MacArthur Says PTSD Doesn’t Exist

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27 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    I believe PTSD is real. I repeat, I believe it is real.

    However, my father was in the Pacific theater in WW2 as a medic. If you know anything about the Pacific theater you know it was pretty much continual bombardment. Dad was one of those who had to grab the wounded and drag them back to safety for treatment. He was wounded and had a big scar on his leg which bothered him the rest of his life. He also had recurring bouts of malaria. Yet he never suffered from PTSD, or if he did, there was no evidence of it, and neither did any of the men his age with similar stories. Did they just adopt an attitude of stoicism? I don’t know. Was PTSD even diagnosed back then or was it called shell shock? I am not downplaying anyone’s PTSD but I do have to wonder why it seems so prevalent today and not during WW2. Again, I am not downplaying anyone’s story just relating my own for the sake of wondering.

    I don’t believe anything this MacArthur guy says and he is not qualified to have an opinion on this topic.

  2. Linn says:

    My goodness….so, yes, sometimes people are over-medicated when other therapies might be more helpful. Often, the medication creates a bridge where the person can modify their behavior enough to be able to learn better coping strategies (as a teacher, I’ve seen that a lot with kids with ADHD. They take medication, do different kinds of therapies, and often don’t need meds in adulthood-but that’s not everyone). My nephew served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was discharged with a gallon ziploc of meds to help him cope with PTSD-no counseling at all. The meds made him worse because he felt like a zombie. He finally got good counseling, learned to manage his meds, and now no longer needs them (he also stopped drinking, which in his case was an even worse “med”)

    So, is MacArthur now going to also say that other conditions like autism and Tourette’s don’t exist either? I wonder how he will deal with psychotropic drugs if he needs them for dementia as he gets older (my elderly father takes a mood stablelizer because his Alzheimer’s causes temper tantrums. He can be with others because of the medication).

  3. bob1 says:

    Now, there’s a special kind of stupid.

    What a dope.

  4. Michael says:


    I think research on the condition started after WW1…it was called shell shock.

    In my younger years I employed and befriended a couple of Vietnam vets and their families.

    I have no doubt PTSD is real…

  5. Michael says:

    These teachings are quite prevalent in Calvary Chapels and fundamentalist groups.

    In reality, the Bible doesn’t speak to these issues, but declarations like this make it easier for pastors to exert control.

  6. LInn says:

    There was a reason why people of your dad’s generation were called “the silent generation.” They just didn’t talk about the war much, but I have heard of some who struggled with drinking and bad dreams, which would definitely be PTSD. People were almost totally united about winning the war, too, which hasn’t been the case with most of the wars we have fought since then, particularly Vietnam and the Iraq/Afghanistan. My nephew was a captain in the latter war (volunteer; West Point grad). He and his men had their truck blown up twice by IEDs, and the nightmares started after he got home. He called me in the middle of the night once, obviously drunk and he admitted he had a gun in his hand. I got him to put the gun away (otherwise I would have called 911 for his community), talked with him as I had some scary experiences as a missionary in Colombia that had brought on my own PTSD. He promised to get help, and he did the very next day. It made all the difference, and he is okay now (but he also knows what to do when he is not okay). I had to learn the same thing as my nightmares of guerrilla troops kidnapping my friends 35 years ago can still come back to haunt me. Good counseling will give you skills. I did it without meds, but it took a few years to process everything.

  7. Xenia says:

    Linn, so true. >>>They just didn’t talk about the war much<<< He didn't talk about it at all. And you are right about the country being united then, which has not been the case in a long time.

  8. Josh says:

    So glad to not be part of this crap anymore, I can just say this old guy has no lcue what he is talking about. No one should pay attention to him on any subject.

  9. prodinov says:

    I am assuming that JMac believes Middle Earth is demonic since JRR Tolkien suffered from PTSD and used his healing balm in the creative process of demonstrating good vs evil via hobbits, orcs, wizards, elfs, etc.

  10. DavidH says:

    I was going to say MacArthur is a hack, but that wouldn’t be nice. No, he’s a hack.

    In my experience with Calvary Chapel, the leadership and the flock generally do not believe in the biology and psychology of mental health. The brain is an organ, and therefore can be damaged, or have disease.

  11. Michael says:

    Very important to understand that this sort of erroneous teaching is rooted in an erroneous doctrine of Scripture.

    The idiotic assumption that the Bible speaks to all things authoritatively means that one who “masters” the book can then speak authoritatively to all subjects.

    Those whose only addiction is to certainty are willing to give up their minds to rest in the authority of those who will provide their drug of choice.

  12. bob1 says:

    I agree with Josh. Just because you might be good at preaching doesn’t mean you have insight or instant knowledge of anything else.

  13. Captain Kevin says:

    Tell my Vietnam vet brother that there’s no such thing as PTSD. JMac needs to stay in his lane.

  14. Dave Rolph says:

    There are certainly bogus diagnoses and questionable treatments in the psychological field, as there are in the medical profession as a whole. But the easiest thing is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s this kind of “all or nothing” mentality that is ruining our society. Abraham Maslow famously said, “dichotomizing pathologizes and pathology dichotomizes.” In other words, removing nuance and subtlety makes you nuts, and crazy people will always reduce reality to either/or. That dichotomizing has hurt the cause of Christ immensely. And as we get old (and I certainly am) a distinct choice needs to be made. Will I approach life with subtlety and humility or will I hang on for dear life to my arrogant dogmatism? John has made his choice. I hope I’ve chosen the alternative. But I can only stay healthy if I avoid overreacting to those who pretend to be, or have the certainty of being, always right. I make a terrible culture warrior.

  15. Dave says:

    Phil needs to keep better tabs on Jmac.

    The Purple Heart was originally created to recognize invisible wounds combat inflicts upon the infantryman’s psyche; “Soldier’s heart”, it was initially termed.

    Self-medication (alcohol/illicit drugs) has always been/continues as the status quo reaction. The ‘rugged individualism’ openly manifested by the greatest generation was both a blessing, and a curse.

    Less malingering by those truly far-removed from deadly combat action, and a higher sense of personal pride (putting on a brave face) and self-determination could help stave off the demons (…for a while).

    Although I don’t subscribe to literal ‘generational curses’ …the alcoholism & inability to maintain a marriage by my grandfather (a WWII infantry soldier), has consequently visited our familial lineage.

    Despite the absence of condemnation and outreach support structures in the military to offer assistance to those suffering PTSD symptoms …the suicide rate remains extraordinarily high amongst active duty military personnel, as well as Veterans.

    Regardless of how one defines it; ‘Shell shock, battle fatigue, soldier’s heart or PTSD’ … it’s a tragic reality, that shouldn’t be met with accusations of ‘weak faith’, unconfessed sin or casually dismissed with a Bible verse and exhortations to …’just pray more!’

    During a 14 year career assisting vets with VA benefits, I was fortunate to intervene in some life-threatening circumstances …but in other outreach attempts …it was too little, too late.

  16. Filistine says:

    On the anniversary of my son’s suicide, this man’s level of ignorance and arrogance is not how I wish to spend my emotional capital. PTSD is real and it’s swath of destruction plain to see.

  17. Alan says:

    After 40 years of ministry, I was walking on the beach in California and I met a stranger. He asked me what I do in this world and I told him I’m a pastor and that I’ve been a pastor for 40 years. He said what have you learned in 40 years? Without hesitation I responded. I’ve learned that if you don’t know something about mental illness, the ministry will destroy you. He was shocked. I was kind of shocked too, but I meant it then and I mean it now after 50 years.

  18. Bob Sweat says:

    I met John MacArthur in 1965 when he came to my church with a gospel team to conduct a weekend crusade. I was fresh out of high school and a new Christian. His humility and testimony blessed me. He talked about his football days at LAPC (Los Angeles Pacific College) where he was an All-American. Years later, I graduated from college and accepted a call to be a pastor. John was writing books by then, and I bought as many as I could afford.

    Then in the 1980’s he verbally attacked the denomination of the church that I was pastoring, the same denomination where he previously led a crusade years earlier. I sent him our doctrinal statement that clearly defined our position regarding the issue that he spoke about. I asked for a retraction. It was never given.

    MacArthur lost all credibility with me from that day forward.

  19. Chris says:

    Michael’s 12:31 is spot on–this is a common type of teaching among a certain branch on the Christian tree including both MacArther and CCs. They will accept medicine for physical healing but often deny many psychological illnesses and treatments. MacArthur has had many good things to say about many things over the years. However, it has become more and more common in the age of youtube, the internet, social media, etc, that men who started well fell in love with their increasing celebrity status and seemingly lost their way. Maybe its the whole “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” thing that the Gospel of John speaks of. I could name a half dozen politicians, doctors, pastors and others whose celebrity status is more than they can handle and they lose their way

  20. Hello, everyone. I’ve been a long-time reader, and this is my first time posting.

    The brain, just like the heart, liver, kidneys, and other organs in our body, can malfunction. It’s disappointing when influential leaders, like McArthur, treat mental illnesses differently. Although misdiagnoses can occur, it’s an unavoidable part of medicine. His comments are harmful and irresponsible. I wish he would use his platform more responsibly.

    When the brain malfunctions due to prolonged high-stress situations, it’s universally accepted that this affects its functioning. Conditions like PTSD, ADHD, and OCD are all symptoms of brain malfunctions.

    I concur with the notion that this simply represents the prosperity gospel under a different guise. I hope McArthur provides a more nuanced perspective on this, but it’s not clearly articulated here. The book, “The Body Keeps the Score” by Van Der Kolk, offers an insightful exploration of the profound effects of situated trauma on individuals, as well as the physiological changes that occur due to trauma.

  21. JD says:

    Watching “Mission to Rabaul” on YouTube recently helped me understand my dad’s temperament and behavior. They had to load up on free cigarettes and alcohol just to sleep at night so they could go back into the pilot’s cockpit to strafe and bomb the enemy every day.
    The substances followed survivors home after the war just as they continue to do today.
    I have a healthy case of PTSD myself. Probably all heroes who shed blood for their country suffer to some degree, and denying its reality is very disrespectful IMO.

  22. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Shell-shock was definitely known in WW I & II. The nomenclature to describe the physical and psychological reaction to stress changes and varies from setting to setting but the equivalent of PTSD has been known among soldiers and military historians for generations. Back in World War I there are accounts of previously great pilots who succumbed to “The Twitch”.

    Some military historians have proposed that part of why WW2 vets didn’t have the same kind of stress symptoms as Vietnam vets was because: 1) the entire society was committed to the war effort and no statistically significant anti-war movement existed 2) probably more crucially the entire culture and units were mobilized and demobilized together whereas in the Vietnam era soldiers got cycled in and out of military to civilian lives in ways that created a mental and emotional whiplash many of them couldn’t handle. But drug use to handle stress and keep going has been around for ages in military cultures.

  23. DavidP says:

    I work with people with disabilities and Mental Health challenges. I can’t get into details for obvious reasons, but the number of people I work with who have some sort of PTSD, ADHD, or something similar is incredibly high. It’s real. Christians too.

    If you claimed a person with a cancer didn’t have a sickness he had a sin problem they would get kicked out of most churches that read MacArthur. Mental Illness is just as real a thing – to think otherwise is a weirdly Christian Science and/or Faith Healer view point of sickness.

    (And if you dealing with PTSD know that God sees you. You are not a failure and not unforgiven.)

  24. Michael says:



  25. pstrmike says:

    Starting on the ground of a new work with vets very soon.

    Peter said, “ The book, “The Body Keeps the Score” by Van Der Kolk, offers an insightful exploration of the profound effects of situated trauma on individuals, as well as the physiological changes that occur due to trauma.”

    Absolutely. It was required reading and seminary that I just finished.

  26. Reuben says:

    Here I thought people’s minds had changed on this. I was taught, and I also taught that psychology in general was nothing short of demonic. People who thought they were depressed, etc. just needed more word, prayer, and fellowship. People die as a result of this teaching, thinking they can’t do enough to become well for God, and even take their own lives.

    This type of teaching is damnable. Outright destructive. It will be viewed in following generations equal with the mentality that AIDS is bad, but not as bad as condoms.

    I hate this mentality with the flames of hell fire. Imagine the guilt of teaching stuff like this and watching recipients end their own lives. That is the guilt I live with.

  27. Muff Potter says:

    MacArthur is so full-o’-feces he could fertilize a rice paddy down in the delta.

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