As a Christian who believes that all people are responsible for their actions (like the Bible teaches) I applaud Toxic Psychiatry written by Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who does not claim to be a Christian from what I have read thus far. This summer I have known of two Christians who have been told they should be on antidepressants. The topic was of interest to me, given what the Bible teaches about the conscience…plus, I care about my friends, so I ordered the book from Amazon. The Bible does not call people “psychopaths,” “sociopaths”, “antisocials ‘incapable’ of love”, “detached”; by definition, these psychological types of people in the Bible are called “liars”, “deceivers”, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, “double minded”, and “neither hot nor cold.” However, the solution is the same for all in the Bible: repentance (turning from sin and carnal reasoning to God). God promises in the Bible to make all people new if they will abandon their old way of living and thinking and turn to Jesus with new found empathy for others and remorse over sin. A "slave to sin" will be "set free" the Bible promises. But how about those who are "bi-polar" or "manic-depressive"? Can God make them "new" without medicine?
Yes, but maybe not with quite the same "high."
The author of Toxic Psychiatry, Peter Breggin, is described as “the conscience of American psychiatry,” and he “speaks out on why therapy, empathy, and love must replace the drugs, electroshock, and biochemical theories of the ‘New Psychiatry.’” He purports there is NO scientific evidence for a “chemical imbalance” in the brain, and that psychiatry is abusing patients by NOT having them deal with WHY they are sad, irrational, irresponsible, etc. through cognitive therapy and accountability.
He goes on to explain how psychiatry abuses patients by giving them “antidepressant” pills, which actually cause depression long term and brain damage. As a result, we are increasingly becoming a society comprised of people who are STILL dishonest, irresponsible and emotionally handicapped, with the same antisocial behaviors they’ve always had; it is just that they’re now drug addicts, too. Prescribed drug addicts.
I have pondered how for centuries humans managed to live together, overcome problems, hold criminals responsible through law enforcement, heal, forgive, love, and reap what they sow as individuals (like the Bible promises) before any child was put on Ritalin, and people were called “bi-polar” or “manic-depressive”. The inclination is for others to pity these patients, rather than hold them responsible. Yet, holding people responsible for actions—both good and bad—is a gift every human being deserves and desperately needs in order to grow in God’s image.
Dr. Peter Breggin brings to light psychiatry’s betrayal of what it means to be human. Here are a couple of quotes from the first chapter I read today:
“…a human failing does not become a disease simply because it is extreme.” p 39.
“Ultimately, every individual must choose whether or not to overcome any hardship or oppression inflicted by the family, society, or psychiatry. Human beings retain a measure of free will as long as they remain conscious…Often…individuals—who call themselves survivors of psychiatry—reached a point during their spiritual crisis when they faced the need to take charge of their minds, their bodies, and their lives. With that they began to climb out of irrationality and despair. Reaching out to others often becomes the first step back to human reality. When someone then responds with love and care, the recovery process is on its way. But this rarely happens in the psychiatric system. When the patient reaches out, the psychiatrist puts a pill in the hand.”p 45.
In the beginning of the book there is a warning to not stop taking antidepressants abruptly. “Most psychiatric drugs are more dangerous to take than people realize…As described in this book, most have addictive qualities and can produce withdrawal symptoms that are emotionally and physically distressing and sometimes life-threatening.” It is much better to ask God for remorse over sin and for enough humility to be honest with others, especially one’s self. As I wrote in a former post, nowhere does it say in the Bible that God will pardon people who are “bi-polar” or “depressed” or “had a hard childhood.” God wants us to all grow up and assume responsibility for our actions.
I am really enjoying Toxic Psychiatry. The author does not address the demonic realm, of course. But as a Christian, I know that demons play a role in personalities and the “psychospiritualities” the author describes. Without a demonic explanation for apparitions, voices heard, and grandiose sense of self, the author dares to suggest that ALL people are moral beings with a conscience and the capacity to assume responsibility for actions.
All in all, it makes me grateful for sad days in life and God’s hand in our sadness to make us more like Him. After all, Jesus was called a “Man of Sorrows”, and we will know sorrows, too, in this world if we are going to love like Jesus loves and live our lives for Him and not for ourselves. However, His joy is there to meet us in the midst of sorrow. I smile as I think about His love through every heartache and how He never takes something or someone away without giving us something else…in His perfect, pure, maturing love.
Today my pastor spoke on Mark 6 and how it was so sweet of Jesus to take His apostles aside from the crowd to be alone with Him (v. 30-31), to “Come…and rest awhile” with Him.