[Joan of Arc, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1882 ]
"James" is suffering from demonic obsessions or "demon brain." Every couple of weeks, he goes through a spell in which his thinking is strongly influenced by demons. When this happens, he becomes despairing and suicidal.
He came up with a five-step process for dealing with these demonic attacks. The five steps might be helpful for anyone suffering such demonic afflictions. He has generously consented to share them with all.
The five steps are:
1. Recognize the beginning of a demonic attack EARLY. Once he is in the middle of "demon brain," he cannot recognize it and he mistakenly believes it is his real self. So he is trying to be aware of the initial signs that a demonic attack is coming before it is too late to react.
2. Reach out for help. James recognizes that he cannot deal with the demons by himself. He reaches out to friends for support, his therapist for counseling, and a priest for spiritual direction and deliverance prayers. While these supports do not completely dissipate the attack, they do help him to navigate successfully the demonic onslaught.
3. Honest and open sharing. James knows that isolation can be lethal in the midst of demonic obsessions. When demon brain hits, he has a tendency to clam up. So, he intentionally tries to be open and honest about himself with his support system and what he is experiencing.
4. Reject & let it go. In the midst of demon brain, it is difficult for James to recognize that his thoughts are really demonic and not his own. Nevertheless, he is trying to train himself to recognize the true source of these evil thoughts and to consciously reject them. He said, "I need to reject these thoughts and let them go." Using our prayer formula, he says, "I reject, renounce and rebuke the evil spirits of [name them] and, in Jesus' name, I cast them out."
5. Do things I enjoy and distract myself. His demonic thoughts are dark and despairing. In the midst of demon brain, he consciously chooses to engage in activities he enjoys such as having dinner with friends or outdoor events and/or exercise. These help to elevate his mood and distract him from focusing on the evil demonic thoughts.
Moreover, James does his best to continue with his strong spiritual regimen of daily prayer and sacraments.
These steps are not easy for anyone who suffers from demonic obsessions, especially in the midst of an assault of demon brain. But, over time he has shown the commitment and courage to do so with positive results. His attacks are shorter, less severe and he is on the road to recovery.
I have no doubt that in the future these demonic attacks will be largely a thing of the past. In the meantime, they are actually strengthening him psychologically and spiritually. One day, he will be a battle-tested, strong spiritual warrior for Christ.