Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mormons ok with mental illness

For something that is as shockingly common (this foundation cites 1 in 4 Americans with a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year), very little has been said about mental illness in the LDS/Mormon church. This weekend is the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints where church leaders speak to the church members and the world (watch the final two sessions today via internet or BYUtv). Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Jeffrey R. Holland addressed his remarks on Saturday to "those who suffer from some form of mental illness or emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent over a lifetime." Among other things, Elder Holland asserted that "[t]here should be no shame in acknowledging [mental illness]" and that mental illness is much like any other physical affliction that can be treated and eventually healed, whether in this life or the life to come. From the Deseret News:

While those dealing with a mental illness or an emotional disorder may feel like a “broken vessel,” they must remember the “vessel is in the hands of the divine potter,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve.

“Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed,” he said.
These afflictions, he said, are some of the realities of mortal life.

"In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living — and chose to live — in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of Godliness will be tested and tried again and again.

“Of greatest assurance in such a plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.”
“So how do you respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all never lose faith in your Father in Heaven who loves you more than you can comprehend. …. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles.”

If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills and good values, Elder Holland counseled. “Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.”

Although the stigma of mental illness encompasses most if not all mental disorders, sociopathy is often the hardest for people to understand or sympathize with. Oddly, I think that people who believe in souls have a harder time with sociopaths than those who don't. For the atheists, it makes all the evolutionary sense in the world to have a segment of the population who is particularly ruthless and predatory. For the religious, it suggests that mankind is more animalistic than they're comfortable believing. But so do a lot of things, like the evidence against free will, the debunking the idea that our thoughts come from us (the way we typically think of that happening), or that we can control our thoughts. Where is the soul there? Where is the soul with my two Down Syndrome relatives? A lot of my Mormon family members believe that their souls are "in there somewhere," but the physical limitations of their brains do not allow their souls to manifest themselves as they otherwise would. I read an op-ed recently where the parent of a child on the autism spectrum felt that their child was locked away inside his mind, never able to fully express himself or be understood. Let's say I started acting like a completely different person and it turned out that I had a brain tumor, the removal of which caused me to return to my normal self -- which one is the true expression of my soul, and how could you prove it? Do religious people with dyslexia feel like their soul is dyslexic? But a lot of religious people assume that I must be soulless, or my soul is damned, or that I'm a demon, or that I must be possessed by demons. It's sort of a weird thing for religious people to believe for a lot of reasons. Like what is the point of God creating things that are eternally damned because they happen to have particular brain wiring/ genetics?


  1. scientology is not ok with with mental illness

  2. There are varying types of illnesses. We first have to acertain
    whether the illness is biologically caused, or is the result of errant
    emotional programming.
    Sometimes, the "bio" reason is directly associated with the mental
    abberation, sometimes the mental anamonly stands by itself.
    A Downs Syndrome child would be an example of a biological ananomily, but the question could be asked, What was the mother's
    prenatle care? I have an older sister who is mentally retarded and
    no one could ever determine the cause. Was it a high fever she had?
    No one knows. Sometimes there's no obvious explaination for these
    The other cause of illness is the rotton programming we recieve
    through abuse, misinformation or a combination of both.
    Each generation passes it's own version of falsehoods, superstitions,
    and insecurites to the next generation. Decit is the rule of the day.
    We are in a waking dream, with layers of accquired falsehood with
    the incorrect viewpoints of ourselves and others.
    When we talk about "deprogramming" we usually think of insidious
    religious cults. Well, plenty of programming goes on in "normal"
    everyday life. Contradictory, self destroying actions that we view as
    "normal" but lead us to eventual destruction. Remember, the Bible
    says, "The road that leads to destruction is very broad, and many are
    traveling it."
    Instead of being so thrilled and obsessed with the things that are
    outside of us, we should pay more attention to the inside. Only self
    awareness can show us how we have been lead astray by other decived people, for good or bad purposes.

  3. Fuck sociopaths. They suck, are a nuisance to everybody else and by themselves aren't worth shit. If only sociopaths survived an apocalypse they would suck even more. I hung out with one when I was a kid and he fucked me up for life. I hung out again with him later in life, wanting to develop an immunity to them and he fucked me up worse.

    Hanging out with a sociopath you can only expect getting fucked up. I'm not even talking about material goods but they fuck you up inside for ever.

    It's fucking heavy feeling like there's someone out there that you're completely vulnerable to no matter what.

    They should all get hunted down and killed in a sociopath holocaust.

    I hope you get witch-hunted you fucking sub-human parasitic useless bitch.

    1. i feel sory 4cu* ive been burnt also cant stand how souless and pathetic -empty vessels- live with them selves - no conscious just dirty calculating scumevil

    2. you can fuck me
      i can fuck you
      and b4 you know it WWIII
      (and std's ofc)

    3. Whoever wrote this is quite hateful and self righteous.

    4. The only people who could hunt down sociopaths are sociopaths. It will never happen.

  4. The soul is misunderstood. According to Genesis, a man was made of the dust of the earth and then God breathed into him the breath of life -- making him a living soul. The soul is nothing more than dirt + death, the body goes back to ashes and the breath goes back to God. There is no soul that lives on according to the Bible. That notion came from Paganism and Hinduism. Ecc. 9:5 tells you what happens at death. Jesus referred to death as a sleep. Also we read "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:20. When Lazarus was resurrected, Jesus didn't say "Come down"...He said "Come forth." Laz didn't talk about his time in Heaven...he simply had ceased to exist. So it was with the little girl Jesus healed. He said she was asleep. The soul is death, we sleep until the resurrection (Thes. 4:16-17). No one is in hell and those in Heaven are those recording in the Bible -- those who were resurrected when Christ came forth from the grave and a few others mentioned (Enoch, Moses). As for spirits and ghosts? Psalms says a person does not return to inhabit his home after he dies. Those are the demons impersonating dead loved ones. As for sociopaths? Like all sinners, they can be redeemed. It's not who you are -- it's what you do with who you are. You cannot change who you are....redemption is not in man, it's in Christ keep believing...whether you're a murdering sociopath or the insidious ones among us -- you can be saved if you just believe in Christ and follow Him. And instead of focusing on self and how bad you are -- focus on Christ and how good He is. Want to change your life? Consider Phil 4:8 "Whatsover things are right, pure, holy, good...etc THINK ON THESE."

    Signed, who needs a diagnose when you're fine as is :-)

  5. I'm coming at this from a Christian (Episcopalian, to be exact) perspective- so take what I say with a grain of salt. A rector (priest) from many years ago gave me some very good advice in facing parts of my personality I didn't like. He pointed out that people expect to be able to muster the willpower all at once and change forever, but anyone who has struggled with habitual bad behavior or addiction knows that personality "defects" revealed in patterns of destructive behavior are difficult to uproot.

    While there are all sorts of bible verses and commands on how to fight darkness within oneself, the strategy that was suggested to me that has been enormously helpful is to ask God's spirit to come sit next to you in your dysfunction. For example, if you are a smoker you say, "God, I'm not ready to quit yet, but I invite you in to get me ready"- for a sociopath perhaps the prayer might be "God, I see that when I use and ruin others it doesn't work out well for anyone long term, but I just don't have the motivation to stop. Can you help open my eyes to insights that will make stopping more appealing?"

    It doesn't sound very spiritual- but maybe that's a good thing. When we make lofty resolutions from a place of moral fervor we are likely to fail when the emotions have subsided. But if we come to God broken and unable to fix ourselves, but open the door to a "higher power" to provide us with insights that make taking the first step towards changing entrenched behavioral patterns.

    While I find the person of Jesus Christ to be a very helpful lens to view "higher power" through, I don't feel that this process is only available to Christians. CG Jung talks about a "collective unconscious" that humanity shares. Perhaps, if you'd like to approach things from more of a secular standpoint it is easier to think of free floating human wisdom that exists as a shared resource for all who are open to it- kind of a sixth sense we don't understand yet. There are definitely times I question my faith in a Christian God, and I've found thinking about the collective unconscious to be a helpful substitute for God-talk. No need to get hung up on a specific title- it's just the process of sitting with your brokenness and asking for help. The reason I know that it works is that it has helped me face some very painful things and move past some destructive personal habits.

    There's a book called "Help, Thanks, Wow" by a woman named Anne Lamott that really does a good job of explaining this in non preachy terms in the first chapter (the "Help" section) She's really funny and irreverent so it doesn't feel like you are reading a church book, so that helps.

  6. Athiest empath here- Choice.

    We do have free will and we do thoughts are NOT actions and we have the choice to act on our thoughts or not.

    And there is a difference between biologically based illnesses and non biological ass- hole- ness.

    Clearly someone who is having a Psychotic episode is different then someone stealing someone's purse for crack.

    I am not talking about sociopaths or anything in particular. Just the different types of mentally ill.

    1. There is no such thing as free will. We do not live outside of the bottle. Everything we do and say and think is a result of our environment + the structure of our brain (the result of environment and genes). While we may feel that we are making choices, they are always constrained by something we call reality. There may be a number of choices, but the number is finite and a lot fewer than you might expect.

  7. The sociopath is the salesman without a product."
    it's not like he's trying to sell himslef to the world ?

    1. The sociopath is the product without the salesperson.

  8. Well, it would certainly help convince people of their sincerity if the Church spent a portion of their billions on funding mental health treatment. Otherwise, "words are wind," as they say! (I'm fairly certain Jesus said something similar, in fact: faith without works being dead and all that) They ought to put their money where their "compassion" is, I think!

  9. Hi, I'm afraid to say that you are not a sociopath. Self-absorbed maybe but definitely not a sociopath.

  10. "sociopathy is often the hardest for people to understand or sympathize with." As a "normal" I disagree: Narcissists. They are the hardest to sympathize with.

  11. From a Mormon - who works in Behavioral Health:

    We all have challenges in this life, and our challenge, our goal, our purpose to being here is to be better than the challenge. Being a sociopath doesn't make somebody a bad person in and of itself. What you do with it is what matters. I've learned from my own mental illness that it's not what we feel (or don't feel) it's what we do with it, and how we choose to interpret it. It's about managing your life, and learning to conduct it in a manner befitting one of God's children.

    For some, that will be harder, and for some impossible. In those cases, the atonement of Christ is in full force, because you don't/can't know better. Just don't use it as an excuse to do whatever you want. :)

    May God be with you

  12. Mormons are encouraged to seek mental health care through the welfare arm of the church. This article is misleading since the mormon church's intent is to make sure any member with mental health issues ends up in the hand of a church therapist, not outside the church (where they will likely find the church is the source of many issues.) The care through the welfare arm is terrible, usually involves church shaming, and seems to frequently defy confidentiality.


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