Eight Signs of a Captive Spirit and How to Heal

captive spirit


The idea of a captive spirit is not regularly discussed outside of those who participate in inner healing ministries and yet many suffer from this condition. A captive spirit occurs when early childhood trauma interrupts the regular bonding and emotional maturational process of childhood. Thecaptive spirit soul rises up to protect the wounded spirit and strongholds, or practiced, habitual ways of thinking take over.

To have a captive spirit is a painful experience, as the name suggests. And given how difficult life can be for the very young born into dysfunctional situations, possessing a captive spirit involves turning away from life. Often spiritual rebellion (a deep rejection of the circumstances of one’s self and life) is present. Those with captive spirits are often intuitive and feel deeply, but feel unable to fully participate in life. And in truth, they are not because what was once a child’s self-protection has now become a prison.

So how do you know if you have a captive spirit? Try these symptoms on for size and if they fit, it may be time for some inner healing and the tearing down of strongholds in your life.

Symptoms of a Captive Spirit

A captive spirit often feels:


Do you feel haunted by the idea that something is missing but you can’t put your finger on it?

2. Lonely:

If you can feel isolated even when surrounded by people who love you, you may suffer from a captive spirit.captive spirit

3. Frustrated: 

Do you feel as if you have talents or giftings that you can’t access? That you have a calling but you cannot seem to express what that is?

4. Angry:

Inner fury comes and goes, though seemingly unconnected to outside events. The captive spirit often experiences extreme anger at the bars that          keep them separated from life.

5. Tormented:

Do you feel regularly afflicted, full of anguish that is disconnected from your actual circumstances?  To be in prison on the inside is a painful                 experience.

6. Confused:

Do you feel as if there is a fog over everything or do you have difficulty understanding the things that happen in your life? To be a captive spirit is        to struggle for understanding. It is as if your life itself is covered in a mist.

7. Bound:

Do you feel as though something keeps you from fully experiencing life? Is there something invisible that constantly holds you back? It is as if a           wall separates you from your own life

8. Vacant and forgetful

The captive spirit often feels blank or checked out. The mind and heart have been disconnected so that emotions are not expressed and                      remembered. The mind has checked out because the pain is too great.captive spirit

How This Happens

This type of condition can occur when there is neglect or abuse very early on. Older children usually can develop coping methods which do not cause them to disconnect from life. But infants that lack the bonding that is needed for development quickly learn to detach.

The first sacred duty of a parent is to nurture the spirit of their child through constant loving interaction. If this does not occur, then the spirit, which is supposed to be in authority over both soul and body, is significantly weakened. The soul rises up to take charge and fight for survival. Unfortunately, the soul’s methods often lead to unhealthy modes of living. Many men with captive spirits often fall prey to sexual sin to self-soothe, while women become unable to sustain proper boundaries. They do not understand who they are and therefore cannot interact with others appropriately.

Feral children are extreme cases of captive spirits. Because they do not have access to any loving humans, they imprint on their animal caregivers. Mother Theresa once rescued a young man who had lived many years among wolves. Language is primarily acquired between the ages of one and four years old. Miss that window and it probably won’t happen. He never learned to speak, always preferred raw food, and died at nineteen, the typical age of a wolf. His spirit was so crippled, it could not learn to free itself.

How to Heal

The healing process for this can take some time. After all, while the presence of bad things in one’s early life can easily devastate, the absence of good things creates an even higher hurdle to healing. A great many inner vows go into creating a captive spirit, primarily ones like I will not be, I will not feel, and I will not need. These, of course, must be broken in order to reestablish freedom. But there are several other realities that a person with a captive spirit must face in order to experience his or her life. These include:

  1. A willingness to face the pain and vulnerability that comes with living fully. Life comes with both joy and pain. If one is willing to feel pain, then joy as well becomes more accessible.
  2. A willingness to take risks. Life comes with tremendous risk. God Himself took an enormous risk when He gave us free will. He took another by dying on the cross. There was no guarantee we would accept His gift. Those with captive spirits must learn to take risks on themselves.
  3. Developing an inner measure for pain. When a person reconnects with their spirit, painful feelings are hard to weather. The good news is that the pain fades and leaves joy in its place. They will begin to experience colors more vibrantly, friendships more deeply, and life more clearly.
  4. captive spiritBuilding up good experiences. Good memories are the best remedy for bad ones or a lack of any at all. Teaching oneself how to have a good time is critical for relearning how to participate in and fully enjoy one’s life.

Only our Lord can fully set the captives free and destroy the prisons in our minds. But we must do our part by being willing to expose our hidden pain and suffering. Like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, only Aslan could tear the dragon skin off and reveal the boy underneath. But like Eustace, we have to be willing to let those sharp claws or perhaps the sharp nails of the cross remove our thick barriers of protection.


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This is a practical how-to heal the wounded spirit. Incredible information here:

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The Care and Feeding of the Human Spirit

6 Replies to “Eight Signs of a Captive Spirit and How to Heal”

  1. Alice, this is excellent. My spirit is no longer captive, but I well remember that it was for much of my life, and I agree with the process you have set out for healing.
    I clearly remember God saying to me: You must FEEL the PAIN before you can FEEL JOY.
    It was very hard to get in touch with my spirit and figure out that I had much GRIEF that was hidden even from myself.
    God faithfully sent me people who helped me process as He let each new thing surface in my mind.
    OH, it is good to be FREE.
    My 2 closest friends and I are learning how NOT to dissasociate.
    It’s hard when that’s what we’ve always done!
    I sat in the garden with God this week and let each emotion I was feeling surface, and then confessed it. The next day I was considerably lighter and brighter!
    You are such a blessing to us, with these posts that are giving us practical help.
    God bless you.

  2. Emily Saxe | To Unearth says: Reply

    It’s scary to think of captured spirits, but I praise God that He brings healing! Even when we think it’s not possible, ALL freedom is possible with our God!

  3. Alice I have to admit I have never heard of the term “captive spirit” but what you are describing is from a mental health perspective called Reactive Attachment Disorder. The abuse and neglect legitimately alters the formation of the brain in the formative years. But the discussion on how it hinders the formation of the spirit is just as important if not more so.

  4. I had never heard of captive spirits but I pray for these children and adults struggling with this! I pray God would have the Holy Spirit release His healing and comfort within!

  5. I have never heard of the term captive spirit. But you described me for so many years. God has healed me in so many ways! TY for your deep and thoughtful posts! ❤

  6. I’ve not heard of this before, but I’ve met people with this and couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Thanks for the insight.

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