Mental illness and sin
September 7, 2009 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a forum or community (e.g. Facebook group) about mental illness being dismissed by churches as sin or demon possession, or people with obvious mental illnesses not being referred to doctors by their pastors.

Here is an article about the issue. I want to find a group of people who are concerned about pastors trying to cure mentally ill people in their congregation instead of referring them to mental health practitioners. Or a group of people with mental illnesses (or their friends and family) who have had their illnesses blamed on their own sins. I am having a hard time with Google because mostly links about "Christianity being a mental illness" come up. Can you help me find a community?
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think part of your trouble finding what you want is that you seem to be googling "Christianity and..." when most active Christian denominations are pretty savvy when it comes to mental health issues (at least to the extent that they don't see symptoms of schizophrenia and diagnose demon possession).

I haven't seen the type of community/forum you're looking for, but it might help if you narrowed your search to something like "Pentecostalism and mental illness." You may find some leads among ex-Pentecostal/charismatic forums.

(Note that not all Pentecostals are oblivious or hostile toward modern understandings of and treatments for mental illness, but since they tend to be more vocal about demonic forces (in my experience) than other denominations, they'd probably be the place to start looking. I suspect that if you start there, you'll eventually get to a cross-denominational forum on mental health misinformation in churches.)
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:50 PM on September 7, 2009

I found this blog: Wise Counsel

There are quite a few postings and comments about the issues you raised, such as this post on serious mental illness and faith. You may be able to find other resources and links through this blog.

As a side note, while I was searching to see if I could help with this question, I came across so many articles and blog posts by "Christians" talking about how mental illness is really sin that I started to feel sick.

The Google search I used was "mental illness sin" and I didn't get the "Christianity is a mental illness" results that you got.
posted by Danila at 1:53 PM on September 7, 2009

This thread on the ex-pentecostals forum sounds like the sort of thing you want, although it's just one part of a much larger forum: Bible used to treat mental illness.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:22 PM on September 7, 2009

One addition to my comment above--very frequently, conservative Christian denominations and groups refer to themselves simply as Christians, implying or stating explicitly that those who practice Christianity differently aren't truly "Christian."

If you want reading material written by those who believe that mental illness is caused by sin or demonic forces, you can expect them to refer to themselves as "Christian" (see Danila's links--though do be aware that those are far from mainstream*). However, if you're looking for forums run by people who have left that community, you'll want to specify a denomination in order to get the results you're looking for.

*Mainstream conservative Protestant emotional abuse tends to manifest in descriptions of normal human experiences, desires, and actions as sin. I'm not trying to be snarky, mostly I just mean that they do have their faults, but generally speaking, this whole "mental illness is sin" thing is a niche-fault among certain groups, particularly charismatic Christians. An exception might be that sometimes mainstream conservative Protestants refer to common mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety, as symptoms of insufficient dedication to one's faith (i.e., "If you'd spend more time praying, you'd stop feeling sorry for yourself" rather than acknowledging depression).
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:25 PM on September 7, 2009

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