Evangelicals, You’re Wrong about Mental Illness

As I’ve written about mental illness and the church over the last couple of years, I’ve addressed the church in general. But today I especially want to address my fellow evangelicals.

A recent LifeWay Research survey produced some interesting statistics related to mental illness, among them two stats that reveal a shocking contrast. Among the evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians surveyed, 64 percent believe churches should do more to prevent suicide. At the same time, 48 percent believe serious mental illness can be cured by prayer alone.

Now here’s what I find shocking: That second statistic reveals an attitude that actually accomplishes the opposite of what 64 percent claimed they want the church to do. Here’s a tip: If you believe churches should do more to help prevent suicide, here’s one tangible and quick way to help right now: Stop telling people they can cure their mental illness with only prayer.

Granted, just because people say mental illness can be overcome with Bible study and prayer does not mean those same people would discourage medical treatment and therapy for someone with mental illness. But in far too many churches, such beliefs are widely held and regularly taught. And in others, although seeking treatment is not condemned in a wholesale manner, prayer and Bible study are prescribed as the first step to try to avoid treatment–and this, for many people, has the same effect as discouraging treatment. It certainly has the effect of delaying treatment, and delay increases the likelihood that mental illness will become severe, cause serious disruption to functioning, and potentially cost a person his or her life.

While most people who have mental illness (more than 25 percent of the American adult population) do not die by suicide, most experts claim that at least 90 percent of people who do die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. And many of those people do not receive treatment for their mental health. Clearly, the appropriate treatment and management of mental illness is one important way–possibly the most important way–to prevent suicide. And prayer by itself, although helpful, is not appropriate treatment of mental illness. In fact, one sure way to drive people closer to despair is to tell them their mental illness is simply a spiritual problem, tell them to pray it away, then when it doesn’t work, just tell them to pray harder. Laying a heavy spiritual burden on people suffering from serious mental illness is a way to encourage suicide, not to prevent it.

It’s easy for most to see that if you told people with cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure that prayer was the best way to treat their life-threatening illness, and because of your counsel they refused medical treatment, you would be contributing to their death. Do you realize serious mental illness is also a life-threatening condition? According to the United Nations and the National Institute of Mental Health, “On average, Americans with major mental illness die 14 to 32 years earlier than the general population. The average life expectancy for people with major mental illness ranged from 49 to 60 years of age . . . a life span on par with many sub-Saharan African countries, including Sudan (58.6 years) and Ethiopia (52.9 years).” Contrast this to the average life expectancy in the United States: 78.6 years. Suicide is only one small reason for this decreased life expectancy, but it is significant. People with schizophrenia are 50 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population. Among people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, at least 25 to 50 percent attempt suicide. Among people with major depression, the suicide rate is 8 times that of the general population. For anyone to self-righteously tell such people they do not have a medical condition that requires treatment, and that more rigorous religious activity is all they need, is inexcusable.

Consider what happens when, despite people’s sincere and frequent prayers, this prescription just doesn’t work–as inevitably it won’t for most people. Your faulty advice has condemned the person to suffer–on top of symptoms of serious mental illness–with feelings of spiritual inadequacy or abandonment. How can they not conclude that their prayers aren’t good enough or that God has walked away from them?

Believe me, if prayer alone were the standard cure for mental illness, my mother would be healthy and whole instead of ravaged by the symptoms of schizophrenia. In fact, if faith were an effective inoculation instead brain disorders, she never would have developed such an illness. If going to an evangelical prayer meeting ensured mental health, none of the people I wrote about in my book Troubled Minds would have had anything to say. I interviewed faithful Christians who take medication, engage in therapy, attend support groups, and yes, pray regularly.

God can heal anyone, and sometimes he does so miraculously. But most of the time, he doesn’t. Such an acknowledgment does not undermine God’s greatness or his goodness. He has placed us in a world where we live within the boundaries of the very natural laws he created–and with the presence of disease, decay, and death. Mental illness, like other diseases, is a reality of life in a world where parts of our body–including our brains–get sick and malfunction. We don’t consider it acceptable to prescribe prayer alone for diseased livers, hearts, and pancreases; why prescribe it for disordered brains? Prayer is critical to a healthy spiritual life, whether or not we are suffering from serious disease. But it is not a responsible replacement for medical treatment.

I love the church, and I’m a huge fan of the many ways God has used Christian people as a force for good in this world. But sometimes, in our ignorance, stubborn misconception, corruption, laziness, fear, or very human desire to believe we deserve a better life than others, we actually become a serious part of the problem. For Christians who believe prayer and Bible study are the correct replacements for mental-health treatment, this is one of those times.

It’s time for all of us to learn and tell the truth–and to help save lives.

176 Comments
  1. Candace McMahan says:

    Oh, so very, very well said, Amy.

    • Ben says:

      Our fight is not with the flesh and blood.. End of story. Jesus cast out demons. Please take this heresy and re-evaluate in the light of Scripture. We have no authority on these issues external to Scripture. Psychology and Psychiatry are religions grounded in the false assumption that man knows how the human mind works. He doesn’t. Get back to basics and stop trying to usurp the power of God. If the power of God is not evident in the Church, seeking secular humanist methodologies is not the answer. Repentance and Prayer IS.

      • brian says:

        Ben do you think the same way concerning Doctors, cars, space travel, airplanes, tv, gravity etc. You could try praying for those as well and there will be absolutely no effect what so ever.

      • John Ozechowski says:

        God gave us very wise men who have discovered more and more about how the world works.
        God also gave us very wise men who have discovered mre and more about how our bodies (including our brains and minds) work.

        I find it incredibly humorous that someone is using the knowledge God gave us about the physical world (The electricity that powers and runs the internet for example) to complain that we should reject the knowledge that God gave us about ourselves.

        Ben, until you go totally Luddite, rejecting all man made inventions and knowledge and surviving on just prayer alone, you really don’t have any credibility.

      • califgalintn says:

        Ben,
        You sound uneducated and as though you were told to say such things about anything outside of the church. If God is so powerful, wouldn’t he have sanctioned private communication with licensed professionals to assist in times of need when meditation and prayer just are not enough? Think on that.

      • kiwano says:

        Scripture? You mean like the book of Matthew, where it is written:
        “When the Son of Man comes in his glory […] the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for […] I was sick and you took care of me, […] ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'” and which continues on to damn those who leave the sick to suffer.

        I think I missed the bit where Jesus said to one of the goats “oh, you prayed for a miraculous cure when you saw the sick–well that totally counts; you just get on over here with the sheep.”

        To be fair, I also think that a lot of our approaches to mental illnesses are focused too heavily on adjusting people’s minds so that they can be productive workers (again). I’ve heard a lot of really challenging truths spoken by the “insane”–enough to worry that we’re pathologizing our prophets and saints to make it easier to ignore their warning about how we’re straying. I also think there’s too much attention on treatment, and not enough on prevention–why don’t we have occupational safety standards for mental health?

        That said, none of these concerns relieve us of our moral duty to care for the mentally ill as best we can, with what we’ve got–and to try and improve what we’ve got while we’re at it.

      • Hi, Ben, I am a mother who prayed her way through to ground-breaking research about mental illness. The ear is the pivotal organ of behavior and music heals the ear. I healed our son’s schizophrenia, then undertook extensive research to explain neurologically how music changes the tiny stapedius muscle to allow more sound energy reach the left temporal lobe. At least one high-profile psychiatrist who has seen music heal autism is reading my research. He know music alters human behavior and I know why. This is ancient, Biblical knowledge, actually. I am sure you know the story of David and King Saul and the way David’s stringed instrument allayed Saul’s severe bipolar symptoms — temporarily. Amplification of high-frequency (stringed instruments) music strengthens the ear and alters behavior. The research has been done. And it is the Lord’s leading that led me to this learning, all glory be to His Name. Laurna

        • anon says:

          By all means, please provide us with links to this “groundbreaking research”.

          • Hello, Anon,
            You can read a bit about our son’s healing from schizophrenia at
            http://www.northernlightbooks.ca/MentalHealththroughMusic
            If you have a specific question, feel free to comment on that blog. Or, you can contact me personally by emailing. My books are described briefly at http://www.northernlightbooks.ca Since he regained left-cerebral dominance I have helped a number of other people to heal or help their mental conditions by using “focused listening.”
            The works of Alfred Tomatis translated into English are foundational, although he became entangled in psychiatric theory while trying to help autistics and became sadly side-tracked from his scientific discoveries. He taught neurology at the Sorbonne in Paris; his neurological discoveries about the differences in the routes of sound from the left and right ears in the hearing-and-speaking process is much more important than he fully realized, although he knew his discoveries were extremely important. His one-time colleague who left their collaboration over Tomatis’s psychiatric theorizing, Dr. Guy Berard, wrote a very useful little book “Hearing Equals Behavior.” Berard also did not recognize the principle of right-ear-drive left-cerebral dominance in integration, but his work provides astonishing data on the power of music to heal the range of mental illness from dyslexic syndrome through infantile schizophrenia. I knew of Tomatis (not Berard, yet) but had not read his writing at the time I made my unique observations of our son. I taught myself neurology to be able to describe to professionals (and anyone who cares to listen) what I had observed. Before I published, I found Tomatis’s writing and corrected the neurology I had learned from standard texts according to his specialized knowledge of the ears and sound routes through the body. That led to further observations and research after I had published Listening for the Light. This new science was being uncovered in France from the 1950s, but knowledge of the effectiveness of music to alter mood is very ancient knowledge and you can find that awareness in the Bible, in classical mythology, and in other ancient and primitive traditions. Thanks so much for your interest.

          • Hi, Anon. I tried to post a reply to you here but it would not appear. I will try once again. Your arguments for not examining my extensive documentation of my discoveries are meretricious. I have spoken about my discoveries to psychiatrists, neurologists, and doctors who listened with interest and respect. My book describing my discoveries is 450 pages with detailed footnotes, diagrams, tables, bibliography, index, illustrations. How do you expect me to reproduce that here? I have written additional publications, one with clinical evidence of Daniel’s “maturational” stages during healing and another, which is a study of the symptoms of SSRI withdrawal syndrome that are consonant with ear dysfunction. Mental illness is physiological but is NOT presently understood by the medical profession, who are further harming patients with pharmaceutical treatments that destroy the body including the ears. You are NOT better off seeing a doctor than you are being prayed for! Neither strategy is sufficient for healing mental illness, although prayer is less likely to harm you. Doctors will drug you to suppress your symptoms, which will also damage the ears that are the source of your mental illness and essential to recovering mental health. You can, however, find music therapies that cure mental illness including suicidal depression, epilepsy, autism, dyslexic syndrome, and (as I have demonstrated) schizophrenia and bipolarity. You can read books by Robert Whitaker, Dr. Daniel Carlat, and many others on the crisis in psychiatry. Psychiatrists have begun to look at “alternative” therapies because they are being sued successfully by the patients they have harmed through pharmacy. I have explained in detail what the physiology of “mental” illness is and why music therapy (“focused listening”) corrects it. A considerable literature on music therapy already exists, but no one commenting on this blog appears to be aware of it. Clinical evidence for the effectiveness of music as a therapy for behavior problems is presented in the books by Tomatis, Berard, and clinicians using their versions of the Tomatis Method who have written about their findings. My work is clinical and follows on aspects of neurology taught by Tomatis and falls into that category of research. My independent observations and extensive research are “citizen science” for which I apparently was perfectly qualified, as my discoveries are novel and important. You appear to have a limited notion of how progress is made in understanding the etiology of human behavior. Am I correct in my impression that you are interested in arguing but not in learning? That could be an audio-deficit; or an unfortunate side effect of having too little information to mount a cogent argument. Do your homework; then, we can talk.

        • anon says:

          Laurna:

          You said that YOU have performed research and that’s what I asked you for. You helpfully provided me with the names of two researchers, so let’s take a look at them.

          Alfred Tomatis. He provided the foundation that led you to your claims. When a researcher finds a concept, he then performs more research to understand what is behind that foundation. Alfred Tomatis performed this research and you don’t like what he found. So you followed his partner . . .

          Dr. Guy Berard. Funny how you didn’t put the “Dr” in front of Tomatis’ name. Your first statement about Berard says that he didn’t recognize what you’re claiming here. So in response to my question about your research, you give me the names of two researchers who don’t agree with you. Not a good start. You tell us that you “made my unique observations of [your] son, and I will charitably assume that you understand that your observations are anecdotal rather than scientific. Then you tell me that you “taught [yourself” neurology to be able to describe to professionals (and anyone who cares to listen) what I had observed.” Are you kidding me? You taught yourself neurology? And you have the audacity to suggest that you can then teach experts about neurological concepts?

          “Before I published . . .” WHERE? A self-published book is not “publishing” in the realm of research. Publishing is having your work published in a scientific journal. ,

          “I found Tomatis?s writing and corrected the neurology I had learned from standard texts . . .”

          Wow. Just wow. I bet you can’t even spell the name of Tomatis’ fields of specialty, yet you’re going to correct his research. It’s obvious that you’re going to cherry pick the information that confirms your . . . I call it a hunch . . . you’re cherry picking whatever information you find from Tomatis, Berard, and neurological texts (I’m very curious about how thoroughly you’ve read these texts, if indeed they were actually texts. I question if you know the difference between a text and a book at this point). I read a bit about Berard’s AIT. His current site makes claims that are a very far cry from what you’re claiming. His idea seems to be that kids can get confused by the “noise” of auditory stimuli. This sounds very reasonable. But researchers who were not blinded by the confirmation bias of your cherry-picked “research” have found ZERO evidence that his methods even work to effect the sorts of claims that he’s making, never mind the profoundly greater changes that you’re claiming.

          Now I’ll ask you again: please provide a link to RESEARCH that presents your “hypothesis” along with the trials (including the details of their design). That’s a rhetorical question because I have no doubt that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • Dear Anon, I cannot reproduce my scholarship in a blog post but I will respond to your principal criticisms. I am opening a new page about Christianity and Mental Illness on my blog MentalHealththroughMusic if you want to continue the discussion.

            The late Dr. Alfred Tomatis (he died in 2000) was a famed otolaryngologist decorated by the French government not only for his contribution to the war effort but for his advances in the science of hearing. His colleague, B

          • anon says:

            You promoted your “scholarship” here, you can back it up here. This blog post was about how Christians are abusing people with mental illnesses by refusing to acknowledge their illnesses as the physiological illnesses that they are and by refusing to follow the path of medical understanding with a foundation of scientific objectivity as opposed to your brand of cherry picking and confirmation bias. Believe me: I’ve been through medical debates with people who received their graduate degrees at accredited universities. I have no interest in helping you promote your new website. This is where the discussion is taking place. Or not.

          • Jo says:

            Anon, Your tone and attitude seem very angry in your responses to this mother’s efforts to understand and help her son. I wonder why. This is not a scientific forum, so I don’t see the reason you want to turn it into one. Moreover, as a licensed health professional, I suggest it is rude and even smug for anyone to disparage a family member’s investigation of illness and any findings that could help a loved one. One does not have to be a scientist to pursue understanding and seek innovative methods to address a problem. Many people consider searching for answers to be “research”, too. If it helps her and her son, why not just respectfully listen to what she has to offer to this conversation, and leave it at that?

          • anon says:

            “Your tone and attitude seem very angry in your responses to this mother?s efforts to understand and help her son.”

            My tone can seem to be what you want it to be. Her post is not an effort to understand and help her son. She already feels she’s done that. Her posts are claims to be able to understand and help people whom she has never met, interviewed, or diagnosed. She knows nothing about their backgrounds or medical conditions, yet she is offering treatment. If a person were to present with a lump on her arm, it would be very wrong to recommend a course of treatment without further investigating the cause and nature of the lump. Why is it okay to do this with a mental illness?

            “I wonder why.”

            It’s simple: re-read Amy’s original post. No need to wonder.

            “This is not a scientific forum, so I don?t see the reason you want to turn it into one.”

            Amy’s post makes it very clear that people are claiming that unscientific interventions can be used to heal physiological problems. The people around the sufferers are led to believe that these illnesses can be treated with all sorts of interventions and when it doesn’t work, the result is that they often point their fingers at the sufferers for not trying hard enough. It’s abuse and it compounds their pain.

            “Moreover, as a licensed health professional, I suggest it is rude and even smug for anyone to disparage a family member?s investigation of illness and any findings that could help a loved one.”

            What is your field of expertise? What accredited school did you go to and what governing body issued your license? It seems to me that as a licensed health professional, you would be more inclined to suggest an ill person to seek the advice of a professional.

            You can suggest all you want. I’ve suffered the very abuse that Amy speaks of and it’s rude, smug, arrogant, and harmful. It perpetuates the pain and compounds the difficulty of actually resolving the problems.

            “One does not have to be a scientist to pursue understanding and seek innovative methods to address a problem.”

            That’s absolutely true. In this case, she’s conflating her personal efforts with professional expertise and taking on the role of a licensed professional by giving medical advice to others. Given the fact that she’s offering medical advice, her work and her credentials should be taken into account. If her work is of true scientific merit, then it can withstand scrutiny. Either way, people deserve to know that so they can make informed decisions. Shielding people from information helps no one and no one is compelled to listen to either of us.

            “Many people consider searching for answers to be ?research?, too.”

            They can consider it research all they want, but Laurna is very obviously implying that her research is every bit as scientifically credible and relevant as the research of the professionals whom she cites. She implied that her research was more valuable than that of a professional researcher who has spent years using the scientific process to understand the nature of mental illness.

            “If it helps her and her son, why not just respectfully listen to what she has to offer to this conversation, and leave it at that?”

            Because she’s crossing a line when she promotes what she is doing as a true medical intervention. In fact, it’s very likely an FDA violation.

            Jo: I have an injury that has resulted in extensive brain damage. Part of that damage is in areas of the brain that cause the sorts of disorders that Amy is talking about. I had a wonderful life with a comfortable and secure future, but I couldn’t do my job anymore because I was making too many mistakes. I lost my job, my family, and most of my money. Now I’m one step away from homelessness and I’m incapable of effectively putting a life back together with my limited resources and I live in a world where people give mental and intellectual dysfunction the care and attention that they need. Mental disorders deserve every bit the scientific treatment as disorders that manifest themselves physically. And that’s what Amy said in her post.

          • Jo says:

            Anon, Thank you for sharing about your injury and the grave difficulties following it. I empathize with how deeply hurt and frustrated you are with uninformed advisors and unscientific interventions. Thank you also for clarifying your concerns with Ms. Tallman’s claims, which I agree appear rather over-the-top in their scope and applications, particularly in comparisons with specialty fields of medicine. I don’t disagree with your some of your concerns about over-reach on her part, but I do want to acknowledge that she, too, is dealing with a personal experience of mental illness in her son. Her passion for finding answers derives from her personal experience, just as your concerns and protests about her claims stem from your experience of injury and abuse. My education (BS, MS and PhD) and clinical expertise is in nursing. I have worked with a lot of hurting people in my 40+ career; what comes across to me from both of you is great passion about helping the mentally ill get the help they need from qualified advisers and caregivers, whether from science, medicine, theology, family, or in the community. Your point is well taken: “she’s crossing a line when she promotes what she is doing as a true medical intervention”. Credibility does not derive simply from self-study, effort or experience, no matter how earnest or well meant one’s intentions may be. My only caution is that medicine is not so much a science as an art (even medical doctors readily admit that). “Healing” is not owned by any field of knowledge; health is way too complex to assume that any human field of study can fully comprehend or treat it in semi-isolation from other fields. It is very easy to get into a “silo” of expertise and dismiss other views in scientific matters. Perhaps if we can all avoid over-stating the importance or scope of our own experiences and knowledge about “healing”, perhaps we can learn a lot more, especially from people with mental illness and their caregivers, about what really seems to help. I would classify Ms. Tallman’s observations and study, which she calls “citizen science”, as an interesting attempt to synthesize a body of work that she believes really helps people with certain kinds of mental illness. Whether or not it is credible or worth pursuing is indeed a good question, but her study and writing about specific cases and theories she has encountered is not the same as writing a scientific paper in a journal. I hope she does take your caution about intervening as a “healer” without professional preparation; that can be dangerous, and violates professional ethics if not the law. Thanks again for your comments.

          • I want to clarify that the treatment I write about is merely a simplification of a listening technique developed by medical specialists — Tomatis and Berard — that also is in use simply for the fun of it by millions of people who listen to classical music with headphones. Furthermore, a number of commercial outfits offer listening equipment and CDs intended to alter behavior. You do not have to be medically trained to sell or to use the method! But if you ARE aware of the symptoms of the range of so-called “mental” illnesses, you will see those sets of symptoms change if such a patient uses that listening technique persistently. Anyone can test these claims at home. Thousands of people already have done so. I estimate that about a million people have been healed or improved through private listening centers. These changes have been observed in clinical settings for dyslexic syndrome, depression including suicidal depression, autism, stuttering, other learning disabilities, bipolarity, and a variety of other ailments such as sleep disorders, “nervousness,” and chronic fatigue. The specialists I refer to have written books about their clinical findings, although the medical profession has not troubled themselves to take a close look at them until now. What the French specialists did not discover is that the dominance of the left cerebral hemisphere is the norm and is the desired goal in treatment for all of those disabling conditions, which originate in the ear. I thoroughly appreciate why you do not believe I have written about science in a way that outstrips the professionals. When I suddenly realized one day that music was making Daniel’s left brain more dominant than his right brain I realized I had made a profound discovery about Daniel that had far-reaching implications for other schizophrenics. I shook from head to toe for an hour with the shock of my discovery. However, I assumed I had merely stumbled across something already well known among professionals. When I continued my research to the point where I knew my discoveries were novel I was stunned all over again to realize what God had led me to. Then, as Daniel improved and passed through specific syndromes in a specific order, I began to put together the pieces of other puzzles I had read about in my research. Others are going to replicate my findings because I have already replicated my own findings! But it may take them a few years at the rate institutions do research. Thank you for your interest in this therapy and for your gentle and caring responses. And thank you for clarifying which of the writers has experienced a disabling injury as one of the posted comments was confusing.

          • Jo says:

            Thank you. It’s been a helpful and interesting discussion. I have a friend who is professionally studying music therapy, and have seen the videos of the effect of music for some dementia cases. I know that music has certainly been helpful for relieving depression symptoms among people in my family. I love classical music and sing in a choir whenever I can. The kinds of music (and lyrics) that we listen to really does matter. Thanks for your input.

        • Valerie says:

          This is a well written, reasonable article. Thank you for writing it, Amy. Laurna, I am glad if your son is better, but I think you missed the author’s point. I work with students, every day, whose challenges range from autism to emotional disturbance and everything in between and I have yet to hear about this therapy. Perhaps you could tell us where to find out where to read more. One last thing. I was confused about what/who you think is the source of your son’s healing. You write, “I prayed…I healed…I know” and toss a credit to God at the end. Which is it?

          • Hi, Valerie,
            It’s hard to summarize my 450-page book in a blog post. And my book is scholarly with some very long footnotes. The book is not my prayer journal, which would take at least another book. My prayer life was integral to my journey of discovery, but my scientific discoveries were the first message of healing that needed to be told. Through my counselling I help people to cure their mental illness because mental illness is caused by weak ear muscles. You can improve the eyes through Bates’ eye exercises. You can change behavior patterns by exercising the ears with music. A recent book by psychiatrist Norman Doidge tells similar stories of healing with music; the cases he describes are dyslexic syndrome, autism, and suicidal depression. The use of music in healing is gradually coming into mainstream medical practice. I happen to be about 10 years ahead of those developments. You can look at my blog MentalHealththroughMusic to learn more or you can email me at rtallman [at] xplornet.ca. As my discoveries are about fundamental physiological processes, they are discoveries about God’s creation, just as new learning about the way the eyes move or about how the pancreas fails in diabetes is about God’s creation. As I journeyed through oceans of ignorance about mental illness, I made unique observations about our son. I am trained in academic research; I am a specialist in language, which was a central feature of our son’s aberrant behavior, and I had reasons to be skeptical about the kind of treatment our son was getting. Medical “knowledge” about sever mental illness, as a brain surgeon summarized for me last month, is “no one knows.” But his statement is incorrect. I know. And a few other doctors are finding out what I learned. I found pieces of the puzzle through my observations and research that one day came together through an insight that was a product of all those streams of learning — about God and the way He speaks to people, about my training in scientific methods and research into human behavior. It wasn’t an “either this or that” experience. It was a coming together of all those ways of knowing, scientific and spiritual. “Science” is an aspect of God. Being led by God to particular people, articles, books, and into certain methods such as medication reduction gradually taught me what I needed to know that built the platform for my eventual insights. God heals in many ways. He taught me how to use music in a particular way that fits the neurology of the human body, which differs in regard to the right ear from the left ear. Very simple. Absolutely vital. The left-brain must dominate the right-brain in integrative activities for a person to be able to learn, including the learning of language and of self-control. The right ear stream of sound drives left-brain dominance. Only those who have ears that can hear can become rational, self-controlled “doers of the Word.” But music can strengthen the right ear to make the person rational and capable of learning self-control. In the case of depression, it is usually the left ear that requires strengthening in order to organize the neurology of the right-brain. Anyone can use headphones that amplify music to strengthen the ear muscles. Millions of people do this without realizing the impact their listening has on their brains and body. I sorted out the neurology that explains what happens when you apply amplified high-frequency sound to one ear or the other or to both. I give God the credit for leading me through those discoveries.

      • Ken Stevens says:

        Our Lord Himself cited the holy scripture, saying to Satan, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” He didn’t say, “don’t eat bread”. Absolutely, prayer is unquestionably important. God provides for all of our needs in many prayerful ways and through kind acts of others, even Jesus Christ, by healing those in need. While in the temple at Jerusalem as a young boy, he didn’t criticize or rebuke the Doctors in the temple as a young man, he engaged them (Ref. Luke 2:46). Jesus did not mince words. Surely he would have scolded those doctors for thinking they could know anything that would be useful apart from prayer, if that were the case.

    • Ben says:

      Where is it written in the Bible that the church must hand the sick over to the world? I get a little fed up with arguments which have no basis in Scripture. If we are supposed to work out legal squabbles within our own ranks, why can we not work out issues of sickness, both mental and physical in accordance with the Scriptures in the power of God. This seems to me to be a very poor excuse for our failure to be part of a body which moves in the Power of God. The Scriptures speak of this. Having the form of godliness but without the Power. What we Want is the Power?

      “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear their prayer from heaven and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

      All observations would suggest that no lands are being healed. In fact they are falling into deeper and deeper human depravities? which has only opened the door for these ridiculous secular heresies to be perpetuated. The problem is circular. It is the idolatries and ungodly lifestyles which lead to sickness and illness which put men at the mercy of the world and its humanist ideologies in the first place.

      “If you worship the LORD your God, his blessing will be upon your food and upon your water, there will be NO SICKNESS OR ILLNESS AMONG YOU, there shall be no womb that is barren and you will live a long life.”

      If we as Christians are to hold to the Ultimate Authority of The Scriptures, sickness is either due to rebellion or to the testing of our Faith, or for the purpose of Gods glory which will grow us into the image of His Son as we draw near to Him and submit to Him. Are Gods promises not eternal? Does he not discipline those whom He Loves because they are heirs to those eternal promises? What message are we sending to the world when we require the world to heal us?

      • It is what it is says:

        Using your “logic” Ben, there would be no death in the world because we could pray ourselves into good health. What’s worse is that you perpetuate a hateful, harmful perception of mental illness that is excruciatingly ignorant and is directly responsible for turning people away from God. Congratulations for doing Satan’s work. If you break a leg Ben, be sure to pray it better.

        • dale says:

          Ben
          Even Satan used Scripture when he tempted Jesus: “Satan took Jesus to the holy city and placed Him on the pinnacle of the temple. Satan told Jesus that if He was the Son of God, He could cast Himself down. Satan sought to exploit what he considered might be a weakness. Jesus had quoted Scripture, so Satan quoted a verse as well.
          Satan quoted from the Psalms (Matthew 4:6). “If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'”

          The Psalm that Satan chose was Psalm 91:11-12. It spoke of the security of the faithful under the protection of God. He will provide angels to protect and defend. We recall how the poor man, upon his death, was taken to paradise by angels (Luke 16:22) and how angels are referred to as ?ministering servants sent out to render service? to believers (Hebrews 1:14).

          Jesus resisted and responded with another verse — “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:7,8). This is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16. It was not that these two passages were in conflict with one another, but that Satan had misused the Scripture to justify something that was unjustifiable. To do as Satan had said would be to try to push and manipulate God into action. We are the servants of God; He is not our puppet on a string.”

          You have a venomous approach to winning people over to Christ. I would think that most would turn away. The wages of sin IS death. Are you going to die, Ben? Unless Jesus returns you will most certainly pay the price of sin by your death because of the fall of man. How does that equate with your legalistic thinking about Christianity? If we live HOLY and RIGHTEOUS we won’t have any sin or death or illness or unrest in this life? I know of no one who can say that and not be lying.

      • kiwano says:

        In Luke 10:25-37, surely the priest and the Levite went and prayed for the victim of the robbery (after all they were of the priesthood and of a priestly lineage, respectively). Maybe they thought his undoing at the side of the road would be justified by a lack of faith, were he not to be saved. Maybe they thought that the good Samaritan was the miracle they had prayed for. Regardless, it was the Samaritan who Jesus told us to emulate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ben, we are sending the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins thorugh the Cross of Christ, not the message of “everyone can get physically healed”. You should rethink your theology.
        By the way, Psychiatry is not based on religion, it’s based on Neuroscience. Prosperity gospel, which seems the core of your message, is the one based on religion, ignorance of the Scripture, and ignorance of suffering. I would like to see you praying for a dying person instead of taking him/her to the Emergency Department. Then, I would like you to look at the eyes of his loved ones while making up an excuse.

      • grace says:

        This is so ignorant and harmful that its sickening. Please stay away from the poor people suffering from mental illness and keep your devastatingly misguided views to yourself. You are doing the opposite of helping anyone.

  2. I believe the idea that we should only pray and not seek medical attention springs from a false gospel that suggests our God can violate His own rules. The apostle Paul writing to Timothy ( 1 Timothy 5:23) makes it clear that we are always to observe our medical check-ups. The charismatic movement has misled people on the issue. Thanks for clarifying it.

    • steve says:

      It’s too bad people have such a crap view of “Charismatics” the media always looks for the crazies and the outlyers to make people crazy yet, as a “Charismatic” I go to the doc regularly, take my HEART FAILURE meds, as well as get prayer from my pastors 2 times a week. it’s too bad the media dosen’t engage the intelligent pentecostal/charismatics, cuz we will tell you to go to the doctor, pray for him, take your meds, pray over them, and hold on to the hope that you have in the truth god is the Lord who heals you. Hes so cool he might even use meds or a doc to do it!

      • It is what it is says:

        A relative of mine is a charismatic pastor. Like you, he goes to the doctor for what he considers physiological ailments. Mention my neurological disease that has caused measurable brain damage which results in psychiatric symptoms and he tells me to pray for God to fix it. ALL OF IT, not just the psychiatric part of it. It’s the same with other member of his family. I just cut ties with them. They’re ignorant, thoughtless, and VERY un-Christ-like. It isn’t just limited to charismatics of course. I explained my situation to a member of my church. I told him that one of the results of my disease is a terrible sense of anxiety. He immediately fired back, “that’s a sin!” I’m telling you: these people have nearly caused me to lose my faith entirely; well, not my faith, because I KNOW God is there, but certainly any love I have left for the God who put these heartless and thick-headed people in my life.

      • Bob says:

        Me too. I am a Charismatic pastor, PhD ( Christian Psy) and wrote my dissertation on Depression. Discovered the necessity. Of prayer, counsel and medicine.

  3. Corrie says:

    Thank you for this. I am a Christian and a mental health clinician, and this is what I am longing for people to grow more aware of. Please believe in your cause to help people understand this truth in your circle of influence.

    Best,
    Corrie B.

  4. Ed Stetzer says:

    Thankful for you and your writing.

  5. leanne bush says:

    Very insightful… I appreciate the new perspective… Thanks Amy!

  6. A cogent and passionate plea for progress. Well done.
    As a evangelical Christian battling bipolar disorder who has survived a suicide attempt, I believe it is essential to treat mental illness with the “full armor” of psychotropics, talk therapy, and prayer (like the three-cord rope of Proverbs mentioned in the book “Darkness Is My Only Companion”). This is one reason it grieves me so that the faith community and the world of mental illness are so far apart.

  7. Sarah says:

    Although I agree with you that telling people that prays is the sole solution to mental illness is problematic and often makes the situation often worse-I would be interested to know the context of the question asked and the reasoning from the person who wrote the question. I say this because if I was asked if mental illness can be cured by prayer-my answer would be 100% yes, just as if I was asked if prayer could open deaf ears, cure diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or any disease. But if I was asked do you believe prayer should be the sole treatment for mental illness my answer would be a definite no. I have experienced many forms of mental illness in my family or people that I know and none of them has been cured by prayer. But I believe that it is true because Jesus did so in the bible and it says greater things than this shall you do in my name. I believe in healing just as much as I believe in the miracle of salvation. But I would never tell someone dealing with mental illness to just pray or pray more. But I would suggest that they add prayer to other forms of treatment just as I would someone with heart disease. So I would say yes!!!! Christians need to step up in regards to mental health. But I think this question is either poorly written or too simple of a judgement is being made of the percentage of those who answered yes to the question asked. It’s all in context.

  8. Good article! I passed it on to a friend who is a mental health advocate.

  9. C.J. says:

    I appreciate the zeal with which you wrote this article and the evidence you used to support your argument. Where I disagree is that you lump all evangelicals together. If you are aware of the state of the Church you will know that more and more Christians are turning to medicine and praying less thereby destroying much of your argument. Secondly, you are actually speaking to a smaller portion of evangelicals than you may realize. Pentecostals and Charismatics are usually the two camps that place an emphasis on the strength of faith and prayer, not Baptists. Finally, if the reader is not careful she could really think that you do not believe in the power of prayer. Yes, you had a paragraph or two at the end but, they almost seem like an after thought to leave folks with the opinion that you are “pro” prayer. Medicine itself is a miracle of God but prayer first is vital. It is not necessarily designed to heal but it is always designed to bring us into a more intimate relationship with Christ.

    • Js says:

      Certain mental illnesses definitely do require medication -bipolar, schizophrenia, etc. However depression and anxiety may need meds for a time, but really getting to the root cause for these issues through good biblical counseling is key. Just like pain is the body’s way to warn us that something is wrong-infection, cancer, etc. depression, anxiety is the body’s way to warn us that something is wrong mentally/spiritually that we need to get in order and prayer/counseling should be the first line of action.,

      • Joy Cameron says:

        First of all, thank you, Amy for addressing such a common and life threatening issue in the church! I hope that someday, we have the privilege to meet and have a conversation together! I am a mental health worker and independent speaker, who has lived with clinical depression for 13 years now. 7 years ago, I started truly battling depression and recognizing it as not due a lack of faith or prayer, but rather a medical condition — that’s when my recovery really began! Yes, it can be impacted by the spiritual realm AT TIMES (Satan knows our weaknesses, biological or otherwise, and will certainly use them for his plans). Nevertheless, although very OCCASIONALLY the spiritual realm may intensify my symptoms, it is certainly not the cause of my illness!

        Secondly, as I began to read through some of the comments here, I became first sad and then deeply angry at the ignorant responses! To those who have had the patience to respond to these remarks, clarifying and reiterating what Amy already did a fantastic job of portraying, thank you! In this moment, as I struggle with my own depression tonight, I have absolutely no patience to respond to or even continue reading the maddening comments I’ve seen.

        It is the mindsets which Amy speaks of in this article, that led me to take myself off my antidepressants when I was just an 18 year old kid. Despite my best efforts to resist depression and be faithful to Christ, I ended up hospitalized with intense and obsessive suicidal thoughts. I’m not a bad Christian…but I DO have a biological illness.

        It is these mindsets that left me feeling like a total failure as a Christian, despite my deep love for Christ. It is these mindsets that I continue to see and experience, that often leave me feeling judged and deeply hurt by Christians during the darkest moments of my journey. These mindsets need to change.

        Clearly Amy was making a generalization; obviously not ALL evangelicals have these mindsets. Whether more common among certain groups of evangelicals or not; unless a church DIRECTLY speaks truth into these myths and stigmas through sermons or other means, I can pretty well guarantee that there are individuals in EVERY evangelical church, with the mindset that “prayer/greater faith is all you need”. I’m a pastor’s kid, and have attended several evangelical denominations, and seen this mindset time and time again. I’ve often seen and experienced veiled and unintended judgement by Christians who support medical treatment for mental illness on one hand, but on the other continue to imply directly or indirectly that more faith or prayer is needed. This too, is wrong.

        What I firmly believe, is that God could ABSOLUTELY and instantly heal me from my mental illness. However, God uses me in unique ways BECAUSE I continue to struggle with clinical depression, not in spite of it.

        But He said to me, ?My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.? Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ?s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ?s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

  10. Rae says:

    What a refreshing and very powerful article! I have friends who believe it is shameful to admit you are depressed, and they refuse to get treatment. I know about depression–I have chronic depression–and I was in therapy for 9 years. Thank God I “graduated” and no longer go, but I faithfully keep appointments with my psychiatrist for medication management, for I know that without those meds I would very likely commit suicide, as I very seriously contemplated several years ago, or possibly hurt others in my family or outside of it. That is a very, very scary thought. Prayers are indeed helpful, but when you are in a deep state of depression as I was, no words are enough to pray, and the desire and need to pray disappears. It is gone–because of your depair, you can not even do that.

    God bless you for giving this insight and lifesaving information.

  11. Irene Lambright says:

    Those people who think prayer alone will cure mental illness have not been truly physically depressed or had an imbalance in their brain. If you look in the Bible it states, “Without wisdom, my people perish”. Millions of people died for centuries because there was not the scientific knowledge about antibiotics and other medications or sanitary practices. Today, people live because God, in his timing, allowed man to gain wisdom to understand disease, and with the creation of antibiotics, vaccines, sanitary practices and other scientific breakthroughs, we regularly recover from things that previously were a death sentence. Today, if someone has kidney failure, or a bacterial infection, the WISE thing to do is to go and get treatment. If a person has a chemical imbalance in their brain, and is exhibiting signs of mental illness, then why would we ignore the wisdom and treatment that God has already provided for us?

    I have suffered severe depression for decades beginning in my early teens, due to peer rejection and bullying. I struggled with it until my 40’s when a series of rejections caused me not to be able to function. I spent 8 years trying 9 different depression medications, some of which kind of worked, and some which caused severe side effects. Finally, in God’s timing, in 2004, my doctor encouraged me to participate in a trial of Cymbalta. It was rough at first, but when it kicked in, I found that for the first time in my life, I didn’t cry everyday and lose it at every circumstance. I have been on it ever since. Life has still had its difficult circumstances, but at least I have some reserve in myself to help me cope without falling apart. I may have to be on it for the rest of my life, but I am grateful for the evening out of my emotions and the healing that came from not being SO LOW all the time. I have been able, by the grace of God, through prayer, medication, times of worship and counseling to weather some VERY difficult circumstances, including my son’s being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and the hardships that created. People who are depressed or suffering from mental illness need EVERY weapon in the arsenal of help they can get to lead more fulfilling productive lives.

    Especially at risk are children and teenagers, who are exhibiting signs of depression or mental illness. Their brains are still developing, and studies have shown that if you don’t introduce the right medications during that time, that their brains become hardwired towards depression and then, as exhibited by my personal experience, you have a harder time finding one that works. So please, listen to the author of this article and show compassion on those who are suffering. Don’t compound their suffering by throwing condemnation on them for seeking out medical help.

    Let me also state that I fully believe God is capable of healing someone instantly. Why He chooses to do so for some and not for others is a mystery that I won’t understand. There have been times when confession and being prayed for by others has helped me tremendously! I am SO grateful for those times, just as I am fully grateful for the times that medication and therapy has helped. Therapy helps us get an objective perspective of what is going on, and you can’t fix the problem until you know what the problem is. We all need HELP and community from the body of Christ.

    GOD IS the source of our healing…whether through the wisdom that He has granted the medical community or through prayer and Bible reading, or His supernatural resurrection power. I will be the first to admit that man’s medical ability has it’s end. All we can do is cling to Him and ask Him to show us what avenues to take.
    Sincerely,
    Irene Lambright

  12. tracy atwood says:

    So much of what you say is true.

    As a longtime church attender, I’ve found church to be among some of the most hurtful places I’ve been. But I continue to go because we do need fellowship, and after a recent move, we’re praying diligently to find a safe place. So many aren’t.

    But what I’m afraid of is the church missing the mark by not being aware of the dangers of psychotropic drugs. I was diagnosed in 2007 after having a bad reaction to an antidepressant. What I needed was a lifestyle change and healing from some old wounds that I actually incurred among people who called themselves Christians. I suffered a crisis of belief that lead me to a sinful life. And it nearly did me in. Turning to the medical community just added insult to injury. I can’t begin to tell you how deep the wounds are now even after recovering fully from the symptoms that lead to what is now a misdiagnosis. I tried to convey this to Ed Stetzer but he shut me down. A place where I thought maybe I could help effect justice, and I was dismissed like I’d been, IN CHURCH, my whole life before.
    You know what I’ve learned? I have learned to pray more. To lean in more to the Lord, to stop looking to even people who most respect, and to rid my life of sin at every turn. Please. Please don’t dismiss me. I’m not out to hurt anyone. But I have been hurt by one of the very things everybody seems so quick to point to and that is medicine and the medical complex.

    • Lena Rae says:

      Anne Graham Lotz has a new book out called Wound by God’s People. Haven’t read it myself, but it crossed my mind as I read your post. Maybe it would be helpful to you.

      • Joy Cameron says:

        I was thinking of the same book as I read this, Lena! I also, haven’t read it yet, but the summary of it has it at the top of my “to read” list. I think a lot of us commenting today, would benefit from Anne’s book.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My brother committed suicide a few months ago. I had been worried this would happen for 20 years. Both he and I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of our adult lives. Our Christian family never wanted to hear about it. They always dismissed our feelings and our struggles. Good Christians were not supposed to get depressed. We must not be walking by the power of the Holy Spirit. Or we had secret sins. From their perspective psychologists & psychiatrists were anti-biblical at best and quacks & thieves at worst. My poor brother felt guilty and condemned for taking mental health drugs, so he never took them consistently. Whenever he felt good he’d stop taking the drugs, often at our parents’ encouragement. Before long he’d be mired in depression again. Me, I was lucky. I moved out of state. I found a good therapist and eventually a psychiatrist. I was on anti-depressants for years before my parents knew. They found out when I blurted it out in an argument when they were insisting that the meds were the REASON for my brother’s problems. They just never got it. And I truly believe the blinders came from their legalistic perspective. There was never any grace in our home. Proof positive: my brothers death was an accident, they say. There isn’t even room for suicide in a good Christian home.

    • Monica says:

      Anonymous,

      I am so sorry for your deep and recent loss. The grief of death is always hard, and when it is a result of suicide, it is grief upon grief. I’m thankful you have been able to find the support you’ve needed through the years. I trust you are finding the extra support you need now to help you through this sorrow.

      My heart goes out to you and your whole family. What a place of fear and exhaustion, to feel the need to try to keep the truth shrouded in darkness. I think the wounds that drive those choices are deep. My hope is that as you walk in the light, you are an example of health and love.

      Thanks for sharing your very real and touching experience.

  14. Josh says:

    I don’t know what’s more alarming… that half of all evangelicals believe mental illness can be cured by prayer alone, or 36 percent (more than one-third) don’t feel the church should do more to prevent suicide.

    God must be shaking His head…

  15. Robert Stone says:

    Let’s see, the last time I checked, 48% was less than 1/2; yet your label implies that the article applies to Evangelicals – literally those who believe in actively teaching the gospel to all the world – and fundamentalists – an all-encompassing name so widely applied as to be without meaning. My father – a lifelong minister, had an old country wisdom saying that said that “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” Please do not misled by dramatic half-true headlines – it weakens the argument that you made. Very simply, no culture yet has the solution to treatment of mental illness – not even the current highly skilled medical community has one that is sufficiently effective. Just ask a psychiatrist how often he deals with non-compliance by the patient. such non-compliance does not evoke sympathy from the innocent bystander whose loved one is injured by the “innocent” mentally ill patient who is voluntarily off his meds. The solution yet to be found will involve godly wisdom, medications, prayer, and the fortitude to deal effectively with the non-compliant.

  16. shelleyshelleyisblessed@gmail.com says:

    Love this. Will share this. Truth!

  17. Paul says:

    I’m a bit disappointed by this study.

    The question about prayer is overly simplistic, and frankly is entirely useless. Assuming that the question read, “Can mental illness be cured by prayer alone?” the answer, biblically speaking, MUST be “yes.” To respond otherwise is to say that God cannot sovereignly answer prayer; to answer “no” is to admit one does not believe God is God. This is why, given the phrasing I mentioned above, I guess I’m one of the “stupid” 48 percent.

    But – and this is why I responded to this article, and why I say it’s useless – notice what the article did NOT say the survey asked. The survey did NOT ask, “can prayer alone ALWAYS cure mental illness?”

    Obviously, these are two very different questions. And the correct, biblical answer to what it did NOT ask is, “of course not.” Of course God uses doctors and other mental health professionals. I, personally, suffer from dysthemia; I appreciate the various medications my doctor has prescribed for me. Did prayer alone cure my dysthemia? No. But – had God so chosen – could it have? I’m going to guess – since I don’t have the respondents in front of me – that when they answered “yes,” this is what they meant. So let’s back off on the inference that people who so believe are theological, biblical, or mental midgets.

    And the comment that “[Sometimes] prayer and Bible study are prescribed as the first step to try to avoid treatment?and this, for many people, has the same effect as discouraging treatment. It certainly has the effect of delaying treatment, and delay increases the likelihood that mental illness will become severe, cause serious disruption to functioning, and potentially cost a person his or her life” may well be true. I’m not advocating that we abandon doctors – as I’ve said above. However, let’s say an individual with a mental illness seeks medical help, and – concurrently – prays for a cure. What this statement seems to say is that it is IMPOSSIBLE that it was God, not the medical help, which was responsible for the remission of the disease.

    I certainly hope that our approach as Christ followers is more balanced, and I hope that studies like this don’t DISsuade people from prayer as part of their recovery.

    • Adria says:

      Actually if you read what the study presented, it WAS the percentage of Christians who believe prayer ALONE is sufficient, and it was contrasted against how many think the church should be doing MORE in the Kingdom work…. The harvest is ready but the workers are few.

  18. Linda says:

    I totally agree with most all you have said here – but one thing I am wondering about in defense of Evangelicals – I didn’t see the survey that was done but I can’t help wonder if it’s possible the responses were somehow taken out of context?

    If I were asked the question of whether or not I believed mental illness COULD be healed by prayer alone – I would probably answer yes – We know that with God all things are possible. I also believe cancer or any disease CAN be healed with prayer. But we also know that there are MANY times when these illnesses are NOT healed through prayer – it doesn’t mean our prayers aren’t helping and powerful just the same – even if there isn’t a healing. I just wonder if the survey results are being taken in a way they weren’t meant?? – know what I mean?

    I hope my words aren’t taken out of context – I certainly believe in encouraging medical treatment & educating ourselves in every way possible so we can help & support families who are going through this. I really wonder how this question on the survey was asked – and what the response really meant – we should all be slow to make any judgments…. 🙂

  19. Karen M. says:

    Knowing people affected by mental illness, I’ve seen so many foolish teachings in churches regarding the subject. From people believing it is a spirit to be cast out, to leaders telling people to throw away their meds. I’ve seen lives destroyed, and minds pushed to the brink of suicide. These same leaders, prayer “warriors”, etc. would never think of telling people not to go to the doctor for a broken bone, an infection, etc., but because the illness is in ones brain, all common sense eludes otherwise intelligent people.

    I remember when the 700 Club fired Shiela Walsh because she took medication for depression. It’s ludicrous. Thank God pastors with the influence of the Warrens are now taking on this subject. Countless lives may be saved. As for this article, hopefully it too, will help knock down the barriers.

  20. Ling Chin says:

    Reading the article and responses one can easily see how far church today had drifted away from its original state. In the first century church, there were only Christians (no Baptists, charismatics, evangelicals, etc.) who have witnessed healings like these in Acts 5:
    15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
    16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

    It is sad that “Steve the charismatic” is looking for validation from the media. Do you think a righteous God would put present day ‘Christians’ in the same heaven as Peter and Paul?

    • dale says:

      In response to Ling Chin:

      Most assuredly there will be ‘”the least of these” in Heaven. The thief on the cross had only to ask Jesus to “remember me when you come into Your Kingdom” as Jesus said, “surely this day you will be with me in Paradise.” It is our faith…our belief in Him as our Savior that is our salvation..and nothing more. Man made religion is the most contemptible of all and is against what Jesus was here for in the first place. IF it is the “law” that is what gets us into Heaven then Heaven will be a lonely place. Even Paul and Peter would argue that they themselves could not be “good enough” to be in Heaven by their own merits…one a murderer of Christians and the other who denied Christ 3 times….they were forgiven through Christ Jesus and helped spread the Gospel and establish the “church.”

      As for mental illness being cured by prayer. I am a Christian mother who raised a Christian son who loved God (in his own words)”beyond words.” I prayed for him as any mother would even before his birth, and most especially upon seeing him in deep depression. My son left behind a prayer journal that was evidence of his own prayers concerning his mental and emotional condition. He took his life five years ago. Needless, to say, our prayers were not answered as we would have wanted. We cannot know the answers to our question “why?” But, what we can know is that my son is in Heaven because he had faith in Jesus and was forgiven of all his sins. The ignorant of some so-called believers have decided mental illness is not only a sin but the”unforgivable sin”….with that kind of thinking they have diluted Jesus’ blood to have no affect…except for the “sins” they think are “forgivable.” I am glad I have a loving Father whose mercies and grace are for all…most especially the “least of these” and those who are too sick to make the “right” choices. To God be the glory.

  21. Liz says:

    God doesn’t need to use medications and treatments but he gives us these tools to help ourselves. He gives us wisdom to keep us healthy! We need to pray, but we also need to use the tools he gives us. Only God can make us well <3! Thank you for this article!

  22. Merline Alford says:

    I believe mentally ill people should seek medical help. Even if the drs’ help them, it is God who gives the drs’ knowledege to know how to treat patients with meds. and therepy. However, prayer and faith in Jesus Christ should always be first and contiunally.

  23. Krysti says:

    As someone who’s had several family and friends struggle with mental illness, thank you! I know your heart is in the right place with this article, and I hope that you will continue to communicate and discuss more of what believers in Christ can do to help those with mental illness in their midst find solutions that heal instead of neglecting or judging them–

    There are no easy answers to mental illness. The issues are very complex. The drugs do not cure; they only address the symptoms. Some are better “Band Aids” than others, but the results are highly individual, and as we were repeatedly told, there has been until recently no way to predict how the recipient’s physiology will react to the medication prescribed. The danger of a bad reaction associated with any psychotropic drug should never be discounted, even if the drug is being given as pain therapy instead of specifically prescribed for mental illness. We’ve just about seen it all now…

    Our experience with the church’s response to mental illness has been mixed. I have not found the church’s confusion and hesitancy to minister to the mentally ill to be a solely Evangelical or Charismatic issue. I have encountered it elsewhere as well.

    Mental illness tends to result in isolation and avoidance of the mentally ill person, and often, of everyone who is closely connected to them. Their families try to shield them, withdrawing from normal interactions with society, and creating a bubble of ignorance and isolation around their struggles. When informed, the church often holds them at a distance, fearing disruption.

    If the mentally ill person is subject to delusions or lives in a state of denial as to their mental illness, they can add layers of confusion to the bubble isolating them if they lie and accuse their loved ones and caregivers of being mentally ill instead. If these lies are not seen through, any support offered can become skewed in directions that do a great deal of harm.

    Children are especially vulnerable, as the mentally ill person may seek psychiatric treatment for a child who is upset and damaged by their behavior instead of seeking treatment for themselves. No one in the church should counsel or encourage the treatment of children with psychotropic drugs for any reason, since they are not qualified to make such decisions. Ritalin counts as a psychotropic drug–

    Far too often, mental illness results in a train-wreck of abuse, divorce, shattered lives, and an ever-widening circle of damage and harm. Churches are understandably wary of being caught in this wake of destruction. But if they will not stand strong and seek solutions, there will be no solutions, because there is no purely medical solution possible, and there is no other community available that is as well-equipped to offer emotional, spiritual, and physical support and guidance to those who are struggling–but the church must step up and accept this mission. It won’t be implemented by accident.

    No ministry should ever be undertaken without proper prayer and study of the challenges facing those who need that ministering. Not everyone is suited to, or should attempt to minister to the mentally ill. Men and women with considerable patience, discernment, and tact should be appointed to lead these efforts, and to educate their churches on how to care for the mentally ill.

    We need to find ways to remove the stigma of mental illness from families of the mentally ill within the church body, especially the stigma associated with seeking effective treatment or being open about struggles with mental illness. This conspiracy of silence is causing great damage and limiting options for help.

    Often, by the time a mentally ill person is desperate enough to seek effective treatment, their lives are falling apart. Financial stress, and fear of losing their family and their home adds an additional unbearable load to an already unbalanced mind. Addressing these burdens and coming alongside families that are struggling before they reach this point should be a high priority for every church.

    Christian businessmen who are willing to give the mentally ill person who has proved stability on medication a chance could be very useful by giving them jobs. Also, caregivers sometimes need jobs, too, and childcare in order to pursue those jobs.

    Prayer is a vital part of support for the mentally ill and their families, but so is just dropping by to hold the hand of an exhausted and emotionally wrung-out caregiver, or bringing a casserole.

    Taking the kids for an afternoon, or standing as a church body with the caregiver who must inform a loved one that their mental state has become disruptive and it is time to go under a doctor’s immediate care, could be tremendously helpful.

    Another possible contribution: maintain a relationship with a mentally ill person–whose drugs are working well–that allows reinforcement on a regular basis of the idea that they should never stop taking their medication without first meeting together with their doctor and their caregiver to discuss whether either one believes it would be wise or beneficial to stop taking their medication.

    Churches could also help greatly if they would encourage the mentally ill to seek hospitalization when trying a new medication, and if they would undertake to support their families while their family member is in the hospital so that they have less to worry about, and fear.

    Hopefully some of what I’ve stated here is helpful. I apologize for it being so long. I probably could have said twice as much.

    • Carole says:

      These are such excellent comments! My son suffered with psychotic delusions for several years, beginning at age 19. When we brought him home from college and struggled to care for him, our church just evaporated from our lives. No one called, came over, asked how we were… It was as if we ceased to exist. In my experience, the problem wasn’t that the church thought we should just pray… At least that would have been paying attention and trying to care. For us, it was a total denial of the whole situation and refusing to even acknowledge that it exists. My husband and I fought for our son, alone. We saved him… He is now ok, and is completing his graduate degree. My husband and me? We became totally disillusioned with the church, and now see it as a total waste of time. Why invest in something that proves to be empty at that point in your life when you really need it?

      • Lena Rae says:

        Anne Graham Lotz has a new book out called Wound by God?s People. Haven?t read it myself, but it crossed my mind as I read your post. Maybe it would be helpful to you.

  24. Karen A Erickson says:

    An excellent article. I too have struggled with depression most of my life. Brought on by childhood sexual abuse. I have been on meds and right now by the grace of God am medication free. After many years of therapy and recovery groups and a constant reliance on God. There are times when I think about going back. The reason I don’t are the side affects. As I am getting older and my weight and heart need all the help and rest they can get. I recently saw a woman (who’s name I can’t remember) doing a TEDtalk. She was schizophrenic. She was also a psychiatrist. The dr. Who actually helped her, asked her “what was done to you?” We live in a VERY broken world. Many of us become victims at a very young age and it causes damage. Actually being traumatized causes some severe damage no matter how old we are when it happens. Damage to our brains and damage to our souks. All I can say is “thank God for His grace. And for medication. . I’m not sure I’d be here without both.

  25. Edith says:

    Mental problems can come from many different things. Some medications can cause it, especially if you’re sensitive to meds. I’ve had a bad case of baby blues. Didn’t know what it was, and thought I was going crazy for sure. I was later told by dermatologist they can’t give me accutane for my skin, because I had depressive reactions to earlier treatments with birth control pills. I just read a study, which said that the male babies who’s births were induced are very likely to become authistic. The oxytocin and whatever is put into the coctail causes that. I have a very strong feeling that my baby blues was also caused by the iv I recieved during childbirth. Eating unhealthy, proccessed foods can cause many problems endocrinologically, as well as most of the cosmetics today. We’ve heard a lot about endocrine disruptors. And as we know, endocrine problems cause mental and nervous system problems. It’s hard to stay healthy mentally and physically in this world today. May the Lord help us!

  26. Jeannie says:

    I suffered greatly in my mid-twenties. My church did not agree with taking medication. I eventually left the church and still suffered. People prayed over me and anointed me. Eventually I gained some tools to cope, but my mental health professionals were VERY helpful to me. I needed counseling for sure, but my church did not/would not provide it. Now, 30 yrs later, I am suffering alone again. I am praying and struggling and working very hard to remember what God has done and can do for me. Thank you for posting your knowledge.

  27. suzie says:

    Thank you.

  28. Todd Porter says:

    I whole heartedly agree! I believe though that God’s miracles are not limited to only people who don’t have doctoral or prescriptive care. I believe part of God’s miraculous work is the fact that he has given doctors the knowledge to operate and also given people the knowledge to create medicines to help us. Let’s not discount that which I think is part of the problem. If we began to see God’s hand in those things then we would not be so against is miracle working powers in those areas.

    Thank you for writing this.

  29. Ken says:

    As a Pastor who is very personally involved in the field of Mental Illness, I can say that there is a big difference between telling someone to “pray first”, as opposed to “pray only”. Telling someone with mental illness to pray is a great way of reminding them that God is seeking to spend time with them, to love, and to hear from them. People with this illness often have a distorted view of the reality of God. To remind them that the Creator of the Universe wants them to unload their burdens on Him can be impactful. I always encourage everyone, who is able and willing, to pray first, and to hold on to that “lifeline” through their battles. But I never tell someone to “pray only” and to deny themselves of the other resources that God has made available to them. I don’t hold out prayer as the only way to find healing and if someone is unable to pray then I ask their permission to allow me to pray for them myself.

  30. Monica says:

    Thanks for your article, Amy. Surely, as so many of us have experienced, there is room for and often need of both prayer and medical/mental health treatment.

    I had an online conversation not too long ago with a gentleman who told me that because I’d struggled with depression and suicidal feelings, I was obviously not and had never been a believer. Never mind the fact that I told him the only glimmer of hope I had in that darkest of times was my faith, my savior, my Jesus. He said that because I was depressed, it was clear my mind was not redeemed and I was not saved.

    How harmful that would have been to me if I had not already come out on the other side of a severe depression. And how ironic that by treating a physical malady — an under-active thyroid — the depth of that depression was lifted. He did not have any regard whatsoever for the physical aspects involved. If I’d told him that my leg broke, he never would have questioned my salvation. But because my thyroid broke and led to many other ‘breakages’, he was so quick to condemn me without a shred of grace.

    Or take the example of a couple of family members who have learned (the hard way) that they simply must take medication to balance their brain chemicals. Without that help, they become self destructive at best, and likely suicidal. Just as my thyroid needs a boost, so do their brains. It’s a physiological illness encased within the spiritual illness that has enveloped mankind since the fall. It’s not an either/or. It’s both/and. But oftentimes it seems Christians won’t allow for that. (I admit that I had different thoughts on it all before I experienced it myself.)

    I believe fear of these types of condemnations is what keeps so many Christians in the closet about their mental health issues. Sometimes it’s too scary to say what’s really going on because we have strong indications of how we’ll be received. Simply starting more conversations, as you are doing through your work, is a powerful and necessary tool.

    Like so many issues, we won’t have full agreement by everyone everywhere. But we should have GRACE for one another, especially when we don’t understand or have never walked in the shoes of those whom we tend to judge. Personally, I think much judgment results from fear, so again, conversation is a great grace and a great necessity.

  31. Donna says:

    My husband is the pastor of an Evangelical Biker Church. We came from a traditional church into this ministry 5 years ago. I have suffered from depression in the past and was encouraged ( by a prayer group) to go off my meds and trust God to take care of it. After a year of struggling and not sleeping my husband said “don’t you think God wants you to sleep?”. I went back on them and in the next few years have begun to find great healing from my blessed Savior while on the meds. I also know that I am not to go off of them. In a growing Biker church, a huge percentage of our people suffer from all kinds of mental illness. In our women’s Life Group we have an average of 30% who are suffering from BiPolar Disorder. Because of this we have asked the Holy Spirit to give us strategies to encourage these beautiful women to continue to be a part of us. We are no better than them. We ARE them! God has been faithful to teach and guide us. Thank you for this teaching. God knows there are no throw away people.

  32. Brx says:

    While I can understand and appreciate your concern, Amy, this post sounds like it is much more motivated by your personal experience and those you’ve heard rather than the reality of what the LifeWay Research _actually_ mean; I think you drew an erroneous conclusion from “48 percent believe serious mental illness can be cured by prayer alone.” The key words are “CAN BE”; the question was probably something straight forward such as “do you believe God can heal a mentally ill person through prayer alone?” Most Christian believers would answer “yes” because they do believe He _CAN_. That is NOT the same question as “do you think prayer should be the only prescription for mental illness?”

    Amy, I think your reasoning in this matter is skewed and encouraging you to paint a negative, false image of a whole people-group. …is it not surprising how simple faults in reasoning and incorrect assumptions lead to _ALL_ kinds of negative prejudgements and strife among people in the world?

    Maybe your experiences with Evangelical’s & the topic of mental illness have been less than positive, but I’ve been around many who understand a lot about mental illnesses & drepression, in fact, one large local church has sponsored a licensed, professional assessment, counselling, and therapy ministry for more than 10yrs and has more recently been working to provide even more help through serious, extensive training of many peer counselors. I’ve also served with an organization called Care Corps International whose mission is to go into traumatized populations to provide counselling & therapy, and to train indigenous caregivers in how to provide healing counselling & therapy….they’ve spent a lot of time in northern Uganda helping with the large numbers of PTSD issues affecting the people there. …and on the other hand, I’ve also seen friends go through years of professional, licensed, mental health treatment that ends up doing much more harm than good; so, just getting a person into “treatment” is not the cure-all so many people think it is – because not all “treatment” programs are effective. The devil is in the details, so to speak.

    For the record, I do believe real healing begins with faith…one who wants to be healed must ultimately takes some steps of faith in deciding to trust people to help with a deep, scary problem that one can’t solve on their own.

  33. Cathi Muckle says:

    I have a 34 year old son who is mentally ill. He has been in and out of jail several times, been a drug user and has been told by many in the church that he cannot be a part of certain programs because he needs medication. He has been in jail a few months now and they have put him on medication and he said “mama, I feel hope.” In the next breath he asked me not to tell anyone he is on medication. Your article is wonderful and in my estimation…right. My son is a Christian AND needs medication. Thank you, dear one, for this blog.

  34. Michele Pulford says:

    Hello Amy.
    I thank you for your article, just because it enables people to voice their experiences and opinions about this very sensitive, yet highly vital subject. This is life. I can relate to every comment, whether it is for or against or a bit of both. What I do not see is what The Bible says…I take a script written by Solomon found in Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him (our LORD GOD. ABBA FATHER), and He will your paths straight. This is a Promise from GOD and as Brx said, this needs faith for us to stand on… This verse tells us without any doubts or maybe’s, that GOD ALMIGHTY WILL help you, show you what to do (in this case, to be set free from mental illness)…this is the correct answer because He will show everyone what, how to do, according to who they are as an individual. Our ‘job’ as Christians is to help and enable the person to get to that place where they can freely go to GOD with everything that is going on inside of their mind, whether they do it themselves or they ask someone to do it with and for them…. Sometimes for the person to get to this place of boldness, freedom from guilt, doubt, shame, they might need a good dose of medication first. There will be others who need a good dose of prayer and releasing first before they are able to share and trust GOD for help (to make their paths straight).
    And once the person is able to go and ‘commit all their ways’-their turmoil sometimes even tortured mind, it is for GOD ALMIGHTY to decide how HE is going to make that persons ‘path straight’. HE can touch and bring instant healing. HE can give medication be given in order to bring a victorious managing of the mental illness/depression. HE might show that specific exercise, eating and specific sleep is needed for the victory. HE might show that counselling, psychology, psychiatry, occupational therapy, inner-healing is needed. HE might show that a complete new environment is needed. The important thing is that our OMNISCIENT (All-Knowing GOD) knows exactly what each individual person needs and this is where we as Christians mess up. To know GOD’S ruling, of how HE is ‘making that specific precious person suffering with depression or mental illness, straight – that person needs to hear, be shown HIS instructions for this straight path-victory, freedom from this heavy cloud, sometimes even black stifling smoke – this is what our prayer and help should be…for the clarity of what GOD wants for the person…NOT our opinionated prayers and advice…who are we to tell GOD what to do for each specific individual. HE KNOWS and ALWAYS WILL of what each individual person needs for breakthrough and victory.
    Prayer is always needed and always will be, but it must be prayer that brings hope and strength, not judgement and condemnation. Those who prayer with fervent hope in Jesus Christ to heal-make the paths straight, will never abandon. This hope and faith in GOD’S Word is not of our own strength, it is from the Heaven-lies and so the second that prayer of hope is given out, GOD already replaces in, that which has been given out. Those who pray opinionated prayers, that is of their own strength and will eventually deplete themselves of this ‘support’ and eventually abandon their cause to support the person with the depression/mental illness.
    O LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, in JESUS NAME, we look to YOU, lean on YOU and put our Hope in YOU to show each person suffering with depression/mental illness what it is he/she must do in order to get the victory, to stop in its tracts, from controlling them. LORD JESUS, show them what is needed for them to always have the authority over this depression/mental illness. HOLY SPIRIT, give them the strength, the hope, the belief they need to stand up and take that step as ‘The Victor – The Winner’. And HOLY SPIRIT we ask YOU to show them, beyond any doubt, what it is they-as a unique, highly prized individual, need to do to be able to live this Victorious life. And LORD, if they stumble, help them not to fall, but if they fall, give them the boldness the determination they need to stand back up and strong and tall. ABBA FATHER, if they wake up and feel a cloud over them, please will YOU show them that the sun is still there and that the clouds are just filtering by. LORD GOD, they can not walk this alone, and so we ask YOU to place the right people in their life who will understand, stand by, be firm when necessary and love them regardless. Give these people the strength and discernment they will always need as they walk in support of this person. Give more people, more Christians a sound understanding of what depression and mental illness is all about. Bless Amy with her work of bringing issues out into the open so that we all can grow in understanding from each other. Amen

  35. sue says:

    Thankyou! I needed this

  36. Legina says:

    I appreciate the comments that are being shared. More discussion is so needed. I love God. I believe Him to be the one true Savior. I believe that God can heal me of my mental disorder. Why? Because He said He can. I share that with the people I speak with, who say their faith is one of the strengths to live with a disorder. I have been told by other faith believers that it can happen if only…..it is always the ‘only’ part that is the problem. It is my personal choice how I decide to live with my disorder. Now, there are times when I and others are not in such a position to make those kind of choices due to current health crisis. I may need a family member to step in. But ultimately, it is my choice to stand on what I believe, and I don’t think we should try to dissuade anyone of their belief. I would share my belief and that I see a doctor and have medication, and other tool I use to remain ‘sane’ for lack of a better word. But, my belief that God can and will heal me will always be my mantra.

  37. Christine says:

    I can really appreciate this article. I grew up in a church that felt that way about mental illness, and with someone with bipolar disorder and a history of abuse, it really wasn’t enough for me to pray it away… I tried religiously (lol) for 4 years, before eventually being asked to leave.

    As an adult who finally got up the courage to get help and is happily stable, I realize the severity of the views they had… Like you said, 25-50% of us attempt suicide and I ended up spending two weeks in the hospital for that reason. It scares me that if I hadn’t been asked to leave, I may never have gotten the proper help… I don’t know if I would even be alive right now.

  38. Lena Rae says:

    Praying first may not be a good option for the depressed; prayer is difficult when I am very depressed. Internal prayer is impossible. Praying out loud, under my breath is easier. It took years to figure this out! There is something about what depression does to the mind, that makes prayer difficult. I find myself avoiding it. What I need when I’m depressed is to go to a Dr. I thank God for Doctors and medicine. Modern medicine is a miracle, a gift from God.

  39. Billy welch says:

    This is a well-meaning article but unfortunately, it pushes people towards the drugs that cause suicide. Chemical imbalance has never been proven, and unfortunately, these drugs have been proven to cause suicidal behavior. The real solution may be medical, no medical evidence can prove that the chemical imbalance. Such factors as diet, allergies, parasites, and other causes of disease need to be looked into by a qualified medical profession.

    God said to beware of false science and black magic. The word pharmacy has a derivation that used to mean black magic in biblical times. This should serve as a strong warning to any devout souls.

    • Mmj says:

      The same drugs that may cause suicide in some prevent suicide in others. Chemicals and hormones in the body can be measured with great success. The drugs to which you refer do have unpleasant side effects in some, so it is important to have a qualified medical professional prescribe them and follow the patient closely.

  40. Brian says:

    DEPRESSION…. can hit anyone at any time, anywhere. It?s no respecter of age, gender, wealth or social position. It can be an invisible illness to the onlooker but no less real , painful or debilitating to the sufferer. It can be triggered a number of reasons :- bereavement, stress at work, drink, drugs… or sometimes No Apparent reason at all ! Symptoms may include sleeplessness, low self esteem, tearfulness, tension , inability to communicate….. These are just some of the things that can be present and that we may recognise in ourselves or others. Also a lack of interest in or ability to organise daily life. The GOOD NEWS is THERE IS HELP, There is a pathway to recovery ! Knowing how to help, where to get help, what to say to sufferers( and what not to say!!) can be a different matter. God can heal through prayer but often works through human hands…that of family, friends and importantly doctors that prescribe medication tailored to that individual ! ….. Losing yourself in work , shopping and common solution ?drink? do not work… they might well mask the problem temporarily but can often exasperate it…. [ I speak as someone who myself has battled with this issue who has a 20 something son who is diagnosed as bipolar ] Recovery can be a long sometimes roller coaster process. Often the sufferer and carer need prayer need just manage everyday life. Helpful websites include http://www.mind.org and http://www.rethink.org

  41. Christa says:

    This article is refreshing to read. It makes me feel proud and hopeful to be an evangelical church member, versus the way I felt when small, shunned by some at my church for having a parent with severe mental illness. It takes great courage to speak out on this matter, but it was well said, inspired, and I look forward to whatever God lays on your heart. Thanks Amy!

  42. Tom says:

    Amy, while I agree with the premise of the article, the it still suggests that mental illnesses are a brain disease like “any other.” Yet, all of the diseases that are listed, heart disease, liver diseases, pancreas disease, can be independently verified through lab tests. No psychiatric disorder can be independently. There is no evidence that they exist as a pathology in the brain. By suggesting that mental illness is a function of a malfunctioning brain, disregards the fact that mental illness is a function of a broken heart, often the result of trauma. This argument has the opposite effect; it increases stigma by promoting a reductionist view that mental illness is a “disease like any other.” (There’s a lot of research to support this.) It’s just as reductionist as suggesting prayer alone is enough. Most respectfully, Tom Murray, PhD.

    For a deeper appreciation of my cynicism for our current mental health care system, Google my article “Loss of Client Agency into the Psychopharmaceutical Industrial Complex. Thought written for mental health professions, it may be of interest to others.

    • Luanne says:

      Tom…who needs Google when we have The Truth as in the LiVInG word of God!

    • Mmj says:

      But mental illness, such as clinical depression, is often a part of a disease that can be proven by lab testing, such as hypothyroidism. And if I have a 6 month old bouncing-baby girl and I’m struggling with depression, you’d better teat my post-partum depression so I can fully engage with and enjoy that baby!

      • Anne-Marie says:

        Mmj, Amen!

        I am a type 1 diabetic who has hypothyroidism (and probably some other autoimmune-related conditions on top of those). I believe that my depression comes from how blood sugar fluctuations affect the parts of the brain that create and rule the emotions.

        I know that I probably would have attempted suicide long ago if it weren’t for God.

        Why doesn’t He miraculously heal me of my diabetes, hypothyroidism, depression, and other ailments? I don’t know. But it’s not my job to know. It’s my job to steward this life He’s given me ? prayerfully so.

    • rikki says:

      Images of depressed brains clearly show how different they are from normal brains.

  43. Archie says:

    I believe the biggest tragedy is not relying on God. Prayer should be our first response to all things. I am not saying to avoid medical help or prolong it. But we know that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities in the heavenly places. God is bigger than all our problems, sickness and disease and he wants us to be well, as He loves us more than we can possibly love ourselves.

    A better article would be to lay hands on the sick and the mentally ill and ask God to heal them. There are so many examples of God answering prayer, and so many I have witnessed. The bible clearly states that there are unseen battles that effect our physical being. To discount peoe with mental illness as having no spiritual implications, is blindness. God doesn’t always heal, and doesn’t always heal immediately, there are examples where Jesus himself had to pray multiple times to heal someone. It is to be addressed with prayer. Ask God what is preventing healing, what is inhibiting, and pray with consistency. There are so many resources about prayer, and too many people who believe that an all powerful God does not answer prayer. Please don’t defame God and prayer because He does not fit our ideas of “treatment” in a scientific centric age.

    Science still can only diagnose mental illness, they don’t know what causes it. Funny how medicine can’t cute mental illness, just numb it with “pain killers.” I have a sister who suffers from mental illness, and I have watched her go up and down and down and down. The few times she went up was off medications (she has 8) and when she was praying. I will not say that is a cure or the treatment for all. But I know the God who heals, I know the creator who knows how he made us, and I know who fights battles for me in the spiritual places. And I know the God who can work in human hearts, who saves our souls, not just our bodies that will die, all of us will die physically. I would be more concerned with our spirits than with our bodies that are bound to he effects of time. I hope you shift your focus from condemning prayer, to living in hope for what God has done and continues to do in this world.

    I do not condemn people for using medication, and I certainly don’t disown them. I would encourage them in love to pray, mental or physical illness, all things are within Gods reach. I am sad that people who claim to know Christ have done and acted as you mentioned, they do not represent Jesus of the gospel, as we are imperfect people that is still not an excuse. The actions they took were in their own names and not in obedience to God and his word. One of the greatest tools of the enemy satan is to make hypocrites of the church.

    I know I can’t argue you into believing pray, and is not my intention. But please don’t discount my God who loves, heals, sustains, gives and takes away. His robe is light and word is peace, hope to the hopeless, and His forgiveness knows no end, and His desire is to know you, to spent all time with you, and to hold you. That is who I know.

    • Krysti says:

      Dear Tom and Archie,

      Mental illness IS an illness. It isn’t merely a spiritual condition, it isn’t merely the outpourings of a broken or traumatized heart, although trauma has been shown to be a triggering event in certain types of mental illness.

      Mental illness can be scientifically quantified, Tom–maybe not by the measure you’ve chosen–but certainly by other scientifically accepted measures. Medical strides in effectively addressing mental illness have been a long time in coming, but recently more links between mental illness and certain viral infections have been drawn, and there are doctors who are looking into methods to treat mental illness instead of just trying to cover up the symptoms with anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.

      People with mental illness need medical intervention and treatment. We may not all agree on what this is, but for some people the meds currently available are more effective and give them back their lives. For others, no amount of medication, therapy, or other intervention is ever going to really be enough or work for very long. But that said; no, faith is NOT enough enough to overcome mental illness or any other kind of illness.

      Faith doesn’t cure; God does–and He doesn’t always take the route of miraculous healing to help us. Many times, He uses ordinary means.

      I know of only one person who has publicly stated that God healed their mental illness, and–if I didn’t see daily evidence of such a transformation, I would not believe him. God hasn’t, however, taken the consequences of that mental illness completely out of his life, and he has never said or even implied that it was because of his great faith that he was healed. I would be surprised if he did, because from what I have learned in dealing with the mentally ill, if there is one thing that typifies most types of mental illness, it is the inability to view life or anything else with the proper clarity of thought. Without clarity of thought, without the ability to understand and comprehend what you are believing or placing your faith in, how can it be due to anything you are capable of doing to effect a healing from mental illness?

    • Luanne says:

      Amen!!!

    • Mmj says:

      When I struggled with post-partum depression I felt like God was very far away. I could not read my Bible, or anything else b/c I could not focus on the printed page, and prayer was difficult. However, with the right anti-depressant, I was able to hear God’s voice again, read my Bible and pray. God “felt” close again. I needed medical treatment. Unfortunately, the message from my church was “read more, pray more, have more faith.” I finally explained to my “friends” that “Faith in God is what got me here! I believed He wanted me to have babies. I had faith I was in His will.” Then He showed me that I needed to humble myself, go the doctor and do what he said. This experience opened up a local ministry to other women with PPD. There is no shame in taking meds for depression. For me, it allowed me to serve God in a new capacity and ENJOY my babies.

      • Anne-Marie says:

        Amen, amen, AMEN, Mmj!!

        When I am not good about taking my meds, my desire to manage my diabetes well, to pray, to listen to God, to obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings goes down, down, and down some more.

        As you did (but in a different situation and for different reasons), I sought help for my depression (and also blessedly finally had thyroid levels that were low enough out of the normal range to prove to my endocrinologist that something else also was going on), and when I am taking my Synthroid and antidepressant, I can actually feel the joy of the Lord that I should feel. I want to be in church. I enjoy praying. I love discussing Scriptures with fellow believers. Heck, I even enjoy being around people, period! The extroverted side of this ambivert comes out to enjoy parties and fellowships. Gee, what a concept! 😀

        Telling me to pray first would not have helped.

        Praying over and with me, giving me names of doctors and counselors, and even offering to pay for some of those services? Those things would have helped.

  44. Luanne says:

    First of all WHO are you to limit the power of God?! How dare you?! Second of all I STRONGLY recommend a study on spiritual warfare (it’ll change your perception a great deal). Next: how dare you make a blog OR even book with BIASES off your own experience! Btw I’m sure if you did a study In the Apostolic “denomination” you will find A very high percentage of DELIVERED of mental illnesses. I DARE you sister! 🙂 next I would like to say that MY God ( the one on te throne) is BIGGER than any of these “statistics”. The evangelicals are doing enough without your talking down on the m instead of discrediting them.

    • Travis says:

      Luanne,
      I’m not sure that you read this post. If you did, I’m not sure you read it very objectively. I’m quite sure that Ms. Simpson was not talking down to the evangelical church or trying to discredit them. I’m pretty sure she is an evangelical (and by the looks of the rest of her website) actually loves God and the evangelical church. It’s okay to question institutions and people that you love if you see a discrepancy that is hurting people. You talk about bias. We all have a biases, and it sounds like your bias may involve a very high regard to the Apostolic movement.
      You ask, “Who are you to limit the power of God?” The answer to that is, “nobody.” How can the power of God be limited? It can’t. Simply by saying that prayer is not the best way to deal with mental illness is not limiting the power of God. In fact, Ms. Simpson pretty clearly articulates the need for prayer here. She is essentially saying that the brain is an organ that often times needs medical intervention and not prayer alone. If your organs and other body parts don’t work correctly, you go to a specialist to get the proper medical care (heart, lungs, reproductive organs, blood, liver, skin just to name a few). I hope you pray as well when seeing these doctors. How is the brain any different? Your harsh criticism of this basic truth is hurting people. It would serve you better (and the people that you go off on) to take a deep breath, objectively look at the data and think before you rattle vitriol.
      Also, Tom and Archie (and anyone else) there is plenty of evidence linking brain function to social, emotion and behavioral problems. Your statements are espoused by many and I find it truly baffling. For a basic understanding to how this is actually truth go to www. amenclinics.com and meander around the site. I’m not the biggest Dr. Amen fan, but the science and the imaging on this site are easy to understand and compelling.
      We live in a broken and fallen world. Death entered into it with the curse and our bodies are messed up. Equating a prayer only policy for mental illness is silly.

    • It is what it is says:

      Let’s see your god fix a broken leg Luanne. And I’ve looked at Spiritual Warfare quite enough thank you very much. I’ll stick with what the bible actually says.

  45. Melody says:

    I actually was referred to my therapist by a priest. In the confessional no less. He referred to my depression as a physical condition which was obstructing my relationship with God, and that as a faithful Christian it was my responsibility to get treatment. He then gave me a list of names and numbers, with one in particular circled.

    • Mmj says:

      This was true for me, too. Medicine allowed me to read my Bible, pray and serve others. Depression kept me from these things.

  46. Bruce says:

    These are wise and balanced observations. I recall a good pharmacist told me several years ago that there should be no more shame with taking an antidepressant than there is with taking an antibiotic.

  47. Sharon H says:

    As a Christian who has suffered with Lupus for 25 years, and with Clinical Depression for 4 years, thank you for this. I appreciate your insight into this topic. Thank you for helping me not to feel like I am a 2nd-rate Christian because of the depression I am taking meds for. I pray that other Christians in the world will read this and finally understand. God Bless You.

  48. Jennifer says:

    What about healthy eating? Prayer is essential; the medical profession is good. But what if we could bring healing in some circumstances by eating better? I suffered from anxiety, brain fog and fatigue for many years until I came across a book that encouraged me eliminate white flour (bread, pasta, etc) and almost all sweets and replace them with whole grains. After seeing many therapists and a few doctors (who barely provided any help), I finally found the solution. Praise God. Now we are hearing about the paleo diet and how it helps so many people with a variety of ailments. I have come to the conclusion that each person’s body is different and we need find out which foods are best for us. My daughter is gluten intolerant and since we discovered this a few months ago she has felt so much better. Funny, the whole wheat that was so healthy for me was harmful to her. But now each of us knows how best to eat for our particular needs. So grateful to finally have some help for both of us.

    • It is what it is says:

      Jennifer: There are any number of things that can cause mental and physical illness. When we find a solution to our own causes, we have to be aware that what works for us may not work for others. I think you understand that, but it’s worth pointing out.

      Regarding gluten sensitivity: God put wheat here for us to eat. Why is it that so many are finding it inedible? Why is it that we haven’t had wisdom about problems with wheat passed down from our elders? They most CERTAINLY would have understood this problem many generations ago. The reason is not wheat OR gluten: it’s MODERN wheat. Finding a source for traditional wheat can not only allow your daughter to eat a normal diet again, but it will allow her to eat HEALTHY again. As you say: we require different diets. I went paleo for a couple of years before they called it paleo. It was a temporary fix that eventually made me miserable. My own take after seeing the development of this trend is that paleo followers go out of their ways to construct a story about paleo eating. And remember: just because cavemen ate a certain way doesn’t mean their diets were ideal. It just means that they ate what limited foods there were available. God designed our bodies so our genes would be expressed for the diets that our families ate.

      Anyway! I’ll leave you with a quote and a link. I have no affiliation with this company, but I HAVE read about this report. This website just has a good explanation.
      What’s Wrong With Modern Wheat
      How we turned an ancient food staple into toxic junk food, and what we can do about it
      (Hint: For most of us, the best solution isn’t going gluten-free)
      http://www.grainstorm.com/pages/modern-wheat

  49. Matt says:

    I wish bible study and prayer alone could cure mental illness, if that were true i would have been cured a long time ago, if it were that simple every depressed and mentally ill would be reading the bible and praying and be cured of mental illness. I have treatment resistant depression and bi polar disorder. If been praying and reading the bible for decades now with no improvement whatsoever. I now have come to terms that this is just the way i am. Mental illness has hurt my faith. If God loves me so much then why has my life turned out like this? Why would He allow this to happen to me? Its very discouraging. My depression and anxiety attacks get so bad that I had to get on disability which is so embarrassing. I can’t live like this for the rest of my life. I don’t even feel alive anymore, I am not living, I am dead inside. I’m a Christian though and I’ve confessed ALL my sins and I pray to God for some relief everyday. It gets so bad sometimes that all I think about is suicide, ending my life and going to heaven. I fully believe if I commit suicide that I will still go to heaven because of Jesus’s finished work at the cross forgiving ALL my sins so I may have everlasting life. It got so bad that I have attempted suicide once with no luck. I just want a way out of this, I can’t live life like this. This is no way to live. I don’t even feel alive anymore. It has been decades of depression and it gets worse with time. The evangelical views on depression and mental illness makes me feel worse. I wish it were that easy, but its just not. If anyone reads this please pray for me, for I am truly hopeless. Thank you.

    • Amy says:

      Matt, I’m sorry to hear about your struggle with depression and anxiety and thoughts of suicide. It sounds as if you are living with a lot of pain and it’s very hard to keep going. I would like to tell you that even if you may not always feel this way, it does matter that you’re here. You have purpose and gifts to offer the rest of us.

      I hope you have someone to talk to, who knows that you think about suicide and is helping to keep you safe. If not, and you find yourself thinking seriously about suicide, please call 911 or a suicide hotline, such as 1-800-273-TALK. Do you see a counselor? If not, that would be my first recommendation for you. Another idea is to find a support group. You may be able to find a group of people in your area who are also living with anxiety and depression and who will listen to you and share their stories and suggestions with you. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.org) has branches throughout the U.S. and offers excellent education, support, and groups for people with mental illness. You may also be able to find a Christian group. A couple of places (which I highly recommend) you could check to see if they have groups in your area:

      http://www.mentalhealthgracealliance.org/mental-health-support-groups-grace-groups/
      http://www.freshhope.us/

      Also, here’s a Christian book I can recommend, written by a woman with bipolar disorder (including deep depression):

      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_19?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=darkness%20is%20my%20only%20companion&sprefix=darkness+is+my+only%2Caps%2C294&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Adarkness%20is%20my%20only%20companion&ajr=2

      Here’s an article from Christianity Today a couple of years ago, written by a young man with schizophrenia, obviously a different disorder than yours but who may struggle with some of the same thoughts and feelings:

      http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/april/schizophrenic.html

      Are you familiar with Adrian Warnock? He’s a pastor at Jubilee Church in London and a trained psychiatrist. He blogs at Patheos.com, usually on other topics, but he’s recently written a series on mental illness, which answers some questions and offers some hope. I think this article is the first in that series:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2013/04/can-a-christian-get-depressed/

      And finally, I’ve written a host of articles on this topic, some of which you might find encouraging or helpful. On this website, you can find a list with links: http://amysimpsononline.com/appearances/. Scroll down below the video and the list of broadcast interviews. Here’s one you might find especially encouraging: http://www.trochia.org/hope/when-mental-illness-comes-home/.

      I hope this is helpful. Please know that God has not abandoned you and will not ever walk away from you. You have not let him down either. Your illness does not surprise or overwhelm him, and he is not disappointed in you. He loves you no matter what, and any message you hear or feel to the contrary is a lie. Please also know that while you may feel alone, you’re not the only person enduring this kind of trouble. There are others out there, and some of them feel alone as well. You may be able to find support with them.

      I’ll say a prayer for you right now.

  50. Eric Verby says:

    I have been a Christian for 23 years, and have suffered from bipolar illness acutely for over 27 years, with about thirteen hospitalizations during that time (since I was a senior in high school). My most recent manic episode was this October and November as the stress of being newly married pushed me over the edge, followed by a period of physical and spiritual depression as I grieved over the sinful things I did during the manic period and the way I treated my wife. Bipolar illness is both a medical and a spiritual condition, and needs to be addressed both biochemically and spiritually. I take a number of medications to keep my condition under control, and they make it possible for me to live a productive life of Christian service and marriage. The times I have tried to go off of my medication have been disasters. I have prayed for God to heal me completely, but I think he uses my illness to keep me humble and dependent upon him, so that his strength may be demonstrated in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
    It was my illness that humbled me enough to seek after Christ in the first place, and it is my illness that keeps me aware of how fragile I am apart from God’s grace.

  51. dale says:

    Amy, this is excellent. I will post a link to this article on my blog “In the Wake of Suicide….trying to understand” 2 lensgirl53.wordpress.com. I gather information from across the web concerning suicide and mental illness. When my son died from suicide I did not have access to the info that I wanted and desperately needed…most especially concerning the spiritual. It was then I was made painfully aware of the ignorance or just stubborn beliefs stemming from the Dark Ages, concerning the church. I am on a mission to dispute what has been judgments birthed from the ill-informed and persisted in the stigma set forth by religious dogma. I hope more Christians will become more understanding. Thank you and God bless you,

    Dale …Brandon’s Mom

  52. John says:

    “God can heal anyone, and sometimes he does so miraculously. But most of the time, he doesn?t.”

    “Stop telling people they can cure their mental illness with only prayer.”

    These two statements are contradictory.

    Just sayin’

  53. Prince Asbel says:

    It’s funny how the article doesn’t so much as even mention pentecostals or charismatics, and yet offense was immediately taken on their behalf in this comment box. It’s almost as if pentecostals or charismatics can see this kind of criticism coming even when their denomination wasn’t specified. I could go on about that, but this article is addressing evangelicals in general. Here’s my own anecdotal reason why I think that’s appropriate.

    I’ve been in three churches in my life. They were all evangelical churches, and in the first two, while we would never be identified as Charismatic in a million years, there’s always people who will say something about mental and physical illnesses and how to go about praying about them. Words are said along the lines of, “You have to believe God WILL heal you when you ask him,” or even when there was a prayer healing service for my brother-in-law (disc problem in his spine), a lady prayed and said to God, “We know that when he leaves this place he will immediately be healed.”

    Needless to say, my brother-in-law did not get healed when he stepped outside the church or even the day after, BUT, the mentality was still there. This idea that ailments WILL be healed by prayer alone if that person praying has enough faith or prays well enough in some nebulous undefined fashion is commonplace.

    • John says:

      “This idea that ailments WILL be healed by prayer alone if that person praying has enough faith or prays well enough in some nebulous undefined fashion is commonplace.”

      Isn’t that because this is what the bible says?

  54. Renee says:

    Thanks for your article, Amy.

    Yes, I don’t believe prayer alone is enough to cure mental illness. Being prayed for is passive. God asks of us to play a more active part in maintaining and improving our mental health – and I believe these apply to all of us whether we’ve been diagnosed with some disorder or not.

    We need to:
    Choose to rejoice in the Lord in all circumstances (Phil.4:4)
    Choose an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18)
    Choose to not be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6)
    Think about what’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, praiseworthy, etc. (Phil4:8)
    Take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5)
    Be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom 12:2)
    Love God with our soul, strength and mind (Matt 22:37)
    Forgive others as we want to be forgiven (Matt 6:15)

    Have you heard of the Living Wisdom School based in Nelson, New Zealand? http://www.livingwisdom.co.nz David Riddell is the director and integrates theology and psychology to help people renew their minds and have good mental and emotional health. It’s excellent! I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for this training!

  55. Prince Asbel says:

    “Isn?t that because this is what the bible says?”

    Nope. The Bible says ailments CAN be healed by prayer alone, not that they necessarily will be.

    • Renee says:

      Where does the Bible say that mental illness can be healed by prayer alone? Please tell me because I can’t think of one example of mental illness healed this way.
      Mental health is a consequence of our thoughts and beliefs, and these give rise to our emotions. The Bible has a lot to say about what our thoughts and beliefs should be. We can’t expect to have good mental health if we don’t follow the principles that are prescribed in the Bible on a daily basis. (See my previous post for examples of principles).
      Yes, prayer has power, but prayer doesn’t override our habitual thoughts and beliefs. Because God has given each of us free will, it’s up to each person to “take captive every thought” (1 Cor 10:5) and “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2).

      • John says:

        “Nope. The Bible says ailments CAN be healed by prayer alone, not that they necessarily will be.”

        Err, yeah. That’s what the original statement said. Whenever you have a statement like “Blah blah WILL happen IF X, Y, Z”, then it won’t necessarily happen UNLESS conditions X, Y, Z happen. So why you say “Nope” to this?

        quote: “ailments WILL be healed by prayer alone IF that person….”

        “Where does the Bible say that mental illness can be healed by prayer alone?”

        People would point to:

        ?And WHATEVER you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.?
        (Matthew 21:22 ESV)

        One might also talk about Mark 9:14 where the person, perhaps, suffers from epilepsy:

        ?And Jesus said to him, ??If you can?! ALL things are possible for one who believes.? Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ?I believe; help my unbelief!?….. ?This kind cannot be driven out by anything but PRAYER.??
        (Mark 9:23?29 ESV)

        One would also quote:
        ?Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith WILL save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.?
        (James 5:13?15 ESV)

        If want to say that people with mental issues should seek medical treatment, I would not disagree at all. But if you want to make theological statements, then you’d better interact with what the bible says (or else say outright the bible is wrong). Just saying you disagree with what some church folks said doesn’t really achieve anything when you don’t understand why it was said, and make imprecise responses. Where the point of disagreement lies between this article and the people it criticises is anybody’s guess, because it doesn’t interact at all with the points of contention.

        • Renee says:

          Yes, there are examples in the Bible of ailments being healed by prayer, but to my knowledge, no examples of mental illnesses. If you can think of any, please let me know.

          How did you come to the conclusion that mental illness is rooted in our genetics? Even if it did, genetics may mean that we have an inherited weakness, but never guarantees that we would have the same ailment that our ancestors have had.

          Mental health and mental illness is on a continuum. Every second we move towards better mental health or to words worse mental health, depending on our thoughts.

          A person who gets prayed for mental illness may be delivered, but will fall into mental illness straight away if he or she doesn’t also learn to manage his or her thoughts and emotions.

          • John says:

            “to my knowledge, no examples of mental illnesses. If you can think of any, please let me know.”

            As I just said, Mark 9:14 is arguably a case of epilepsy, which is a mental problem.

            But regardless, do we need a case of every medical condition in the bible before we accept what it says?

            “How did you come to the conclusion that mental illness is rooted in our genetics?”

            I’ll leave this statement for the person who made it.

            “Every second we move towards better mental health or to words worse mental health, depending on our thoughts.”

            Well.. it doesn’t always “depend on our thoughts”. It might depend on our brain chemistry, or our environment, or various other things.

          • Renee says:

            Epilepsy is a physical condition, not a mental condition.

            Yes, many factors can contribute to mental illness, not only our thoughts. My point is that we have an active part to play in our mental health. Prayer can’t take the place of this.

          • John says:

            “Epilepsy is a physical condition, not a mental condition.”

            Why do you say that? Epilepsy is caused by abnormal brain nerve cell activity. Just like all mental conditions. You could I suppose say that mental conditions are really physical conditions in that they are caused by improper brain chemistry, or abnormal nerve cell links in the brain, but that would be a bit silly, right? Epilepsy and mental conditions are both caused by inappropriate firing of nerve cells in the brain. You can rationalise differences in the two cases, but they both physically come down to the same phenomenon.

            “My point is that we have an active part to play in our mental health. Prayer can?t take the place of this.”

            I’m tired of people here throwing around words like “can’t” with no rational basis for it. Certainly prayer may well not solve a person’s problem. But to say it “can’t” solve it… well that’s fine if you’re an atheist… except.. well even atheists seem to acknowledge prayer can help your mental state, so even that doesn’t fly.

          • Renee says:

            Check out the book I recommended and the material of http://www.livingwisdom.co.nz and you’ll understand. Both are from a Biblical perspective.

            I am too busy to carry on this dialogue any longer.

          • John says:

            “Check out the book I recommended and the material of http://www.livingwisdom.co.nz and you?ll understand”

            Understand what? I’m happy for anyone to say anything they like about mental health, but if you want to say something about theology, then you’d better interact with the bible. That’s where this whole discussion isn’t going anywhere. People want to say what God can or can’t do, without having a theological basis for it.

          • Renee says:

            You’ll find the theological basis and the interaction with the Bible in these two resources. They can explain it better than I can.

          • John says:

            I’m not going to wade through an entire web site to find the theological basis for some position that hasn’t even been enunciated!! Oh my.

          • dale says:

            Renee, I was not going to get into the ongoing conversation but your ignorance and “poor thinking” on the subject cannot be ignored. The brain is a part of the physical body. It is also susceptible to disease. Do you think a brain tumor is a result of negative thinking? Do you think that Alzheimers is about mismanaged emotions and thinking? Your observations are straight out of the Dark Ages and your understanding leaves out the science that backs illnesses and why they occur. To you, ALL mental illness is about “poor choices and wrong thinking” and YES, genetics is an important factor in ALL illnesses… why do you think your family history is very important on a medical form??? You need to remember that you will be judged by the same way you judge others. That is Biblical: Matthew 7:1-3King James Version (KJV) 7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

            Think about how the fall of man is why there is sin and that ALL illness is a product of the fall of man, especially death. You are not getting out of here alive unless Jesus returns first. In fact, if you or a member of your family becomes mentally ill (clinical depression, bi-polar, schizophrenic, etc…) you will become less judgMENTAL and hopefully, more understanding. Jesus would want that. It may be that you will pray for them because they will most likely not be able to pray for themselves. And just because you cannot find the words “mental illness” in the Bible or any other illness, like Aids, or skin cancer, or diabetes, does not mean that it is not addressed under the FALL OF MANKIND or just sickness in general. You will die as a result of that/your sinfulness…..Romans 6:23 ” For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” but you do not have to die an eternal death because of God’s grace in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

            Sadly mental illness does affect behavior and thought but it does not mean that the person who has it is any worse than you are. REMEMBER Romans 3:23?22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

  56. Prince Asbel says:

    “Where does the Bible say that mental illness can be healed by prayer alone? Please tell me because I can?t think of one example of mental illness healed this way.”

    Um… Perhaps because mental illnesses are rooted in our genetics, and God can heal any problem in our bodies that he wants to, and so take your pick of verses wherein he healed the sick. It’s all over the Bible. Besides, if God can transform our souls and turn us from dead in sin to alive in him, from a hater of God to a lover of God, then why would you be unsure as to whether he can heal mental illnesses?

    “Yes, prayer has power, but prayer doesn?t override our habitual thoughts and beliefs. Because God has given each of us free will, it?s up to each person to ?take captive every thought?”

    The Bible does not say anything about free-will. It describes man as dead in sin and incapable of doing anything good at all. God is not limited by our wills- he’s the very one that transforms our depraved wills so as to be able to love him and to desire to do what is right. So, when you imply that prayer alone can’t solve mental illnesses because we have free will, you’re just plain wrong about that because you already have a wrong view of God and what he can do to our wills.

    “Err, yeah. That?s what the original statement said. Whenever you have a statement like ?Blah blah WILL happen IF X, Y, Z?, then it won?t necessarily happen UNLESS conditions X, Y, Z happen. So why you say ?Nope? to this?”

    I said nope to that because people people say healing of ailments not only can happen, but necessarily will happen if you just pray. Prayer is made, the healing doesn’t take place, ergo the person wasn’t praying or not praying with enough trust in God. They treat the lack of healing as a necessary sign of a lack of prayer/the right kind of prayer, and that’s a false position.

  57. Renee says:

    You are misunderstanding God’s will. Yes, He is sovereign, with the power to do anything, but He chooses to leave some things up to us. He has given us some responsibility for our own lives and for how we affect the lives of others. God could’ve just made us do what’s right if He wanted to. But He chose to give us the power to choose. The word “free will” may not be in the Bible, but the concept sure is. Free will means the freedom to make choices. Throughout the Bible we are told to choose God’s way instead of sin. If we had no free will, why does the Bible give us instructions?

    Many books have been written on the topic of God’s will. One that comes to mind now is “Just do something” by Kevin DeYoung. http://www.amazon.com/Just-Do-Something-Decision-Without/dp/1596448687. Highly recommended.

  58. Daniel says:

    I am a Christian and I am suffering from depression now, ever since my family died 8 years years ago and I have lived in total isolation. I even have suicidal thoughts. I am now under the care of a Doctor, because I went to 33 churches in my area. Those Satistics are wrong, 99% of the people in Churches are mentally ill in the USA.

    I saw and heard things NO words can do it justice, it’s INSANITY wrapped in APATHY, INDIFFERENCE, IGNORANCE, PRIDE, ARROGANCE, HATE, PERVERSION, LIES, and the list goes on and , on and on. 2 Timothy 1-7 sums it up the best.

    Ben is a perfect example of this.

    I am very wounded from my experiences and will NEVER step foot into another Sociopathic Church of America again.. I can’t take the chase of running into another BEN.

    The English language has been so butchered it reminds me of the Tower of Bable, everyone running around talk,talk, talk, talk, and NO ACTION. Nobody understands, Nobody listens, they only care about looking good to themselves in the name of SELF-LOVE.. Jesus said He will VOMIT them out of His mouth.

    I study the Bible 4 hours a day and it comforts me, but dealing with American Christians… Make me sicker.

    Test yourselves before you judge others.. You can’t help anyone, or even pray for enyone, unless your cleaned first. Even with dust in my eye, I can see a forest here. But some Saints too, I wish I would have met them..

    But now I will trust the medication before the prayers of People that don’t even know they are sick too. Being around crazy people will drive you crazy.
    RUN DAN RUN !!!

  59. Amby says:

    Really sad when people suffer from anti-personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and go against scientific proven studies that work and medication. Those in the behavior, psychology and medical field are trained with scientific proven to work and therapy. This is not based of feelings, acting, or smoke and mirrors, and these are the people that will help you! It’s very scary to be able people to pick out these mentally ill in society by their behavior because their not taking their medication. Who is morely likely to injure numerous people, those on their medication or those that refuse to take their medication? Geee, those that go on killing sprees, guess prayer didn’t work or pray wasn’t answered too bad. We all know the statistics of those that end up in jail! Prayer can be useful but it won’t fixed mental illness. Only seen 1 time, were a priest would have been useful for 2nd opinion, girl had multiple-personality disorder, her blue eyes would change black and voice would change into something from horror movie.

  60. Jo says:

    This article and discussion are much needed in the church, but also in society. It is not just the”evangelical” church that fears and stigmatizes mental illness, much of society does as well. In the West, we have been greatly influenced by a dualism that views the material and physical as more tangible and “verifiable” than the spiritual. That is not the case in all societies and certainly was not the case when the Scriptures were written. So when the Bible is read and quoted, we should recognize that some disagreements over the meaning of Scriptural texts have more to do with “modern thinking”, which has been absorbed by the churches from Western philosophy. Medicine and health care tend to reduce the idea of “healing” to the use of medications or therapies, and reduce the “mind” to “brain chemistry”. Scripture views “healing” as affecting the whole person and community, as an interactive, many-layered phenomena that is ultimately God-directed and God-given. God is not defined nor confined by our categories of knowledge or fields of study (theology, philosophy, science, medicine, etc.) and, being made in God’s image, human beings cannot be completely defined or confined by them either. We need to stop “dividing” the person into “body, mind, spirit” and arguing over which part matters in healing or how it is understood or labeled by this or that field of knowledge. Our WHOLE PERSON matters to God and He knows our thoughts before we even think them, our actions before we do them, our going in and going out. Jesus demonstrated by healing both the physical and spiritual life of the person, in every instance of healing in Scripture. God’s desire is to redeem humanity from disease and death and that is what God ultimately will accomplish. In short, God makes ALL healing possible, and uses people as well as prayer to accomplish it. He does not distinguish between life as a miraculous gift of God and everyday survival! “In GOD we live, and move, and have our being.” There is no Life, and no Healing, apart from God. Scripture tells us to love each other as He loves us, to bear each other’s burdens as well as be responsible for our own lives, to accept all good gifts from the Father, to forgive each other, to pray and to trust God each day and moment and be thankful for everything.

    • Anon says:

      “This article and discussion are much needed in the church, but also in society.”
      Yes.

      “Medicine and health care tend to reduce the idea of ?healing? to the use of medications or therapies, and reduce the ?mind? to ?brain chemistry?.”

      I love how you put “healing”, “mind”, and “brain chemistry” in quotes. I wonder why that is? Would you put “bones” in quotes? Nope. Would you put “heart” or “blood” in quotes? Nope. Like it or not, God created a physical world. We are not spirits until we die. Every action that we perform, whether it be breathing, moving, or thinking, is a result of chemical and electrical processes. That’s how God created us. We don’t transcend that and the refusal to deny the reality of God’s creation is denying God’s nature. Our natures are what we are and no amount of spiritual gobbledygook is going to change that.

      “God?s desire is to redeem humanity from disease and death and that is what God ultimately will accomplish.”

      Yes, and the one and only promise the bible gives for this is that we will be redeemed in the AFTERlife. Not here. In heaven. God loves marriage and family while hating divorce, adultery, and greed, but no amount of prayer would make him budge to save my marriage and family from divorce, adultery, and greed. The same goes with the brain damage that I have. No amount of prayer would save me from its disabling effects and I’m sick and tired of Christians like you convincing yourselves that my injury is something to put in “quotes”. It’s vile abuse and because of ignorant people like you, I will never step into a church for as long as I live. You make brutally difficult lives even more painful.

      “In short, God makes ALL healing possible, and uses people as well as prayer to accomplish it.”

      And this is exactly why we have ignorant Christians abusing hurting people. Your discussion has brought us right back to the problem that Amy is trying to solve. And ignorance like yours is directly responsible for turning people away from God.

      • Jo says:

        Anon: Wow, I can only say you either seriously misunderstood my comment or you violently disagree with it. If you wonder why I put “healing”, “mind” and “brain chemistry” in quotes, why not ask before you jump to conclusions about my meaning? Do you think my brain is not damaged, too? We are all flawed, just not in the same exact ways. So don’t assume you are in a different position than anyone else. My point was that the “body, mind, soul, spirit” conception of a human being, a person, is not divisible into parts, as if you could take a person apart and examine only the body as a reality but consider the mind or soul or spirit as a separate irrelevant reality. People are whole beings, not a stack of parts. You say there is only a physical world and that we cannot transcend it, that we are only “spirits” when we die. If we are not each already at some level a “spirit” NOW, then why would we become a spirit only after death? We each are a body AND a spirit (and a mind and a soul) all at once, from birth, but we are not finished yet. When God “breathed into Adam the breath of life”, (spirit and breath are the same Hebrew word), he created spiritual-mindful-soulful-physical beings, each one a whole package. Otherwise, we could not love anyone with all our “heart, soul, mind, and strength”. Human knowledge may be developed on some aspect of our being, such as bones in the physical body, or emotions in the mind, but that does not mean the rest of the person doesn’t exist just because we are not paying attention to the soul or spirit. We are limited in what we can even conceiveabout ourselves, let alone how God works within us in His mysterious ways. God may choose to heal some things about us, but not others, as he did with Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”. He certainly responded to Paul’s prayer for healing (by stating his intention in NOT healing him), and certainly did save/heal Paul’s soul and spirit and mind! Paul was transformed in one encounter with Jesus, and eventually understood that eventually his resurrection body would be even better than his earthly one. So it will be for all who call Jesus Lord.

        • Anon says:

          Either I “seriously misunderstood” you or I “violently disagree”. Take your pick Jo. Funny how your conflations are suddenly starkly dichotomous when it suits you. I don’t need to ask you why you used quotes. I’ve been seeing them for years used as a way to dismiss the very real pain of others. I did not say “there is only a physical world”. Your posts are very much an extension of the New Age tendency to make things up as you go along and your circular arguments are all over the map. I’ve said my piece and yours isn’t worth any more of my time.

          • Jo says:

            I’m sorry, but you never understood my point, and New Age is not the basis for any of my beliefs, thoughts, or statements. You are seeing what you want to see in these comment, so I agree – any further talk is a waste of time for both of us.

  61. Dear Jo and Anon,
    Thank you Jo for your kindness and for returning this exchange to a discussion.
    I am a Christian, raised in evangelical and Anglican churches, and experienced in other churches including Roman Catholic and Anglican and Pentecostal as an adult. I have a professional background in research; I am the daughter of one of Canada’s leading scientists (during WWII he designed the first atomic energy plant in Canada) so I was raised on the scientific method. My university education taught me research methods. I specialized in publishing, as a Senior Editor, in beginning learning and reading (K-4). My passion for understanding human behavior was focused on language, from early language learning up to and including the elitist language of creativity, and the production of visual art, to the Master’s level in university. I researched, helped design, critiqued, and ran research projects professionally in the field of educational research for several years; I was hired for my command of language and logic and knowledge of curriculae. For nine years I was involved in healing ministries and counselling in charismatic groups in mainline denominations, My husband, who was a professional folklorist, drew me into his specialty as we worked together in data collection and the publication of works in his field; my elitist knowledge of cognitive and creative and healing processes was tempered by his vast knowledge of “the folk.” Anon does not seem to realize how the understanding of human abilities has proceeded in the disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, and medicine. “Citizen science” has been a major contributor to the theoretical developments in those fields. Discoveries must mesh with the extant learning in all of the humanities. Mine do. Mine also explain why the work of certain philosophers and psychiatrists should be discounted in particular ways because they, too, were mentally ill and suffered episodes of psychosis and other forms of mental illness; among these are Nietzsche, Jung, Wittgenstein, Foucault, and Kierkegaard. My work also explains the intersection of “ordinary” experience and “spiritual” experience, which for me are not so much distinct as integrated.
    When I met Dr. Norman Doidge, the very prominent psychiatrist and author of The Brain that Changes Itself, he was taken aback when I told him I had solved the Cartesian duality. If you care to examine my work against that of Descartes (I studied philosophy for three years as an undergrad) you will find my new theory of human behavior, normal as well as aberrant, explains not only Descartes’ difficulties in understanding the cognitive processes, but a theory that bears on most of the other psychological paradigms put forth over the past 150 years. I have recently edited a history of psychology and know in great detail what I am talking about.
    Health professionals who have seen the damage done by pharmaceuticals are looking for alternative treatments; I have spoken about my discoveries to psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, nurses, music therapists, and others. It turns out that music is not an “alternative” therapy but the specific, necessary means of strengthening the tiny muscles in the middle ear that have critical roles in the functioning of the body. I learned about some of those roles from reading Dr. Alfred Tomatis, an otolaryngologist who also taught anatomy at the Sorbonne. But my personal, unique observations meshed with Tomatis’s learning and augmented it. I integrated that neurology with what I had learned from standard texts, from my reading of hundreds of research studies in neurology, psychology, psychiatry, and related areas, and from my personal observations of a recovering schizophrenic. I am not a doctor, but my discoveries will be embraced by medicine eventually because my observations were and are correct and my descriptions of those observations is scientific. Meanwhile, medicine is using music in various ways very effectively. You should do some reading in this field of emerging science while bearing in mind that church music and hymnody is our heritage from the ancient Hebrews, through Jesus and his followers, down through medieval and Renaissance compositions, the Wesleys and all those who make music “unto the Lord.” That tremendous source of healing has been used naively by Christians; we are beginning to understand its full effects on the way we think and behave.

    Jo, I am not a medical doctor and I am not familiar with the specifics of your diagnosis. Your essential capacity for reasoning is intact. You have good left-brain function for logic. You might think about how a daily routine of listening to high-frequency music could help you to integrate better. The American Senator who suffered a brain injury from a bullet in her brain was helped to a large extent with music therapy. I doubt her doctors fully understood how that works, but the proof of the treatment is in her remarkable recovery. If you would share with me the details of your injury I might be able to suggest specifically what music might do for you. I think you may not appreciate the extent of my research in this field. I have helped at least 30 people to improve their cognitive function and I am in a position from those experiences (as well as from my research) to critique the work of other researchers in this field. I have healed not only schizophrenia but bipolarity, depression, dyslexic syndrome, addictions, chronic fatigue syndrome, and I have seen Alzheimer’s symptoms reverse under the influence of high-frequency sound. I have developed a neurological paradigm that explains those healings and my work ties in with vast amounts of data from other researchers. My writing is carefully documented. Huge advances in music therapy are underway. One therapist at the IAMM conference explained that by getting burn patients to sing their terror of dressing changes has been reduced, the anaesthesia required has been reduced by 3/4 and the time for the dressing changes has been reduced by 3/4 (from 2 hours of agony to 1/2 hour of much, much less pain). I am taking the time to write here because I am evangelical Christian who has gained specialized knowledge while pursuing health for my family, not just the schizophrenic son but the daughter with CFS, the genius-addict, and the ones who suffer from mild depression that evidently is a genetic weakness of the left ear. That mild depression becomes suicidal under the influence of opiates and other drugs that further harm the ear, such as SSRIs. I have helped other people to recover from the effects of chemotherapy. There are dozens of symptoms that can alter or disappear through music therapy. Please let me know if I can be of further help.
    Thanks to both of you for listening.

  62. Chris says:

    I think you should pray for them first, “In Jesus name I command this illness to go”, but if it turns out you don’t have the faith to heal them and there is no powerful change, they should then seek medical help. I know God has the power to heal all our infirmities, but not many these days seem to have the faith to heal the sick (or at least they think they don’t) and if they do they end up as a televangelist or traveling evangelist, I went out on the street a 2 months ago and everyone we prayed for was healed, “In Jesus name I command the pain to go”, In Jesus Name I command the pain to go”, “Lord I thank you for what you have started you will finish” Healed!, So far it takes me three times to heal the sick because of my lack of faith, the first time it goes a little, the second time a little more and then by the third time I’ve seen God moving and am able to say “Lord I thank you for what you’ve started you will finish” and then they are healed, It’s like anything if you have to move a mountain, first you should command the mountain to be moved in Jesus name but if it isn’t moved after a few tries and you find yourself unable to repent of your unbelief then you should probably go pick up a shovel and get to work. At least this is what I’m thinking today, if anything I say doesn’t line up with the bible then no one should listen to me.

    • Anon says:

      Is this how you would treat a broken bone? Of course not. Because a broken bone is a REAL illness.
      “I went out on the street a 2 months ago and everyone we prayed for was healed”

      This “faith healing” scam has been exposed again and again. God doesn’t need you to lie for him. BTW: I know your faith isn’t strong enough to watch this.

      • Chris says:

        I’ll have a look when I get home, I learned how to heal the sick when I met Torben from the website http://www.thelastreformation.com , on this website you can see people with broken bones, in wheelchairs being healed, these people visited New Zealand so I travelled to meet them and they taught me how to heal the sick, they also say that the church has basically got it wrong and we need to follow what it says in the bible not our traditions. There are people who lie and pretend to be healed, I saw at a big church conference a man who was claiming to be sick and then healed, and I knew he was telling lies I thought ?he?s lying?, and then later it came to light that he had made the whole thing up, this happens commonly. It?s horrible from my perspective because people have one person lie to them and then another then someone who is telling the truth comes along and no one will believe him (It?s literally like the boy who cried wolf). I?d just like to say the majority of people you see going to church won?t ever see heaven, it?s like this massive conspiracy, churches teach a message, believe in Jesus and he will forgive your sins and pay us 10% of everything you earn before taxes. No in reality it?s believe in Jesus, stop doing bad things, get baptised, forgive people, obey God and love others even people who hate you. My parents went to a church once and they were sitting behind the pastor and a demon came out of him and turned around to my Mum and said ?I?m going to throw you out of this church? and they were thrown out at a later time because they complained about another leader in the church for constantly ringing our house because he had taken a liking to my mother. A man known to people at my old work had God grow his lung back, and people were considering it, then a local church came in and the people were so rude that people were coming up to me asking ?Chris you?re not a Christian like those people are Christian are you?? (working at a restaurant) We had to ban a pastor from the restaurant because he went on a full fit of rage . . and him and his cronies would be really rude to me for no reason. Sorry this rant was more for my benefit than yours. I don?t blame you for not believing me, I don?t know how anyone could, but the website http://www.thelastreformation.com has a lot of evidence, and I would also like to add, that they are not wealthy when they came to NZ they emptied out all their savings and were trusting God to make rent that week, and I?ve seen them in real life and have gone out myself with them and have seen God work miracles.

  63. Mathew Dexter says:

    Well just stumbled across this post and I am shocked to think that you are justifying seeking worldly methods in the post. I don’t know where to start here or where to end, but I do know this…..I was instantly healed from Aspergers Syndrome a prison which almost destroyed my life, my maker and my God healed me of it instantly. To think that I could ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever place or justify worldly fix it people anywhere in the equation is detestable. Amy I pray for you to be moved in your own faith and I pray that God raises you up and places situations in your life that are undeniable to you as an individual and that you please seek repentance for your post, you just put your Lord you God second, your maker, the maker of the Universe and all things, you just placed him second.

    • chris says:

      Could you tell me more about how you were healed for Asperger’s?

      • Mathew Dexter says:

        Hi Chris, please check out my post here, I just created it because it was only 5 weeks ago and have not had any time to do a proper post, but thanks Chris, check here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=367420233462442&set=o.296602797209706&type=1

        • Anon says:

          Good grief. I’m actually starting to question my belief in God because of all the ignorant “Christians” out there. So many people like Matthew who haven’t the capacity for critical thought and who probably haven’t even read Amy’s post come here and parrot the same ignorant, baseless dogma. No actual addressing her post or even citing scripture.

          So the first thing I thought here was that Matthew is not telling the truth. If he doesn’t have Asperger’s now, I DON’T believe he even had it. So I went to the link he shared above. This is how he was “diagnosed” with Asperger’s Syndrome:

          “In around 2009 my wife who had done so much research for our Son with Autism (researching all natural therapies etc) came to me and said I have Aspergers Syndrome.”

          Wow. I can’t believe that a grown man would actually post this. The entire post is littered with post-hoc and ad-hoc confirmation bias. And people like this are using God’s name to spread abuse of people who truly do have brain diseases. It’s beyond disgusting.

          • Mathew Dexter says:

            Hello there Anon, I will not entertain your reply but I will explain why, firstly if it’s because I did not post or write appropriately, in other words I did not include all of the other things that went into the diagnosis for you then to decide well I did not have it, that’s really not using your Wisdom. Secondly to level the seriousness of any illness in terms of what, by how deadly or terminal they are, that’s limiting God’s faith on healing, that healing a Brain Tumor is any more different to healing a mental Illness, your starting to place God in a box of seriousness in prayer and faith.

            Anon I do not have to prove to you God Healed me of Aspergers Syndrome because you have no idea and if you feel like you need to convince people otherwise then that is sad. Of course I do not judge you as I don’t judge Amy for the post but I will also pray for you to be moved and to not be limited in your thinking for God’s supernatural. Don’t limit God Anon, because you just limited him in your post to me because you are publicly announcing that God did not heal me, Anon take this to God yourself and this is not about Flesh or Blood, blessings.

          • Anon says:

            “I will not entertain your reply”

            Um . . . You DID. Yet another deceit.

            First of all, don’t patronize me. Secondly, YOU are the one who presented your wife as the diagnoser of your illness, using her “research” as evidence of her competency. Have your prayers cured your son of autism? If you broke a leg, are you going to rely on prayer to fix it or are you going to a doctor? It isn’t that I’m putting God in a box; it’s you who are making him into what your fantasies say he WILL do. Tell me Matthew: why didn’t God heal Charles Spurgeon of his depression? And again: scripture? Nah.

          • Mathew Dexter says:

            Hello Anon, ok this is where I will not enter into an argument with you, there are so many things you do not know but I know something is getting you from the inside because you have a need to reply to me and be very upset at what I say, I simply say do not limit God, how you choose to unravel that, that is up to you, again I am going to leave this conversation and just say, go to God over this, I will not reply back to you because every post is diminishing the work. Scripture, well the only scripture I have for you is: Proverbs 2: 1-11, God Bless Anon and lets leave our discussion as is, hope you have a great day 🙂

          • Anon says:

            “ok this is where I will not enter into an argument with you”

            Of course not. Because you CAN’T. I provide counters to your claims and you dodge them because the box you’ve placed God in is not big enough to provide you with answers.

            You came to this blog and entered into an argument with everyone who is advocating for the mentally ill. Re-read your over-the-top judgmental first post. Actually: don’t. Just make good on your claim for a change and don’t come back. There are plenty of Christian blogs out there for people like you to deny that mental illnesses are not as real as other organic illnesses. Amy put this post up here to add some factual intelligence to a dogmatic meme that abuses people and turns others away from God. He doesn’t need that kind of help.

  64. george says:

    the bible clearly says in my name cast out devils no more needs to be said,why go to a unbelieving doctor

    • Eric Verby says:

      I am a Christian who has followed Jesus for over 24 years now. I also have severe type 1 Bipolar Illness (Manic Depression), which I have had since my teens (13 hospitalizations in over 28 years). I am dependent on a daily regimen of about six or seven psychiatric medications as tools to manage my symptoms and enable me to live a productive life. In addition, I have a non-believing Jewish therapist and non-believing Jewish psychiatrist who provide much needed care, and I attend a support group for bipolar and depressed individuals once a week. Manic depression is my “thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12), and I will probably be on medication for the rest of my life unless God chooses to radically heal me. I am married and work 40 plus hours a week. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13), but God uses means to work toward that end.

  65. Hi, Eric,
    I am a Christian. Our son was declared hopelessly schizophrenic in 1997 following his successful treatment for dyslexia at The Listening Centre in Toronto. During the ten years of his illness, I saw abuses in our local psychiatric services and I turned to God and to our very helpful GP. I learned to titrate his medications down to just one of several he had been on in hospital. I learned to reduce it to 1/96 of the dosage of that one medication he had been given. When he was not overwhelmed with drugs, I could observe things about his behavior that psychiatrists don’t see because they drug their patients so heavily. Eventually, when Dan reached out for music playing through my headphones, I saw some of the changes in his symptoms I had seen during his healing from dyslexia. He kept using the headphones and gradually healed his very severe schizophrenia. Bipolar I is just one of the phases he passed through during his healing. Dr. Norman Doidge, a very nice Jewish psychiatrist who is famous for his first book on the plasticity of the brain The Brain that Changes Itself, has recently published The Brain’s Way of Healing. In Ch. 8 he describes healings from dyslexia, autism (infantile schizophrenia), and suicidal depression using the Tomatis Method, which stimulates the ear with music. Dr. Doidge writes about the same Listening Centre in Toronto where our son’s dyslexia was healed. My book about his healing adds important information to this emerging field. I strongly urge you to challenge your doctors about the new discoveries in this field that they probably have not yet heard about. This could be the road to healing you have not imagined could happen. The etiology of most mental illness is in the ears: especially the right ear. A tiny muscle in the middle ear, the stapedius muscle, “gates” sound into the inner ear and brain. It must be strong enough to produce a normal flow of sound to the left brain. Music vibrates and strengthens that muscle. You can read more at my website and you can email me for more information.

    • Eric Verby says:

      Thanks for the information on music therapy. I am a musician (singing and playing drums/percussion) and love to listen to music of all sorts in my spare time. I don’t believe I’ll titrate my medications anytime soon. I tried that recently, and the result was sleeplessness and more manic behavior. I have a good regimen of medication which works to manage my symptoms with a limited amount of side effects. My attempts in the past of getting off medication have all led to failure, including hospitalizations. My psychiatrist stresses good diet and is no fan of overprescribing medication, yet he realizes the need for them in some people’s cases.

  66. Done with Christianity says:

    I despair of Christianity, I really do.

    Laurna: I thoroughly refuted your posts earlier and, add with the stereotypical Christian, you ignore anyattempt at actually engaging the topic at hand. Ironically, Christians are not only hopelessly illiterate when it comes to science and logic, they are entirely ill – equipped to understand the bible itself. The trend toward non-belief is not the fault of atheists or the modern world; it’s the fault of mind-numbingly ignorant Christians who have absolutely no idea how dumb they are. Semi-sentient people can see this so what we have are Christians who are actively engaged in pushing people away from God . . . . and they think they are prophesying in his name!

    Today I saw some Christians proclaiming that a scientist has proven the existence of God. I watched this “proof” and įt’s painful to think that there are people out there invoking God’s name while they flaunt their flagrant ignorance of science.

    This doesn’t mean there is no God, but if DOES mean I will NEVER include myself among this group of knuckle-draggers who abuse suffering people out of sheer self-righteous stupidity. And I’m unsubscribing from this thread. Christians have become the enemies of compassion and understanding.

  67. Rudy says:

    One more and I am Christian from the Catholic Church. And I can say I am. Witness to a mental illness healing done by God thru Strong Prayer and solid belef that he will cure my lovelly ( would like to remain anonumos because the person asked me too). This person was diegnos with pscisofrania and Thru a word of wisdom after several years meds were taken away and it has now been over 20 years and no simtoms or episodes Totally Heal by the hands of God via Prayer. Glory be to the Lord.

  68. Jana says:

    “Faith without works id dead” James 2:14-26.
    Pretty much sums up what this article is saying.
    I can read the Bible and pray all day long but I still to do my part I still need to have enough faith in God to put actions to the problem that I’m praying about I have to do what I can as I trust God to help me.

  69. Amal says:

    I heard from a pastor and also understood from my personal experiences that Higher Level of Anointing and much Grace from God is needed for divine healing and deliverance from medical conditions like chronic diseases, mental illness, conditions arising due to congenital or genetic issues. If any of your family members are affected by such problems, you may know that you can help them through your prayer.
    The method that I have learned under such situations is:
    1) Pray to God to guide to the right Physician for correct diagnosis and treatment
    2) Accept medical treatment but do it pray fully as JESUS is the healer
    3) Keep in mind that the conditions are chronic and the need for prolonged medical intervention
    4) Crucial step:
    a) By pray fully seeking and accepting medical treatment you are temporarily receiving a solution to your illness
    b) By doing so you are gaining TIME and the health is not worsened
    c) USE the TIME you are gaining carefully to increase your ANOINTING LEVEL
    d) Do this by spending as much of your time in Reading the Bible, Fasting, praise worshiping,
    attending anointing sessions of Godly men, regular church worships, offerings,
    e) Read Isa 58 and seek Gods guidance to obey it. Always be humble in your thought, speech and actions
    f) Confess the sins to Jesus and ask for forgiveness through His Precious Blood
    (sins you committed physically, emotionally, and in imagination-thought, mind)
    g) Don’t keep any bitterness towards any one; forgive others just as Jesus forgave us
    h) Certain family or generational curses might have to be broken for healing (www.ezekiahfrancis.org)
    h) Ask God to baptise you with his Holy Spirit and Speak in tongues as much as possible (hours together)
    e) God will see your thirst; Seek and you will find is his promise.
    5) GOD will speak to you through his Holy spirit
    6) You will gradually experience divine power and authority in your prayer life and
    you will start walking closely with God.
    (you be humble, thankful always because this transformation is God’s grace and don’t boast about your efforts)
    7) God will lead you exactly where you should be and He will do to you what he wants to
    8) Ask God for the strategy to overcome the illness tormenting your family
    9) Follow his guidance
    10) Taste and see that the Lord is Good. Give all the Glory to God

    • Eric Verby says:

      It’s important to recognize most of all that mental illness is a disorder of the brain and is not caused by sin, character defects, or personal deficiencies. The recovery model of mental illness, developed in the 1970’s by mental health consumers who were seeking recovery and empowerment, puts recovery fully in the hands of the affected individual. Recovery is not a cure from mental illness; rather, it is the ability to live a full, meaningful, and productive life while accepting one’s diagnosis fully. The five pillars of recovery are: hope (the most important pillar), choices and accountability, empowerment (which comes from within the individual), creating the right recovery environment, and spirituality/finding meaning and purpose in life. The last category for the Christian who lives with mental illness is of course predicated on his or her relationship with Jesus, which is the essential determinant of one’s identity as a child of God.

      • John says:

        “It’s important to recognize most of all that mental illness is a disorder of the brain and is not caused by sin, character defects, or personal deficiencies”

        I don’t understand the distinction. How is a mental defect not a character defect and vice versa?

        • Matt Dexter says:

          Whether or not Mental Illness was a result of Genetics, Generational, Bad diet, Medication, Vaccines or anything else for that matter it bears no weight in regards to itself as NOT OF GOD. I have posted previously that God did Divinely heal me of Aspergers Syndrome, which on every level my life has become brand new, understand there are so many nuances to this, old habits that only existed due to the Aspergers remain, opening the demonic due to the aspergers traits etc not due to the Aspergers itself etc, essentially this is an incredible comples issue and one which I am finding my way every single day to live will a rewired brain, to live the way God intended. The premise for my post is simply this, if its outside of Gods perfect will for us then its Satanic and Demonic, directly or indirectly that is the source and to deal with it can be on many many levels, but for my Divine appointment with God in my Healing which on every level is miraculous then Jesus is the first and last and must on every account be the first and last in regards to healing, again there is so much to say on this subject but I believe now I have some qualification in this subject based on the before and the after, Amen to you all and said in love!

        • Eric Verby says:

          John, brain disorders that cause mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder (which I suffer from), and schizophrenia are not moral, character defects caused by sin. While they are ultimately the result of the Fall of Adam (which all illness is a result of), they are not uniquely the result of any sin committed by the individual living with the illness (see John 9 for an example of a similar case). They are best treated by a combination of medication, therapy, peer support, self-help and psychoeducation, and prayer and worship in Christ.

          • John says:

            Eric, you talk about sin as if it was a sentient entity. Surely the brain causes sin, and that being so how does schizophrenia causing sin differ to a character flaw causing sin?

          • Eric Verby says:

            John, human beings are psychosomatic entities. That is, we are both bodies and immaterial souls. What happens to our bodies (particularly our brains) affects our souls, and what happens to our souls affects our brains. Bipolar disorder in the past, while I was floridly manic, lowered my resistance to my sin nature and enabled me to commit more egregious sins than I would normally in my “normal” state of mind. I have spent large sums of money, engaged in reckless and aggressive behavior, and been sexually promiscuous while highly manic. But the brain disorder itself does not cause sin–it merely unleashes and uncovers the sin that is already in the human heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). Even as believers, we are still affected by sin and the sin nature in every aspect of our beings, including our minds and emotions. So mental illness does not itself cause sin; yet it can further the inclination to sin when not controlled through medication, therapy, and the exercise of self-control (itself the fruit of the Holy Spirit).

          • John says:

            What is your bible reference that people have “immaterial” souls? The bible refers to all creatures as souls, so are you going to argue that gnats have immaterial souls or what?

          • Eric Verby says:

            John, I don’t know you or where you are coming from or what point you are trying to make with your questions. The Bible refers (especially in the New Testament) that human beings have spirits or souls (which are really the same thing, see Hebrews 4 or 1 Thessalonians 5, I think, when Paul writes that “your spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless…”). It is clear that human beings are composed of souls and bodies. Gnats do not have rational souls like humans do. In fact, human beings are the only animals with rational souls, and this differs us from the entire animal kingdom (see Psalm 8 for the exalted status of human beings in God’s creation). The point is, we are body/soul creatures, and whatever affects the soul affects the body and vice versa.

          • John says:

            The bible says creatures have a spirit too, and whatever the spirit is, it is not “immaterial”. It’s something real, subject to the laws of physics.

          • Eric, there is new information available about how to cure mental illness. It is not a new idea. David soothed King Saul’s mental illness by playing his harp. Ancient peoples recognized the importance of singing and playing musical instruments. However, the mechanism of the ear in conditions of so-called “mental illness” and in the states of consciousness that change in people whose behavior is considered normal was not understood until recently. The human ear is the source of mental illness and it usually can be treated with music. Modern research into the role of the ear in behavior began with Alfred Tomatis’s discoveries in the mid 1990s. His discovery that the right ear controls the voice was proven to the French Academy of Medicine and the French Academy of Sciences in 1955-56. Tomatis cured dyslexia and was having success with autism. His colleague Guy Berard not only cured suicidal (and lesser forms of ) depression but he isolated the specific sound frequency deficits, usually in the left ear, that cause it. With the 233 suicidal patients who were treated with music, 100% of them were healed, most of them within two weeks. I have cured schizophrenia, bipolarity, obsessive compulsive disorder, dyslexia and have helped people to apply music to prevent those conditions arising from chemo treatments for cancer. Alzheimer’s can be reversed by getting the person to sing. The International Association of Music and Medicine is investigating music applications in medicine, but citizen scientists are way ahead of those researchers.
            Evangelicals are going to have to come to terms with the fact that the level of self-control a person can develop depends first on the strength of the tiny stapedius muscle in the right ear that controls how sound energizes the left half of the brain. Strong left-brain dominance is required for learning of any kind, including the learning of self-control, which is the essence of “not sinning.” Christianity is hugely concerned with standards of self-control but without knowing what the physiological requirements are for learning. Biblical writers did not understand the physiology of sinning and of self-control any more than they understood the causes of blindness. They simply rejected those who had losses of self-control. Today, we call those losses by medical or psychiatric terms loosely categorized as “mental illness.” But psychiatry also had not understood the mechanism of the ear and how it causes particular synddromes of behavior. Dr. Norman Doidge is the first psychiatrist to write about the role of the ear in behavior and the importance of treating the ear with music. I am the first person to explain the physiology of behavior, not just of mental illness but of all behavior, although I am not a psychiatrist. Losses of ear function affect speech and language, which is one of my specialties. “Sinning” is a matter of not having learned how to overcome right-brain impulses with left-brain dominance. Some people have ear weaknesses that prevent them from ever being able to learn those forms of controlled behavior. But if the ear muscle is strengthened, that learning can take place. The same application of music that heals mental illnesses allows people with good ear function to achieve even better self-control. Your illness could be cured. AND medications are of no help whatsoever because they harm the ears’ tiny stapedius muscles. We no longer look to scripture to know how to treat eye problems. It is time we stopped looking at scripture to know how to treat ear problems. Music heals mental illness and a whole lot more that goes wrong with the body when the ear muscles are weak.

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© 2013 Amy Simpson.