Category Archives: Stigma

5 Ways to Refer People Who Hurt to Professional Mental Healthcare

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

25285772 young woman consoles senior adult female

A sixty year old woman had two grown sons in their late twenties still living at home. They stole food, borrowed the car without asking, and paid no rent. The mother grew severely depressed over this, as every line she drew, her husband erased.

“I don’t think I can take much more”, she said. “I need someone to hear me, talk with me, and help me make it through another day.”

Occasionally we may run into someone whose mood appears deeper than most. It is short-sighted, and indeed dangerous to play diagnostician. Unless we are highly trained in psychology and therapeutic processes (at least a Master’s degree), we cannot claim to know what anyone needs. Our experience alone is not an accurate measure of the pain, disorder, or mental health of someone else. 

How can we suggest a troubled person see a professional? 

A general fear of making such a suggestion is that the person may become angry or upset. The key to any kind of diplomacy is calm, respect, and truth. 

Option 1:  “I care about your well-being. Your needs are greater than I can meet. How about seeing a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, to find out if more can be done medically or through therapy?”

At that point, you may offer to find such a doctor or drive to the first appointment. If the person you are referring prefers to start with his or her General Practitioner, help to compile a thorough list of symptoms to take to the doctor’s office. 

Option 2:  “Many people who have felt hopeless have found greater satisfaction and well-being through a combination of medication and therapy. I’d like to see that happen for you.”

You may offer them a list of resources, and perhaps make the calls. 

Option 3:  “All this may seem hopeless to you now, but situations and people can change. Do you think your family would agree to family counseling? Even so, you deserve to focus on yourself until you regain a sense of control over your well-being. A therapist could teach you how to cope more easily.”

Option 4:  I’m concerned about your mood. Let me take you to the ER for an assessment. They will give you appropriate recommendations. I’m uncertain about your safety.” 

Smile with a non-judgmental attitude. Show you care through sincere, non-critical acceptance.

Option 5:  In an extreme case of suicidal threats, say,  “What you are telling me is important. I will take you to the hospital now or call 911. Which do you prefer?”

Every one I have met who has lost someone to suicide still struggles with the question, “why?” Many carry false guilt wondering, “What should I have done differently?” 

I try to remember I’d rather have someone mad at me than dead. A loved one I forced to go to the hospital was angry for years. The loaded shotgun found laying openly on the floor by his bed resolved any regret I may have momentarily felt. 

It is hard to confront people this way sometimes. It is worth it to see them healthy and whole.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 Corinthians 13:7 

Love … It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Your Great BIG List of Great Small Ideas for Supporting People Who Hurt

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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picture from MELOD12 on rgbstock.com

When someone speaks of a friend or loved one who is currently struggling with depression, what follows most often is, “I’ll leave them alone. They need their space.”

To me, that may be the saddest myth about emotional stress. Depression is the number one common denominator across all human suffering. Very few people want to be left alone in the midst of that kind of pain.

The question left for supports is, how do I let this person know I care without getting in over my head? Here are three categories from which to choose.

Include the person with depression whenever possible, but do not expect him or her to keep up right away. 

Your Great BIG List of Great Small Ideas

You have more time and energy to spare:

  • offer to find a doctor or therapist; take them to first visit
  • laundry/ housework help 
  • mow the lawn, shovel the snow, plant flowers
  • offer or arrange childcare 
  • give kids/youth rides to school/events
  • help with a move
  • help with a holiday – decorating, cooking…
  • meet regularly for Bible study
  • start a neighborhood Bible Study
  • organize a meal train
  • rides to doctor/therapist appointments 
  • read aloud and finish a book
  • help with taxes, budgeting
  • show the ropes in legal affairs
  • go to the bank for or with, and other errands
  • take time to study and learn about someone’s specific issue

You have less time and room for change in your routine:

  • phone calls, snail mail
  • food. material, or financial donations
  • visit in the hospital
  • gather and offer resources
  • invite this person to join you in your day’s plans
  • take a lonely person with you grocery shopping, out to a sale, or an exhibition
  • wash a car or take it to the car wash
  • ask good questions, actively listen
  • offer an invitation to join your family for dinner
  • change a flat tire
  • play a video game together online
  • watch a pet
  • drop off a meal/dish
  • invite to your favorite sporting event or your son’s little league game
  • watch tv together
  • grab a coffee together

You have little time and energy to spare:

  • encourage mutual friends to participate
  • send flowers or a fruit basket with a nice note
  • give a small yet thoughtful gift
  • pick up packages off the porch for safe-keeping
  • leave an encouraging note  
  • collect the mail
  • messenger, texts, social media, emails
  • cell phone calls on the run
  • pray, let this person know you are praying.
  • make those small connections if your paths cross. “I’m glad to see you.”
  • touch (with their permission- a hug, pat on the back, squeeze an arm)
  • make eye contact, smile, shake a hand warmly
  • inquire about his or her feelings and day. Tell about your day.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 Thessalonians 5:14

“…encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Struggle is Normal. Overcoming is Normal Too

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

It is normal to struggle. 

It is normal to struggle. 

Say that to yourself, and then say it to others.  Not everyone knows this truth. 

Recognize Normalcy

I’ve spoken well of previous therapists who helped to move me from suicidal despair to a life of hope and joy.  I was encouraged to change unhealthy thinking patterns and habits.

Due to my temperament and life experiences, much of what I felt in this process was a sense of failure at life. Had I known how normal my struggles were, how they are so common they have names in the psychology books, I would have felt less shame. 

Since that time, my research relating to advocacy has uncovered the truth. It is extremely beneficial to learn that much of how I’d been responding to life’s challenges was normal, even predictable, under the circumstances I’d been given.

Explore your possibilities 

If you equate struggle with shame, let it go. Humans have more in common than many of us realize.

Stress will produce anxiety. Ask, “What is known to help the myriad of people who overcome anxiety?” 

Depression is caused by many factors. It is appropriate to find out, “What works for the millions who recover every year?” 

Being an abuse survivor has some predictable outcomes. Your best question is, “What have others done to overcome horrible lies and victimization and to live to the fullest degree of joy?”  

Within our struggles, God offers good gifts:

  • The help of others
  • Opportunity to rely on Him 
  • Chances to refocus on new purposes

You see, overcoming is normal too. It happens all the time.

Stick to living, taking one day at a time. Allow yourself the privilege of humanness. Take advantage of God’s gifts. You will join the throng of people who make it through.  

 

Today’s Helpful Word

Hebrews 13: 5b-6

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with  confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*  crossing the bridge- Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

For One of the Least of These: Helping The Stranger

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

woman in black long sleeved shirt
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Dehumanizing a person in our thoughts or speech makes it easier to fear and hate. Dehumanizing a people group works the same way. Equating a race or gender with animals is one way in which society has dehumanized people. Another form of such dehumanization occurs when struggles with mental health are demonized or wrapped up in one word- crazy. 

Fear of people with histories of mental illness is reaching new extremes. Reporting on the very few violent types carelessly connects mental illness with murder. Truth is, the vast majority of people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence. Those who have attempted suicide are not going to “go off” and attack others. 

We need to better understand what brings a person to the point they are homicidal. Mental illness may be a factor, but is not a predictor. 

For example, a recent mass shooter was reported to have seen a psychiatrist. I believe the article said he had visited this doctor one time. The story implied that because he had seen a psychiatrist he must be crazy, and therefore ended up killing people. Here is another way of looking at it. He saw a psychiatrist only once, and did not follow through with treatment, hence did not accept the help offered to him. 

By equating “he saw a psychiatrist” with murderous behavior, stigma is encouraged. People who will benefit from psychiatric care may feel shamed into not going. 

Beyond mass shooters and other criminals are millions of people who for one reason or another struggle with mental illness to varying degrees. Instead of being knowledgeable and learning to practice healthy boundaries, we run away or ignore them.

We have each been a stranger. For whatever reason, we have each been judged. It has never benefited us to feel misunderstood. In this way, we can relate to those who are ostracized because of their mental health history. 

Here is today’s invitation. If you know someone with a past of mental illness, say hello.  This website offers information on how to be supportive. Simple internet searches will lead you to such information as well.

Be wise. I am not suggesting we ignore one’s history of violent behavior and invite them to hang out with our families. I am simply inviting you to avoid dehumanizing someone based on a history of mental illness. Let’s drop the negative assumptions and fear. Let’s drop the hate and “lock ’em all up” attitude which is growing in the U.S.

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it to me.’

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

No One Cares How Much You Know

Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

We have all met Jack. He is generally uneducated, does not care to read, his television favorites are mindless, and yet he knows the answer to nearly every problem other people have.  He tends to be bold, thoughtless, crass, or even obnoxious. We do not enjoy his company.

Then there is Mack. He has earned several degrees from reputable schools. Mention a person’s problem to him, and he mentally shakes his head at all the ignorance in the world. His dismissive wave of the hand is only figurative because he trusts that outward decorum speaks well of his intelligence. We sometimes enjoy being seen in his company.

We are familiar too with Zack. He is quiet and seemingly empty of  conflict or points of view. He will not follow-up or show active concern when faced with problems of those about him. He seems nice enough, and we spend time with him because it would be rude to not.

Of these three, to whom would we be likely to turn in times of emotional distress? Why or why not?

Jack, Mack, and Zack will not change the world for the better. Being an influence for good means caring about a problem, asking good questions, and making personal sacrifice. 

When we are in emotional distress, the least helpful support is someone spouting know-it-all claims to fix the situation. Apathy and silence can be even more cutting. 

To be supportive of friends or family members who are struggling with their emotions, this is an old saying worth remembering:  No one cares how much you know until he or she knows how much you care.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12:9

Love must be sincere.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*pics from qualityphotos.com

 

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.   

Don’t Ask. Do Tell

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

The ‘source of all truth’, or the internet as some people call it, arms arguments with substantiated and unsubstantiated statistics and claims. 

“Don’t Ask. Do Tell” is a mindset where opinions rank above questions.  This form of non-critical thinking seems to have taken control over social media.  Memes abound with sound bites and comments taken out of context. Credit is given for quotes to people who never said them. Opinions, not journalism, reign over much of what we find to read. It is our responsibility to check facts before spreading finely spun tales.

Asking questions takes time and energy, I know.  For example, Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a military policy regarding gay rights instituted in the 1990s in the USA.  Maybe it took some reading to realize this post is not about that.

It is simpler to rest a weary body and mind and take in what people who agree with us say. Yet asking what is true, and searching opposing arguments does not threaten truth.

Truth will rise to the top if we use critical thinking skills. What is the evidence? What were the words a person actually used? What is the context? What is the person repeating this statement or claim gaining by doing so? We can never know anyone’s motive without their direct explanation. Never. No, not ever.

Do ask before telling.  

By accepting only what those who agree with us have to say, we stay small and uninformed. By filtering everything through cynicism, we remain trapped in doubt. By assuming anything at all about another person, we react in ignorance. 

Critical thinking will support our mental health. Commonly, when we struggle with a mood disorder such as depression, our outlook is negative. One of the strategies we can use to help ourselves is to ask deeper questions. Did so-n-so say exactly what we feel they meant? Could a person hurt another by acting out of fear or confusion? Are we mind-reading? These are bare minimum questions, and can begin your trek to discovery. 

As supports of someone with a mood disorder, we ask this: Was the character of this person different when he or she was well? What is the evidence that mood disorders respond well to treatment? Does it make sense that someone would choose to experience depression?

Do ask. And once you have the reasonable truth, decide what to tell.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 10: 18-20

To hide hatred is to be a liar; to slander is to be a fool.  Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow!  When a good man speaks, he is worth listening to, but the words of fools are a dime a dozen.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*text pic by XYMONAU; punctuation by STARISOB, both of rgbstock.com

 

Suicide Prevention – What NOT to Say or Do

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Attention:  (If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I recommend you not read this particular article. Instead, go to a survivors of suicide support site.)

If you are reading this because you want to know the best possible ways to prevent suicide, you are not alone. Many family members and friends, if not most, who find that a loved one has fallen into a deep pit of despair, try their best to help.  Love is not the only solution, however.  Stigma guides most people instead of facts.  For that reason, I am glad you are here.

Suicide prevention is a recurring theme at Always The Fight Ministries. After seven years, my point of view on suicide prevention has not changed. We prevent attempts and deaths by increasing effective support for those who hurt. The key to providing effective support is knowledge.  

This is Suicide Prevention Month in the U.S.A.  Suicide is scary as a topic and reality.  Fear can lead us to a thirst for knowledge, or we may hide, or try to make difficulties disappear by using anger.  Here are some of the UNhelpful reactions to severe depression and suicide that I have witnessed or heard, or heard about.   

What to Avoid:  Vitriol, Distance, Distrust, and Bewilderment 

Vitriol

A suicidal person asked a family member to dole out their sleeping pills for safety reasons. Instead, the family member placed the full bottle on the night stand next to the one who was struggling to stay alive.   

“Why save lives? If someone wants to die, why not let him kill himself and decrease the surplus population?” 

“[He] was weak. With all that money, he could have got help. He was totally selfish.”

Distance 

“It is none of our business.”

“Don’t you play the suicide card with me!”

“I don’t know what to say or do.  I’ll leave him alone – he needs his space.”

“If I mention suicide,  I might push her toward it. We won’t talk about it.”

Distrust 

“If someone can hurt himself or herself,  he or she must be capable of violence. This same person might “snap at any time”  and harm someone else!”   [I cannot count how many times I have heard this misinformation.] 

“I do not believe in mental health disability. I just don’t!”

“Depression is not an illness. It is just self-pity.”

“Suicidal thinking is caused only by demons that have to be cast out. Then the person is fine.”

“People who attempt suicide and don’t die, didn’t mean it. They just want attention.”

Bewilderment

One spouse pleaded and shouted in frustration because her husband was hiding in a closet, too depressed to face the world. 

“How can I fix my depressed husband?”

“She attempted so many times, it’s just manipulation.”

Misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the facts are the basis for the above reactions and comments.  For helpful reactions that go a long way toward prevention of suicide, click here.

Today’s Helpful Word

Job 16:

“I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you. But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.”  – Job speaking to his friends while he is suffering

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*speech bubble by STARISOB of rgbstock.com; two woman from kozzi.com

 

My Response to “The Sins of Psychotherapism” by Bruce Davidson, PsychoHeresy Ministries.

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

The Sins of Psychotherapism by Bruce Davidson of PsychoHeresy Ministries, is an opinion piece (link is below) outlining serious charges against the world of psychological study and therapists who work within it.  I respect Davidson for his thoughtful work,  and his efforts and desire to help people. We just disagree. This blog is my answer to his claims.

Terminology matters

About 2 years ago, a LinkedIn self-described BIble teacher, began to call me names and undermine my character simply because of my terminology. Yes, he was rude, but was he right?

He made an assumption about me, whom he had never met, based on my ministry title of “advocate.” That is,  because I advocate for recovery, he thought I was steering people away from the message of repentance.

My point at the time was that “recovery” is a process. Repentance may stop a behavior, but even if your problem is not addiction, recovery is involved. God gives us insight into who he is so we can turn to him and repent of sin. After that, changing how we think takes time. Isaiah 1:16,17 supports this concept of the recovery process. “…Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right.”

Terminology matters, however readers and writers alike must know what words mean. In the world of stigma, some words are defined in black and white instead of in the open concept they deserve.

Motives are not worn on our sleeves

Today, I stumbled across the Davidson article. He is strong on a few points as he takes flawed psychological notions to task. I noticed however, that he claims psychotherapy promotes false assumptions. He writes, “Furthermore, psychotherapism has encouraged the trend of judging people’s motives and speculating on their secret thoughts rather than looking at their explicit views and outward behavior.”

I believe his article does just that – judges people’s motives and speculates. Anytime a ministry is formed around shouldn’ts, there will be problems. For example, he builds his arguments against the historic roots of modern psychotherapy “instituted by Freud, Jung, and others.” He seems to completely disregard current fields of study that oppose those original theories and styles.

The traditional idea of psychotherapy is the patient lying on a couch and talking on and on while the therapist says little to nothing. I am in full agreement this is likely not going to get the job done. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy do not look like that old model.

Personally, my life changed when CBT taught me it was possible to think differently.  It helped to renew my mind by challenging old thought patterns. Eventually, my eyes opened to God’s love and to many false beliefs about the world and how to fit in it.  I learned how to take thoughts captive as taught in 2 Corinthians 10:5.*

No one preached at me, or forced a greater faith. Instead, because my goal was already to honor God, and I was Biblically literate, talk therapy served as a catalyst for applying Biblical truth.  With a broad sweep, Davidson and others who agree with his assertions,  shove talk therapy into the trash. They do not know me (or you) or how God wants to work in our  lives.  Hence, miscalculation of their assumptions.

Not everything fits in one box

Davidson used this quote as partial evidence for his point. “In One Nation Under Therapy, Satel and Hoff-Sommers define [psychotherapy] as ‘pathologizing normal human emotion, promoting the illusion that we are very fragile beings, and urging grand emotional displays as the prescription for coping.’ To that they add the belief that ‘psychology can and should take the place of ethics and religion.'”

Let’s be clear. Not all psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists have pulled their own heads out of the ground. Some have twisted beliefs, others have twisted personalities. Unfortunately, not all professionals are “professional.”

In my years of seeking mental healthcare, with some success and some not-so-great experiences, not once has any provider encouraged fragility or “grand emotional displays.”  On the contrary, they taught strength and mood control.

I learned that hiding emotion kills people, not that every emotion needs expression. It makes little sense to refuse an entire field of study because of the wrong or misguided ideas of some. Plenty of both secular and Christian therapists help clients uncover root issues, that if left unfaced, would continue to steer their lives toward self-destruction.

We make choices

It is the responsibility of both client and provider in any realm of interaction, to submit to or ignore God’s wisdom. The world-at-large will choose to ignore. If you are a Christian, and struggling with your thoughts and emotions, wise counsel is part of what the Great Physician prescribes.  Proverbs 12: 6, 15, 18  tell us the value of such advice.  “… the speech of the upright rescues… the wise listen to advice… the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Davidson’s statement that focusing on childhood wounds “naturally” breeds resentment of one’s parents, is flat-out wrong. Like people who choose to abuse, we choose to resent or not.  Awareness of childhood wounds and the roles of all concerned brings closure. I could begin to forgive others and myself, directly due to taking the time to understand.

Davidson claims pastors have turned from preaching salvation to extolling self-realization. If the definition is as Webster’s says, “fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality” (italics mine), then yes, it can be a prideful endeavor. None of us is capable as fallible beings to wholly fulfill anything without God or even human support.

What I suggest Davidson does not seem to appreciate is that lack of self-awareness is the cornerstone of denial. When our identity is lost in the temporal, we cannot live the life God has planned for us. Introspection unveils poisonous roots, God’s Word casts light where understanding is dark.  By teaching our possibilities under God’s authority, pastors can help us realize lives of purpose that bring God honor.

The 10-letter four-letter word

As for “self-esteem,” that word so demeaned in some Christian circles, I believe lack of it undermines appreciation of God’s glory. If I feel less-than, what does my testimony say about God’s creative power? No, my view of self-worth does not change the Great I AM.  By learning to fully appreciate God’s design choices, I have confidence to credit him without drawing attention to myself.

I do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.  Common terms familiar to the study of human behavior, such as recovery and self, among others, are useful and meaningful when applied with truth and understanding of how they can work in real-life application. To refuse to accept them at all, we spread the stigma that treatment is bad. Sick people stay sick, and despairing people die.

Terms, motives, choices… Let me know what you think.  Read Davidson’s entire article at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/07/the_sins_of_psychotherapism.html

 

Female Student Talking To High School CounselorToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 1:5 

“…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

* 2 Corinthians 10:5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

What is the Eternal Fate of One Who Dies By Suicide?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In a church two years ago, after sharing my story of recovery after a suicide attempt and discussing major depression,  a member approached and said, “Suicide sends people to hell because it is a sin, and there is no time to repent.”  This sentiment was once more prevalent.  Most often today, surviving loved ones and pastors talk about God’s mercy and understanding.

I am asked frequently whether people who die this way go to heaven. It is not my intention to cop-out  and avoid this important discussion. Nevertheless,  I would rather ask a different question.

Who is God?

God is Holy.  This means that in him there are no sin, wrongful motives, evil thoughts, or anything of the like.  Our mockery and disbelief prevent us from knowing him, they do not diminish his holiness.

We are to reverently serve him because he IS. In him we move and breathe and have our being.  He merely spoke and the world began.  Let us stand in awe of him!

This is not to say he is angry and vengeful.  On the contrary, his nature is love and goodness. Relying on him, on his unfailing love, is to know blessings of peace and joy, even in times of pain. However he is just, and does respond to evil with judgment.

Like a child who wants to copy daddy,  we begin to mimic our Father God when we trust him and learn to obey his instructions. Looking elsewhere for the value, mercy, love, freedom, and rescue that only God can provide is not only foolish, but sin. It hurts him, others, and ourselves.

This is not to say that one who fails to measure up to God’s high standards is doomed. On the contrary! God knows who he created. You and I are not lost on him. He saw every one of our days before one of them happened and made us anyway. That is love! His promise of eternal life with him is for any who will accept salvation offered through his Son Jesus. In other words, he made a way out.

Spiritual lostness has a solution

It is simple and free. The famous line that often showed up on T-shirts or signs at football games, “John 3:16”, refers to a quote by Jesus .

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

In four basic parts, it says: (a) the world, that’s you and me and everyone who has ever lived, exists on purpose; (b) God loves the world;  (c) God sees we are lost, floundering away from him and his love, and sends a solution – Jesus. Jesus is God’s only monogenes, or one-of-a-kind, (note the capital S), Son.  He too is holy. His was the only sinless life, so his is the only life that can serve as our Savior; and (d) the reason for all this drama is so the world may live with God apart from the evils and disappointments of this life forever!

Once again, that is not to say we cannot reject the gift. Most do. Consequences are pain and death, if not for the present, then in the future. Yet preferring the instant to the real, people pursue false gods.  These are things, activities, or people we place ahead of God as our authority, and source of strength and satisfaction.

False gods will never serve us well because the very fallible humans who want to depend on them, are their designers. Mistaken, self-serving god-makers will never produce any object of worship that rises above themselves. We do not follow false gods because we love them – we worship false gods because we love ourselves (and not in a good way).

Sin is what separates us from God, not pain

One’s relationship with God through Jesus is personal and close when nurtured by repentance, love for him, and time spent with him.  God is close to the needy, the brokenhearted, and the oppressed. By following his way we are never alone whether we hurt physically or emotionally, or in any other form.

Does God condemn forever people who die by suicide? Once again, my opinion does not matter. The Bible is very clear that what causes unbelievers to perish for eternity is rejection of Christ. Refusal to have faith at all – not believing God exists – is the first part, and denying the Son as our source of salvation is the second.

As for people who follow Jesus, closely even, and die by suicide – did they reject Christ? It is not sinful to suffer. No one is cast aside by God for having uncomfortable emotions.

Unbelief is not defined strictly by actions, but mostly by the heart. In pain, to whom does one cry out? If a mind is overwhelmed, is it possible the heart is still faithful?

Your answer lies in learning to know the God of the Bible. I know where I stand for eternity, and I know what he asks of me. Do you? 

Let’s make no mistake!

Regardless one’s eternal destiny, suicide is not the type of death or legacy that brings honor to God’s name. Those left experience damage, and feel angry, sorrowful, and wrenched with a lifetime of the question why.  Copycat suicides are common. The one who died by suicide is remembered and celebrated always with an asterisk of doubt.  But… he killed himself. But… she left me.  But… I wasn’t enough to save my loved one.  But… why didn’t God stop it?

The legacy of finding help and utilizing all the offered resources is one of inspiration and hope. The fight is worth it. Knowledge is invaluable.  Understanding how depression works is life-saving.  We have options for survival.

God sees. God knows. God loves.

Today’s Helpful Word(s)

You will find the sources of many of this blog’s quotes and references to Biblical truth in the following passages: 

John 3;  Psalm 33;  Hebrews 11:5-6;  Psalm 1;  2 Corinthians 5;  1 Corinthians  1;  Acts 17:28; Psalm 139;  Psalm 34:18

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.