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The Jesus Therapy

HEALING MENTAL ILLNESS

By Barbara Nauer | November 1983
Barbara Nauer is President of the Catholic Writer and Artist Guild in New Orleans. She is the author of Rise up and Remember, and her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals, including America and Fidelity. © Barbara Nauer 1983.

The healing practices used by Jesus Christ in the cures of his contemporaries were models of first-rate therapy. The records on his curative methods have been kept. They are in the Bible.

In modern psychiatric circles, some psychoses are not infrequently described as being what peo­ple in biblical times would have laid to the activi­ties of demon spirits. Those states of mind and spirit that modern therapists find in their emotion­ally disturbed patients, like paranoia and schizo­phrenia, may actually be manifestations of demonic spirits operating in and on the sick persons.

With that said, certain sections and passages of the New Testament become crucial.

Jesus normally employs words and some ele­ments of physical matter and motions in his heal­ings. It is worth noting that the sacramental or “high church” Christian communions, like the He­brew dispensation from which they sprang, have all followed the Lord’s lead in this readiness to use sensual elements and substances as channels of the divine life and power, normally called grace.

Spoken words, bread, wine, fishes, oil, water, flames, mud and spittle, waves and wind — all of these appear in the Gospel’s miracle stories, the large majority of which are miracles of conversion or healing. Touches were important too. Jesus’ cures of both physical and emotional disorders of­ten include his touchings of the diseased parts, at least with his breath. Common is the gesture known as the “laying on of hands.” The “woman bent double,” whose case involved a physical im­pairment which was directly caused by a spirit, is cured instantly by Jesus’ laying on of his hands (cf. Lk. 13:10-17).

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