In The Soul Comes First, I suggest that the only way to make sense of the Bible is to think of this reality as a place of healing for wounded souls. That was something that we were originally meant to do as innocents in Eden. Given our tendency to wonder “Why?” (which is really what got Eve into trouble), it was perhaps unavoidable that we would wander from that role, and end up serving that purpose only after graduating from the school of hard knocks.
In science, the discipline that most directly deals with these issues is psychiatry. From Wikipedia, we have the definition “Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders.” It has two sub-disciplines: psychiatric medicine and psychotherapy.
I am not going to survey the complex social issues of modern psychiatric practice. Our friend at Taking the Mask Off surveys many of the disconnects between drug-based therapy under DSM guidelines and actual human needs. What I can offer, however, is an attempt to trace the source of the disconnect.
The root is in the mechanistic model of the mind. This is the idea that our minds – the seat of our intelligence and consciousness – can be explained fully through study of the brain. This is based upon the success of neurophysiologists in explaining the behavior of simple organisms (such as worms), and the correlation between damage to human brains and loss of function.
In On Intelligence, Jeff Hawkins of the Redwood Neuroscience Institute explored the challenges of explaining adaptive behavior using the mechanistic model of the brain. The Institute has put together some simple paper-doll cutting illustrations of these methods. However, my assessment was that the scaling was simply not going to work. When Jeff came to speak at my place of employment in 2005, I offered to him “Maybe the brain is a time-travel device, and you’re focusing on how it works looking into the past.” That thesis is the only way I have of explaining my personal experiences of precognition.
As for the correlation between brain damage and loss of function: correlation does not imply causation. If our creative intelligence and consciousness resides in a soul, and the brain is the interface to that soul, then damage to the brain will result in loss of function because the exchange of information with the soul is cut off.
The “fuzzy” side of psychiatry was recognized by many of its original practitioners (including Jung), and we can still find recent testimony on the matter. A great example is A General Theory of Love, by Lewis, et al. In that work, the therapeutic process is summarized as follows: the therapist walks the patient up to the moment of their trauma, and suggests “No, go this way instead.” As they testify, the two most important factors in therapeutic success are the moral clarity and courage of the therapist. If either fail, then the therapist becomes trapped in the patient’s trauma.
The connection to the problems described in The Soul Comes First can be found in F. Scott Peck’s Glimpses of the Devil and Father Amorth’s An Exorcist Tells His Tale.
Peck was a world-renowned theorist of applied morality and a practicing therapist. He was conned by a priest into accepting two patients with severe psychological disorders. As the relationship developed, Peck was driven inescapably to the conclusion that the disorders were caused by possession. The final course of treatment, in both cases, was exorcism.
Father Amorth was a Catholic exorcist who was alarmed that the Church has accepted the psychiatric models of personality disorders, and has therefore left its flock unprepared to manage spiritual infestation. He documents a lifetime of experiences that defy explanation using modern theories of physics.
Psychiatric medication is the alternative for those seeking to avoid such confrontations. It isolates and shuts down the neural pathways that are triggered by defective souls (whether damaged or infested) to generate antisocial and self-destructive behaviors. The problem is that it doesn’t address the root cause: the defective souls survive, and simply go about seeking strength to exercise their will through other pathways.
In my own experience, I have found that faith in Divine Love allows me to navigate waters that terrify professionals. I find that most destructive personalities are simply doing what was done to them in the hope of discovering someone who can show them how to survive their experience. What I share with them is my experience in opening my heart to the source of my pain until they are bathed in the divine source.
In my New Year’s message, I said that we find compassion, creativity and courage when we share the divine presence with each other. I believe that this addresses the limitations described by Lewis: the practitioner is not responsible for overcoming the evil experienced by the patient, but only for making the power of healing available to them. Both Amorth’s and Peck’s experience substantiate this truth.