I will attempt to answer all of your questions. Some are difficult to answer given that I don’t have enough information about your condition. It’s always best to meet with a professional who can conduct a thorough interview when attempting to determine if something is wrong. The interviewer would be in the best position to provide responses to your questions.
Your first question is are you having OCD thoughts? Yes, it is possible that your thoughts are due to an anxiety disorder. If you’ve already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, then that would further suggest that your symptoms may be due to an anxiety disorder. If not, you may be displaying symptoms of anxiety that have yet to be diagnosed. The fact that these thoughts are negative and intrusive would indicate that OCD is a possibility. More information would be necessary to make that determination.
Your second question is about whether continuously researching demons can cause severe mental illness. I’m not aware of any documented case involving someone researching demons causing their mental illness; it’s difficult to prove cause-and-effect relationships, especially when it comes to mental illnesses. It is also true that mental illnesses are complex and rarely the result of a single cause. Typically, a number of factors contribute to the development of mental illness including genetic, environment, trauma, among others.
However, immersing oneself in such negativity (i.e. demon research) can take a toll on one’s mental health. In your case, you admitted that it is causing you to experience paranoia. You wrote that it is “really hurting my life.” It’s not uncommon for people, who immerse themselves in the occult, to experience nightmares, paranoia, and other negative effects. You should not willingly engage in behavior that you know is causing you harm. By definition, that is self-harm. If you can’t stop, then you should consult a mental health professional who can assist you in regulating your behavior.
The third question you asked is whether or not demons exist. Scientists would probably say that demons do not exist since there is no verifiable physical proof of their existence. Members of the clergy would probably give you a different answer. The Catholic Church, for instance, has been actively training new exorcists for the past several years. This is in response to the increase in the demand for exorcisms as a cure for demonic possession. Gallup polls show that more than half of those surveyed believe that demon possession is real.
Whether or not demons are real depends on who you ask. In cases where demon possession is suspected, individuals are often evaluated by psychiatrists to determine if a psychiatric disorder is present. What exorcists are calling demon possession, psychiatrists would likely diagnose as a mental health disorder. This is not to say that demon possession and mental illness are related. They are not. I’m simply making the point that opinions vary depending upon the evaluator. Whether you believe in demons is a matter of faith, or perhaps more appropriately, lack thereof.
You also asked whether or not people who claim to see demons could be hallucinating. Yes, that is entirely possible.
I believe that I answered your fourth and fifth questions about mental illness and whether or not demons exist, above.
Your final question involves therapists asking a specific question in therapy. Yes, asking a client why are they doing something is an entirely appropriate question but an honest “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer. They may ask that question when attempting to encourage their client to think more deeply about why they are engaging in a particular behavior.
The bottom line is if you cannot prevent yourself from engaging in self-harm, and by self-harm, I mean behavior that is causing you to suffer, then you should consult a mental health professional. You should do everything in your power to avoid immersing yourself in materials dealing with demons as it is causing you significant distress.
At the very least, it’s important to incorporate materials that involve more positive imagery and ideas. It’s not good to be focused on negativity.
I hope that I have sufficiently answered your questions. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle