Is it Mental Illness, or is it Psychological Warfare?

Several years ago, I had an a very negative experience.

The church I attended was experiencing some big changes and although these were good, an enemy had an agenda too.

Difficulties began to emerge relationally, a number of people were confused, hurt and communication began to break down. People’s minds and hearts were under assault. It became clear that there was more at work than human souls.

I assumed the affects were localized to people directly involved in some of the conflicts. Therefore, My experience seemed bizzare and unrelated to praying about these issues.

I began to have mental flashes, intrusive mental pictures and short movie type scenes playing in my mind that no one would want. They seemed intermittent at first and were disturbing. Then the frequency increased and occurred both at night and in the day.

At this point of such an experience, many people begin to wonder, “Am I  going crazy? Am I losing it?” or assume that this can be the only plausible answer. Sometimes, maybe most times, it’s psychological warfare.

Because I didn’t understand what was occuring and didn’t seem to know how to completely block these images from my mind, I began to feel distressed and anxious. My present experience seemed to outweigh my spiritual training–my understanding needed upgraded, but not the way I expected.

When we encounter new things, or the unknown, we are in learning mode. We Don’t feel we have all the info needed for the present. We have past experience and victories to guide our responses, but more so, we pay close attention to our commander for more Intel and directions.

On Ground level, such experiences may feel chaotic. It’s hard to see what’s actually taking place, and Friendly Fire may occur. What we experience at ground zero may feel intense, confusing, painful.

At some point, I shared with someone that I was experiencing some unusual things and found out that many others were as well. In this situation, trying to figure out what spirit is creating the trouble is often typical protocol for spiritual warfare.

Many, if not most of us, have been taught in both the natural world and the spiritual, we need to trace the source of the enemy attack in order to be free, to find out how the enemy found a door or legal right. This typical response is so opposite of what Holy Spirit began to teach me.

Often we are taught things that sound spiritual but aren’t necessary to our freedom and may even cause us to feel more bound up. When we honestly desire truth, He will lead us into it.

Eventually the trouble all stopped, and in the aftermath I could see so clearly what I couldn’t in the midst of the experience. Because it had seemed so real, I was afraid that somehow I might be at fault for what I was experiencing, or that I might be losing the ground I had previously gained-even though my whole heart was resisting and I just wanted it to end.

I’ve learned so much since that experience about a new kind of weapon. A type of “warfare” that consists of a state of Rest.

Sometimes people describe contending for something and yet as I listen to them it sounds more like they are praying from a place of fear, or trying to shadow box (which is what I’d been experiencing with those mental flashes).
True contending comes from a place of standing firm in confidence, knowing that we have the upper hand in authority and power, convinced that we are already triumphant.

As I thought about that past experience, I found myself wishing that someone could have identified the real issue and told me:

The fact is you Are Free, and no attempt to affect you changes that. Nothing has changed in reality; you are experiencing a ruse.  

All I really needed was to know that it was merely smoke and mirrors; it wasn’t me and wasn’t mine and I didn’t need to react as though it was. I could have simply rested and known I was just fine, ignoring the mind tricks. Any tactic the enemy was using was simply that-a tactic. Nothing had actually changed.

None of it was real. 

Like in the Divergent serieswhen Tris is in the water tank and seems about to drown (which felt very real to her in the moment) but suddenly she saw and knew the truth:

“This isn’t real.”

The experience was a phenomena of the mind that felt very real, like a dream might, but when she realized it was merely a psychological phenomena, she was free that instant-actually she had been free the whole time. She simply came to that awarenessTest over.

The experience I had was one of the worst types of torment I’d ever experienced. But now I know something I didn’t understand then:

If it’s not His, it’s not mine.

I am one spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17). I don’t have to shadow box a defeated enemy. I don’t need to wear myself out resisting, repeatedly declaring, binding, and trying to block the enemy from messing with my head, sparring until I’m exhausted, only to start all over again the next day or time.

Here’s a fact. Our spiritual enemies are narcissists. They love for the focus to be on them. The more you spar the more egomanic they behave. That’s why Rest is an amazing weapon. It’s function is much like the imagery in Psalm 23.

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head withoil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

I can dismiss whatever isn’t good, pure, noble or trustworthy because the Strong Man (Holy Spirit) lives in me. This house is filled. I can set my gaze on the One who loves me and gave himself for me.

Experientially we learn to live in our dominion too. When we know the truth, we experience and live the Helmet of Salvation, the mind of Christ.                                  Our mind becomes a fortress of peace when we understand the truth.

We don’t have to feel vulnerable,  we can be confident in trust, and enter His rest.

See TheologyMom for another testimony.


8 thoughts on “Is it Mental Illness, or is it Psychological Warfare?”

  1. Thank you for writing this. So many fight this battle and don’t even know what’s going on, much like you explained above. I too have been a victim of this psychological warfare, it’s not fun. It too Holy Spirit leading me to rest that broke the lie that I was believing. The term, Game Over, says it all. I love that because it is a game – a game we have already won! ❤


    1. He’s so amazing like that. If people realized how common it is, they might avoid a long journey in the mental health system. I hope that our sharing, like your comment, helps people be free sooner. Thanks for sharing a little of your experience here too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “If it’s not His, it’s not mine.”

    I love this statement.
    If He has delivered me from something, then the enemy trying to bring it back up is a ruse to make me feel guilty, to fight, to spend time repenting over what has already been forgiven, and on and on.

    The emotional or physical states that want to say “see, you’re sick” are all secondary thoughts, beliefs, emotional and physical states from following the first set of misdirecting thoughts, images, impressions that are all LIES.
    As a man thinks in his heart so it he. If we take the bait then there are consequences. Refusing and rebuking and then moving on with Christ and not worrying about it has been working for me. : )

    If it is not from God it is not mine. God took that stuff already. And having done all I am just to stand, just to rest, just to turn my gaze back to My Beloved.
    I am breaking through things that are not real right now. : )

    Thanks so much for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You said it so well Paul. Thanks for commenting. I love the community of sharing experiences. I hope others can take this and run with it, stand on our shoulders as a spring board, and know they are not alone.


  3. I’m curious how much time passed between deciding to step into rest & the mental attacks stopping?
    Were the other people at church experiencing this because of a spiritual darkness that came over the congregation?
    Even though discovering the root can be helpful with spiritual warfare, I see your point that psychological warfare isn’t always requiring that. Being led by the Holy Spirit’s guidance is always the best way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to say it was immediate. However, it did take a little while before I said anything to anyone. Sometimes we feel we can’t tell people what’s going on because we worry they may not understand. That’s possible. It might be a risk. But there are many, many who do understand, and can be a great source of help and comfort; fortunately I had someone who did understand the issue wasn’t me. Being isolated in a mental/soul torment was worse than telling someone, so when I did begin to mention it, it made a quick difference knowing others were experiencing negative things too-bc it was then easily identifable to me that it was not just me personally, but something larger was going on- perhaps a bit different in ways for others, but still a spiritual harassment. (Although this could happen to an individual without the group scenario just as easily.) Since I needed to adjust my understanding, entering His Rest was more of a learning/processing time in relationship with Holy Spirit and learning identity, righteousness, standing firm, and embracing a new mindset than I’d previously had about warfare. I was renewing the spirit of my mind. Rest in this way was a new concept to me at the time. This “training” was needed so that I wouldn’t find myself in a similar situation down the road.(I had previously dealt with generalized anxiety for years, and learning to enter and stay in His rest was a critical part of the cure.)We need to learn how to walk in and live in truth. Otherwise we can cycle, going for ministry repeatedly.
      So, it did take some time for it to Completely stop.(I can’t recall the exact number of days between the immediate shift and total end, but once I voiced my concern and was reassured, the power of it was lost.) The brain is a fantastic organ, capable of very interesting things, and our mind is very powerful in it’s connection to it; our body-soul-spirit interactions are intricate and complex. We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made!
      But the phenomena had lost the influence intended-so there was an immediate shift & lessening of it because I knew the truth. It’s the truth of Christ that sets us free. I honestly believe that sometimes the enemy just watches for opportunity to take advantage of “human” situations. And sometimes the “power of Ignore” is very effective. So, with the changes occurring, I feel the enemy, in the most simplistic terms, looked for a way to get involved; merely took advantage of a natural occuring situation. Love is powerful in such situations. If we love one another, the enemy finds no place, no foothold. When we know who we are in Christ, they find no “landing strip”. I seldom pay attention to the enemy now. My life is more peaceful for it. I keep my focus on Jesus, and this has made the difference. Like the book of Nehemiah. The enemy wanted him to come down to the valley of Ono (oh no!), but he saw through the tactics and attempts to draw his focus away from his work, to spar. It’s really important that we truly understand the enemy lost all “legal rights”(something that’s taught oppositely in many churches), was stripped of all authority, and that we have power over their power. This is why they work so much to deceive with bluffs, and smoke and mirrors. They take advantage of what we do not know. I hope that answers your question, in a long round about way.


  4. I’ve experienced the same thing. Dan Mohler talks about this. When he came to the Lord he was bombarded with curse words in his head towards the Lord, vile sexual images, and stuff like that. He prayed and said “God, why is this happening? Why am I hearing these words? I don’t feel that way about you.”

    The Lord replied “I know you don’t feel that way about me. So every time you hear those things, tell me how you feel.

    The voiced didn’t stop for quite a while, but they stopped disturbing Dan. Dan said that they actually only served to establish him more in truth when he learned how to respond.

    And about “Legal Doors” The devil is a thief. Does he ever have a “legal right” to oppress? The fact that he is attacking doesn’t always mean you did something wrong. Sometimes it’s because we are doing something right! But even when we have given a “foothold” to the devil, I don’t think that’s the same as a “legal right”.

    Cheryl Fritz wrote a note on this, and I tend to agree with her. If you leave the door of your house open at night and a thief enters, the thief doesn’t have a “legal right”. He is just exploiting a vulnerability. Making ourselves vulnerable to oppression through sin isn’t giving the devil a “legal right”. A thief doesn’t need a legal right. If he had one, he wouldn’t be called a thief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I agree wholeheartedly, and I have spoken a number of times on the same subject saying the same things Cheryl recently wrote (I read it too, it was excellent). I definitely learned a lot through the experience and the outcome strengthened me. It was a type of attack/backlash meant to intimidate. I’m so glad it didn’t work. I believe the truth is becoming more presently aware in people’s consciousness, and that the “legal rights idea” is a distortion in understanding. I really appreciate Dan’s outlooks and revelation. Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts. This really adds to the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

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