to help. What your dad can do is pray for his son. What your brother can do is get back into therapy. If you and your mother think that therapists don’t get him, ask your brother if you and your mother can go along for a few sessions to give the therapist your perspectives. That will give the therapist more to go on.

Without meeting your brother personally, I can’t make a diagnosis. It’s possible he has bipolar disorder, OCD, depression, or a psychotic disorder NOS. It’s possible that prior drug use has had more consequences than your brother would like to admit. A qualified clinician needs to see him and do a thorough evaluation. Whatever the diagnosis, it’s clear that your brother is suffering and needs more help than he is getting now. I hope you will be able to convince him to stop trying to sedate himself and instead engage in treatment.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Feb 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Dad Thinks My Brother is Demon Possessed. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/02/27/dad-thinks-my-brother-is-demon-possessed/