Friday, November 20, 2009

My Name Is Legion For We Are Many

A few weeks ago, I came upon an article about a 6 year old girl who has schizophrenia.  Her name is Jani...short for January.  My heart went out not only to Jani but also...perhaps especially, to her parents.  If you google "6 year old with schizophrenia" all kinds of articles come up.  The one I am going to quote from in this post was an article in the LA Times called Jani's at the mercy of her mind.

It presents a very unique insight into the Jani's world, her illness, her parents struggle, her relationship with them and her brother...and her relationship with a plethora of imaginary characters.  Many of them are rats, cats and other animals.  There is a cat named 400 and a girl named Wednesday that persuade her to do bad things.  Violent things.  Hitting, kicking, biting, screaming. Wednesday bites her until she complies. 

According to the article I read, Jani's case is very rare.  Schizophrenia usually hits in the late teens or early 20's. 

Doctors and other mental health experts don't fully understand the disease, which has no cure. Jani's extreme early onset has left them almost helpless. The rate of onset in children 13 and under is about one in 30,000 to 50,000. In a national study of 110 children, only one was diagnosed as young as age 6.

"Child-onset schizophrenia is 20 to 30 times more severe than adult-onset schizophrenia," says Dr. Nitin Gogtay, a neurologist at the National Institute of Mental Health who helps direct the children's study, the largest such study in the world on the illness.
"Ninety-five percent of the time they are awake these kids are actively hallucinating," Gogtay says. "I don't think I've seen anything more devastating in all of medicine."

When I read about Jani, one thing that came to mind was the story in the Gospels (in Matthew, Mark and Luke) about the demonic.

My name is Legion for we are many.  I wonder if his "many" tormenters had names like Jani's do?  Odd that the Bible never flat out claims that Jesus cured anyone with a mental illness...they were always possessed by a demon.  Today most of us scoff at the thought of demon possession, yet many still take what the Bible says about it at face value.


More on come. 

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