Now, Religion in the News—a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from American Scientist, Volume 90, page 569, with the headline: “Still No Useful Tests or Cures for Mental Health Problems—Mental health is an increasingly significant issue worldwide. Globally, five of the ten leading causes of disability in people 15 to 44 years of age are psychiatric disorders. Depression is among the five most costly diseases in the world in terms of morbidity. In the United States, suicides outnumber homicides by about three to two. Substance abuse and violence-related trauma are cynasures of our era and psycho-pharmacological agents are enormously popular.
“One could argue from all this that psychiatry is more relevant today then ever, yet there is a widespread sense, both within and without the profession, that all is not well. The fundamental problem is that although we know a lot about the biomedical etiology of neurological disorders, we still fathom embarrassingly little about the biology of the major mental illnesses and even the burgeoning understanding of genetic and metabolic risks factors has not translated into clinically useful tests or cures. Modern technology has not produced a single blood test or brain scan that could be routinely used to diagnose depression, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, or other common mental illnesses.”
Tom: Dave, some people wonder why we address psychology. They say, Come on, you guys are…this is out of your arena.
Dave: Well, we don’t address it often.
Tom: No, we don’t, but why do we? I’ve got a few reasons. Number 1: I can’t think of any, call it endeavor that has created more problems for the church; it has taken over in the area of counseling, in the area of ministering one to another. We have basically, as someone said, “We’ve given up our birthright. We’ve turned it over for a mess of pottage,” that is, just as Esau gave up his birthright. In other words, it has been the function of the church to minister to souls. And, starting with Freud, I would say, in the modern era, we’ve given it up. We’ve been convinced that this should not be a function of the church, but it’s a function of professionals—psychologists, clinical psychologists, and psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and so on. So that’s why we address it, because basically, it’s not science, it’s not effective, according to the research. It’s created…it’s become it’s own problem. It’s proliferating because it is creating more so-called mental diseases than you can shake a stick at. That’s why we address it!
Dave: They keep inventing new ones. Sin has become sickness. I think it was Thomas Szasz who said, “We have turned the salvation of sinful souls into the cure of sick minds.”
Tom: Now this is a Jewish psychiatrist, not a believer, but he has an understanding.
Dave: Right. Now this is an interesting article here, interesting quote from the American Scientist. You could get an entire book by Peter Breggin, another psychiatrist, probably one of the leading experts on drugs—psychotropic drugs—in the world. The title of it is Your Drug May Be Your Problem. And he points out, probably a little bit clearer than this brief quotation here (but it was very good), that the only chemical imbalances we know of in the brain are caused by the drugs that we administer to cure the so-called chemical imbalances; that no one has taken a brain scan; no one has told us— Here’s a young person (Tom, it really upsets me), their mother or father or both takes them into a psychiatrist. They walk in a normal child— oh, they’re a little bit obstreperous, maybe they can’t concentrate on things because they are thinking about baseball or whatever; they could be difficult. We used to apply the “board of education” to the “seat of knowledge,” but now that’s child abuse. So they take him in and the psychologist makes no examination of the brain.
Tom: No physiological examination whatsoever.
Dave: No, absolutely. “There is a chemical imbalance,” he says. But he can’t tell you what chemical it is, what part of the brain, how much out of balance, etc., etc. But the person is now…the child is now labeled ADHD—Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or some other label. He walked in a normal child; he walks out with a label.
Tom: Dave, let me give you the other side. Now this would be a psychiatrist who can dispense drugs, prescribe drugs. But if it’s just a psychologist—clinical psychologist or a psychotherapist, what medium is he using? Talk, conversation, trying to talk the person into either his way of thinking or out of their way of thinking. It’s just talk, it’s conversation, Dave.
Dave:But Tom, the point I’m trying to make is, this child now has a label. That label will be with him the rest of his life. They put him on Ritalin; he cannot be in the armed forces. He now has a prescription that works by destroying the normal function of the brain cells. It is very, very serious, and yet these people have the degrees, they have the trust of society, and they have the trust of the church. And what is happening now is very, very destructive.
Why don’t we get back to the Word of God and allow Him to guide us and give us the joy, the peace, the satisfaction, the fulfillment that we need? But Tom, what this article is pointing out is there is no such thing as mental illness, and Thomas Szasz—one of his books was titled The Myth of Mental Illness. Your brain can be ill, physical organ, but mental—your soul, your spirit—this is not physical. It can’t be ill because it has no physical properties to it!
One of the names of Jesus is Counselor. Let’s get back to His counsel and to His Word.