Publication Date

Spring 2012

Document Type



Christianity | Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology


This article was published in a the Spring issue of Leadership Journal, a publication of Christianity Today International The whole issue was given to the subject of Spiritual Warfare.

Appleby, D. (2012). Diagnosing the demonic. Leadership Journal. 33(2). Wheaton, IL, Christianity Today International.


One of the most difficult tasks for a therapist is to determine whether a client’s difficulty is psychologically based or spiritually based. Scripture shows us that virtually any physical, psychological, or social symptoms might be attributed to demonic spirits. The enemy attacks on all possible fronts, which complicates the whole process of diagnosis. The most accurate diagnoses come not from looking only at symptoms, but at predictive life experiences. If the individual has opened certain doors there is an increased probability that demonic involvement is present. These include (1) generational curses, oaths, and soul ties, (2) occult involvement, (3) trauma or victimization, and (4) long-term ongoing sin. These create areas of spiritual vulnerability into which demonic spirits may move.