Calvin’s Corner

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9 Responses

  1. Linda Pappas says:

    Very interesting program on the mental health within the Christian community.

    As a Christian, who also uses the King James, as a primary translation, and a mental health clinician, I thought I would comment.

    In my years, first as a student, then as a practitioner, historically speaking, it was anathema to even speak of God. Since about 2000 this has changed a great deal, yet there is far more acceptance of eastern thought and methods of healing, than to that of Christianity. In my practice, as well as colleagues, who are Christians, establish acceptable approaches to treatment is the core of how clinical therapy is employed, while also integrating Christian concepts and principles if and only, if the client/patient so request this.

    As for pressure within the Christian community regarding mental health, it is very true that their are some who are greatly troubled in mixing psychology and Christianity. It was during the first semester of my community college years that I became a system. I can remember an immediate sense of panic when coming to the realization that by now being in the Lord, my desire to go into the helping profession, was not going to be easy and might even bring me to a place of having to pick one over the other. Over the course of years of education—I have been severely challenged from with the academia, among brothers/sisters, and within myself the legitimacy of psychology (study of the mind), however, by the time had had completed my coursework and doing thousands of hours if the field, I had learned to negotiate the territory and to come to a better understanding of many camps concerning this schism between Christianity and the clinical field of psychology. In this, I have found this to be true:

    1) Oftentimes, the naysayers of either camps negate the other due to having problems themselves but do not want to explore the opposing camp in fear of dealing with a psychological or a spiritual issue.

    2) In each camp there is a lack of compassion, education, and bias without adequate research done to see how they are more alike and where each can compliment the other in enabling a person to obtain relief for whatever they may; be suffering.

    2) The field of psychology is wide and varied and have many schools of thought regarding the approach/methodology for treatment of a particular mental health condition. Diagnosis is based upon symptoms and results gained through the medical community, including the use of such supportive services as a nutritionist, as indicated depending upon the presenting symptoms and collateral information, such as historical factors, such as trauma, abuse, addiction, relational and family history. Depending upon what these symptoms are, they can be clustered to fit a pattern that will give the clinician a pretty clear picture of what type of mental health diagnosis that needs to be treated.

    3) As for mental health issues being found in the Bible–absolutely. As for sin being behind mental health illness—can be, but for the individual, most likely it is not. Yet, there are principles that can be integrated within a person’s life that can ease and greatly improve a person’s mental health status. For instance, a person may have grown up in a household that was quite dysfunctional, This could have an affect on them as well. They may have suffered many types of abuse or even witnessed it in their home. It is not uncommon to find out years, later that all this stress, fear, and protective defenses that have now become a part and parcel of their body, mind, and brain is now affecting their ability to cope and to deal effectively in their adult relationship as a parent, a spouse, and as a member of society. Biblically speaking, we can employ compassion, while addressing those core issues that have now developed into medicating oneself by misusing things that clearly does not fix the problems. At the same time, the person can be placed on various meds to balance the chemical imbalance that has now taken place within the brain as result of many, many years of being out of balance due to the physiological and psychological affects upon the mind and body–and I would venture to dare say the spirit, as well.

    There are some mental disorders that have yet to be fully explained or understood by the psychological community—I believe this has some to do with the reluctance to understand or perhaps, more accurately, to keep psychology away from the idea that people do have what the Bible terms as sin in their lives and it is because of this or these sins, they continue to feed it until they become mentally disordered. A good example would be Saul, in his pride and ego, became very narcissistic, paranoid, controlling, and abusive towards his family members. He suffered terribly from the choices he was making, but could not see beyond himself to have the empathy needed to be a leader, much more a father, and friend to his own children. He became isolated, locked up in a growing world of delusions and could not trust anyone, nor could he be trusted for at any given moment he was quite given to picking up a spear to drive it through the heart of those who loved him the most. Although, he was given the resources to turn back from the direction he was going, he chose not to do so and in so choosing, his thoughts and behavior became more and more disordered. To the point of falling upon his own sword and dying with his prideful heart intact.

    4) As for brain tomography, we can seen changes, however, as far as the cause of those changes, not all can be determine and many that are said to be genetically cause are only theories, yet to be proven. Depending upon a clinician decision to go along with this or that school of thought concerning cause and effect, will have much to do with the treatment plan employed to treat their client or patient.

    5) One condition of mental illness can overlap another as well as, cause or create medical issues, such as depression, and thyroid problems.

    6) Nouthetic Counseling Methods are not considered to be on the same level as licensed mental health clinicians, nor are alcohol and drugs counselors, and hypnotist in most states. As for the first, I personally have found much wanting in the methods and approach they use to address those issues that can be easily exacerbated and causing further harm to a person. To say to a person they need to repent, in some cases this might be true, but in those who do have a mental illness that have affected the way the brain is now operating, this is not addressing the core issues of what needs to be explored with the client while learning to manage the inner life of a human being, that is not operating well in the first place, depending upon a multitude of factors.

    Finally, earlier while working with Dr. Martin at CRI, I had the privilege of meeting Dave Hunt and become familiar with his thoughts on mental health and mental illness and the methodology of the psychological community vs. biblical tenets and teachings. In the position that I held while working with Dr. Martin, I was also privy and took part in several discussions on this topic within the framework of friends among friends. Over the years, and since Dr. Martin’s passing into the Kingdom, I have seen those who have gone on to become licensed clinicians, including psychologist and psychiatrist, who are Christians
    become even more aware and conscientious towards integrating their faith and psychology while educating the public and both camps regarding how both can come together to assist the mental ill community and significant others to become more supportive and less contentious towards the other. I think this has much to do with what the naysayers in both camps had attempted for a very, very long time to discount and to invalidate. So, in a large part we can thank Dave Hunt in calling our attention to this as it has caused those who are Christians within this helping profession to provide a better understanding in their treatment approach by struggling with these issues and establishing evidence of the merits of doing so. In other words, they took the challenges that Dave Hunt and others have or are presenting and they have and do hold one another to an account, thereby also, increasing the acceptability of Christian thought into the psychological community of higher education and practice as well.

    There are many issues that church organizations do not want to become involved. Like or not, they remain problematic and left for the congregant to struggle with while trying to be in community with others. What usually happens is the person becomes disillusion with their faith and sooner or later will seek an alternate route to gain the healing that is so desperately needed and in fact, is available.

    True, our society is over medicated and under treated, both spiritually and psychologically, as well as, nutritionally, medically, and relationally. In listening to the program, I take it as a response to an article Michael had posted that had to do with a person who took issue with psychology overall. I read the article and thought the response of the author to the person who had issues with mental health services and its corresponding practitioners was appropriate, however, not as objective as it could have been less contentious and more academic in its discussion.

    By the way, the training of psychiatrist and psychologist are very different. However, not so with the psychologist, licensed social worker, and licensed marriage and family therapist. Psychologist have an additional two years of research and testing (non-medical/invasive) training. A psychiatrist is a medical student who elects to go into the field of psychiatry—that is, the prescribed medication for those suffering various symptoms of mental illness and disorders (learning, developmental, mood, thought, and organic diseases). Although part of their intern days are bathed in working in a mental health setting—usually a clinic or some level of psychiatric care facility, they do not provide mental health treatment but works with the providers, as mentioned in the above to facilitate treatment objectives to enable patients and clients to function at their respective optimal level.

    My final comment on this: there are many people who have misused the mental health system to medicate themselves. Unfortunately, we have an over medicated society and escalating medical costs, including those that domestic violence and addiction related. For the person on the streets, oftentimes, I have seen this contributing to the thought that mental health treatment is not effective, nor does it heal. I can see how one would think this when they are trying to operate within their own environment, be it, in the church, the home, or even on the road and wonder why in the world didn’t anyone do something about this person when they decided to hurt them or a loved one.

    Each camp can only be as supportive of the other when they are willing to step outside of their comfort zone to hear what the other does not know and should at minimum, consider the costs and alternatives of not doing so.

    It’s good to see this being presented on this program, guys. Thank you.

  2. Linda Pappas says:

    Editing:

    4th paragraph, line 3:

    “that I became a system” LOL

    that I became aware of the great divide between Christianity and Psychology.

    2. This would include thought and behavioral patterns observed or reported by the patient, client, others, as well as, what the clinician observed.

  3. Erunner says:

    Thanks for addressing the topic of mental health Phil and Michael. Thankfully there are strides within the church that are recognizing and now addressing mental illness with wisdom and compassion.

    People can argue until the cows come home as to the validity of psychology and psychiatry within the church but as they argue desperate people continue to slip through the cracks not receiving help that could help them.

    Believers need to know it’s safe to come forward for help knowing they won’t be stigmatized or judged for the battle they are trying to wage.

    Programs like what I just listened to and the efforts of so many others are what will help make a difference by the grace of God. Thank you for your kind words. Allan

  4. Michael says:

    Linda, Erunner…thanks for listening and for your comments.
    I get a little too emotional on this topic….

  5. Ms. ODM says:

    Michael- FYI – Dave Hunt was influenced by Martin and Deidre Bobgan of PsychHeresy Network on this subject. Biblical Counseling is what they all recommend, and that is wonderful for those who are looking for spiritual guidance. But when my little sister, a Christian, had a break with reality, snapped after a horrible thing happened to her young son, I took her to the Mirnith & Meyer Clinic hoping to find her emergency help. What a hellish experience that was. This was back in the late 1980s. They turned us away telling us she was beyond their expertise – pretty much they could only assist people with a neurosis, not a psychosis. She was in mental torment. So the next thing I did was call the Bobgans. They had nobody to refer us to and I listened to a half hour lecture about chemistry. We took her to the emergency ward of a hospital – they put her in the psych ward, treated her with meds and she was released a week later after coming back into reality. How do you give Bible verses to someone who can’t understand a word you’re saying but is in the state of terror and confusion?

    Another one of my sisters, after our little sister was controlled with meds, referred her to her Christian psychologist. That was another big fail. Both sisters decided all their problems were our mother’s fault and that we were raised in a dysfunctional family. That brought strife to our entire family — ugly stuff. And the money it cost to be fed a bunch of self-esteem BS was astronomical. The referring sister did not make a move – any decision in life – without first consulting her ‘christian’ shrink.

    So meds saved my little sister – and they also ended up killing her. Ten normal years later she had to be treated for a non-mental condition and was given high dosages of the steroid Prednisone. One of the side-effects she suffered with were hallucinations. So they had to prescribe her an anti-psychotic drug to combat the side-effects. A week after taking the meds that helped some symptoms but created others, she took the whole bottle and ended her misery. Afterwards we looked up the side-effects of that drug and it said ‘suicidal thoughts’ were a common side-effect.

    There are so many angles to this subject and so much mad science going on as well. Psychiatry seems to be a guessing game. Psychology is adapted to the practitioner’s worldview – and that can be disastrous. And pills can heal and pills can kill.

    I agree with you — mental illness is not a spiritual condition. It can be though – in the case of demonic oppression/possession — and most clinicians either don’t recognize it or don’t believe it exists.

    This is too broad a topic to think there is only one answer. As far as the church goes — when they cannot or will not assist people with such symptoms — there’s a big gaping hole in the Body of Christ.

  6. Linda Pappas says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. Thank you sharing. Believe me, I know the nightmare it can be in getting medical and mental health care when you really need it and it seem as though you are hitting your head against a brick wall, when all you need is for some to say: come on in, and we can at least talk and discuss what options are available. If we cant address, we will help you find someone that can. At least, this is the way it is supposed to go, professionally and ethically.

    Dr.Martin did not agree with Dave Hunt on his opinion of psychology overall. However, within psychology, Dr. Martin did not support the emphasis on such things as eastern mysticism techniques being used as he felt that it could open the door to satanic influences and harm to a person that needed to have the traditional psychological treatment. Dr. Martin would argue the field of psychology was as valid as any other field that had to do with the mind, body, and soul of a person.

    Dave Hunt learned much from Dr. Martin concerning apologetics and in this, along with their friendship Dave’s ministry took off on its own. Again, Dr. Martin would be the first person to get someone into treatment. He was not adverse to it, nor treatment require the clinician or psychiatrist to be a Christian. He use to say that if your heart stop beating and you need a triple bypass are you going to stop the doctor from operating if he tells he is an atheist. Of course, not. You are going do whatever it takes to keep that heart beating. Just as much as you will if you need mediation to stabilize you so that you don’t jump off that bridge or hurt another person.

    I am so sorry to hear about your sister and your family having to beat down the doors to get the meds and treatment for her diagnosis. I am familiar with Minirth/Meier clinics. I know in the 80’s they had their main facility in Texas, then began opening up smaller clinics in California and other states. At their primary site, they used licensed clinicians, but at the other sites, as with many clinics, even today, because they can keep the overhead down will use interns more than hiring on licensed clinicians.

    Few interns elect to do their hours at a psychiatric hospital and few interns are invited to do so. I did my intern hours at multitude of sites, 7 years at more than one place, due to the particular area of expertise that I wanted to focused upon, and to accumulate specific hours that were required within a number of treatment modalities/clientele. More time than none though, interns will stay at one site. It is rare to find any clinic or corporate owned practice that staff is less than 50% of interns. Even rarer to find interns doing their hours working with the more severely mentally ill person simply because it requires a certain type of clinician (and I believe that is gifted) to work with this segment of our population without getting burned out.

    The professional and ethical standard requires that a clinician does not practice outside their scope of practice and expertise. it ‘s my hunch, this is why M/M told you they could not treat your sister. Did they provide any referrals or suggest to you to contact your healthcare plan or refer you to the county mental health department at that time. Or was it a phone call that you made to introduce to them what was going on with your sister and then told that they don’t handle type of care and treatment that your sister needed?

    Not all licensed clinicians are equal in that not all clinician have an expertise in every area of mental health. Most will not treat severe chronically mentally ill person and few will treat such persons who have been diagnosed as schizophrenia and the cluster B Personality Disordered. But for those who do, they are very good at what they do and some are even Christians. Also, there is a difference between wholistic and holistic approaches to treatment. The first having to do with treating the whole person and the second has to do with using approaches that are more eastern philosophical centered ( which Dr. Martin took issue with. Dave just wanted to throw the baby out with the bath water. In treating the whole person, it is understood that one system can very much affect other systems of a person, including their spiritual well-being. However, the spiritual part of a person is normally viewed being either part of the problem or part of the healing process, but certainly not necessarily the primary problem or even solution.

    A person must be stabilized first and that requires various tests and possibly medication, depending what the symptoms are being presented. Unfortunately, when a person does become stabilized, they begin to feel better and then stop taking their meds because the medication they take are very, very strong and have unwanted side affects. But when they do the internal world and the outer world begin to spin out of control for that person. It is in this state, they will begin to become psychotic and when this happens, it’s a downward spiral unless they have learned ahead of time that when those symptoms start popping up, they immediately tell their care taker or who ever to help them go to the ER to get them stabilize again. Mental health be as much a part of emotional, physiological, psychological, biological, as a spiritual issues. God has made the person to contain several systems all in one. When one part hurts, it affects other parts of the person. People are unique yet very similar, each have their own particular vulnerabilities and strengths, but sooner or later, what system it does affect, there will be a domino affect upon the rest of those system, including one’s spiritual well-being.

    Mrs. ODM – if comfortable, can you share what your sister mental health diagnosis was and was she given to misusing alcohol and or other drugs (legal or RX’s), particularly when not wanting to take the meds (most meds of this nature have awful side affects, so it is not unusual that they would do this, particularly if they had become stabilized – meaning they were not experiencing hallucinations or delusions, panic attacks, anxiety, or depressive symptoms).

  7. Ms. ODM says:

    From what I recall they just called it a nervous breakdown. Later she suffered from Lupus and thus the beginning of the end for her. We took her to MM/clinic physically and it’s been a long time ago, but I think they just turned us away without referring us anywhere. There was also evidence that she came under demonic attack – and at the time many of us thought that those drugs for Lupus messed with her mind and opened her up to such – I still believe that. The church does not help with such things as that — I don’t even think most clergy believe in the invisible bullies/enemies. I was friends with Hunt and Martin and took a position somewhere in the middle. I agreed and disagreed with each of them on certain points regarding this. I had to learn much the hard way and with great loss. And neither of them were able to help us at the time. That’s why I determined the Body of Christ let us down.

  8. Nonnie says:

    Mrs. ODM, thank you for sharing your painful story. There are just some things in gnus broken world that we cannot understand and cannot fix . We can only love them, pray for wisdom, and try to help as best we can.

  9. Nonnie says:

    ” this broken world….

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