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Source: (consider it) Thread: We choose Depression?
Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Hawk:
What I find disturbing about this whole scenario isn't that this man is a nutjob (the world's full of them), but that our media is promoting his views, and labelling them as christian. In media he is described as 'Malcolm Bowden, evangelical Christian'. Should that be his tagline? Wouldn't it be fairer and more accurate to describe him as 'Malcolm Bowden, self-taught counsellor', or 'Malcolm Bowden, controversial author'. To denigrate a group by overt association like this is damaging and unethical. It's the same as describing a recent crime as being carried out by 'John S, local black man'.

- and terror attacks being carried out by Muslims.

The principle is always the same: damaging, extreme, criminal and deceptive acts are all carried out by people who aren't so different to you and me, so if we can separate them by some tag, we can feel OK.

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
quote:
Originally posted by Hawk:
What I find disturbing about this whole scenario isn't that this man is a nutjob (the world's full of them), but that our media is promoting his views, and labelling them as christian. In media he is described as 'Malcolm Bowden, evangelical Christian'. Should that be his tagline? Wouldn't it be fairer and more accurate to describe him as 'Malcolm Bowden, self-taught counsellor', or 'Malcolm Bowden, controversial author'. To denigrate a group by overt association like this is damaging and unethical. It's the same as describing a recent crime as being carried out by 'John S, local black man'.

- and terror attacks being carried out by Muslims.

The principle is always the same: damaging, extreme, criminal and deceptive acts are all carried out by people who aren't so different to you and me, so if we can separate them by some tag, we can feel OK.

It's possible that the real sin of pride committed in situations like this is by self-appointed pseudo-Christian spokesmen (and with very few exceptions they are men) of the sort known in the media industry as "Rentamouth". Your rentamouth is so smugly flattered to have his opinions courted by a broadcaster or newspaper that he walks right in there without ever thinking that the broadcaster might have their own agenda.

Back in the 90s when I was working in parishes, one vicar not far from me became known as "The Joan Bakewell Fan Club" for his frequent appearances on mock-earnest BBC Sunday evening talk shows. To anyone watching, but not to the man himself, it was obvious that whoever had drawn up the guest list had asked, "Oh yes, and who's that bloke who always gets angry and flustered and talks over everybody else? He's always good value...."

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Autenrieth Road

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quote:
Originally posted by The Silent Acolyte:
quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
Unless perhaps your middle paragraph about asking forgiveness for our involuntary transgressions is meant to include depression as one of those involuntary transgressions?

Exactly this. Plus the fact that I posit a continuum, as I said above, between sorrow and full-blown neurologically-based depression, with that garden-variety depression that stands between an otherwise healthy graduate student and his completed thesis seated somewhere between the two poles. Drugs are not the end-all and be-all; neither are the techniques of the Fathers.

The fact that I can't see well enough to compose this post is, in some mysterious way, a result of sin. I'm delighted to be able to wear eye glasses to remedy the situation and I don't see this as being evidence of moral weakness on my part.

I'm still confused. I'm also nearsighted, and although I'm willing to say we live in a broken and sinful world, I'm not about to include my nearsightedness among the involuntary transgressions known and unknown that I try to confess to weekly. In any case, Michael Astley's comment about the patristic authors was about seeing depression as "choice and conscious sin."

I do tend to be thinking solely of clinical biologically-based depression when I think/speak of depression; although if situational depression also has a biological component of insufficient seratonin (I don't know if it does or not), I would include it.

[ 27. April 2012, 14:30: Message edited by: Autenrieth Road ]

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Truth

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LutheranChik
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I haven't read all the responses to the OP so perhaps someone else has made the same observation, but...don't you get the impression, from some of these "Repent, sinners" folks, that their insistence on labeling innate parts of people's psyches as wilful pride/disobedience to God is based on a desperate attempt to make their own religious narrative come out right? You know, like Pentecostals who object to psychiatric pharmaceuticals and secular talk therapy, even though it can be very successful, because it contradicts their idea that demons make people mentally ill? Or people whose soteriology is based on a fundamentalist understanding of the Genesis story and the idea that some sort of wilful disobedience toward God on the part of humankind is the root of all evil being confronted with scientific/medical evidence that the human psyche is far more complicated -- as well as that the Adam and Eve story is just that, a story?

If you've backed yourself into a corner intellectually and rhetorically, where else can you go?

Now that I've said all that...although I'm sure it's not at all what Mr. You Chose Your Depression means, but...I am someone who has used antidepressive drugs, who thinks they can help people with certain types of depression...but they don't seem to do a lot for me, and I don't like the sort of emotional slowness/numbness they created in me. It was worse, in fact, to feel that way than to ride the waves, so to speak, of my type/degree of depression. I've found numerous non-pharmaceutical fixes that help me, and can live with whatever residual bouts of blues I experience. But in a sense I've chosen not to go further in a pharmaceutical direction, because I'd rather feel alive with occasional downshifts in mood than be even-keeled and numb. So I guess I'm another one of those wilful God-haters who choose not to submit to the disciplines of this fellow's particular sect?

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art dunce
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This whole topic reminded me of how many Evangelical types really embraced the Pigs in the Parlor version of deliverance.

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Ego is not your amigo.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
[QUOTE]

I do tend to be thinking solely of clinical biologically-based depression when I think/speak of depression; although if situational depression also has a biological component of insufficient seratonin (I don't know if it does or not), I would include it.

And yet, even when there's no chemical trigger, situational depression is... situational. It's a response to a real, depressing situation. Death. Job loss. Divorce. Yes, I suppose the depressed individual could "choose" to repress those feelings of sadness and don a cheerful affect-- but should they? Is it a sin to act depressed when something awful has happened? I think the desire to shame others into suppressing those feelings says more about our lack of a mature theology of suffering than it does about the individuals' "sinful choice".

Again, I imagine there's a grain of truth in the "choosing" theme. There are times when I choose to dwell on something far longer than I need to, causing suffering not only for me but for others as well. In my case that's more apt to manifest itself in anger or bitterness, but I can see where-- theoretically-- depression might also come about that way.

But that seems to me to be far from the norm. It seems that far more often people are either suffering form an innate condition over which they have no control, or they are expressing the natural and appropriate affective response to an unhappy circumstance. Neither of those am I willing to call "sin", nor do I think telling people the psychobabble equivalent of "walk it off" is good advise. There is a time to mourn, after all.

[ 27. April 2012, 16:31: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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quetzalcoatl
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LutheranChik

Very good post. I worked as a psychotherapist, and one always hoped that a client would not go on meds, as, as you say, it dulls everything. And in a sense, therapy works best when all the really cruel and dark stuff is coming out.

Of course, this is not always true. There are people who just have to take meds; for example, it has been found that one can work with psychotic people in therapy, if they are on meds.

A good word for our evangelical friend is just old-fashioned. There is a sense in which we are responsible, but he seems to be using it in a rather Victorian, you've made your bed, now lie in it, way.

Responsibility is something which emerges with time, and often long periods of time, and it cannot be thrust on people, except in emergency situations. Many people don't even know they are depressed. Have they chosen to be depressed, and chosen not to know it? Sounds like Sartre, and he was depressed.

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Autenrieth Road

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I agree, cliffdweller. I didn't mean to rule out the reality of situational depression and appropriate ways of dealing with it. It's just that I have less experience of it to have it on my mind when thinking of depression.

I am now curious to read these patristic authors on depression, just to know what they in fact say. Michael Astley (or others), any references?

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Truth

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Autenrieth Road

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Very good post. I worked as a psychotherapist, and one always hoped that a client would not go on meds, as, as you say, it dulls everything. And in a sense, therapy works best when all the really cruel and dark stuff is coming out.

Of course, this is not always true. There are people who just have to take meds; for example, it has been found that one can work with psychotic people in therapy, if they are on meds.

I don't find meds dull everything, or even anything (except, alas, for sexual response). For me, the choice of no meds vs. meds is between driving to work thinking "I wish I were dead, I wish I were dead, I wish I were dead, am I brave enough to drive off a bridge or jump off a high building?" vs. being able to function in my life and not thinking about killing myself at all.

I am very grateful for the blessings of modern pharmacology.

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Truth

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quetzalcoatl
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Absolutely. That's why I said, some people have to take meds. No contemporary therapist would deny that.

And some people should not do therapy either - that is also part of modern therapeutic knowledge.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by beatmenace:
Since the Hell thread seems to have been reduced to insulting this man - a reaction i can fully understand - I'm happy to keep this thread going in Purg while the moderators allow it!

Hell might have been a better place (didnt think i'd ever write that).

Hope they do so allow because this debate is too important to be reduced to a slanging match.

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Autenrieth Road:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Very good post. I worked as a psychotherapist, and one always hoped that a client would not go on meds, as, as you say, it dulls everything. And in a sense, therapy works best when all the really cruel and dark stuff is coming out.

Of course, this is not always true. There are people who just have to take meds; for example, it has been found that one can work with psychotic people in therapy, if they are on meds.

I don't find meds dull everything, or even anything (except, alas, for sexual response). For me, the choice of no meds vs. meds is between driving to work thinking "I wish I were dead, I wish I were dead, I wish I were dead, am I brave enough to drive off a bridge or jump off a high building?" vs. being able to function in my life and not thinking about killing myself at all.

I am very grateful for the blessings of modern pharmacology.

Me too, but the side effects aren't negligible and that is the usual reason why people stop using meds. Yes, I wish I had a bit more get up and go, that I could carry two full pints in my hands without spilling some and had a bit more hair on the top of my head, but I can hold down a job (though I may lose a bit of concentration after lunch).

But GPs and consultants can if asked handle side-effects (pharmacists too, from practical aspects) but along comes a creep like Bowden trying to guilt-trip people about their illnesses. Well, if your illness is all about sin, you don't need medication do you? The Grace of God will forgive you and heal you.

I wonder how many dangerously mentally ill people have fallen for this kind of thing over the years?

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WhateverTheySay
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I am another who is eternally grateful for my meds.

I tried talk therapy before meds to work through my anxiety with very little success (none really). I believe that this was because I was not in a position to address the underlying causes of my anxiety.

I tried prayer healing, and begged my friends how the hell can I get an exorcism, a few years ago when I was convinced that I was demon possessed. Again not successful. Plus I am lucky that these friends are still my friends.

Eventually I got desperate and went to my GP. I didn't expect anything, but I thought I would never get out of the mess I was in if I didn't at least inquire about ways to block out the external thoughts. Luckily I ended up in the right place at the right time. I got a referral to a psychiatrist, who went on to give me some meds and at the next appointment a diagnosis.

On the meds, and more able to live my life, I went to a counsellor and was in a much better position to work through my problems. Plus my anxiety did reduce to a more manageable level now that I wasn't constantly concerned about the people coming to kill me. I was able to make a start on working through the personal issues that I needed to address, and am continuing to do that.

So in short, the meds and getting correctly diagnosed were what turned my life around.

There is still a long way to go, but I am studying part time and hoping to return to employment when I finish my study (stress is a trigger so I can only handle one thing at once, but at least I know what I am dealing with).

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by art dunce:
This whole topic reminded me of how many Evangelical types really embraced the Pigs in the Parlor version of deliverance.

Ooh. Would you believe some kind-hearted soul has just lent us this book, which I haven't seen in decades, apparently under the impression that it's quite recent. Perhaps I should re-reread it? Or not.

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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LutheranChik
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Many years ago, in a whole 'nother lifetime, I was a clerk in a religious bookstore, and while it wasn't in our regular inventory it was occasionally a special order. My snarky Episcopalian coworker and I used to read it out loud on boring nights purely for the entertainment value. My favorite demon was the Demon of Female Insubordination.
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poileplume
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Malcolm Bowden’s comments “THERE IS NOT A SCRAP OF SCIENTIFIC BASIS TO THE WHOLE OF THE PSY PROFESSIONS - (psychiatrists and psychologists).” I think this sums the guy up, conspiracy theory again. Gets publicity and sells books.

Now a couple of serious comments.

1. I used to work as a voluntary student disability counsellor. This included mental illness. With my religious clients, we used to pray that God would give them the strength to seek treatment and the strength to follow though. (I say religious, as I never made any distinction – prayed with the Muslims, Hindus and once a Mormon; his mum phone me to say thanks. I was always surprised I never got a complaint!)

2. Many of the poor souls told me of the relief when I told them they were ‘just ill’. Especially as I could say that it was no more of a moral weakness than me with my dyslexia.

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Please note I am quite severely dyslexic

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WearyPilgrim
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My succinct response to Mr. Bowden:

Tell it to the Psalmists.

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quetzalcoatl
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Sioni Sais

Your point about ill people falling for this stuff is unfortunately true. I think some are very vulnerable to it, especially if they are suffering from heavy guilt, as this seems to dovetail into all the blaming which these quacks perpetrate.

I have terrible stories that I remember of clients who had got into this type of Christian guilt/punishment, had stopped taking meds, and so on, with catastrophic results.

It should really be banned, but I guess it is protected under law.

[ 28. April 2012, 03:19: Message edited by: quetzalcoatl ]

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Sir Pellinore
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I would be very, very careful about any reported (and, of course) totally unverified "Christian" cures of, or for, depression hawked by the usual Spiritual Snake Oil Salespersons.

"Throw away your meds!" - unless the command can be absolutely verified as coming From Above - is a recipe for disaster.

Of course meditation, CBT etc. may assist in tandem with medication and may reduce the need for same under medical supervision.

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Fool on Hill
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There is a book by Alistair McFadyen called "Bound to Sin" which unpicks one assumption on which much of the above discussion has been based - namely that there is operative free will to make a choice. He points out, in a subtle theological analysis, that the effect of sin is to bind the will. I'm sure it is controversial, but the idea makes sense to me.

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Ender's Shadow
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As someone who is committed to the belief that at least some depression has mainly a chemical cause, I'm fascinated by the question as to why it is so common today by contrast with the patterns of the past. I simply don't believe that there were the vast numbers of depressed people in society in the past that there were today - I think we need to ask some questions about why our society is so toxic that it causes 'depression' on its vast scale.* When I say 'toxic', I'm suggesting both social and possible chemical causes. For example Bowden suggests:
quote:
I have found every time that they have had a pattern in their attitude to life of wanting praise, admiration, ambition, friendship etc. without really giving themselves to others in simple love towards them without seeking any return.
Whilst I'm not buying the 'every time' bit, I suspect he may well have a valid point, and that our society militates against the sort of community where that self-giving comes easily; once people start to fall through the cracks, there's often no 'community' there to act as a safety net. At the risk of gross naivity, I suspect that in the past larger families and more structured communities reduced the chance of this. Similarly a lot of people think that exercise is helpful in reducing depression - but we live in a society where that doesn't happen naturally any more.

Certainly if we argue that depression is to any extent a result of feedback loop - some of the causes make it get worse over time - then these features would be likely to prevent people starting down the slide; in their absence we see them ending up at the bottom.
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*Possibly vagrancy in the past - as it is in the present - was one visible example, but that is rather speculative.

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Fool on Hill:
He points out, in a subtle theological analysis, that the effect of sin is to bind the will.

His solution?

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
quote:
Originally posted by Fool on Hill:
He points out, in a subtle theological analysis, that the effect of sin is to bind the will.

His solution?
He doesn't have a solution, he's just a very vain man with time on his hands who doesn't have the slightest idea what damage he may do to desperate people.

btw, where's the 'subtlety' in his theology? There's some twists and turns, but I've heard more subtlety in youth group discussions.

I'd like to know how he and Channel 4 got hooked up: I expect there's a commissioning editor who isn't sleeping too well.

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Raptor Eye
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quote:
Originally posted by Ender's Shadow:
Whilst I'm not buying the 'every time' bit, I suspect he may well have a valid point, and that our society militates against the sort of community where that self-giving comes easily; once people start to fall through the cracks, there's often no 'community' there to act as a safety net. At the risk of gross naivity, I suspect that in the past larger families and more structured communities reduced the chance of this. Similarly a lot of people think that exercise is helpful in reducing depression - but we live in a society where that doesn't happen naturally any more.

Certainly if we argue that depression is to any extent a result of feedback loop - some of the causes make it get worse over time - then these features would be likely to prevent people starting down the slide; in their absence we see them ending up at the bottom.
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*Possibly vagrancy in the past - as it is in the present - was one visible example, but that is rather speculative.

By observation, depression in its broadest sense does cause people to withdraw into themselves. The phrase 'taking someone out of himself' comes to mind, where friends and family would be conscious of the slippery slope and help each other to restore a 'normal' balance.

This issue is huge. Like others, I can't understand how making someone guilty about his illness will help him in any way, let alone to overcome it. Of course it's not chosen, that would imply that it's controllable. It isn't, which is why it's so debilitating.

Whether chemical imbalance causes depression or depression causes chemical imbalance, clearly when its restoration makes a difference it is worthwhile taking the medication.

I have reservations about talk therapy. While I think it helps people to have someone care enough to listen to him, I don't think it helpful to go over and over past hurts. Facing up emotionally to an unresolved issue is necessary, but then it's time to move on.

Allowing God into their depression through prayer does help people who love and trust in God, but God should never be given as an alternative to whatever therapy is available.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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Laura
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It's interesting -- I used to feel somehow that depression must have a willed component, because the relatives I had who suffered from it were so annoyingly round-and-round-in-circles. But it was clear to me that it was also to a certain extent a heritage of the bad kind, just like cancer. Then of course, I, the eternal cheerful optimist high-performer experienced my first serious bout with it, which was very much like stepping into a Hall of Mirrors. Everything was different, fragmented, distorted, horrible, dark. It wasn't caused by any externality that I could identify, nor was it any sort of choice - who would choose it?

Anyway, this is the best explanation of how depression works that I've ever seen (complete with illustrations!) Adventures in Depression (Hyperbole and a Half)

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Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
quote:
Originally posted by Fool on Hill:
He points out, in a subtle theological analysis, that the effect of sin is to bind the will.

His solution?
He doesn't have a solution, he's just a very vain man with time on his hands who doesn't have the slightest idea what damage he may do to desperate people.

btw, where's the 'subtlety' in his theology? There's some twists and turns, but I've heard more subtlety in youth group discussions.

I'd like to know how he and Channel 4 got hooked up: I expect there's a commissioning editor who isn't sleeping too well.

I think you're confusing Alistair McFadyen-- the guy who wrote a book disputing the concept of free will-- with Bowden-- who is really making the opposite claim-- that depression is a prideful act of free will.

I don't happen to agree with either of them, but wouldn't put McFadven anywhere near the same camp as Bowden's very dangerous recklessness.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Soror Magna
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# 9881

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quote:
Many depressed people turn in on themselves and feel that people are against them, the world’s not going right, they don’t appreciate how hard they’re working, they’re terribly proud of their situation, and try to be perfect in order to impress people, and people aren’t ultimately impressed, and when they suddenly deflate themselves, they fall right back into a pit of depression.
What makes this garbage particularly dangerous is that it picks up on many of the cognitive biases of depression and blames "pride" for them. Bowden may be a douche, but he has observed depressed people and he targets and exploits the symptoms of the disease. Here are some of the common faulty assumptions* that play a role in depression - notice how his description is a derogatory version of many of these:
  • Everything I do must be absolutely perfect; otherwise I am a failure.
  • I am only worthwhile as long as I am doing something for someone else.
  • The way to be accepted and appreciated by others is to give and give.
  • If others disagree with me, then I must be wrong.
  • I have to do everything I am asked to do.
  • Good relationships have no problems.
  • It is unbearable when life is not the way I would like it to be.
  • I need other people to be supportive of me.
  • It is easier to avoid life's problems than to face them.
  • I need someone stronger or more powerful than myself to rely on.
That would be Bowden and Jesus, I suppose.

Yes, there is a lot that a person can do to battle depression, but that is true of all illnesses and injuries, and it doesn't mean the person is to blame for the illness itself. We do rehab and physio after surgery. We take antibiotics as instructed to prevent infection. Yet despite all this necessary self-care, no one would ever suggest that means it the person's fault they got appendicitis in the first place. OliviaG.

*From my Changeways Core Program workbook.

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
... I have reservations about talk therapy. While I think it helps people to have someone care enough to listen to him, I don't think it helpful to go over and over past hurts. Facing up emotionally to an unresolved issue is necessary, but then it's time to move on. ...

I was skeptical of its value to me for the same reasons; however, I have since learned that is not an accurate picture of what happens in therapy. The purpose of exploring past hurts, among many other things, is to try to figure out why one holds dysfunctional or self-destructive beliefs. Understanding where those beliefs come from can be helpful in compassionately accepting them and then letting them go. It may not be possible to resolve past issues, but it is possible to reduce or limit their influence on our present and future. OliviaG

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
"Throw away your meds!" - unless the command can be absolutely verified as coming From Above - is a recipe for disaster.

I think one of the things that fascinates me about the line of thinking we're discussing here, theologically, is the implicit assumption that the Almighty didn't have any hand in the invention of the medications in the first place.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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Soror Magna
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# 9881

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quote:
Originally posted by Ender's Shadow:
As someone who is committed to the belief that at least some depression has mainly a chemical cause, I'm fascinated by the question as to why it is so common today by contrast with the patterns of the past. I simply don't believe that there were the vast numbers of depressed people in society in the past that there were today - I think we need to ask some questions about why our society is so toxic that it causes 'depression' on its vast scale.* When I say 'toxic', I'm suggesting both social and possible chemical causes. ...

I have given this quite a lot of thought. My list of toxic elements includes:
  • Artificial indoor and outdoor lighting - we spend our days in relatively dim light, and our nights are no longer dark
  • Long-term sleep deprivation or poor quality of sleep
  • Shift work
  • Sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition
  • Lack of contact with nature and outdoor time
  • Stress and multitasking - multiple roles and responsibilities
  • The sandwich generation - doing both child care and elder care
  • Loneliness - mobility (for work, education, family), longevity, "bowling alone", cultural fragmentation
  • Economic stress - we are working harder and harder for less and less; our jobs are less secure; pensions are vanishing; our children will be poorer than our parents

I'm not sure, however, whether the incidence is or isn't changing. Mental illness carries a very strong stigma, is often undiagnosed, and treatment is still far less accessible than many other health care interventions. Furthermore, depression sometimes presents as anger, irascibility, short temper, etc. but we don't think of those as typical depression symptoms, even though it might factor into road rage, copier rage, air rage, etc. OliviaG

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

Posts: 5430 | From: Caprica City | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
anteater

Ship's pest-controller
# 11435

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I wonder if I'm the only one who's disappointed in the way this thread is framed? It takes an issue which is important, about the extent to which depression may be a behavioural as opposed to medical problem, but then ties it to a specific, controversial figure who takes an extreme view.

This biases the thread against anyone who wants to show any sympathy with the idea that SOME cases of depression are rooted in behaviour that is not inevitable, and therefore can be best approached by CBT-type approaches. I happen to be of this view, but have no sympathy whatever with the view that ALL or even MOST depression is of this type, but the OP seems very much to want to discuss it in these terms.

Why the fascination for rather fringe actors in the religious scene? It tends to stifle debate by tying it to individual people with axes to grind.

When the only subject submitted for discussion is
quote:
Is there a factory manufacturing these guys??
then I think it really is a Hell thread.

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Josephine

Orthodox Belle
# 3899

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quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
Anyway, this is the best explanation of how depression works that I've ever seen (complete with illustrations!) Adventures in Depression (Hyperbole and a Half)

Laura, that's fabulous. I like Hyperbole and a Half, but I hadn't seen this one before.

I think it's interesting that a bicycle ride was a breakthrough moment for her. What it seems to me that the Fathers recommended for what we call depression is to get up and do what has to be done. Physical labor. Hoe the field, make a basket, DO something.

I think, if the Fathers had had access to effective psychotropic meds, they'd have recommended that you take your meds, and then get up and do something.

Which, I know, is far easier to say than to do when you're depressed. You sometimes need someone else to help you do it.

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I've written a book! Catherine's Pascha: A celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church. It's a lovely book for children. Take a look!

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snowgoose

Silly goose
# 4394

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A large part of the problem is that a lot of people don't understand how psych drugs work: for example, thinking of antidepressants as "happy pills." They think of depressed (and other mentally ill) people as lotus-eaters who take their drugs because it is easier than just snapping out of it.

Fact is, psych drugs, for the most part, are not effective for non-psych disorders. The "for the most part" disclaimer includes things like valium and xanax, which can help with situational anxiety, not just a clinical anxiety disorder.

If you do not have a seizure disorder and you take anti-seizure medication it is not likely to do anything for you except give you unpleasant side effects, unless you are taking it for another problem for which it also works. Anti-seizure meds are widely prescribed for bipolar disorder and sometimes for chronic migraines. But all of these are actual medical conditions, not a matter of "oh, I am too lazy to do anything about my moods, so I guess I'll just take some drugs."

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Lord, what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man? --Terry Pratchett

Save a Siamese!

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Adeodatus
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# 4992

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Hyperbole and a Half writes truth.
quote:
Originally posted by Ender's Shadow:
As someone who is committed to the belief that at least some depression has mainly a chemical cause, I'm fascinated by the question as to why it is so common today by contrast with the patterns of the past.

Yes, it's an important question. But I think there may always have been more of it around than we think. Looking back (cautiously, in case it triggers something) I think I was depressed for years before I was diagnosed - seriously, years in which I often felt the entire rest of the world had smothered me in a blanket and then spent weeks on end screaming at me what a piece of shit I was while beating me with truncheons. That is honestly what it felt like to be inside my head. But I thought it was how I was supposed to feel. Because, of course, I was a piece of shit. And I put on a brave face (again, literally, plastered a false smile on when I walked out the door. And "How are you?" "Fine thanks, and you?" all the time) and for those years I was invisibly depressed.

But I think some of what you say has a lot in it. When you're depressed, good social support helps (doesn't fix it, but helps). And we live in a culture where many people have less social support than they once did. Physical activity, also, helps (doesn't fix it, but helps). And we live in a culture where we tend to do less of that, too. So maybe there were always this many people with depression, but the old lifestyles helped more people just keep their heads above water. Maybe. I don't know.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by WearyPilgrim:
My succinct response to Mr. Bowden:

Tell it to the Psalmists.

Ah but they weren't Christians!!!

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
I would be very, very careful about any reported (and, of course) totally unverified "Christian" cures of, or for, depression hawked by the usual Spiritual Snake Oil Salespersons.

It's a bit like the gay cure in Dead Horses.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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PerkyEars

slightly distracted
# 9577

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quote:
As someone who is committed to the belief that at least some depression has mainly a chemical cause, I'm fascinated by the question as to why it is so common today by contrast with the patterns of the past. I simply don't believe that there were the vast numbers of depressed people in society in the past that there were today - I think we need to ask some questions about why our society is so toxic that it causes 'depression' on its vast scale.*
I wonder if we've become very bad as a society at just being sad. Life can suck, but we are bombarded with fixes for everything and a million and one ways to raise our mood. We're taught to offer answers our friends problems and cheer them up, not 'weep with those who weep'. Eventually it feels like unacceptable weakness and uselessness to actually be upset about something, so maybe we squash it down until it festers into depression. Obviously this depends in part on our families too.
Posts: 532 | From: Bristol | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fool on Hill
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# 12183

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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
quote:
Originally posted by Fool on Hill:
He points out, in a subtle theological analysis, that the effect of sin is to bind the will.

His solution?
He doesn't have a solution, he's just a very vain man with time on his hands who doesn't have the slightest idea what damage he may do to desperate people.

btw, where's the 'subtlety' in his theology? There's some twists and turns, but I've heard more subtlety in youth group discussions.

I'd like to know how he and Channel 4 got hooked up: I expect there's a commissioning editor who isn't sleeping too well.

I think the solution is the grace of God rather than human endeavour - McFadyen is pro Augustine on the whole, and anti Pelagius. It takes more than human will to conquer sin, and solutions which suggest that sinners can save themselves are theologically inadequate.

On Channel 4: are we talking about the same person? Have you read the book I cited? I'm confused, because the comment does not seem to connect.

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God appointed a worm that attacked the bush so that it withered.

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art dunce
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# 9258

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Eutychus, on the subject of the book, LutheranChik's post says it all. Someone gave my mother the book and after she finished it I found her in my room trying to drive out demons that were somehow drawn to my Clash posters. It is disconcerting to awaken in the night and find your fomerly rational mother praying over you because you wear combat boots and a leather jacket and trying to discard your Tshirt with the anarchy symbol because she believes it demonic. Later in life she was dismayed to remember what fear the book had caused in her.

She moved next to Louise Hay books which were just as ridiculous.

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Ego is not your amigo.

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Laura
General nuisance
# 10

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quote:
Originally posted by Josephine:
I think it's interesting that a bicycle ride was a breakthrough moment for her. What it seems to me that the Fathers recommended for what we call depression is to get up and do what has to be done. Physical labor. Hoe the field, make a basket, DO something.

"Fake it 'til you make it" is still a key component of getting your life in order if periodic bouts of depression are going to be part of the fabric. [Big Grin]

I'm extremely grateful for my restored equanitmity, but I try never to forget what the pit felt like. The experience improved my Compassion-O-Meter dramatically.

What people CAN choose or not is to treat their depression like any other illness and live responsibly to attenuate its effects on the peace and the furniture as much as possible. Get sleep. Exercise. Don't drink too much. Don't make critical decisions while ill. Etc. Sometimes none of those things are possible without meds. Sometimes doing these things makes meds unnecessary.

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Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. - Erich Fromm

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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Ironically, one reason for the apparent increase in depression, may be the decline in religion. There is evidence that religious faith and practice protect against mental illness and suicide. Hence, a decline in the former, may well result in an increase in the latter.

Of course, no doubt it is much more complex than that, and there are so many confounding factors that are probably going on, for example, as others have mentioned, the breakdown in community life, the commodity culture induced by capitalism, and so on.

In addition, it is very difficult to ascertain if the increase in depression is real or not, or is a result of less people hiding it. Pull your socks up was often said in the 40s and 50s and even to the present day.

In addition, it strikes me that psychotherapy is a secularized form of confession and absolution; so that these erstwhile religious functions have migrated to another sphere.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Sioni Sais
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# 5713

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cliffdweller and Fool on Hill:

Sorry, I did misread the posts and get people confused but I do disagree with both of them. McFadyen is IMHO wrong about free will as sin doesn't bind man irrevocably (but then I have my own interpretation of free will) while Bowden is simply as crazy as a bag of rats.

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"He isn't Doctor Who, he's The Doctor"

(Paul Sinha, BBC)

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Sober Preacher's Kid

Presbymethegationalist
# 12699

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quote:
Originally posted by Laura:
It's interesting -- I used to feel somehow that depression must have a willed component, because the relatives I had who suffered from it were so annoyingly round-and-round-in-circles. But it was clear to me that it was also to a certain extent a heritage of the bad kind, just like cancer. Then of course, I, the eternal cheerful optimist high-performer experienced my first serious bout with it, which was very much like stepping into a Hall of Mirrors. Everything was different, fragmented, distorted, horrible, dark. It wasn't caused by any externality that I could identify, nor was it any sort of choice - who would choose it?

Anyway, this is the best explanation of how depression works that I've ever seen (complete with illustrations!) Adventures in Depression (Hyperbole and a Half)

Speaking of family heritage, this is the Preacher Family's dirty secret. I hope my new niece escapes our family's history of mental illness.

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NDP Federal Convention Ottawa 2018: A random assortment of Prots and Trots.

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by The Silent Acolyte:
I posit a continuum, as I said above, between sorrow and full-blown neurologically-based depression

Yes. Not only is it important to recognise that the severity of those symptoms can vary on a continuum between "not having a good day" and total debilitation, but also there can be different causes for similar symptoms.

Computers provide one model for thinking about mind/brain issues. There can be a tendency for the hardware engineers to see a hardware problem and prescribe a physical fix of drugs and software engineers to see a software problem and seek to correct the code by counselling.

Even with computers, sometimes what's needed is a software work-around for a hardware problem, and the mind/brain system is more complex.

I'd heard that depression can be a subconscious choice - withdrawal being the least painful way of coping with a situation - so it's not impossible to imagine that there could be cases where the same choice is made more or less consciously.

The other confounding factor with many things medical is this wonderful stuff called placebo which reportedly cures 30% of anything.

So yes life's complicated, but I think that means that the response to over-enthusiastic advocates of any particular approach is to say that such may work in a small number of cases, and try to characterise what those cases are, rather than dismissing (as some tend to do) the messenger out of hand as a total ****-up.

Best wishes,

Russ

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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tclune
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# 7959

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
I would be very, very careful about any reported (and, of course) totally unverified "Christian" cures of, or for, depression hawked by the usual Spiritual Snake Oil Salespersons.

It's a bit like the gay cure in Dead Horses.
Full-blown, clinical depression may well be beyond the reach of such things. However, I have a fair amount of sympathy for such things as cognitive therapy, which is not so very far from many Christian approaches that some might call snake oil. Especially when we are transitioning from childhood to adulthood (at whatever age we get around to doing that), taking a serious look at how our overblown childish attitudes are making us unhappy and setting up unreasonable expectations about the world are very much on-target for getting us over ourselves. Or so ISTM.

--Tom Clune

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This space left blank intentionally.

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Evensong
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# 14696

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quote:
Originally posted by Fool on Hill:
I think the solution is the grace of God rather than human endeavour - McFadyen is pro Augustine on the whole, and anti Pelagius. It takes more than human will to conquer sin, and solutions which suggest that sinners can save themselves are theologically inadequate.

So how does he suggest the Grace of God works in this situation?

quote:
Originally posted by Laura:


Anyway, this is the best explanation of how depression works that I've ever seen (complete with illustrations!) Adventures in Depression (Hyperbole and a Half)

Do you agree with the ending?

Does depression lead you to say "fuck you all" and get on with your life?

quote:
And that's how my depression got so horrible that it actually broke through to the other side and became a sort of fear-proof exoskeleton.

This does not seem to me to be the end result of severe depression.

The other thing that bothers me about this cartoon is the implication that this person has absolutely nothing he/she has to do in order to earn a living to survive.

There is a reason suicide rates drop during wars.

[ 29. April 2012, 12:53: Message edited by: Evensong ]

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a theological scrapbook

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Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

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One of the problems with this sort of argument is that it missed out on a key distinction between "cure" and "help".

Talking therapies can be very useful in helping a depressive. Not least, in helping them to find coping strategies for some of the practical aspects of living with depression.

But coping strategies are not a cure. They can be confused with a cure, because the people who they work best with are better able to cope with the social situations they are in - that is, they appear to present less of the obvious problems.

At the same time, having a community of supportative people, like a church, can be very important for someone with all sorts of mental illness. It is not a cure, but it is a positive environment to be in. It can help, but is not a cure.

Incidentally, yesterdays 4thought was much better. Another Christian, who was all for the use of medication, but who believed that Jesus was also very important for her healing. I am sure he was, and introducing people to Jesus is always a good thing, especially if they are ill.

But the faith, the community, the support will provide the positive environment, allowing the meds to do their work, and the body to sort itself out.

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Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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leo
Shipmate
# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by tclune:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
I would be very, very careful about any reported (and, of course) totally unverified "Christian" cures of, or for, depression hawked by the usual Spiritual Snake Oil Salespersons.

It's a bit like the gay cure in Dead Horses.
Full-blown, clinical depression may well be beyond the reach of such things. However, I have a fair amount of sympathy for such things as cognitive therapy, which is not so very far from many Christian approaches that some might call snake oil. Especially when we are transitioning from childhood to adulthood (at whatever age we get around to doing that), taking a serious look at how our overblown childish attitudes are making us unhappy and setting up unreasonable expectations about the world are very much on-target for getting us over ourselves. Or so ISTM.

--Tom Clune

Do you mean cognitive BEHAVIOUR therapy? If so, i agree. My church is running a day course about this with one of our members who is a therapist.

--------------------
My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

Posts: 23198 | From: Bristol | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Twilight

Puddleglum's sister
# 2832

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I usually click off the ship when I get up to do something because I don't consider if home safe, but I left it for a few minutes this morning and my (sometimes depressed) son, who had read the entire thread said, "That Oliva is brilliant." I had to agree. Great posts today, plus uncharacteristic smilie restraint.
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Sighthound
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# 15185

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I don't believe for one second that I chose to be clinically depressed, to lose approximately seven years out of my life during which I had little or no interest in all the things that have fascinated and delighted me for as long as I can remember. It was hell on earth. I am blessed with quite good powers of description, but words cannot adequately describe the misery of it.

I do believe that I would not have come through it alive but for my wife and Jesus. Those two were all that saved me from topping myself, ultimately through the power of love. If I'd not had them in my mind, I'd be dead.

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Supporter of Tia Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue.http://tiagreyhounds.org/

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