Monday, October 30, 2006

Psychiatric problems are always spiritual problems

Up to this point I think I've layed a solid foundation in regards to understanding the two substances of man and how they relate to each other - the mind and the body. I turned to scripture as the primary starting point in order to bring clarity and to define the most important key assumptions that apply when thinking about mental health and Christianity.

I ended the last post with "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." What does the research look like when you apply Scripture correctly and look at it with biblical lenses? What conclusions can be drawn that science will not point to because science has no room for the soul. Please understand I am not taking on science. The scientific research about the human brain is wonderful, amazing, and God honoring. Where I think things go seriously wrong is how the research is applied to mental health problems. Although science yields grand insights about the brain, it is the conclusions of the findings that lead to very incorrect and faulty application.

Firstly, consider this. Conclusions from a science-only perspective seem to have created and continues to perpetuate the myth that psychiatric problems are strictly medical. If a person is experiencing psychiatric problems it is obvious this person is also experiencing suffering. Scripture is an expert on suffering and so isn't the psychiatric problem now a spiritual problem? God, through His Word, provides hope, compassion, and power to grow in faith and obedience. A person suffering from psychiatric problems and his/her family can turn the Scripture for guidance on how to live, love, and serve in the midst of the trials brought on by psychiatric problems.

Sometimes psychiatric problems are physical. Sometimes they are combinations of physical and spiritual. For example, when a person diagnosed with depression feels guilt and shame over his/her condition the guilt is clearly a spiritual problem that can be dealt with. The depression may be physical in that it manifests itself in a persons energy level, eating habits, etc. I think most psychiatric problems are most of the time hybrids of spiritual and physical problems and this makes them very complex and much harder to deal with and find freedom from. But that is not to say there is no hope of recovery.

A person suffering from a psychiatric problem can benefit greatly from true biblical counsel, directed straight at the heart. It is sad that the Christian church, believing the lie that psychiatric problems are strictly medical and thus much more complicated, has pointed those suffering from such problems to "professionals" outside the church. The church is sitting on a goldmine (so to speak) that could revolutionize the treatment of psychiatric problems.

I will end this post stating that I am not anti-medication. I do believe that sometimes psychiatric disorders do respond to medication and in my next post I will consider this proposition.

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