Some Unique Christian Views on Mental Health

Some Christians believe that mental illness is the result of backsliding, or surrendering to demons. Others disagree. Regardless of what you believe, some Christian authors may challenge your thinking on the following five issues discussed below.

"Mental Health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, is able to make a contribution to his or her community." - World Health Organization

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Photo by Angkor Wat | Source

(1) Correlation between Selfishness and Mental Illness

Collin Standish,1 PhD questions the popular view that lack of love and acceptance contributes to mental illness. He proposes that an individual who grew up with insufficient love, is better treated with teaching him to love than catering to his need for attention.

Standish illustrates that egocentricity is basic to each of the major forms of mental disorders (not resulting from physical causes) for example:

  • the paranoiac is obsessed with people trying to inflict him with physical harm
  • the schizophrenic, unable or unwilling to relate to his real social world, creates his own world of make believe
  • the depressive is usually over-concerned with the attitudes of others to himself
  • the suicidal performs the greatest act of egocentricity.

Standish proposes that “sound mental health demands an environment in which the child learns habits of selflessness by being taught how to play successfully with other children, how to be interested in the happiness of others, and the importance of sharing with others . . . It can most usefully be achieved by loving firmness until the child's will is positively involved in the behavior.”


(2) Who Should Treat Mental Illness?

Some conservative Christians are scared to accept treatment from mental health professionals because:

  • In Bible times, it was the priest who performed the role of doctor.
  • Prayer, hymns and Bible Reading should provide a cure for all mental illnesses.
  • Pioneers in the field of psychology (especially Sigmund Freud) proposed that faith in God is the reason for many mental illnesses.

Dr. Andreas Bochmann,2 pastoral counselor, encourages Christians to cooperate with mental health professionals. He provides a list of professions and roles field to help us understand how they interact.

  • Psychiatrist - medical doctor with specialized training in mental disorders; treats illness with medication
  • Psychologist - scientist who observes and describes behavior; has studied psychology not medicine.
  • Psychotherapist - trained psychologically not medically, the psychotherapist heals the soul, usually by talking with the patient; works with a medical model.
  • Psychoanalyst - psychotherapist who follows the methodology that was originally developed by Sigmund Freud, focusing on conflicts from the past and their impact on current life.
  • Counselor - mental health professional who works in similar ways to a psychotherapist, but does not work with a medical model. The focus is on preventing and managing various problems in life.
  • Pastoral Counselor - someone who has received both mental health and pastoral training, intentionally integrating spirituality into the process.
  • Pastoral Care Person - more of a function than a profession, this can be a pastor or any one in a church who by training or talent and helping attitude offers pastoral care to people in need.

Dr. Bochmann advises, "The fact that some people challenge our faith does not need to scare us, but can in fact help our faith to grow.”

(3) Mental Health Benefit of Meditation

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Photo by Vince Mig | Source

Meditation is among the many suggestions for maintaining mental health. Donald S. Whitney,3 seminary professor, points out that “While other types of meditation may suggest approaches to disengage the mind, Christian meditation aims to fill the mind with thoughts related to Biblical passages or Christian devotions.”

In fact, the Bible itself provides the subject matter for Christian meditation:

  • God's unfailing love ( Psalm 48: 9)
  • God's promises (Psalm 119: 148)
  • God's wonderful works (Psalm 145: 5)
  • God's statues (Psalm 119: 99)

Douglas Groothuis,4 seminary professor, warns, “No amount of chanting, breathing, visualizing, or physical contortions will melt away the sin that separates us from the Lord of the cosmos . . In the Bible, meditation always means pondering God's revealed truths and reflecting on how they pertain to us."

(4) Mental Health Benefit of Sabbath Rest

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Photo by David Castor | Source

The state of well-being includes “working productively and fruitfully” and the ability to “cope with the normal stresses of life.” Both these two aspects of mental health are addressed in the Scripture verse below:

  • You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 35:2).

Lisa Morrone,5 physical therapist and author comments: Setting the Sabbath apart from the busyness of the rest of the week breeds physical, mental, and emotional health by allowing us the opportunity to reflect, recreate, and recharge.

Roy Adams,6 seminary professor, puts it this way: Sabbath is about atmosphere; about a radical change of pace; about finding space for God; about making time for special communion with Him. It’s about expelling every intrusion within our power so as to create an environment in which spirituality can strengthen."


The Photographer
The Photographer | Source

(5) Correlation between Personal Faith and Mental Health

Finally, there is enough evidence7 to show that a personal religious faith is a valuable asset to mental health.

Here are just a few research findings on people's ability to cope with life's pressures:

  • Personal faith in recently widowed women offered them a greater sense of joy in life than in those having no faith.
  • Mothers of disabled children who had a religious faith were less subject to depression than those who did not have faith.
  • A strong faith was also shown to allow people to hold onto happiness after unemployment, serious illness, divorce, or bereavement.

"Although psychotherapists have often been dubious about the effects of religion on mental health, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that religiousness has a positive effect on overall mental health and well-being."8


References

  • 2Bochmann, Andreas; "Working Together for the Common Good" Mental Wellness Handbook, (High Wycombe, 2009, UK), pages 26 and 27.
  • 3Whitney, Donald S; "Meditating on God's Word," Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (NavPress 1997) Chapter 3, Part 2
  • 6Adams,Roy;' "Keeping the Sabbath," Adventist Review, Article 1207, 2007

© 2013 Dora Isaac Weithers

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46 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

We are commanded to not be of this world. Yet we are and cannot deny it. So we must be the best we can be in this world. So inevitably some answers are found here. If we deny them we delude ourselves. If there is beauty in a flower we should see it -- if there is help we should take it.

Marvelous and well done hub, thank you.


Romeos Quill profile image

Romeos Quill 3 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

An interesting, and well researched Hub article, with some very useful information. I think that every individual experiences a bout of mental illness at some point in their life - even the grief of loss is a temporary mental illness which requires Divine comfort. The New Testament is a thoroughly healthy psychology to imbibe, until folk start creating their own denominations - then all hell breaks loose, and besmirches the reputation of such a good and helpful guide, which offer the blueprints to real life, in it's fullness.Some poor psychology does not even accept sin to be the main problem entangling mankind, thus becoming the very disease it purports to cure.

Thank you MsDora, and hope you have a pleasant and productive week ahead.

Yours Sincerely,

Romeo's Quill


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

another one of your better put together hubs.. never heard the term backsliding.. interesting.. you are very informative.. and clear that's what makes your hubs stand out MsDora Bless you


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Information packed article. thank you.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I have heard this before and I happen to believe it...the principles of Christianity lead to a better sense of self-worth and humility, and that leads to a positive outlook and that leads to better health. Sounds outlandish but I've seen it work over the course of my lifetime.

Thank you, Dora, and have a wonderful week.

bill


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, thank you. "If there is help we should take it." We're on the same page.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Romeos, thanks for your valuable input. Glad to know you're so passionate about the authority of the Bible. A great week to you, too.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, what sweet encouragement! Thank you and bless you too!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

MHatter, heading over you soon. After all the research, I need a laugh! Thank you for your comment.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Bill, thank you for your affirmation. Your opinions mean much to me. I appreciate your input.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

A certainly interesting and useful hub here on Christians and Their Unique Facts on Mental Health, great facts and every person is entitles to an opinion.


Verily Prime 3 years ago

Thanks for the discussion and provided the input of so many... as for whether we as Christians need doctors for mental illnesses or otherwise, let us not forget that Luke was a physician and that the Lord is so merciful that He provided doctors of many stripes, notwithstanding that He heals and that He has given many of his children that gift of healing, be tit hrough the gift of prayer or medicine. Again, thank you Sister for the timely lesson.


lambservant 3 years ago

Very well researched and written. Standish's remarks are horrifically offensive and strikingly indicate his profound and total ignorance and lack of knowledge on the nature and cause of mental illness. Most mental illnesses are biological in nature - schizophrenia, bipolar, clinical depression (though not all are) , and obsessive compulsive disorder, to name a few. These illnesses are not a result of character defects (egocentrism, selfishness etc) or spiritual deficiency or lack of devotion to God.

I struggle with a mood disorder and PTSD. The former is is biological disease (the other has biological repercussions) and is treated primarily with medication, but therapy (Christian counselor) to help manage stress and receive spiritual support. It is interesting to note that this particular disorder is greatly exacerbated by stress, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise. Doctors tell me often sleep, exercise and managing stress are imperative (Christ helps me with the stress). Life situations cause stress, stress taxes the chemicals in the brain which is why it also is part of the biology of this condition.

All illnesses known to man, including mental illness, can affect one spiritually is but not often the cause. Mental illness affects us body, soul, and mind. But it is not caused by a spiritual or character problem. I have found a great deal of comfort and strength from Christ in my struggles and I am so very thankful. But like diabetes or hypothyroidism, I still need the medical side of it taken care of. If someone says, "I was just diagnosed with diabetes," would you tell them they had sin in their life or need to read the Bible and pray more? Of course not. But we would offer to pray for them and encourage them. I have prayed for healing and so far have not. Christ does not always heal and it is not because I have sinned.

A person from church came up to me after church several years ago when I was having a rough day that apparently showed, and asked if I would be willing to allow some people to cast the demon out of me. I should have been hurt, but she said it with ignorance, and love and concern. Rather than get upset, I forgot my anxiety for the moment and showed her the Scriptures that tell us Satan and God cannot dwell in the same body, that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue, the point is the person is hurting, in distress and needs support. Christ tells us to love each other...ALWAYS. It is a commandment. To condemn is to sin.

John MacArthur is very sternly against the thought that mental illness is an illness that it is a character or spiritual problem, with exception of a few. Judge and jury. How he may have caused pain to those who suffer.

The stigma of mental illness is horrific and I have suffered a lot because of it. Especially lately. The dictionary definition of stigma is "a mark of disgrace." Oh, that hurts. This happens because of fear and ignorance. What we don't understand leads to myths and misunderstandings and wrong conclusions. We (those who suffer) get slammed with the stigma and rejection and judgment. Please love, please don't judge, get informed, and again love. I wrote a hub on the stigma of mental illness and it's myths. http://hubpages.com/health/The-Truth-About-Menal-I...

Thank you for a well done hub. Much love.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

DDE, thank you very much. Glad you found the article useful.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for your input, Verily Prime. Healing through prayer or medicine is a gift from God and deserves our gratitude.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Lambservant, thank you for your honest comment. I appreciate your illustrations using your personal situation. There are so many things we do not understand unless we learn from experience. It is very serious to hurt people more who are already hurting.

I read your article, voted it up, Liked it and Pinned It. Thank you very much.


sheilamyers 3 years ago

Great hub! I know there are a lot of Christians who don't believe in the use of mental health providers, but I'm not one of them even though I've never went to one. I think we should start at the "local" level and seek the advice and guidance of a pastor or someone else within the our church family. If that doesn't work, then we can work our way up. The exception would be for anyone who appears to be an immediate threat to themselves or others.


mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

Dear Lord save me from the mental health professional that believes mental illness is because of backsliding or demons or selfishness. I have always wondered why it was so difficult for some people to understand that there needs to be a good fit between the mental health professional and the consumer. There needs to be a good fit even when the service is free to the patient.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Sheila, I like the plan you lay out. Thanks you for such a sensible input.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Linda, you're right about needing a balance between the professional and the consumer. I wonder whether professionals would be included in those who believe in backsliding and demon possession as causes for mental illness. We have to keep looking for answers until we find what's right for us.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

Excellent article. The mentally ill people I know frequently take only about themselves.


Michael-Milec profile image

Michael-Milec 3 years ago

Hi MsDora.

... once walked the earth guest who came from heaven. He said, He's doing the will of the Father, who happen to be Creator of the Universe. Among many interesting other things , He was showing/ teaching us (those willing to know and believe- to believe and know), [ he even said those believing woul do the things He is doing, giving them authority to.]

While healing sick pointed out , yor faith made you well. Is there a patient's cooperation in healing process necessary?-abviously yes. One other aspect to successful healing is forgiveness . In this particular case the friends brought a paralytic , lying on a mat, when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, " take heart, son ; your sins are forgiven." And he walk away healed. [ This might sound more the biblical/ word believing healing.]

What am I saying here could be considered as a one person opinion, however in my lengthy journey on this terrestrial soil, I have been witnessing these miraculous " headings" , as well the progression of "mental" illness previously healthy person, drifting away from the godly principles engaging in " illegal drugs and alcohol consumption ." It's more obvious observing from close distance. Becoming painful when " mentally unhealthy" refuses to admit as well to "repent".

Do I suggest one sided solution for all ? A choicess we make in most serious cases , why not give a try to this biblical , NT method?

Voting up and interesting .

Have a blessed day.


mdgardner profile image

mdgardner 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

Great Hub!! As a Christian and a mental health professional, I understand that a combination of medication and counseling is the best treatment. Some mental health issues are biological and genetic in nature. I agree that having a spiritual connection is helpful with dealing with mental health issues as long as we continue to follow professional recommendations. I really enjoyed this.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Tireless, thank you for your input. Perhaps some of our friends who are not diagnosed, give themselves away by their conversation.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Michael, I hear your appeal to try the biblical approach to healing. Yes, miraculous healings do take place, and even when there is no prayer involved, we know that it is God who heals.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

MD, I appreciate your input very much. To begin with, glad you liked the article. I pray that your Christian influence in your work pleases your patients.


epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Very well-written hub. I learned something too as I never really knew there was this kind of controversy about it. I think it's up to the individual for the kind of help they are seeking. Everyone has their own reasons and know what they feel comfortable with. I think it also depends on which phase of life they are in at the current time. Some may need spiritual guidance at certain points in their lives and at others, they may need to see a mental health professional.


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

Excellent hub. Useful information. I agree with Bill. Meditation is very healing as well. I agree with that quote. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) each and everyone of us has a disorder. I've read about this. It's funny because the ones who don't need to see a therapist are usually the ones that seek therapy and the ones that really need it think they don't need it and so they don't get help.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Dear MsDora,

You have once again presented such an interesting and comprehensive hub here.

For me, it is my faith and trust I place in my Lord God that undoubtedly will get me through any of those hard times. I not only believe in Him, but believe Him and His promises and claim them for me, my family and all. I could not imagine going just one day without meditating on His Word, for He is truly the Giver of Life.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

EP, I agree with your middle-of-the-road attitude. In the end, it's a personal decision.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

LoveDoctor, your observation is really funny. Even that shows that we are all in need of help.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith, thank you for your comment. Believers have the Word Therapy which promotes mental health every day.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 3 years ago from Central Texas

Without my faith I don't think I could have ever gone forward after my son's death. I find that life is as it is -- often cruel and debilitating. Faith has given me courage over the long haul and trusting our Lord has been my rock my entire life. Excellent work here! Best/Sis


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Angela, thank you for sharing your testimony of faith. Without a doubt, stability in the Rock of Ages helps to stabilize our mental health.


poetforlife profile image

poetforlife 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas.

MsDora what a great article. Your are such a great writer and you covered all of the bases. I strongly believe that if not for my higher power (God), I would have had serious mental issues because of some of life's challenges. Thank you for writing such a moving piece.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 3 years ago from West Virginia

Very informative article MsDora. You certainly researched this subject very well. I believe in God and everything Christianity represents. I do believe in demons because I know that their real. However, I don't believe that mental illness is a sign of being possessed. Technology has came so far over time and we know what many of the causes of mental illness are. Although the human body is magnificent in design, it's still very fragile. I don't even see how mental illness and possession can be compared. Rather then judging these people, it should be a reminder of how blessed and lucky we are to not suffer from mental illness. I'm not perfect by any stretch, but I do my best to live life right and abide by the Lord. I do believe in healing and miracles, anything is possible with God. I've had my own experiences with the devil and I know it wasn't brought on by mental illness. I may be wrong for believing this personal belief, but this is my opinion. I know science and the Bible clash all the time, but science has made many improvements in our life. MsDora, a very interesting topic and I hope you don't mind my personal opinion. I just feel that mental illness is not caused by possession, rather elements in hereditary and others that we can't control. Voted up, useful, interesting, and shared on FB.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you poet. I' m with you. I also know that if it weren't for God . . . . "


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Lyric Writer, I am very pleasantly surprised at your confessions about Christianity. As my friends would say, "I didn't know you had it in you." Thanks a million for your valuable input. Don't mind your personal opinion. Getting to know you, and it's a pleasure.


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

Excellent! I found this article on "Christians and Their Unique Facts on Mental Health", to be extremely insightful. Mental health issues for some are devastating and I am sure that in centuries past Christians viewed these conditions as demonic possessions. I am sure that even today there are those with the same beliefs, but, mental health issues are indeed medical conditions and need to be dealt with by medical professionals. However, I also believe that spirituality can indeed help those with mental health issues by bringing a little more peace and focus into their lives. You did an amazing job at showcasing various perspectives on this issue. Thank you for sharing! (Voted Up) -Rose


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Rose. You state your insights very clearly, and I totally agree with you.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

Thanks for sharing this hub. Really, if we have clear conscience and believe in the Gospel of God, we will encounter mental problems that can ruin and destroy our well-being as a whole.

We will interpret the things we see in a wider setting and will understand why such aberrations exist.

We will never be frightened by outside forces that can affect our normal thinking because the anchor of our belief is centered to the Lord.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Travel_Man, good to see you here. Thank you for reading and making a contribution to this article. God bless you!


fivesenses profile image

fivesenses 3 years ago from new delhi

There is a lot of stigma attached to mental illness all over the world and your hub is quite an eyeopener on mental health.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you for your comment, five senses. Mental health should be everyone's concern; we are all affected by mental ill-health either in ourselves or in someone close to us.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 2 years ago

MsDora, this topic hits home with me.

At age 4, my son was deemed a "bad" child at a Christian school. I brought him to church 4 times a week. Eventually, we were asked to leave. I was told by the church secretary that my kind wasn't welcome there because of my undisciplined son. Those were her words.

My son has Autism. And while he is so gifted and smart, he does have issues which hinder socially acceptable ways of thinking. The first time I ever heard that Autism was considered a mental illness was when a Christian relative told me my child has mental illness. I said he does not, he has Autism. She responded, if it's not mental illness then what is it? (Of course her children are perfect in her eyes.)

I really hate the stigma society places on children with special needs.

I really hate the stigma society projects on to parents with children with special needs.

Most of all, I really hate that people have no tolerance to those that are outside of what everyone thinks is normal.

While I have known really mean-spirited people in my lifetime, I can vouch for the fact that my son with special needs Loves the Lord! He loves Jesus. And he loves life.

So while my child is one of those deemed as a "bad" "undisciplined" child with mental illness, I look at those who have the capacity to say such things to me and feel so blessed to not be like them!

It takes a strong person to stand up to a crowd of stone throwers. Love is what it takes to appreciate someone who is different.

I have heard both sides of the argument. From people at church, and from professionals that work in psychiatry. And I also believe that mental illness has varying degrees. For example, I know someone with a personality disorder that's meaner than a hornet. Sometimes it seems that she does do things on purpose and selfishly even though I know she can't help it.

And then I think to myself, God shows me mercy every day. God grants me grace. And that's how I hope I treat others. Because I would never look at someone with cancer and say they caused it on themselves, so why on earth would I look at someone with mental illness and say it's just a ploy for attention?


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Crafty, thank you for your input on this topic. Autism is a mental disorder, and the victim has the same social rights to fellowship as all of us.

Churches need to educate the congregation, especially officers, how to respond to the mentally challenged. God extends open arms to all of us with our different issues; His followers should do the same.

Let Him use you to help make people aware. May He make smooth the path for you and your son, going forward. Sincerely, MsDora.

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