I briefly caught some of Larry King’s coverage of the Andrea Yates story last night, along with some of the interview that officials had with Andrea. It was interesting to hear how she believed that Satan was telling her to kill her children and how she drowned three of them, believing that was saving them from Satan’s grasp by sending them to heaven. At first blush it sounded a lot like the delusions of someone suffering from schizophrenia (something that only a further detailed investigation would confirm).
There are quite a few mental disorders that manifest themselves in the forms of delusions pertaining to God, angels, Satan, demons, etc. Two that come to my mind immediately are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, both having some form of delusional behavior. I have to wonder why so many (though not all, by far) present with the sorts of delusions above. I’m sure background plays a role in it, though I wonder just how much of a role it plays. Do people with
such delusions come from particularly conservative and/or religious backgrounds? Or is it something else? I would definitely be interested in seeing some numbers on this — the number of religious/spiritual delusions that counselors see over the course of a year; what proportion are schizophrenic, bipolar, depressive, etc.; what proportion of delusional clients come from religious backgrounds and what proportion of non-delusional clients come from religious backgrounds, etc. I may actually have to conduct a study on this at some point, if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity.