Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mental Illness - mind or body problem?

Here is a professor at a local seminary who is director of their biblical counseling institute. He questions the commonly held view of mental illness as an organic disease and views it as a spiritual matter. His view is that the mind is not part of the body. He says,"Can someone get mentally ill? No. He can be spiritually sinful, physically sick, but the mind cannot get sick and therefore we don't need to cure minds."

It's a shame such views are being taught at seminary! No wonder so many pastors and Christians view mental illness as merely a manifestation of sin. This serves to stigmatize those suffering from mental illness and puts all of the blame on the one suffering which only makes them feel worse! Ugh this gets me angry!
I think very few mental illnesses are caused by sin. Maybe some mild ones, but people suffering with schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, those are physical organic diseases and have NOTHING to do with sin! And what really irks me is that this guy is the DIRECTOR of the whole biblical counseling institute so he is probably training tons of people who become counselors at their churches! The body and mind are interlinked, but I don't agree with the notion that most mental illness is just a result of sin! That is insane to think that in my view. I agree a holistic approach has merit, and some people with low grade relatively minor mental illness can benefit much from Biblical counseling, but this is not, in my view, the case so much with severe mental illness. If someone gets diabetes or polio do we suddenly start questioning whether it was from sin? Of course not, and we shouldn't question organic mental illness either! The amount of damage being done to Christians with mental illness is mind boggling! And they are being stigmatized and taught that they are at fault for their own suffering! It's sadistic and very wrong. I'd even go so far as to say such teaching is itself sinful. Further, so many suffer needlessly in the Church because they were taught they don't need medication just Biblical counseling, or even worse some are taught that psychiatric medication is itself of the Devil!



  1. I agree. The brain is a physical organ that works in an extremely complex and so far indecipherable way; a complex combination of physical, chemical, and electrical patterns (patterns in my opinion that give rise to a "spirit"). The link between the mind and body is very strong: just as physical pain can cause mental anguish, it has been shown in experiments that strong emotions can actually cause real physical pain.

    These biblical counselors are not better than those faith healers who believe just simple prayer can cure any and all illnesses.

    On the other hand, the state of psychiatric medication today is mostly profit-driven, crude and barbaric ... the effectiveness of any one drug for a person is probably not much better than a lobotomy. In fact a book has been written that suggests that these medications in the long-term might actually make symptoms even worse not better. And many pharmaceutical companies are pulling back because they fear in the future they will be crushed with lawsuits as science reveals how ineffective and damaging some of those pills are.

  2. Yes that's a good point, they are no better than the faith healers on TV!

    As to pharmacological concerns, I think there are valid points we must examine. Certainly some drugs are overprescribed and that fault is a mixture of patients demands, the state of our health insurance industry and the responsibility of doctors. I agree that some drugs are rushed out far too easily which points to problems in our FDA. However a lot of people suffering with mental illness still receive benefits from psychiatric drugs, and personally I know the medication I take has helped me tremendously.

  3. I agree. I have read anecdotes of people being helped by medication. But most/all doctors who prescribe such medication have little clue as to whether it will improve or injure the patient. For medications that have a long history, this might be less of a problem; but some of these newer or rare ones can be just atrocious.

  4. Yes I agree. And the FDA needs to be much stricter in how it deems a drug fit for market. Clearly the FDA is bowing to concerns of the big drug companies and not what is best for the consumer!


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