Questions From Readers
If a Christian hears voices, does that necessarily mean that he is under demon attack?
No. While demons have been reported to manifest themselves in that way, many individuals who hear voices or experience other inexplicable, disturbing sensations have learned upon investigation that they have a medical problem.
Even in the first century, it was apparently recognized that demon attacks and physical conditions sometimes produce similar effects. At Matthew 17:14-18, we read of a young boy who was healed by Jesus. Although the young boy had manifested severe epileptic symptoms, his suffering was actually caused by a demon. However, on an earlier occasion when crowds of suffering people were brought to Jesus for healing, these included some who were “demon-possessed and epileptic.” (Matthew 4:24) Evidently, it was recognized that some epileptics were not demon possessed. Their problems were physical.
It is reported that some who suffer from schizophrenia, a disease often treatable with medication, hear voices or experience other symptoms that could appear to be something uncanny.* Other physical conditions may also cause mental confusion that some could mistakenly think is caused by demons. Hence, while an individual who reports hearing voices or who has other disturbing sensations may not want to discount demon harassment, he should definitely be encouraged to consider investigating whether there is a physical explanation for what he is experiencing.
See “Taking the Mystery out of Mental Illness,” in the September 8, 1986, Awake!, companion magazine of The Watchtower.