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Friday, October 27, 2006

Psychiatric Problems and Christianity

Moving on in my series on mental health, I will approach, with Biblical thinking, the conditions the American Psychiatric Association calls "Psychiatric problems". Dr. Edward Welch calls these the "diseases" of this generation:
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • anorexia and bulimia
  • Multiple personality (now called dissociative identity disorder)
  • Borderline personality
  • Infant mental health
  • All the other disorders categorized by the every expanding Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV.
Psychiatric problems are unlike traditional medical diseases that are caused by verifiable brain dysfunction (i.e. Alzheimer's) in that you cannot actually see what is wrong with the brain. With conditions such as a head injury, Alzheimer's, brain tumor, etc a brain scan will reveal actual physical evidence of damage in the brain. The problem is clearly identified as different than a normal brain.

The story is different with psychiatric problems though. Even with today's highly advanced understandings of the brain there exists no means to distinguish consistent differences when compared to normal brains.
"There is no such thing as a verifiable chemical imbalance or neuroanatomical abnormality among the psychiatric diagnoses. Blood tests and brain scans are not even used in making a psychiatric diagnosis." Welch, Blame It On The Brain, page 106.
I am surprised! There has got to be tens of thousands of research articles in this area. I tend to agree with Welch though in that the research has yielded a very fuzzy picture complicated by various mind-body assumptions that have been driving the conclusions of the research.

1 comment:

ron said...

Last night I went to birth class #4. The instructor (who is very good) showed how during normal delivery the baby rotates from a face back position to a side position as he is being born. She made the comment that somehow they just know how to do this, implying that no one really knows why.

I smiled thinking there are many things humans will never know - especially psychiatrists.