Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mental Illness--leave myths at the door / Lloyd

Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy became acquainted with mental illness through an afflicted family member. He speaks widely in the Church and is published in Church Magazines on the subject.

In "Myths about Mental Illness," Ensign, Oct 2005, Elder Morrison introduces the subject of Mental Illness and then discusses and sets straight 7 common myths and misconceptions that increase the burden for sufferers of mental illness and often impede treatment.

mental Illness

"In the Book of Mormon we read that the Nephites, who had been obedient to God’s laws, "lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Ne. 5:27). What a wonderful and insightful thought: if we are obedient and follow God’s commandments, we will be happy.

"It is important to understand, however, that happiness does not imply the absence of endurance: “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne. 2:11).

"Among the most painful trials an individual or family can face is that of mental illness. By mental illness I do not mean the temporary social and emotional concerns experienced as part of the normal wear and tear of living. Rather, I mean a disorder that causes mild to severe disturbances in thinking and behavior. If such disturbances are sufficiently severe and of sufficient duration, they may significantly impair a person’s ability to cope with life’s ordinary demands. These illnesses may even threaten life itself, as in severe depression, or be so debilitating that the sufferer is unable to function effectively.

". . . We still do not know exactly how the brain works nor exactly how and why parts of it may malfunction. One thing is certain, however: no individual, family, or group is immune from the effects of mental illness. Furthermore, we are learning that many mental illnesses result from chemical disorders in the brain, just as diabetes results from a chemical disorder in the pancreas. Why, then, is there still such misunderstanding and fear surrounding mental illness?

myths and misconceptions

"Myths and misconceptions about mental illness unfortunately are found among Latter-day Saints just as they are in the general public. These harmful attitudes include the following (see the article for the complete discussion):

1. All mental illness is caused by sin. 
2. Someone is to blame for mental illness.  
3. All that people with mental illness need is a priesthood blessing.  
4. Mentally ill persons just lack willpower.
5. All mentally ill persons are dangerous and should be locked up
6. Mental illness doesn’t strike children and young people.
7. Whatever the cause, mental illness is untreatable."

More recently, in "The Spiritual Component of Healing," Ensign, Jun 2008, Elder Morrison clarifies the roles of medicine and of faith in the healing process for both physical and mental illnesses.

the role of medicine

"We should not believe that all who suffer from illness, whatever the cause, need only receive a priesthood blessing to have their burdens lifted, perhaps permanently. I am a great advocate and supporter of priesthood blessings. I know from  many personal experiences that Jesus Christ, and He alone, has ownership of the precious “balm in Gilead” (Jeremiah 8:22) needed for final and complete healing. But I know also that God has given us wonderful knowledge that can be of inestimable assistance in dealing with suffering. We must, I believe, take every advantage of such God-given information.

"Some persons who are ill, who have received a priesthood blessing and have prayed fervently that their burdens might be lightened, may feel that they suffer from a lamentable lack of faith if they seek professional help for their affliction. They may even stop taking prescribed medication, thinking erroneously that their faith will replace    the need for it. Such thinking is quite simply wrong. Receiving and acting upon professional advice and the concomitant exercise of faith are not in conflict. In fact, exercising faith may require following the advice of experienced health professionals."

the role of faith

"Faith on the part of the recipient is the great prerequisite of healing (see  Nephi 26:13; Mosia 8:18; D&C 35:9). Faith—“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)—is a gift of the Spirit, bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 12:9; D&C 46:19–20). Without faith, the miracle of healing cannot occur. “For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith” (Ether 12:12).

". . . Faith in a loving Heavenly Father and in His Son, our Savior—coupled with  the understanding that we are literally God’s children, with a divine opportunity to strive to become as He is, and a realization that His love for us is eternal and unchangeable—brings peace to our lives. That peace persists even if the medical, psychological, or social dimensions of illness—be they physical or mental in origin—remain as “a thorn in the flesh.”

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know about the myth that mental illness does not strike children or youth. My counselor spoke of a youth client that he has that has taken seraquel for sleep and now has ticks. He was abused as a child but now I know that nothing traumatory has to happen for someone to be mentally ill. Thanks, Dad!


Featured Post

Have a Baby / Lloyd

It was customary in our mission for missionaries to review their patriarchal blessing with the president. During my interview the mission...