Why Mental Illness Isn’t Like a Broken Bone

We can see how the brain acts, when people move different body parts or concentrate on something, but experts still can’t rationally explain where “feelings” come from.

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the brain doesn’t “make” feelings at all…not the same way your bones make marrow.

“Thoughts” are not physical, like blood or urine or even the gases we release. Thoughts aren’t really “things,” in that sense.

For this reason, even the most brilliant scientists have a hard time describing a thought. They struggle to explain: what is awareness? What separates animals from plants–when physical things are all made of the same elements?

How can we say our brains are like computers…when, for some reason, we have knowledge and feelings beyond a machine’s ability?

This kind of stuff can’t be answered by the best neurologists in the world. So, please, be skeptical any time somebody tells you “mental illness is just like diabetes, cancer, or a broken bone.”

No. It isn’t.

This blogger say, “It’s time we acknowledge that a disease in the brain is just as physical as a disease in the heart, lungs, or liver.”  But what does she mean by that?  “Physical” how?

We can physically see when someone is depressed or angry or amused on a brain scan, but that doesn’t mean those feelings COME from their brain.

It doesn’t mean someone with depression or anxiety has a problem that a cast or pills will fix.

Many friends and family members want to reassure folks with “mood disorders” because they mean well...but they just don’t know how complicated the truth can be.

A problem with your mood/thoughts is NOT just like a problem with a bone.

Perhaps a better theory comes from Dr. Gerald Schroeder, in his book God According to God.

Dr. Schroeder makes an example out of radio waves. You can’t see or even hear radio waves with your physical body. But they are all around, bouncing off walls and waiting to be decoded.  If you have the right physical tool (a radio), you’ll be able to listen to the broadcast which has been surrounding you all along.

What if our bodies work something like that?

What if much of reality is unseen and not physical?

What if “consciousness”  (or our “spirit” or Who We Really Are) somehow exists outside of our bodies–and we simply use the flesh and bone to tune in, like radios? (For now.)


I’ve been reading another book recently. It’s called The God-Shaped Brain–in which the author explains that prayer and intentional meditation on a loving God changes the shape of the brain.

This is scientific fact, you guys.

The brain has the ability to fix itself–to rewire and produce more positive, hopeful, joyful fruit–if it focuses on a God of Truth and Light instead of soaking in lies.   Do you have any idea how significant that is???

Most importantly, do you know how damaging it could be, to tell somebody their brain is broken, if it’s actually just tuned in to the wrong “channel”?!

Can you understand, at least a little bit, why I raise my eyebrows when more than half of all Americans get diagnosed with a “mental illness” at some point in their life?

We feel perfectly comfortable recommending medical doctors to family and friends who need help–but we won’t even consider that the problem might be anything other than a purely physical flaw.

“Their hormones just need balanced, like a diabetic’s blood sugar, ” we say.

I say there’s no way it’s that simple…


I’m all about bringing “awareness” to mental illness–but I wonder why it’s sooooo important to leave God out of that conversation?  And I wonder at what point we’ll realize there’s an awful LOT of people dealing with something supposedly “abnormal.”

Maybe it makes sense that some of us would be stuck in deep, dark places–for months or even years at a time–because we’re wrestling with hugely important questions that have real, metaphysical consequences?

And maybe many of us never get the chance to address those deeper issues, because pop-culture says we need to take care of our chemical problem.

To suggest that psyche drugs aren’t the answer (or that they’re basically placebos) is viewed the same as “withholding insulin from a diabetic.”

We WANT scientists to find a physical cure for us. We WANT to take our pills, like a cracker for a sugar-crash.

We WANT to believe our minds are just a clump of electricity and chemicals, and that the right expert can balance us with a prescription, when our brains don’t behave the way we want.

But it’s just not that simple.

Maybe we should consider that slapping the top of the radio isn’t the ONLY way to get a better sound…


2 thoughts on “Why Mental Illness Isn’t Like a Broken Bone

  1. Pingback: Can Mental Illness Be Cured? | Cultures at War

  2. Pingback: You Cannot Speak for Everyone | Cultures at War

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s