Stereotypes and Mental Illness: Cash

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39 Responses

  1. JM says:

    Thanks to Cash & Michael for your collaboration.

    I had a close family member who had lifelong problems and was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s in their 60’s. You just never know what is going on. Grace is always the best place to start.

  2. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks, this is helpful. If for no other reason, Bruce Springsteen’s memoir ‘Born to Run’ is valuable for his frank discussion of his own mental health issues, as well as those of his father. High functioning, ambitious and talented, he also lived the life of the ‘walking wounded’ for decades… Psychotherapy and medication, combined with a recognition of his latent Catholic faith made the difference, although as he admits, he still has times of struggle.

  3. JoelG says:

    Interesting, Duane.

    “If it were all spiritual in nature, how would the medication be effective?”

    I’m discovering the struggles with faith that I’ve had over the years are actual mental, not spiritual. I need a therapist and medication. God works through such, I think.

  4. Michael says:


    As our Lutherans remind us, God works through means…and medication and skilled help are two means He uses.

  5. bob1 says:

    Nice job, Cash.

    All these stereotypes just make life a little more difficult for folks
    battling these particular demons. Plus, it can be another barrier
    to getting the help they need.

  6. bob1 says:

    I’ve heard it postulated that Luther, today, would probably be diagnosed as bipolar.

    That may sound a bit blasphemous…but if true, encouraging for those who battle with mood
    and mental health issues…God certainly didn’t give up on him! Neither will he do so
    to any beloved child of God.

  7. Jean says:

    I would also add that after thinking about the mental vs. spiritual dichotomy, I’m not sure it is possible, much less helpful, to divide the two.

    When Jesus healed or cleansed or cast out demons, I think don’t think people thought in terms of mental/physical vs. spiritual, but that Jesus was redeeming them.

    What we might think of as mental or physical maladies are anti-God’s good creation, and as such IMO have a spiritual dimension.

    If we create a division, then the implication is that the pastor and the physician have separate and non-overlapping fields of care, whereas, maybe the two vocations could be seen as complementary. Just a thought.

  8. Michael says:

    As I live with someone with bi-polar and have read much about Luther, I think its a real possibility.
    Like many other ailments it was also untreated…

  9. Michael says:

    I don’t think think a pastor can do much for people with organic mental illness, anymore than one can address my heart condition or other maladies .

  10. Jean says:

    Mental illness (whatever that is) does not constitute 100% of the person’s mind and spirit, nor does its treatment constitute 100% of the person’s needs.

  11. Michael says:

    I live with someone with serious mental illness. I’m also a pastor. My skills and knowledge have not ameliorated the situation one iota. I can address his spiritual needs, but that’s all.

  12. Jean says:

    I’m not going to argue with anyone. I think the medicine that a pastor is entrusted with to apply to a person, which the Word of God authorizes, is real and effective and I’m not going to sell it short; neither am I going to sell short the medicines developed through the empirical sciences. I reject the dichotomy.

  13. Michael says:

    You have no idea what you’re talking about, but I will end this before I get angrier than I am.

  14. Duane Arnold says:

    In the exercise of pastoral ministry, a good rule of thumb is “stay in your lane”. I am not a medical doctor. I do not have the ability to prescribe. Seminary courses in pastoral counseling and hospital chaplaincy does not qualify one as a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist. I can talk, I can pray… I cannot diagnose. If someone has an issue that goes beyond minimal pastoral counseling, I’m ethically bound to refer such a person to an appropriate professional. It’s really that simple…

  15. Jean says:

    Maybe a notice somewhere that disagreements on this topic are forbidden could have saved me from angering you.

  16. Em says:

    I have known a couple people who were perfectly capable of rational reasoning, lived “normal” lives but their mental processing was absolutely off – they had no mental illness, but simply had incredibly destructive, egotistic, self serving ways of looking at life… So?
    So it may be difficult for some of us to discern why a person’s thinking is off in some cases…
    True mental illness victimizes and deserves all the grace we can muster, we have no business condemning what we don’t understand…

  17. Michael says:

    Maybe if you had a shred of humility and acknowledged that there are things you neither understand or are qualified to speak to I wouldn’t be so angry.
    Christianeze bs can be harmless most of the time, but there are areas where it’s deadly.
    This is one of the deadly places.

  18. Michael says:

    Thank you.

  19. Jean says:

    Your 1:45 pm comment is totally offensive, unacceptable and bullying discourse. I will not respond in kind, but neither will I continue here without a retraction.

  20. Michael says:

    You have a mouse in your hand.
    Use it.
    My knowledge on this topic is not theoretical.
    Nobody prays more than a Christian with a sick child…

  21. Duane Arnold says:


    Take this as from a friend.

    Years ago I wondered if instead of going on for my PhD, I should go to law school instead. So, I took a course in contract law. It was interesting. It encouraged me to read Blackstone’s commentaries on English law. But it wasn’t for me. Now, what if on the basis of that exposure, I started giving out legal advice? No, I didn’t go to law school, didn’t pass the bar, didn’t take the oath and did not put myself under the ethical norms of the profession. Nevertheless, I expected my “legal opinions” to be taken with the utmost seriousness.

    It is not a matter of “disagreement”, it is a matter of professional ethics and conduct. As you are not and, I assume, have never been a pastor, you are way “out of your lane” on this issue. If you desire to engage in pastoral issues of this sort, please become a pastor. You might do well. Your denomination is in need of pastors. There’s a seminary near to you. Yes, it will mean a total disruption of your life and income for three years of school and one year of vicarage. Then, however, after a bit of experience, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject…

  22. JoelG says:


    I found this quote from Rev. Matthew Harrison:

    “Often, because of physiology and or prolonged stress and other factors too complex to understand, believing the Gospel of free forgiveness does not take away depression. Many go untreated, ashamed, and believing that a “strong faith” would preclude such difficulties, and so the path to wellness is through a restoration of such faith. Not so. “Poor mental health does not necessarily denote poor spiritual health. Too many factors pertain to both to allow for any sure correlation.”

  23. Michael says:

    Harrison spoke well.

  24. filbertz says:

    Thanks for the article. Most Christians have incredibly narrow and wildly incorrect understanding of how the human brain operates. The rapid advances in brain chemistry, cognitive development, neurological pathways, etc. are fascinating reading and readily available…if one is willing to be informed. I would hope Christians would be at the forefront of those willing to better understand the incredible creatures we are.
    As the father of a son who suffered from depression and PTSD I still marvel at the largely uninformed state of the average citizen in our ‘advanced culture.’ The information is not creating formation.

  25. Michael says:

    Well said.
    We have to work to inform people, especially in the church, that there is often a disconnect between spiritual and mental health.

  26. Erunner says:

    Thanks for keeping this topic active Michael and thank you Cash for your thoughtful and informative writing. As I recall our nation still isn’t able to help scores of veterans who return home with PTSD. They deserve all we can offer. Too many others are still in the shadows self medicating due to the stigma you described including believers. I have had a big setback with my anxiety and depression. Prayers would be appreciated. God bless you all. Allan

  27. Michael says:


    After today I am more committed than ever to keep this subject in front of people.
    You’re in our prayers…I understand the battle…

  28. Erunner says:

    Thank you Michael.

  29. Cash says:

    Jean, to say there’s no dichotomy between spiritual problems and mental health issues, is to buy right in to the very stereotypes I wrote about here. You equate the two with Jesus casting out demons. That would fall under the “you’re not spiritual enough” stereotype. This is what we’re trying to fight against. Otherwise, we find ourselves accusing people with mental health issues as being less spiritual or even “demon possessed.” See how that could affect people?

  30. Cash says:

    ERunner, sorry to hear about your setbacks. I will pray for you, my brother. You ever wanna chat I’m right here. Love ya, man.

  31. Michael says:


    Thanks for another well done word.
    Keep ’em coming…

  32. Michael says:

    “I think the medicine that a pastor is entrusted with to apply to a person, which the Word of God authorizes, is real and effective and I’m not going to sell it short; ”

    I have no idea what the hell this means, but I will speak to the spiritual care my family member receives.

    Weekly attendance at church.
    Weekly reception of the Eucharist.
    Weekly anointing with oil and prayer from the church and elders.
    We keep him around people who love and pray for him continually.

    The disease hasn’t budged.
    He is spiritually as well as he can be under the circumstances…but the physical issue remains under intense medication with profound side effects.
    It’s the best we can do.
    We will continue in hope with all we are doing.

  33. Michael says:

    I will add that the monthly cost of therapy and treatment is staggering and therapy that works is very difficult to find here.

    The people that benefit most from pastoral counseling are the ones who love someone who is trying to get well…

  34. Roy Hasenstab says:

    Jean, I can only say to you, as one who has lived with one who suffers from said maladies, your comments are condescending, and really hit a nerve. Unless you have lived thru this pain and heartache, kindly diss your “Christianese”. Ignorance to this reality (to me).

  35. Michael says:

    My life for more than ten years has revolved around finding help and being help for my godson.
    There are few breaks and you spend most of your life exhausted and feeling like a failure.
    Most of the writing here happens on the run between one place and another or breaks in the home school routine.
    I have searched out every possible way to make things better…every day.
    We searched today and will search tomorrow.
    We have pled for help from heaven.
    We still plead for help from heaven.
    The Lord has evidently given us the strength to persevere…because the kid is worth it.
    So are you.

  36. Michael says:


    I hear you…

  37. Cash says:

    Thank you Michael for using this platform to discuss these things. What you’re doing on this blog is valuable and courageous. Thanks also for sharing your personal interaction with mental health. I’m definitely going to be praying for you.

  38. Michael says:


    Thank you…for those of us in the fight that isn’t easy to speak of and we wrestle with God more than most.
    Much love and our prayers are with you always…

  39. My mother suffered from depression. It was bad. I found that out at 17 when she was going through a breakdown when I was on the verge of moving out and away. I found out decades later that she suffered from BPD (Borderline, not bi-polar) and Anxiety. She was also a severe hoarder, one of the worst (utter filth in the last years). She self- diagnosed with bulimia and the last thing she told me was that she had been seeing a therapist for PTSD when I was little. Though she started being influenced by odd beliefs in her later years, I’m glad that she was a Christian and raised me so.

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