The Emergent Grace Movement

Christian Hope for Lasting Mental Health

Psychiatry is important but not always wise

woman holding a crystal near her body

I just want to share that psychiatry is important but not always wise. I have had wise psychiatrists, who had an amazing bedside manner, and who prescribed the wrong medications. In one instance, this led to my involuntary hospitalization. Seriously. I was put on 200 mg of an antidepressant and my husband was instructed to “watch for mania.” This is dangerous. I almost died. She didn’t diagnose me with schizoaffective disorder, and so it didn’t register that antidepressants would flip me into mania.

Had she been a better legit psychiatrist, though she was in fact board certified, my near-death experience would probably have been avoided. And yet, while psychiatry has it’s place, and is important, again, it is not always wise.

I have had curt, rude, and condescending psychiatrists. Ones who got me on track in terms of the meds that continue to be essential for me, while damaging how I saw myself.

The damage lasted for years and continues to this day.

Still today, when I start to have ambition, I worry I’m just grandiose. That is the mark of psychiatry on my life. Grandiosity is bad, of course. But former presidents over the last hundred years actually became president. That wasn’t grandiose, then. It was ambition. Which came to fruition.

In the past several months since discovering the importance of vitamins in my life, particularly B vitamins, specifically a high dose of B12, my exasperation with the discipline of psychiatry has grown. I have reached out to various leaders with peer-reviewed articles supporting the use of B vitamins, only to find indifference.

There are psychiatrists who are revolutionizing the field. I recommend my post on Uma Naidoo. Another worthwhile pursuit is integrative psychiatry. The best book I have found on this is Integrative Psychiatry and Brain Health. I will post about it later.

The Problem with Guilds

Psychiatry has made important breakthroughs, but its lens blocks insight into simple, wise methods of healing that are right in front of its face. It also ignores its patients’ lived experiences. One psychiatrist finally responded saying he was happy for me but that it wasn’t in the APA guidelines. He assured me that he recommends multivitamins to his patients, as if that were enough. No one wants to go against the American Psychiatric Association and actually acknowledge that for some people with psychosis, the impact of B vitamins, particularly B12, is more than transformational–it is lifesaving.

I get this, to a certain extent. For example, the teaching associations I have belonged to have helped me to be antiracist. But at the same time, even teaching guilds have made best practices seem universal. The recent rebellions against public education show the limitations of such an approach. Also, what works for one person won’t work for another.

And yet, yes psychiatry is important, but it has its limitations. But it refuses to acknowledge this. This is what makes it particularly dangerous. People with serious mental illness need a psychiatrist, but should also be encouraged to seek out holistic means that include spirituality, diet, exercise, vitamins, and more. The book Malady of the Mind is important because it gets us to take antipsychotics seriously, but it is also pathologizing. It talks about St. Francis of Assisi as having had schizophrenia. If you know someone with extremely severe schizophrenia, however, then I can’t recommend Malady of the Mind more. But in the book you will also see the discipline’s lack of wisdom, even as it recommends lifesaving treatments like antipsychotics.

Alternative approaches

I know some of the major breakthroughs I have had have come through aura work, with energetic boundaries. These books are often not Christian. My goal is to write Christian books that harness the wisdom of energetic boundaries and aura work.

If you think about it, art across the ages that showed saints and Christ surrounded with a halo or glowing in light speak to the reality of auras. The woman with the issue of blood touches Christ’s cloak and his energy leaves his body and heals her.

The Catholic church has exorcisms that one could say cleanse the aura and remove the presence of evil spirits that have become attached to the aura.

Pentecostal churches are particularly powerful examples of the healing that can follow in the spiritual realm. They are also, however, notorious for spiritual abuse.

Again, these are healing approaches to mental anguish, but, at the same time, this can lead to all forms of spiritual abuse.

Non-Christian Approaches: A Mixed Bag

In my memoir I talk about the spiritual and physical abuse I encountered when working with an energy healer. The discipline, if you can call it that, is notorious for its lack of regulation. But sometimes, precisely because of this, breakthroughs really happen. (Do not take this as advice to see one, and pursue this at your own risk.)

Psychiatry, again, is important but it is not wise enough. I have actually had the most luck with doing my own aura work because then I can just skim through the aspects of the book that aren’t Christian, whereas some of the healers I have gone to have been quite energetically blocked and I didn’t trust them, some downright evil and unhealed.

I use Cyndi Dale’s book Energetic Boundaries and apply its insights to myself. Keep in mind it’s not Christian, but some of us with serious mental illness benefit the most from energy work, and Cyndi Dale has a pure heart and very clean energy. Not all non-Christian writers are pure-hearted.

Definitely don’t go to non-Christian healers, and definitely not in person.

If you do read Energetic Boundaries, take out the part that doesn’t talk about stones for healing (idolatry), etc. Pick and choose. I will be writing a purely Christian book like this in the years to come.

Christianity’s Best Healer of our Time

Psychiatry has its limitations. I find the most respectable, needfully cautious healer of our time is Peter Bellini, who has written amazing books that I highly recommend if you’re Christian. In my book Emergent Grace I recommend particularly his book Truth Therapy, which is like a Christian self-help book that works well with depression but also helped me with my psychosis because it allowed me to see my suffering through a spiritual, theological lens. Truth Therapy starts with a lot of intellectual information that didn’t apply to me, while the exercises toward the back I used as a devotional for years.

Dr. Bellini has other books that will help certain types of readers more than others. His book The Cerulean Soul is probably the best book of theology I have ever read. It is deeply intellectual and theological. I am two classes away from my MA in missional leadership, which is a religious degree, and so I can understand it. It is truly a pathbreaking work. He is Wesleyan, meaning he is a healer and pastor and leader in the tradition of John Wesley, the 18th century practical theologian and preacher. I will write more about Wesley later.

Don’t forget: psychiatry is important, but not always wise. Go to your psychiatrist, but don’t stop there. I will always take antipsychotics. If you live with psychosis, I believe you should too, if not for yourself, for public safety. But I will never rely on my psychiatrist to heal me.

5 responses to “Psychiatry is important but not always wise”

  1. Thank you for your kind remarks. Blessings on your work!

  2. […] Because we’re all different, I recommend going to an integrative doctor. One who honors the extremely important insights of Western medicine, while asking questions like, When was the last time you felt well? Psychiatry is important, but it puts knowledge above wisdom. As a Western discipline, it trains its practitioners to do just that. It is not enough. (Read my previous, related post by clicking here.) […]

  3. […] guilds lack holistic, integrated vision. I wrote about the failures of psychiatry and its guilds on another blog just earlier this […]

  4. […] “lightening”)–as an invasive practice. And so this is another reason to return to what I was writing about pre-Palestine about the importance of healthy diet and preventative, holistic […]

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