(For the record, AW regards British
Israelism in any form as irredeemably fallacious, totally discredited, and
It is a difficult balance between comforting those in need and protecting the flock when mentally ill people are involved.
Often, mentally ill people can be very high maintenance and soak up all your time.
On the other hand, mentally ill people can be very disruptive to a congregation.
A minister must know and understand every member of his congregation to be effective.
This guide insures that at minimum anyone dealing with a group of people will recognize several of the more important mental illnesses and their potential consequences for the individual personally and for the group.
Several graphic examples are given here to show what can happen when a minister does NOT know his congregation and does Not understand mental illness.
A brief view of some mental illnesses and possible consequences
Note that it is unwise and unproductive to argue with a mentally ill person: They can be very convincing.
Expect these people to be heavily in debt--in Manic Mode, they spend lots of money: Telling them they can get over their mental illness by being positive is exactly the wrong approach!
Many people with bipolar disease find they can feel really good from sleep deprivation, which puts them into mania—and it is addictive because it feels so very very good.
Alcoholism is a special category which may be found in the DSM-IV, but has additional spiritual components.
Alcoholism is a sex linked inherited disorder passed from mother to the children through the mitochondria according to the book, Under the Influence, by Dr. James Milam; specifically, the alcoholism is the result of the way the liver processes alcohol--the liver of the alcoholic processes alcohol differently from how it is processed in a normal person: For this reason, members of most Native American Tribes cannot process alcohol and most tribal councils recognize the problem.
Alcoholism is genetic and is not a choice.
An alcoholic is born, but may never have occasion to exhibit the disorder unless they choose to drink.
All alcoholics may choose not to drink and that pretty much solves the problem, unless their bodies have been depleted in the third stage of alcoholism and they lapse into hypoglycemia, in which case they need a medical doctor to provide the path to leave drinking so the body can recover from depletion of vitamin b and other affects of the alcohol.
More about alcoholism may be found in "Under the Influence" by Dr. James Milam.
This is NOT to say that people who are NOT alcoholics by birth do NOT choose to abuse alcohol: There are people who choose to abuse alcohol who are definitely NOT alcoholics because their liver does process alcohol normally--however, if they drink long enough and hard enough, they will damage their liver and exhibit the very same symptoms of the "final stage" alcoholic, as described in Under the Influence.
For real help for alcoholism, see the web site Rational Recovery:
if you walk into a room where people are praying together, and use a book
describing an intense religious conversion, and implore each other to
surrender their lives to God, and ask God to remove their personal problems,
and then evangelize that program throughout society, you no longer find
anything religious about that. I can tell you that every single newcomer,
including you, sees religion at the first meeting. Newcomers or returnees are
desperate and vulnerable, their self-confidence already shaken by personal
downfall, so they are highly suggestible to distrust their own thought
processes. Under gentle group pressure, they betray themselves by accepting
AA's first inversion of truth, "This is not religious!" This sets the stage
for a progression of self-betrayals that result in selflessness, the surrender
of one's own judgment to the group's judgment."
There are many dangers to Alcoholics Anonymous, the first of which is that an alcoholic needs immediate help--the help to choose permanent abstinence immediately--and AA does not offer that help.
Alcoholics can stop drinking today using AVRT from Rational Recovery and "stay on the wagon" permanently, taking personal responsibility for alcoholism and ceasing it entirely; they don't need years of attending meetings and they are NOT powerless to stop drinking.
The other part of this scenario is that as a religion, Alcoholics Anonymous is designed to take your members away from you and spend time in AA; and while churches may participate in sponsoring meetings, be apprised that under the charter of AA, there are no Bibles permitted and there can be no opening prayer--and as a minister, you have absolutely NO say in what goes on in the meeting, whether it is heresy or not.
Note that AA lies by saying "This is not religious" and note who is the Father of Lies.
There is one good thing about AA: It's a great place to go and gossip about people!
Temperance is a good thing.
For alcoholics, temperance is defined as NO alcohol.
It should be clear that while it appears that alcoholism is an inherited disorder, passed from the mother to the children, alcoholism is not an excuse for drinking--all it means is that a person inheriting the disease must practice abstinence without question for a life time; hence, if a person was born with the disease [let's say a full-blooded so-called Native American], they must never drink... period! This is different from people who are not alcoholics but who abuse alcohol--they must stop drinking as well, even though they do not have the same predisposition for alcohol addiction. There are those who abuse alcohol as a self-medication who are not alcoholics, but are trying to self-medicate for other mental disorders, such as bipolar disease: They also must stop drinking and, it may be noted here, that most medications prescribed for many of the other mental disorders cannot be taken with alcohol without serious repercussions.
For those in your congregation who claim they can do without alcohol, challenge them by telling them to prove it by stopping all drinking of alcohol.
Get them to go cold turkey.
Some ministers believe that all mentally ill people are demon possessed.
Why do medications help?
"God may allow some of the drugs to slow down the demon activities".
In a rather long discussion with a rather prominent independent religious figure in his own right--mostly because of the unfortunate relationship with the IRS which was finally settled--a minister flatly refused to discuss the mentally ill because he "had five years" with those people and never wanted to have anything to do with them again.
As a minister, you may have to deal with those people.
Hopefully, you might be able to have somewhat more compassion or at least be able to cast out the demons with fasting and prayer, which would solve the problem of faulty brain mapping once and for all.
Or, maybe if it isn't demons and just, actually, say, an illness, as in "mental illness", you could anoint them and pray for them, like it says over there in James, and God may heal them through faith.
There aren't any real promises to be claimed in the Bible though, except for Eternal Life, if we are to believe what the cult minister referenced above is to be believed.
Maybe the mentally ill are immoral people who are punished by God for their sins.
It seems that most mentally ill people and their families are struggling with the illness and want to get better when they come out of denial.
They seem to need patience and understanding rather than being a militant force to enforce their will on others with the political clout they are supposed to have.
Most seem to be in such a primal struggle that they are "poor in spirit" among the meek who are seeking hope and recovery.
Or maybe the demons of those people are just making them look that way.
Two pernicious personality disorders
Both Narcissism and Psychopaths are covered elsewhere on this site in great detail.
Both are incurable.
Both are very disruptive to individuals and groups of people.
Both are a threat to you and your congregation.
Narcissists are threat because they have no empathy for others and are the center of their own universe.
There is no such thing as a Christian Narcissist: It is quite impossible.
Just to be sure you understand:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), gives the following diagnostic criteria for narcissism (301.81):
Add to that poor behavior controls and you round out the picture.
Psychopaths are a threat because they have no conscience and no sense of right and wrong at all; they only know what pleases them and interests them and don't particularly let ethics or morals get in their way.
Their brains are physiologically wired differently compared "normal" people: Dr. Robert Hare found this early on in his studies of psychopaths from their brain wave patterns--the person he was reporting his findings to, accused him of falsifying the printouts because he was sure those were NOT human brain waves.
It appears that the two hemispheres of the brain are not coordinated and speech as well as behaviors are formed independently, thus giving rise to illogical but persuasive statements such as, "I am a non-violent kind of guy, that is why I had to kill him".
Most psychopaths have a low vocabulary and it may be noted that the ones who have sufficient behavior control to build a large vocabulary become more sophisticated in their con games.
Even experienced researchers have been conned by them.
While they cannot empathize with others, they can read emotions and are quick to capitalize on feelings: They know how to read people and within seconds can determine what your attitudes are and they can use their observations to manipulate people [they know where all the "hot buttons" are and they know how to press them]; one person said, "It's so easy".
While they might convince you to feel sorry for them, they really aren't what they appear to be; there are very few, if any, recorded suicides among psychopaths: They like their lifestyle and they aren't about to give it up.
So unlike any other mental disorder, when a person you know is a psychopath, says they are going to commit suicide, don't believe them.
You might like to help them, but you can't.
You don't need them in your congregation.
You don't want them in your congregation.
You need to get rid of them as quickly as possible before they do damage to you and your congregation.
Unfortunately, many narcissists and psychopaths are out there and they form their own churches and name themselves apostles.
And your congregation needs to be warned.
It should be noted that so far there has never been a recorded incident of a psychopath effectively repenting and turning to a godly life.
About 1% to 2% of the general population are thought to be psychopaths, but in the prison population 40% of the prisoners have been found to be psychopaths.
This shows the disproportionate ratio of problems by perpetrators: In sniper shootings in the East, one sniper killed at least eight people and had the attention of the whole nation; similarly, the Columbine school shootings involved very few perpetrators who leveraged their evil deeds to involve the whole nation; examples abound.
You may be sorely tempted to leave the 99 sheep to go rescue the one lost sheep.
Just forget it.
The one "lost sheep" probably will have been devouring the rest of the 99 and when you finally find it, you will find that it is really a wolf.
Any minister who thinks he or she can reform a psychopath is either ignorant or arrogant.
You should not be ignorant of Satan's Devices: Take a look at 20 TRAITS OF MALIGNANT NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER!
Or his servants.
One in four (25%) of the families in the United States is touched by mental illness.
This does not mean that only 25% of the people in the United States is touched by mental illness--the percentage is much higher--it means that one or more members of a family may have mental illness in 25% of the homes.
By definition, a family with a mentally ill person isn't working properly.
A family touched by mental illness is a dysfunctional one; it cannot be any other way.
Concern for the patient--the mentally ill person--often obscures the needs of family members suffering from the effects of bizarre disruptive and often destructive behavior patterns of a person in their midst that they cannot understand and has suddenly become a stranger.
Since mental illness may be totally unknown to the family up to the point that a member has a break with reality, they may be terribly confused at first, angry, then frustrated.
A person who is going through a psychotic break may have unusual desires and needs extending to turning on loud rock music from every television, radio, CD player, tape player and computer in the house in the middle of the night, aggravating already exhausted and confused family members with additional sleep deprivation.
Family members may be trying in vain to reason with the mentally ill person and trying to rationalize the situation in some way.
Certainly, they will not know what to do.
You can help.
Advising the family on their options, like having them contact the crisis clinic is a good start.
Revealing to them the basic concepts of mental illness and how they can deal with it is another step in the program.
Enabling them to understand how to secure the family will certainly be appreciated.
Beyond the obvious, the family will need to be comforted because often they will be burdened by guilt, first, internally, thinking that this was all their fault and, secondly, by police, neighbors, friends and coworkers who will often help the guilt along by tacitly or openly accusing the family of causing the problems.
Help the family work through its fear and doubts.
Relate to them that processing the experience of mental illness may have dimensions beyond a broken leg, but the principle is the same: It is a sickness which needs treatment, everyone in the family is affected, and everyone is going to need patience, instruction, and comfort.
If you have been doing your job, the family may trust you as a "first contact" situation.
Be prepared to lead them through a long and difficult journey.
Enough families have been through this journey and have stabilized with the family member(s) receiving the appropriate treatment and becoming functional that it is possible to hold out hope.
Give both patients and families the hope to go on and triumph over the mental illness.
A final note
The book, Shadow Syndromes may be helpful in understanding various mental illnesses and strategies for people to improve their situation.
Competent ministers serve a need and should be respected for the contribution they make in their difficult but rewarding responsibilities.
Those interested in more details of diagnosing mental disorders may acquire the Diagnostic And Statistical Guide to Mental Disorders IV by the American Psychiatric Association.
Note that while there aren't studies on the subject because it can't be funded, supplementing medications with herbs, vitamins and minerals may have a synergy helpful to the patient: For example, certain pharmaceuticals cause twitching around the mouth; researchers have found that administering Vitamin E has prevented the twitching and one Psychiatrist found that not one of his patients taking the medications with these side effects who also took Vitamin C and Vitamin E, has ever experienced those side effects in all the decades of his practice!
Junk food is harmful: Simple carbohydrates which are sugars which dissolve in the mouth, drive up the blood sugar temporarily; the body then releases insulin to decrease the glucose in the blood stream; this works and the blood sugar plunges and plunges and plunges; finally, in most normal people the body recovers and the blood sugar rises to a more reasonable level.
In people who are not facing mental illness, this is not a particularly good scenario, but for people with mental illness, this is a terrible idea.
People prone to depression may experience more severe symptoms.
Others may have anxiety attacks.
People with addictions may find it driving them back to addictions: A person at an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting who smokes cigarettes, slugs down the coffee and eats donuts, is probably going to go off the wagon.
Yet, this sugar cycle of junk foods is one which is most often unconsciously used for self-treatment.
Aaron had the criteria of a psychopath and was starving; there were healthy snacks including veggies, fruit, cheese, and so forth; what did he do? He ignored the snacks and went for a cup of apple juice and didn't eat anything.
We all eat junk food [unless we're really weird!].
One psychiatrist tells his patients to have one junk food day a week--generally on Saturday, because they will have Sunday to recover and will be mostly OK to be able to go back to work on Monday!
Good balanced nutrition goes a long way to enable a person with mental illness to raise the quality of life.
People with mental illness have difficulty with dealing with their own issues as a result of the disease from which they suffer; the most encouraging sign a patient is recovering is when they begin to show concern for those outside of themselves.
Nevertheless, people with mental illness are generally easily overloaded and ladening them with the cares of this life with such things as concern for world news and events, particularly if they are negative, only contributes to the mental "noise" experienced by those who suffer from various syndromes.
The general idea is to move people from the "noise" of this world and the "noise" of their brains to peace.
And for Heaven's Sake, don't preach sermons about suicides and murders, demon possession, crime, war, the homeless and similar horrors!
"Whatsoever is of a good report" applies here.
This must be done with faith and patience with the belief in things not seen, namely the joy of salvation from the evil disease from which they are suffering.
Give them hope by telling them that everything does happen for a reason--though we might not know what it is at the time--that we all learn by the things that we suffer, and that sooner or later, even as all good things must come to an end, all bad things must come to an end as well; advise them to be patient patients.
Encourage them to stay on the track which is doing them good, and get off the track which is NOT doing them good.
In the end, the Spirit is a Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
And they are Not Alone.
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Last Updated: Saturday, April 09, 2005