Mental Illness in the Bible

figuring out the "lunatics" problem in the Bible

King Saul

June 3, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized


King Saul had a number of problems. King Saul started out as a wise, superior leader who started to show unstable thinking over a period of time, due to a number of unfortunate encounters in his life.

Saul showed that he possessed several symptoms of manic depression, clinical anxiety, and later on showed to be suicidal.

Symptoms for manic depression: increased energy, activity, & restlessness, little sleep needed, jumping from one idea to another, denial that anything is wrong, extreme irritability, and lasting sad, anxious moods. Saul expressed many of these symptoms throughout decisions he made. The never ending competition he had with David only added to the stress and overall insanity Saul expressed.

Symptoms of clinical anxiety: chronic, intense, or pathological anxiety which causes irrational outcomes. Often times anxiety can be good for people. It causes them to stay focused and alert. But when anxiety is a common daily occurrence it is far from a good thing. Saul experienced anxiety in several situations. During the wars, Saul had to lead his army and throughout a significant span of his life he has to compete with David.

Both of these illnesses became deadly for Saul. He asked his armor-bearer to let him run into his sword and his armor-bearer would not allow it. So Saul fell on his sword and killed himself.

Saul gives us a clear example of how he was born normally and certain situations he experienced made him go insane.

King Nebuchadnezzar

June 3, 2010 by · No Comments · Uncategorized


Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon. He had a dream that “disturb him deeply” (Daniel 2:1-3). He asked sorcerers, fortune tellers, and several other psychics at that time to interpret the dream for him. No one could interpret it for him besides Daniel. Daniel predicted that God was telling the king that he would be removed from kingdom for 7 years because of his sins and he would live amongst the animals as an ox. His dream did come true and Nebuchadnezzar believed himself that he was an ox. He ate grass and lived out of his element. In the 7th year of his delusional state his “reason returned” to him and he began to praise God.

Nebuchadnezzar’s situation could fall under the symptoms of Schizophrenia, which are: social withdraw, depersonalization, loss of appetite, loss of hygiene, delusions, and hallucinations. Although Nebuchadnezzar’s symptoms could line up with Schizophrenia, a more closely related mental illness is Boanthropy.

The symptoms of Boanthropy are: when the victim believes himself/herself to be an ox, cow, or other animal, pronounced antisocial tendencies, and they prefer the diet of an ox or bull (handfuls grass and water). Boanthropy is linked to lycanthropy. Lycanthropy is the belief that one is a wolf (people believe that the myth of werewolves originated from this disease).

Boanthropy is a very rare mental illness. Nebuchadnezzar is a commonly used example of this disease because he possessed every symptom of it. With Boanthropy the person believes himself to be the animal which causes them to act out in a delusional way.

find out more about Boanthropy: [

depression in the Bible

June 2, 2010 by · No Comments · Uncategorized


The most common mental illness in the Bible seems to be depression. it is a pretty generic illness and can affect moods, actions, and a person’s overall disposition.

Symptoms of depression: fatigue and decreased energy, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness, insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping, loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings.

Characters from the Bible who suffered from depression:

1. Job: Since Job lost everything he had ever own he experienced a great deal of depression. Job experiences a lot of worthlessness (Job 3:11- “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?).  Job accumulated depression because of the situations he experienced. He lost everything he ever possessed; therefore, he filled himself up with empty feelings which led to severe depression.

2. David: King David is known in the Bible to be a “man after God’s own heart” and yet he still experienced depression. He experienced a lot of guilt which grew into experiencing a lot of other emotions that go along with depression. A numerous amount of his Psalms express what was on his heart and how he wished to die.  King David’s depression was caused from guilt from sins.

3. Jeremiah: Jeremiah was such an esteemed man that some people thought he was Jesus (Matt 16:14) although he experienced depression. In Jeremiah 20:18, Jeremiah states “Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow to end my days in shame?”. Jeremiah’s depression was a little different, he felt guilt and shame not only from himself, but from the people around him.

Although these three’s depression differed in ways of how it was consumed, it still demonstrates how regular people can inhabit depression. Regardless of the fact that these men were devout followers of God.

first post. ever.

June 1, 2010 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

For my Anatomy and Physiology class I will be researching stories from the Bible and comparing the symptoms from certain characters with symptoms to common mental illnesses we see today.

I will post everything i find on here.