Author Topic: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?  (Read 2174 times)

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Offline shnozzola

Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« on: April 28, 2013, 04:09:31 PM »
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The suicide of a prominent pastor's son has many evangelicals talking about how best to treat mental illness. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with journalist and evangelical Christian Christine Scheller about how the church responds to mental illness. Scheller lost her son to suicide five years ago.

Listen:    http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=179240480&m=179240471

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HEADLEE: What advice would you give to someone who may be in the situation that you were, dealing with your sons, who may be trying to balance, say, issues that she sees in herself or her family, along with a message coming out of the church that discourages you from seeking professional help?

SCHELLER: I would probably encourage someone to leave that kind of a community, and then I would encourage them to do exactly what I did in the midst of it - in the middle of - my husband was on staff. He was a pastor at this church and I, you know, went and sought help and found doctors and just ignored the advice that was being given.

Transcript:   http://www.npr.org/2013/04/26/179240480/can-faith-alone-treat-mental-illness
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Offline Nick

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2013, 07:17:45 PM »
Sure it can.  If the money is right.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 07:36:34 PM »
As in, should a Christian rely on prayer and prayer only?

Certainly not.

A Christian should bring all things before God in prayer, but it's simply common sense to seek the best possible professional help. Why can't God work through skilled practitioners?

Ignoring readily available help is like demanding God fit into our schedule. I have the same level of contempt as you do for anybody who ignores modern medicine.

I also don't know anybody who does, and I suspect none of you do either.

Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.
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Offline Morgan

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2013, 04:32:10 AM »
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A Christian should bring all things before God in prayer, but it's simply common sense to seek the best possible professional help. Why can't God work through skilled practitioners?
Why? Would he increase the odds? Or is it just telling him "hey bro, I'm going to see my doc today!"? Wouldn't an omniscient god already know?

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Ignoring readily available help is like demanding God fit into our schedule.
ANY prayer is asking him to change his schedule. God may have wanted you to lose your car keys, but nooo, you think his divine plan just isn't good enough and *had to* pray to find them.

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I also don't know anybody who does, and I suspect none of you do either.
Good thing Google knows! http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130422_A_second_child_of_doctor-shunning_couple_dies.html Oh wait, they probably weren't True Christians.

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Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.
No, but they support an organization which promotes discrimination and seeks to modify legislation based on terribly written faerie tales, also actively works towards making people dumber and poorer.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 09:45:15 AM »
Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.

Because they all believe ridiculous things, all xians are potential extremist nut-jobs.

xianity is like herpes.  It is a virus that hides out and can flare up quite unexpectedly.
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2013, 02:03:58 PM »
I defer to your knowledge of herpes
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Offline Samothec

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2013, 03:53:18 PM »
No.

There has been no evidence that faith alone can treat physical illnesses and plenty of evidence that faith alone can kill - as referenced above by Morgan. If faith can't do anything positive in a reliable manner - only working occasionally for some believers and almost always in conjunction with medical treatment - then why would it work on something more difficult to treat? (Rhetorical: it wouldn't/doesn't.)
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2013, 04:30:01 PM »
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A Christian should bring all things before God in prayer, but it's simply common sense to seek the best possible professional help. Why can't God work through skilled practitioners?
Why? Would he increase the odds? Or is it just telling him "hey bro, I'm going to see my doc today!"? Wouldn't an omniscient god already know?

I don't have all the answers. I'm just giving my perspective.

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Ignoring readily available help is like demanding God fit into our schedule.
ANY prayer is asking him to change his schedule.

I guess, sort of. But I make a distinction between bringing something to God in prayer (as He wants us to) and demanding that He answer the prayer the way we want. If you look at the Lords Prayer, that is the model given to us.


 God may have wanted you to lose your car keys, but nooo, you think his divine plan just isn't good enough and *had to* pray to find them.

Studies have shown that 6 out of 10 Christians actually lose mobile phones more than car keys. Please adjust this always amusing jibe accordingly.



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I also don't know anybody who does, and I suspect none of you do either.
Good thing Google knows! http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130422_A_second_child_of_doctor-shunning_couple_dies.html Oh wait, they probably weren't True Christians.

My point was that you probably don't know people like this personally. That they exist is not in dispute.



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Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.
No, but they support an organization which promotes discrimination and seeks to modify legislation based on terribly written faerie tales, also actively works towards making people dumber and poorer.

Can you be more specific? Which Christians (that you know) support which organisation?
Go on up you baldhead.

Offline Morgan

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2013, 05:55:49 PM »
I don't have all the answers. I'm just giving my perspective.
If you don't know why you hold certain opinions, it's best to re-examine them with more exigence.

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I guess, sort of. But I make a distinction between bringing something to God in prayer (as He wants us to) and demanding that He answer the prayer the way we want. If you look at the Lords Prayer, that is the model given to us.
What can you possibly offer an omnimax deity who knows what you are thinking not only in the present, but also future, and can calculate the infinite permutations of posibilities that are 'alternate futures' diverging from his Plan(TM)?

Googled said prayer and what I undestood it also makes requests from God. Asking him to give you bread (assure your well-being) and forgive your sins is also a request. What if he wants you to be starving and sinful? In fact, since he's such a huge fan of predestination and some people end in hell, doesn't it mean he knew and willingly created those people with the thought and intention of sending them towards eternal damnation?



 
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Studies have shown that 6 out of 10 Christians actually lose mobile phones more than car keys. Please adjust this always amusing jibe accordingly.
Sorry, can't edit the post now :( Hope I didn't offend anyone suffering from lost cellphones, I know from personal experience it's something not even my worst enemies should face. Too bad my charger doesn't have a paging function like the receiver on the wireless landline!


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My point was that you probably don't know people like this personally. That they exist is not in dispute.

Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.

Does it matter whether I know anyone like that? You don't know where I'm from, what if I were to come out and say "Oh, I knew those guys! They are totally John & Jane Doe, who live across the street from my Nana. I used to play soccer with them every summer, real bummer what they did :(" ? Would it change my argument?

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Can you be more specific? Which Christians (that you know) support which organisation?
Uhm, the various protests of Christians against homosexuality, abortion, women getting equal rights? Churches who ask for donations? Actively preaching there's a bearded man in the sky that watches you masturbate to cartoon ponies and cries, but can't do jack about dying and abused people because ~he works in mysterious ways~? Teaching complacency and submissiveness instead of skepticism and rationality alongside lies about the nature of the universe? Do I really need to give links? I explained why religion is harmful in this post, do read it if you have the time.

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2013, 06:03:03 PM »
watches you masturbate to cartoon ponies

Do you mean Ambassador Pony's avatar? It's never had that affect on me, honest.
Go on up you baldhead.

Offline Morgan

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2013, 06:32:22 PM »
watches you masturbate to cartoon ponies

Do you mean Ambassador Pony's avatar? It's never had that affect on me, honest.

Not really, and I apologize if it's read as such. It was intended to be a jab at the people who get sexually aroused by the characters in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Isn't it one of the rules of the internet? If it exists, there is porn of it.  ;D

Though if it does have that effect on anyone, I can't really claim to give any fucks or care about it other than making crappy jokes. Whatever floats your boner boat, as long as it doesn't harm anyone outside of situations when consent is given...yeah, I'll stop rambling

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 06:35:15 PM »
No need for any apologies. I understood your point. And I might respond to it seriously a bit later.
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Offline Petey

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2013, 10:41:30 AM »
How can you use something that is itself a mental illness to treat mental illness?  Two wrongs make a right?
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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2013, 10:57:54 AM »
Depends on what you mean by mental illness and what you mean by treat.

Do i think that bipolar can be cured by praying? Hell no.

Do I think that faith can be used as a tool to lessen the harm done by depression. Yes it can, just like any other coping strategy.

Online Jag

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2013, 07:09:40 PM »
A Christian should bring all things before God in prayer,

I hope you will take me at face value when I respond to this statement with "Why?" I'm not being flip, I'm not setting you up to ambush you with a planned response, I genuinely don't understand why you say that.

Skipping stuff there's no point in arguing about in most of this post to land here:

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I also don't know anybody who does, and I suspect none of you do either.
Not in real life, no. However, not knowing them personally does not detract from the fact that they are real people,and their crazy stories really do happen, and we make observations about them. Dismissing them as not representative of all christians misses the point - with 30,000+ sects (and growing) it's very difficult to find any acceptable example of a representative of christians. Come on mm, you've "met' (certain folks on these boards who shall remain nameless but you know darn well who I'm referring to)  - are they not representatives of christians? Yes, they may be really horrid humans, but they're christians nonetheless. For that matter, they were at great pains to make darn sure we knew they were christians.

There are no tests one is required to pass in order to vote in the US - these idiots and their friends (and they certainly have them) are permitted to vote. That's certainly a cause for concern on my part.

Read up on the Quiverfull movement for a better idea of how large their numbers are getting, at least in the States - we seem to have a knack for homegrown psycho-babble religions here.

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Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.

Sweetie, that's not our job. If christians are unhappy about being represented by the worst of their kind, that's a job for those self-same christians to address. It's not up to non-believers to try to determine which ones are "good" and which ones are "bad" - you all believe something we dismiss as nonsense and do appalling things in service to said belief- so the janitorial services ain't likely to be coming from us.
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Offline mrbiscoop

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2013, 07:51:23 PM »
Faith = Delusion = Mental Illness
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2013, 08:22:57 PM »
I don't have all the answers. I'm just giving my perspective.
If you don't know why you hold certain opinions, it's best to re-examine them with more exigence.

That isn't what I said. I said I don't have all the answers.


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I guess, sort of. But I make a distinction between bringing something to God in prayer (as He wants us to) and demanding that He answer the prayer the way we want. If you look at the Lords Prayer, that is the model given to us.
What can you possibly offer an omnimax deity who knows what you are thinking not only in the present, but also future, and can calculate the infinite permutations of posibilities that are 'alternate futures' diverging from his Plan(TM)?

Not really sure, although I get a sense of it with my kids. I like them (sometimes) coming to me with problems and I certainly like it when they tell me how grateful they are for a nice day I might have given them (as an example).


Googled said prayer and what I undestood it also makes requests from God. Asking him to give you bread (assure your well-being) and forgive your sins is also a request. What if he wants you to be starving and sinful?

This provides a useful commentary on the Lord's Prayer:

http://ebccrosswalk.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/understanding-the-lords-prayer/


 In fact, since he's such a huge fan of predestination and some people end in hell, doesn't it mean he knew and willingly created those people with the thought and intention of sending them towards eternal damnation?

Bottom line - I just don't know. Maybe such people are pre-destined to hell because God knew in advance that nothing would ever cause them to change their hearts about Him. Let me use Greybeard as an example. He has quite baldly stated in another thread that if some sort of seemingly miraculous event occurred he would simply re-define that event as a natural occurrence which we didn't know of previously.



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My point was that you probably don't know people like this personally. That they exist is not in dispute.

Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.

Does it matter whether I know anyone like that? You don't know where I'm from, what if I were to come out and say "Oh, I knew those guys! They are totally John & Jane Doe, who live across the street from my Nana. I used to play soccer with them every summer, real bummer what they did :(" ? Would it change my argument?


I say this mostly from the perspective of: when is it ever better to focus on the bad rather than the good?



Go on up you baldhead.

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2013, 08:38:04 PM »
A Christian should bring all things before God in prayer,

I hope you will take me at face value when I respond to this statement with "Why?" I'm not being flip, I'm not setting you up to ambush you with a planned response, I genuinely don't understand why you say that.

God asks us to. He created us to be in relationship with Him. That relationship was broken, but through Jesus that relationship is being restored. Look at my link in the post above on the Lords Prayer as a model for how Christians should pray.




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Maybe you should spend more time reflecting on the fact that most Christians who you actually know in real life aren't extremist nut-jobs.

Sweetie, that's not our job.

True. However, in not doing that you increase the likelihood of untrue things like this:

you all believe something we dismiss as nonsense and do appalling things in service to said belief-

being said, and seeping deeply into your psyche, where it becomes harder and harder to shift. 


Go on up you baldhead.

Online Jag

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2013, 10:39:06 AM »
That's a fair point - I should have stated "you all believe something we dismiss as nonsense, and some of you do appalling things in service to that belief." That statement I can and do stand behind.

I know that christians get painted with broad strokes and negative associations here. I also know that we rarely make observations about any of the positive things done in service to those same beliefs. Given how often we (atheists in general) are treated the same way by politicians, the media, and the public in general, I'm not all that inclined to cut christians much slack. I've never said anything here or IRL that comes close to some of the shocking things that have been said to me, entirely because I'm an atheist.

When was the last time someone called you a "fucking immoral whore bitch", based solely on your beliefs about god, while completely dismissing everything they know about you based on your behavior and actions? My guess is never.

My own mother, a lifelong christian, is second-guessing my decision to go into the non-profit sector when I finish my degree. My goal is to find employment with a non-profit that is focused on quality of life issues in third world countries. She wants me to discuss this with God to see if that's really what he wants me to do. What can I possibly say in response to that? Does she really think God (hers of course, not mine) would object to me spending the rest of my working years helping people who are at a strong disadvantage in a world of plenty?
"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2013, 10:56:37 AM »
mm, I hope you are still paying attention to this thread. I've been thinking about how to broach this topic for a couple of days and I'm not sure I'm going to do this very well, so please bear with me. This post is a resumption of my earlier question about why christians are to bring all matters to god.

I read the linked post and find it completely reasonable (you know what I mean  :)) and could easily get behind the idea the writer is trying to convey. He makes a good observation and I would find it compelling if I were a theist. As an atheist, I can still respect the point he is making and applaud his thoughts, while not agreeing with his premise.

The more I pay attention to people, the more I see religion as an organized platform from which to practice psychology.

Take prayer, for instance. From my own theist past and from observations of current theists, prayer has the identical outcome of positive affirmations. I'm not much of a fan of affirmations (they just make me feel awkward and foolish), but I understand the principle behind them, and totally get why they appear to work really well for certain people - those thoughts focus the mind on what the praying person or affirming person wants to have happen. I know you don't think of "praying" as "talking to yourself", but given the absence of an audible response, it works much the same way. I'm truly trying to not be disrespectful mm, but again, I'm hoping you are cutting me some slack as I fumble though articulating this. There is research to support this, but I'm trying to work through it on my own first. The mental exercise is good for me  ;)

The very process of praying or affirming gets the brain engaged in paying attention to opportunities to "manifest" whatever outcome the person is hoping for - manifest generally implies an external agent or force, but I see it in this case as an internal force, though quite possibly subconscious. The brain just gets busy looking for ways to obtain the outcome you are asking for.

I'm not asking you to agree with me, but do you see what I'm trying to get at? I'm not saying this very well - I've never tried to explain the parallels I see between religion and basic psychology. It's still very much a work-in-progress.

Thoughts?

"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."

Offline Samothec

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2013, 11:41:37 AM »
Jag, I think your observations are well thought out and combine what several lines of research have shown.


I have, for quite a while now, seen religion as humanity's first attempt at a variety of things: the origin of the world, explanation of the natural world, morality, health, social bonds, and spirituality.

We have developed better knowledge bases and methods for all those things. We now understand how our planet, solar system and galaxy were formed and are working on how the universe was formed. We have done a great job of figuring out how the natural world works without referring to a deity: geology, botany, biology, chemistry, physics. We have laws and ethics – although these do need constant upkeep and could stand some revision. We have gotten a good beginning on medicine. We have some good social constructs and others that need work – psychology is an okay beginning for mental health. Spirituality is the main one that is weak.

But the weakness of the spirituality alternatives is at least partially due to the most of the alternatives being developed by people who grew up as christians (or, worse, xians[1]).

So this is why I think religion needs to go away (eventually[2]). The religions have become codified and stagnant thus becoming more and more archaic every day. So people try to make new ones to replace what they imagine they need. Or they try to prop up an archaic religion by proposing it would work just as well as something that is replacing a portion of it – like psychology.
 1. used here to denote those who follow the Old Testament but don't have the wisdom to convert to Judaism nor the decency to follow the New Testament
 2. although sooner is much better than later
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline Mooby

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2013, 12:10:13 PM »
Faith can certainly modify mental illness, and the strength gained from convictions in one's beliefs and the support of other believers can certainly help people cope.

It can also become a point of fixation, moving beyond the normal believer's experiences of God to become the subject of hallucinations or delusions. For instance, a person who has delusions of grandeur may think they are the second coming of Christ, or a person who hears voices might think they are messages from God/Satan.

Faith is not a treatment for any disease. It is an attempt at a relationship with God that can be used to either help or hurt those that are ill.  If it brings a community together to support someone who is sick, it can help a lot. If it is used to avoid seeking proper care, it can be quite harmful.
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Online Jag

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2013, 12:31:16 PM »
Thank you Samothec, I appreciate your kind words. This is a path I wander down often lately. I find religion fascinating in the abstract, and the parallels to psychology are hard to miss once you notice them. I'm a visual/kinesthetic learner (show me, then guide me, then get out of my way, lol), but I tend to process and organize my thoughts verbally. As an abstract learner, I work hard to verbalize my thoughts as accurately as possible.

Mooby, I agree with everything you said as well - I add the placebo effect though. I used to work very closely with people with schizophrenia, and am very familiar with how religious beliefs can be really harmful to them, if the underlying illness is not well under control. Schizophrenia is just heartbreaking, and anyone suffering from it deserves nothing less than compassion and support. It's disturbing to understand just how damaging one's own brain can be to one's self. It can turn on you (sounds melodramatic, I know) in so many ways.

"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."

Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2013, 05:55:16 PM »
mm, I hope you are still paying attention to this thread.

I always look out for your posts, Jag. You're my favourite 40 something female atheist from Minnesota who is currently studying and has a screen name less than 5 characters.

And I'm not just saying that.

 ;D



 

Take prayer, for instance. From my own theist past and from observations of current theists, prayer has the identical outcome of positive affirmations. I'm not much of a fan of affirmations (they just make me feel awkward and foolish), but I understand the principle behind them, and totally get why they appear to work really well for certain people - those thoughts focus the mind on what the praying person or affirming person wants to have happen. I know you don't think of "praying" as "talking to yourself", but given the absence of an audible response, it works much the same way. I'm truly trying to not be disrespectful mm, but again, I'm hoping you are cutting me some slack as I fumble though articulating this. There is research to support this, but I'm trying to work through it on my own first. The mental exercise is good for me  ;)

The very process of praying or affirming gets the brain engaged in paying attention to opportunities to "manifest" whatever outcome the person is hoping for - manifest generally implies an external agent or force, but I see it in this case as an internal force, though quite possibly subconscious. The brain just gets busy looking for ways to obtain the outcome you are asking for.

I'm not asking you to agree with me, but do you see what I'm trying to get at? I'm not saying this very well - I've never tried to explain the parallels I see between religion and basic psychology. It's still very much a work-in-progress.

Thoughts?

Hmm, I think I sort of know what you're saying. Maybe.

Might be easiest if I just give you my own perspective on prayer.

I linked to the Lords Prayer because it serves as the model for how we should pray. It's how Jesus told his disciples to pray. That doesn't mean to say I pray those exact words, but I try to remember that the most important thing I can pray is that God's will be done. I know this seems strange, because God is God and will achieve what He wants with or without our prayers. But the thing to remmeber is that God wants us to pray to Him. We probably won't ever quite 'get' that until our relationship with God is fully restored at the return of Jesus.

When I pray I certainly pray for specific things...I pray that I am granted patience, mostly. ( I suffer from a lack of it). I pray for wisdom. I pray that I am courageous in proclaiming the gospel to my real life friends and family (I suck at that also). And I pray that God can ease suffering of those suffering most in the world. But most importantly I pray that in all things God Himself is shown to be worthy of our praise and obedience.

I get angry at God. I want to know why He allows some people to suffer so horribly. I want to know why the only possible way He could allow us to be back in relationship with Him was to pour out all His anger on Jesus. I want to know why He made us if He knew we would fall out of relationship with Him and cause Him such anger.

In short, I question His wisdom and I doubt many people who've bothered thinking much about it haven't sone likewise.

But the difference between us is that I am convinced beyond doubt that God is everything the bible tells us He is. And ultimately, I can't ever adequately explain to you why, and I know that frustrates the crap out of evrybody here. But because I do believe in the God of the bible, I belive that ultimately He is a God who is worthy of my obedience and worthy of my praise, and I believe that He is a God of love. I believe that when Jesus returns, not as a human but as God's son and judge, every one of us is going to have the bigest "aha" moment you could ever imagine. 

There is enough I know about God to allow me to accept that the things I don't know about God are going to make sense only when Jesus restores me to full relationship with Him. And they will make sense.

In summary, prayer won't ever make sense to someone who doesn't have an absolute assurance that God is real.
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2013, 07:20:54 PM »
The very process of praying or affirming gets the brain engaged in paying attention to opportunities to "manifest" whatever outcome the person is hoping for - manifest generally implies an external agent or force, but I see it in this case as an internal force, though quite possibly subconscious. The brain just gets busy looking for ways to obtain the outcome you are asking for.


It occurred to me that my last post might have strayed away somewhat from the point you were making, and I haven't linked what I said very well to the key idea I think you were making (which I have quoted)

I do agree that parallels exist. However, what I am trying to point out is that the prayer Jesus modelled for us is not one in which we should be focussing on specific intervention in our lives in the same way that positive thinking or affirmation does. Rather, we should be constantly praying that God's name is made holy. That's the key. If prayer was meant to focus on how our lives could be improved, then I think your point would be very strong.
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Online Jag

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2013, 08:19:19 PM »
Hey mm, thank you for the second post on this. I read and can respect what you had to say in your first response, but was pleased to see you circle back and address my point.

All I was really after was to demonstrate specifically how I (and presumably other atheists as well) frame the same essential process in a different way. I know you and I are not going to find agreement on this topic, and I'm fine with that.

It's much the same as the reason I don't watch local broadcast news - the focus is always on the negatives, like car accidents and crime statistics. I realized when my son deployed the first time (when there was still a fair amount of war coverage on the daily news) that I was going to have to find an alternative way to keep up to date. As a corollary, I noticed how much easier it was to see the positive in my local metro community when I wasn't subjecting myself to hearingld how crappy all my neighbors were every night on the news.

Everyone has filters in their brains - some conscious and some not. I think a compelling argument can be made that people see positive outcomes from prayer simply because they have taken the step of praying  - which ran the matter through the person's internal filters and prepped the brain to start seeing results. Again, not looking to get agreement from you, just observing.

You could even go so far as to call it musing, because that's really what I'm doing with this. Speculating how my frame of reference fits my stated world view, and checking for consistency. You're helping me think out loud, more or less.
"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."

Offline Samothec

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2013, 12:42:34 AM »
I linked to the Lords Prayer because it serves as the model for how we should pray. It's how Jesus told his disciples to pray. That doesn't mean to say I pray those exact words, ...
I hadn't noted this specific point but I have seen other things that first made me stop calling myself christian long before I stopped believing. Too many christians pay lip service and don't follow what is taught in their religion, much less what is in the bible.

The unleavened bread and the wine were not specially chosen for the meal - they were the normal food for a meal at that specific time (due to the jewish tradition). Jesus when he spoke said to remember him (not his death) when we ate and drank. So instead of keeping him and his teachings in mind at every meal, it was turned into ritualized cannibalism (transubstantiation) and compartmentalized into the religious service.

This was just one of my observations. To me this sort of distortion does not indicate mental health.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline tapdancingcow

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2013, 10:35:29 PM »
Hello folks.  This is my first virgin post here so please be gentle with me.  I'm changing the direction of the thread just a bit.   

I've been lurking around this forum for a while and being an atheist from pretty much, well birth, I've had fun reading all the topics.  My dad was an atheist and even my grandfather was an atheist way back in the "old days".  So with that as a foundation I think I might just fit right in here.

The topic of treating mental illness with faith sure rang a bell with me and our family.  My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia three years ago and there is no way in hell that faith would make one damn difference.  There is a genetic component to this disease which triggers chemicals in the brain to become unbalanced and a whole chain of events occur.  Too much dopamine is produced and it causes hallucinations, paranoia  and  visions.  In a weird way schizophrenia is the almost like the opposite of Parkinson's disease in which too little dopamine is produced which causes the tremors that afflict Parkinson patients.

We all know that Christians and other religions  still feel that mental illness is caused by satan and do exorcisims and other mumbo jumbo to get the devil out of the mentally ill.  I know a lady that thought this would help my son and I can't tell you how difficult it was to not to haul off and slug her in the face but being the nice atheist lady that I am I realized how irrational that would be so I just bit my tongue instead.

But as often happens with mental illness my son was recently re-diagnosed with psychotic depression instead which is such a relief.  Psychotic depression also can have hallucinations and paranoia but isn't as severe and can be medicated with much lower doses of medication. 

So to end this post, I could have prayed until the cows came home ( or until the cows started tap dancing) and it wouldn't have changed a damn thing.  It was chemicals in the medication that did the trick and my son is sooooo much better now and his future is bright. 

Tapdancingcow

 

Online Jag

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Re: Can Faith Alone Treat Mental Illness?
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2013, 09:47:06 AM »
Hello tapdancingcow, and welcome to the forum! Thank you for sharing a personal story on the topic.

All the faith in the world will do nothing to address the actual problem. I'm pleased to hear that your son has been diagnosed with psychotic depression versus schizophrenia; it's an easier ( VERY relatively speaking, of course) illness to manage, assuming that your son stays compliant with his med regimen. Good luck and best wishes to him, and you and your family as well.

There still appears to be a huge swath of the population that believes mental illness is somehow the fault of the person, or of the parents. Ignorance is still pervasive on this topic, and much unnecessary harm is the result. A really well thought out public service campaign could go a long way toward educating the masses. It won't solve everything, but it would certainly help dispel some of the mistaken ideas about it.
"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."