In an article today in the Wall Street Journal Carol Tavris discusses some of the many problems with the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Her article is very insightful well worth reading; however, the biggest problem with the DSM and the psychology that has developed from following this “bible” is seldom addressed.The problem with the DSM us that it fails to acknowledge the God who created us and the role that sinful rebellion against him plays in our mental health.
The bible describes a number of people afflicted with “mental illness” like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4) who believed he was an animal and grazed in the fields like the cattle, the naked man (Lk. 8) who could not be restrained and lived in a cemetery, etc… Each time we see mental illness in the bible, its cause is shown to be a sinful and rebellious heart that has allowed the Devil and his demons a foothold into the life of those afflicted. The bible describes an unseen spiritual battle that is warring for our hearts and minds and too often (even Christian) counselors and psychologists ignore the role sin and rebellion plays in our mental health. Does that mean that their are never physiological causes for mental health problems? Absolutely not! Does it mean we should abandon any use of medication in the treatment of mental illness? Absolutely not! It does mean, however, that we really need to place a much, much greater emphasis on repentance and recognize that there is a spiritual war being waged for our souls and much less emphasis on medication. We should also recognize that even when a physiological link can be determined (and as Carol Tavris’s article demonstrates that is often elusive), it does not tell us which came first i.e. did the physiological problem cause the mental illness or did sinful behavior cause a physiological problem that resulted in “mental illness.” While much of what we have learned through the study of psychology can be very helpful, we need to remember that it is only God who can truly heal the heart and mind.