“He had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him”.
Mk 5:4 NIV
Despite the apparent decency and tranquility of suburban life, newspaper accounts of court cases sometimes lift the lid on the secrets of what goes on behind the scenes. The same applies to idyllic rural scenes. All of these reveal that there can be an unruly element in human nature that can lead to chaos and destruction amongst those closely affected. Often mental illness is one element in the situation, and it is frequently unidentified as such until there has been disaster. Sexual violence, uncontrolled drunkenness, immature personality development and interpersonal conflict take place and lead to mayhem and often to murder.
The man in the tombs in the region of the Gerasenes was there for a good reason. He was totally uncontrollable and was a danger to normal people going quietly about their daily activities. The consequence was that he lived an abnormal existence away from society.
Accounts of the methods of treating severely ill mental patients a century and more ago indicate that fear and cruelty prompted indescribable methods of seeking to protect society from dangerous people. Campaigns by concerned people – some of them Christian believers – have led to more humane methods of treatment in some parts of the world. Christian disciples will be grateful to those who led the way and to God for the progress being made. Suitable medication has also improved the lot of those affected. Christians will continue to pray for better health care for all people suffering from severe mental illness.
Lord, guide us to find better treatment for all sick people.