1. notleia says:

    What makes you say that pills are overprescribed? Pills definitely have helped me.

    My therapist said, pills don’t teach you anything, but they get you to a place where you’re receptive to being taught.

    • Saying that pills are over prescribed isn’t the same as saying no one should use them at all. And there are times when people get misdiagnosed and therefore end up taking pills for things they don’t even have. Obviously if someone needs pills there’s nothing wrong with taking them in reasonable quantities, the problem is that people overestimate the need for pills in the first place.

      • notleia says:

        What exactly is a “reasonable quantity” of pills, tho?

        I’m pretty skeptical about laypeople’s opinions on other people’s medication, because we live in a society with people who go “ADHD? Back in my day we just beat them until they conformed.” Or douchebags who decide that a person “shouldn’t” be disabled so they harass them for using wheelchairs or hearing aids or what have you.

        • One would have to balance need with risk. But I’m pretty skeptical about people’s carelessness around pills because they ignorantly use them for the sake of convenience. Like maybe a kid is rowdy because of their personality or life experiences and needs to be taught differently, not because they have ADHD. So people end up drugging up kids because it’s more convenient in some cases and not because it’s actually necessary. They might not MEAN to, but the result is that a kid could be given a pill as if there’s something wrong with them, while they’re actually deprived of things they need more.

          Obviously there needs to be a balance. But one factor to consider is how quickly the person is willing to go to the pills and how little they are willing to question and research before using. And even if they use them, is it a minimal use, or does it start to be an unnecessary crutch?

          • Well… one example would be the over-use of antibiotics. Just sayin’….

            That being said, thank God for meds because my brother, after suffering a breakdown due to bi-polar, took meds that saved his life. Nothing would have helped him at that point. He could have been stuck dreaming awake for the rest of his life without meds.

    • Travis Perry says:

      This particular sidetrack of yours is actually mildly on track. But since you are fully capable of doing Internet research, look up information on people who recover from mental illness without any treatment verses people who seek treatment. There is a rate of people who recover completely without treatment and while the rate of recovery with treatment is better, it is not vastly better. It’s maybe twice as good. As opposed to, say, people who need knee surgery who don’t get it–almost without exception, they get worse. Mental health does not parallel physical health in that regard.

      Now, after researching that issue, research the types of mental health treatment that are the most effective. You will find that with the exception of some very specific problems, it barely matters what kind of help a person seeks. Seeking help is better than not seeking help, but the type of help isn’t as important.

      One kind of mental health treatment that is an exception to the general rule (that is, is extremely effective verses non treatment), are certain behaviorist-inspired exercises designed to deal with specific phobias. So if you are afraid of flying, you monitor your heat rate when you think of flying, then calm yourself with breathing exercises or similar techniques. Gradually, bit by bit, you accustom yourself to actually flying, so you can be on the plane and keep your heart rate down. That actually works–but is very similar to exercises in certain religions, including certain uses of prayer within Christian traditions.

      In general, if you go to a psychiatrist with certain kinds of complaints, you will be given medication, perhaps along with other kinds of treatment. If you go to a psychologist, you will mostly receive counselling alone. Who is right? Perhaps it’s no surprise that both sides say they are, but reading what the psychologists say is very informative. With certain specific exceptions, the ham-fisted attempts of psychiatrists to alter brain chemistry are not better than simply talking to someone. (And the difference between talking to someone who is professionally trained verses not professionally trained is quite small–according to numerous studies).

      I’ve mentioned this on Speculative Faith before in answering issues about this topic previously, but I spent over five years translating medical documents that were part of applications for US Social Security Disability from Spanish and French into English. I read many cases of use of anti-depressants and other medications failing. What I read did not constitute a scientific sampling, but made it clear to me in certain cases prescribing anti-depressants is totally unproductive or even counter-productive.

      Let me give you a hypothetical case that really is a summary of many cases I’ve actually translated. So a man working in Puerto Rico for a major American company gets injured on the job. His injury is severe enough that he has enduring pain and can’t go back to work. Because he is accustomed to work, he feels depressed and goes to see a psychiatrist, perhaps recommended by the health plan of the company he worked for, or perhaps not. The psychiatrist gives him anti-depressants. But they don’t help. So they try another medication or combinations of medications. The patient can’t sleep with one, can’t have sex with another, walks around like a zombie with another. They keep shifting meds, but there’s no improvement. So, the guy is applying for disability because his life is a wreck (or if we want to take a cynical view, that’s how he’s portraying his life at least).

      When I’d be reading cases similar to the hypothetical one above while translating, I’d often think, “What this guy really needs is to find a sense of purpose for his life other than earning money at the factory.” Maybe he needs another occupation, one that does work other than what he’s used to doing. Maybe he needs a hobby. Or maybe, most importantly, his mental health will improve if he realizes God has a purpose for his life, that he isn’t useless in spite of his limitations. That if nothing else, prayer has value and meaning in the real world and he can still pray.

      So it’s based on this kind of knowledge of science and specific cases that cause me to say with some authority that many conditions that actually have spiritual or circumstantial roots are misdiagnosed as needing medication. This is not me saying to never seek professional mental health treatment–but the value of such treatment is vastly overrated and the reality of human spiritual life is vastly underrated by a segment of the society of North America and Europe and other “First World” zones.

      In sort, a Christian ought to consider a strong spiritual life as very important and it should not to be neglected. Just as physical health should not be neglected. People who say otherwise, who say all you need is meds, are mostly wrong according to scientific studies on the effectiveness of mental health treatment (as I’ve explained in context above, with nuance allowing for exceptions).

      • notleia says:

        Yay, a specific example!

        The thing is, psychiatrists are medical doctors. Talk therapy is not really their specialty. I’m surprised they didn’t refer the patient to a therapist, but IDK the state of Puerto Rico’s healthcare infrastructure. (Deffo worse now after some hurricanes and some intentionally deficient reconstruction efforts.) But on the basis of pure numbers, a ~$50 bottle of generic prozac was probably cheaper than ~$120 per session talk therapy. At first. *insert ominous music*

        So yeah, I agree this is a systemic failure, but for different reasons.

        • Travis Perry says:

          I have a pile of specific examples, not just from Puerto Rico, from other countries as well–but I used Puerto Rico because it has similar healthcare laws as the USA and workers are covered by workers comp and health insurance that parallel what you’d find in the United States proper. Though I have to talk about examples in generalities, because of privacy laws.

          Yeah, I know psychiatrists are medical doctors. Yeah, that’s part of the reason why loads of people are getting meds that really need something else. And that “something else” isn’t necessarily professional psychological counselling. Often people’s needs are spiritual–or if you want to stubbornly be as secular as possible on this issue, as if “spiritual” were a meaningless term–a strong religious commitment is positively associated with better mental health in scientific studies on the topic, as discussed in the linked article (which also bemoans the anti-religious tendency among many mental health professionals):


          So yeah, “spiritual health” is an actual thing. Though you should have known that already, I would say.

          • notleia says:

            I think of spiritual health as a subset of mental health. I’m leery of approaching it on partisan fundagelical lines and missing the forest for the trees.

            The thing is, it seems like y’all don’t think of mental health as a long-term project, just as something to tamp back into place if it reaches a crisis point.

            But then, that’s the traditional American working theory of healthcare, which is the major reason why it’s dysfunctional as all heck.

            • The way the Bible talks about the person is more integrated. More holistic. The spiritual life can renew the mind, and the mind can impact the spiritual life. Just like what we do with our bodies can impact our minds, and our minds dictate what our bodies do, but the mind is different from the body. There’s obviously a difference between soul and body, but they’re knitted together in so many ways that a clean break is silly to focus on. Life is more complicated than that. That’s why so many mental health regiments actually talk about spiritual health now. Even in my totally secular health class at a big state university, they made distinctions between bodily health, soul health, and spiritual health. Spiritual health was not the same as mental health, and was not simply a subset of it. Going back to what my brother went through, his help was holistic. It wasn’t just meds. It was a whole SLEW of things, including us spending nearly every day with him as a family while he was locked in the hospital for a full month, believing that we were keeping him there against his will, and that he had invented the atom bomb before he was born. We knew it was his body that was making him think these things. But he needed our physical and emotional presence, along with meds, along with rest, and prayer, and all of what makes human life healthy and beautiful, to come back to health. Psychosis is actually not that uncommon of a human experience, and most people in the church don’t know where to put it. There are real spiritual habits and beliefs and daily physical routines and thought-habits that can leave a person more susceptible to breaks, but sometimes it’s beyond your control and is something generated by physical issues. Can physical issues also be spiritual? I think so. But I don’t have confidence to know that I can consistently make those distinctions. And if there is a physical cause, I don’t think anyone can say it’s purely spiritual. There’s much we can’t see, because so much of life lies behind a veil. But it’s obvious even to purely secular professionals that the spirit is different from the soul and body, and that it’s important.

              • Corollary: If someone’s hungry, no one in their right mind tells them prayer will feed their bellies. So don’t tell people their help out of clinical depression needs to just be spiritual. It’s not only inherently dehumanizing and disrespectful (because you’re claiming they’re experiencing pain due to spiritual failures), it’s unhelpful, unbiblical, and offensive to the Spirit.

              • notleia says:

                I also think emotional health is a subset of mental health. I’ve taken Psych 101 and heard spiritual health listed as being separate from mental health, but they never offered any rationale behind that, so until I see some compelling evidence I feel comfortable in my categorization.

                Rando thought: One church of Methodists had a program of people lightly trained in counseling (lay counseling, no license) to connect with peeps in and out of the congregation. I think it was named something about St Stephen? Anyway, it seems like a program worth testing, but I haven’t seen it outside the Methodists and now I live in an area where Methodists seem relatively thin on the ground.

            • Of course mental health is a long term project. But most of that is a matter of education and how people take care of themselves. People need to understand what makes each other tick and learn better coping mechanisms. And overall, have better self care. There’s a lot in our society that needs to be fixed in order to achieve that, and it’s a lot deeper and more intrinsic than just going to doctors as if they have all the answers. I think about that all the time and try to learn solutions. I don’t think of it in terms of mental health, because in many ways the issues are all encompassing, but a lot of the things I study still affect that.

              That said, some of that is people learning when they need to go to a doctor or therapist in the first place. If they can recognize symptoms of an issue they can’t fix then they’ll know to get help before it gets too bad.

            • Travis Perry says:

              My statement of what is most important for a person to experience what I called “spiritual health” is advocating a strong, day-to-day relationship with God, every single day. That’s not putting a patch on anything–that’s a change in lifestyle.

              The “oh you don’t feel good so have a pill” approach is putting on patches…

              • But, of course, pills can also sometimes solve a deep physical issue that can be solved no other way, sans miraculous healing, which in my albeit limited life experience, I’ve seen happen only a few times.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s interesting to see what other people experienced and how it influenced them.

    It’s sort of interesting to me since I struggle with different things. When I was little, the way my parents and teachers presented God’s love made perfect sense to me, so it was easy to love God back and even kind of idealize him in a way. But in some weird ways I struggle with relationships and have a hard time being as attentive as I should be. So I always worried if I ever truly gave my heart to God and if I ever was truly saved.

    Interestly enough, though, my parents were pretty good about being there for me and explaining things during the early years, so like you said that may have influenced the way I perceived God.

    I do still take some of these things differently, though. Like, growing up it was always just a little confusing to hear that children felt like they were somehow the blame for their parent’s divorces or whatnot. Like, it seemed they were taking on that blame for no reason. I was only ever willing to take blame when there was a reason to, so I always felt sad when other people blamed themselves without reasonable cause.

    So when people blame themselves for their parents’ divorce or something, I understand from a basic psychological standpoint, but not necessarily on an innate emotional level. Same goes for people feeling like God can’t love them.

    Maybe that’s because I pay more attention to other people’s thoughts, experiences, behavior, and my own emotions more than I do other people’s emotions. As long as the other person wants me there and it isn’t bad for me, I focus more on whether or not I love them and go from there. Of course I want to be loved back, but that isn’t something I think or worry about as much. That’s been the case with family and friends, and seems to have also translated into my relationship with God.

What do you think?