The Biblical Background Of Psychiatry

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It is written:

Psalm 119:24-Your testimonies also are my delight And my counselors.

There is an amazing link between the Bible and psychiatry. God is concerned with the wellness of the entire person: body, soul, and spirit (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23). With that in mind, it will do well to remember the link between Christianity and psychiatry.

One researcher has noted:

“OUR MODERN WORD “PSYCHIATRY” COMES FROM THE TWO Greek words Ψνχή (psyche) and ιατρεία (iatreia): psyche-iatreia. The word “psyche” really means the person, and is variously translated as “breath,” “soul,” “mind,” “reason,” and the like. The word iatreia means “treatment,” “healing,” “restoring,” and the like. So, put the two words together and we have “the healing of the mind,” or, as David might have said, “the restoring of the soul.” The word can mean medical treatment, or the treatment by a physician, but that is only one of its meanings, and I feel that the science of psychiatry is not to be limited to the medical profession. Often the minister is a psychiatrist, because he deals not only with the minds of people but also with their souls. In fact, the very essence of religion is to adjust the mind and soul of man, and we have long ago learned, as in this book I quote Augustine as saying, “My soul is restless until it finds its rest in Thee, O God.” Healing means bringing the person into a right relationship with the physical, mental and spiritual laws of God. The physician is a minister of God. All true scientific research is merely an organized effort to learn the laws of God and how they operate. The teacher is also a minister of God. The teacher seeks to train the mind, to seek truth and know truth when it is found. A mind which thinks error is a sick mind. So a teacher is practicing part of the great science of psychiatry. Beyond our bodies and minds are our souls. The minister is concerned with man’s soul; he believes that if his soul is sick the man is sick, indeed. And only God can heal the soul. So, the first and most important psychiatry must be God’s psychiatry, the essence of which I find contained in the four best known passages of The Bible: The Twenty-Third Psalm, The Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer, and The Beatitudes.” (Charles L. Allen, God’s Psychiatry: Healing for Your Troubled Heart, 5-6 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Books)

Sadly, some modern day psychiatry has been greatly influenced by Darwinian evolution, with the result being that many people see mankind simply as another animal. The result of this is the belief that spiritual problems are actually simply physical problems, with physical solutions.

“Until the last fifty years or so, Western culture strongly reflected the core Judeo-Christian conviction that God created the human race and put us all here on this beautiful globe we call Earth, and that we, alone among all creatures, were given the ability—and destiny—to choose between good and evil. That was then. Today’s cultural elite, including those in the healing arts, basically no longer think of man in spiritual terms, of morality, character, self-understanding, repentance, and forgiveness. Rather, most of today’s experts look at man and see a soulless animal whose behavior problems are mostly genetic or organic in origin and, in any event, usually manageable with drugs. The truth is, most pill-dispensing mental health practitioners don’t really understand why people experience clinical depression or other “mental illnesses.” Go search WebMD and five or ten other websites on, let’s say, postpartum depression (or any other syndrome). You’ll be stunned at the lack of real substance with regard to what causes it. Instead, you’ll see statements like “The causes haven’t been pinpointed yet,” along with reams of authoritative-sounding data on symptoms and predisposing factors and what drugs to take and how valuable it is to have a support group and what vitamins help in recovery and so on.” (David Kupelian, How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America, 104 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Threshold Editions)

Please do not misunderstand me here. There is a definite place for medicine in treating all kinds of physical maladies. I personally use medicines to help me with medical problems of all kinds. That isn’t the point I am making though. Sometimes there are spiritual roots to our problems, and those spiritual issues must be treated just as physical issues must be. What is needed in the modern world (just like in the world of the Bible) is a recognition of the need to treat both spiritual and physical issues.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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