Spiritually Correcting Abnormal Human Behavior
A few years ago I was in a South Florida home with a young man who had captured a wild hawk and in a short time had converted it into an obedient Falcon. At the sound of a whistle, the bird would fly from its perch, light on the man’s arm, take food offered it, and on command return to its roost. When it was outdoors and free to escape, the hawk made no attempt to do so or return to its natural state. I was amazed that this wild creature could be made to abandon its instinct, its normal behavior, its ancestry, and submit to the command of another who had deprived it of normal life.
More so, I was astonished to learn that the hawk’s complete transformation had been accomplished within three days after its removal from the wild. In that brief time it had become a voluntary prisoner, submissively doing the will of its captor and adapting to a strange and unnatural environment. But as I watched, I saw much more than a falconer and his captive bird. I saw a spiritual truth unfolding before my eyes —Truth—in the form of a question I want to ask you:
Can humans be mentally captured, removed from their natural state, subdued, and
forced into a life-style that is totally alien to themselves and God’s intended purpose for them?
Let me illustrate the answer: In 1973, four bank employees in Stockholm, Sweden,
were captured during a robbery and kept inside a vault. Strangely, within six days
they became so devoted to their captors they not only resisted rescue but afterward refused to testify against the criminals. This psychological phenomenon became known as the Stockholm Syndrome and is identical to what happened to the hawk.
The most notorious instance of the Syndrome in America came in 1974 when 19
year-old millionaire-heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, kept in a dark closet, blindfolded, unfed, and abused. Then something strange happened; Patty joined her captors’ organization, renamed herself "Tanya" and took part in robbing a bank of which she and her parents were part owners. When captured and tried, Patty was sentenced to seven years in prison. In another case, an airline hostage later married one of her captors. Politically, we call this transformation "brain-washing". A large Church of Christ in Boston, Massachusetts, was recently accused of using this tactic in "converting" new members. One of their steps was to deprive the people of sleep through all-night "prayer", then, at dawn, church officials mentally bombarded them with religious ideology and overwhelmed them psychologically. In such a deviate method, the Holy Spirit was unneeded–just "mind control".
I have a dear friend who as a child was accused of a crime he did not commit—but
one to which he confessed after police interrogated him under bright lights for eight hours. Thankfully, he is a committed Christian today but his normal life was stolen from him by this horrendous childhood event. We have all heard of traumatized wives who refuse to leave an abusive husband. The style of maltreatment may change but the end-result is the same: The mind can be taken captive by powers of darkness.
In my own ministry, the most extreme case I encountered was a young female victim of childhood Satanic Ritual Abuse who had been deliberately made schizophrenic by her Satanist parents and was controlled by them through her alter-ego. One part of this young woman’s mind was an educated, trained R.N., and a believing Christian. Her other part was a totally different personality who used an alias name and participated in Satanic behavior. Impossible!, you say. Not so. The Apostle James warned twice about being "double minded"– a word which In Greek means "two-souls". As Christians, we see varying degrees of this condition in people who become captive to Satan but refuse to escape his control–even when they have opportunity to do so. In extreme cases, it takes only 3-4 days for the Stockholm syndrome to emerge even when captive and captor are strangers. Bizarre? Yes, but true.
According to psychologists, the victimized person bonds to the abuser as a means to endure the violence. A psychotherapist explains, "When someone threatens your life but doesn't kill you, the relief generates intense feelings of gratitude. This, coupled with fear, makes the captive reluctant to display negative feelings toward their captor. The victims' need to survive is stronger than his/her impulse to hate the person who has created the dilemma." The victim then comes to see the captor as a 'good guy', even a savior. I have even met Satanists who insisted that the devil was good.
In June, 2002, the nation was shocked by the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, a 14 year old Utah girl from her bed at night, who was kept by her abductors nine months. Elizabeth later showed Stockholm Syndrome effects when she made no attempt to escape though she had ample opportunity to do so. Airplane hostages have been known to sympathize with their captors and one became so emotionally attached that she married him. In some cases, former hostages have visited their captors in jail, recommended defense counsel, and one even started a defense fund for them. We see this in the behavior of some abused wives who voluntarily stay with a dangerous husband.
In explaining the process of converting a wild hawk into an obedient falcon, of how
the bank employees, Patty Hearst, and others, were mentally abducted, I want you to make that comparison to the way Satan captures and subdues his victims. This
condition occurs in response to these conditions:
1. The hawk must be a grown but immature, inexperienced male.
2. The hawk is drawn to the trap with "food", usually a mouse or small animal that is
under a clear but protective dome. When the hawk dives down to grab the prey, his
feet become trapped in the snare and he is captured. —By the way, he never gets the food that tempted him.
3. The hawk is immediately hooded, deprived of light, the ability to see, or the power to fly away.
4. For the next 24 to 72 hours, the hawk is kept awake on the falconers heavily-
gloved arm. Though the hawk is not allowed to sleep it is periodically offered food—which, in the beginning—it refuses. The hawk associates sleep and accepting food with surrender so it desperately fights to stay awake and refuses to eat.
5. Deprived of light, food, and sleep, when the hawk finally eats and falls asleep, it
psychologically acknowledges its’ dependency on the captor and becomes "bonded" to him. From that time on, the bird may fly freely in the outdoors but will voluntarily return to its owner like a young bird returning to its parents’ nest.
6. Lastly: After bonding to the falconer and accepting its’ new identify, many hawks
revert to "baby-bird chirping". In humans, we call this "arrested" or "reversed
emotional development". In effect, the falconer becomes a foster parent and the
hawk, mentally returns to a state of infancy; at this point it begins making the "baby
bird" sounds when it wants food or the falconer's attention.
Much of the problem which Pastors encounter in their congregations is this same
condition in immature church members. We hear a lot of "baby bird chirping" in
individuals who have reached their adult years but have not grown emotionally. In
most cases where I encountered arrested (or reversed) emotional development there had been a childhood crisis or traumatizing event that paralyzed the person’s mental development. Divorced parents, serious illness, unwanted moves, sudden changes, loss of security, caused the mental difficulties.
COMPARING THE HAWK AND THE HUMAN PROBLEM SCRIPTURALLY
1. IMMATURITY: 1 Corinthians 14:20-21: "Do not be children in understanding ...
in understanding be mature." Hosea 4:6. "My people are destroyed for lack of
2. SNARED: Proverbs 7:21-23. "With her flattering lips she seduced him.
Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the
correction of the stocks, Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare,
He did not know it would cost his life."
3. BLINDED: 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to
those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not
believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,
should shine on them."
4. DENIED REST: Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for
I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is
easy and My burden is light."
5. RETURN TO INFANTILE BEHAVIOR: Galatians 5:1-5: "Stand fast therefore in
the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a
yoke of bondage ..."
6. THE ESCAPE: 2 Timothy 2:24-26. "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel
but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in
opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the
truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES TO THE "MIND"
"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
"But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and
bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." Romans 7:23.
"Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken,
and we have escaped!" Psalm 124:7.
Isaiah 26:3. "You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You."
Mark 12:30. "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your
soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment."
Romans 12:2. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and
perfect will of God."
Ephesians 4:23. "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind."
Philippians 2:5. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
Colossians 3:2. "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."
2 Timothy 1:7. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love
and of a sound mind."
2 Corinthians 13:11. "Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good
comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with
Best of all, remember that Jesus came to "set the captives free." No where is this truth illustrated better than with the maniac of Gadara. Mark 5:17, explains that the
townspeople " ... went out to see what it was that had happened ... and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind." What the devil had taken from him, Jesus had restored. This part of Kingdom Ministry must be continued in the Church today!