Neurosis or soul sickness?

Mortality rates are rising among less educated, late-middle-aged white Americans.  Drugs and alcohol and suicide are the leading causes of the spike.  Coincidently, church attendance in America has been in decline for some time.

Is there a correlation between the two?  Do therapy and medications merely treat the symptoms of soul-sickness, while the untreated soul metastasizes into isolation, darkness, and despair?  

The mental health industry has eased itself into our schools, our courts and prisons, the workplace, our homes and families, while easing prayer and religion out.

Mental health experts and drug companies are now the default provider for the treatment of society’s deadliest and costliest ills.

Teenagers receive therapy and medication to cope with the normal pains of growing up.

Schools have grief counselors on speed-dial should a young person be lost to suicide, while men and women of the cloth specially trained to comfort the afflicted are unceremoniously ignored.  The treatment for substance abuse is a combination of the iron fist of punishment within the velvet glove of therapy and attendance at twelve-step meetings.    

Anger is assuaged with anger management therapy.  A machine that modulates breathing is the latest remedy for panic attacks.  The list goes on.

All the while, free will and personal responsibility have gone by the wayside.

All this treatment would be fine, except that it isn’t doing much good.

Adolescent heroin addiction is an epidemic.  Mental health claims are driving the explosion of Social Security disability claims.  

In less enlightened times, many of these behaviors were called sins.  Pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth all have their modern counterparts in the DSM-5.

The annals of history are filled with accounts of former drunks, womanizers, murderers, and thieves who today are revered as saints.  St. Augustine and St. Paul come to mind.

These individuals’ lives changed when unbearable despair, or guilt, or mental and/or physical pain drove them to seek help from a power greater than human power.

Modern man may scoff at such “conversions,” but divine intervention is often the only explanation for such phenomena.   

The real problem is not the utilization of science to treat mental illness.  The real problem is our inability (or hesitancy) to measure the efficacy of scientific methodology  to wit, does it work?  The dystopia surrounding us speaks for itself.

In 1950, Carl Jung wrote that a “nodding acquaintance with the theory and pathology of neurosis is totally inadequate, because medical knowledge of this kind is merely information about an illness, but not knowledge of the soul that is ill.”

We call ourselves enlightened, yet we balk at any suggestion that spiritual help may at times be as effective as science in ameliorating mental illness.    

If our common goal is to become better human beings, should it matter which we choose?  If aspirin is formulated to relieve headaches and Tylenol to relieve more severe pain, should not both remedies be available to sufferers?

Common sense suggests that the marketplace should accommodate both.

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