As I have shown in the first six articles of this series, psychotherapy contradicts scripture in every essential area. It is my intention to show that it is built on an entirely false foundation. (I would recommend that if you haven’t already done so, that you go back and read the preceding seven articles. - JS)
The terms mental illness, mental disease, and mental disorder are popularly accepted terms for all kinds of problems of living, most of which have nothing whatever to do with disease. No sooner is a person’s behavior labeled as “illness” than treatment and therapy become the solutions. But if we take the view that each individual is responsible for his behavior—and that is the Biblical view—then the proper approach involves education (in the sense of learning what the Bible teaches) and faith. If, on the other hand, we label the person as “mentally ill”, then we have robbed him of the dignity of personal responsibility and the divine resources available to meet his problems.
Because the term mental illness shifts attitudes and behavior into the medical realm, we need to begin by examining its accuracy. In reference to mental illness or mental disease, research psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey has written:
"The term itself is nonsensical, a semantic mistake. The two words cannot go together...you can no more have
a mental 'disease' than you can have a purple idea or a wise space."
The word mental implies ‘mind’, and mind and brain are not the same thing. The mind is far more than merely an activity or function of the brain. God created man with a mind capable of thinking, of reasoning, of making choices. He created the mind to know Him and to make a deliberate choice to trust and obey Him; then He put man in charge of His creation and to serve as His representative on the earth. Because the mind isn’t limited to the physical realm alone, it is outside the boundaries of science, which is limited strictly to the physical world.
We know that when a person dies, his brain also dies; but we likewise know from scripture that when a person dies, he continues to exist. Just as an example, consider the following passage taken from Luke 16:19-31:
"So it was when the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died
and was buried. And being in torments in hell, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in
in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may
dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame'."
The passage is instructive in a number of ways, but think particularly about this: the rich man thought, he was able somehow to see, he felt pain and thirst, and he was able to think and to reason. In other words, and not even considering the means by which he was able to see and feel pain, his mind continued to exist beyond the death of his brain.
Because the mind is not a physical organ, it cannot have a disease. It is certainly possible to have an actual physical disease that affects the brain, such as stroke or a blastoma, but a person can’t have a diseased mind--although he may certainly have a sinful and unredeemed mind.
Dr. Thomas Szasz, was a renowned psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, and the author of The Myth of Mental Illness. He was critical of what he referred to as the “psychiatric impostor” who “supports a common, culturally shared desire to equate and confuse brain and mind, nerves and nervousness.” He argued:
“It is customary to define psychiatry as a medical specialty concerned with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. This is a worthless and misleading definition. Mental illness is a myth…the notion of a person having a ‘mental illness’ is scientifically crippling. It provides professional assent to a popular rationalization—namely, that problems in living experienced and expressed in terms of so-called psychiatric symptoms are basically similar to bodily diseases.”
A genuine medical problem or brain disease may bring on mental-emotional-behavioral symptoms, but the person cannot be rationally classified as “mentally ill.” He is medically ill. Psychological counseling doesn’t even deal with the brain itself; instead, it deals with aspects of thinking, feeling, and behaving. The psychotherapist isn’t in the business of healing diseases, but rather he is teaching new ways of thinking, of feeling, of behaving. In reality, he is a teacher and not a doctor. In fact, Dr. Shervert Frazier, Harvard psychiatrist and chairman of the American Psychiatric Association Joint Commission on Public Affairs, wrote that, "Psychotherapy is a form of education."
So where are we to go for such education? Do we seek the assistance of fallible men, most of whom deny God and the Bible, or do we go to the Creator Himself? The greatest tragedy of the misnomer of mental illness is that many Christians who are experiencing very real problems of living seek help outside of the church. Far too many times, when they do seek the help of a pastor, they are referred to professionals who are “qualified” to deal with “mental illness.” Problems of living are spiritual problems that require spiritual solutions. The church has been duped into believing that problems of living are problems of the brain that require scientific rather than biblical solutions.
It seems we have lost sight of the fact that the church should be equipped with the necessary spiritual information and abilities to lead people out of darkness, to teach them how to put off the old ways of the self and to put on the new life in Jesus whereby they can be transformed in both attitude and behavior. And if that isn’t possible, then the Bible is a lie. Here is what the Bible itself has to say about the issue:
"His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him
who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceeding great and precious promises,
that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the
world..." - 2 Peter 1:3-4.