Can Mental Illness Be Cured?

I’ve written about mental illness twice now.   (Here and here.)

How could I possibly have more to say on the subject?

Well, Friends, I was directed to this man’s testimony about a week ago, and I can’t get it out of my head…

Please don’t be intimidated by the length.  Just watch until he gets to: “My dad was my only relative within a few hundred miles, so he obviously needed to die–and I had a ball peen hammer that would do the trick.”

I suspect you’ll be fairly curious about his spiral down after that…

Did you watch all the way to the end?

So, we’re on the same page then? Everybody understands that a man who once beat is father with a hammer, just to prove he was “really free,”  now claims to have found true freedom is in Christ?

I couldn’t resist looking up David Wood after such an amazing story–and though I didn’t find much–I learned he’s now married with kids. He has a couple of masters degrees and a PhD.

And he hasn’t seen the inside of a prison or a mental hospital since his conversion…

I can’t figure out exactly why I like this video so much.  But I think it has something to do with having struggled with the exact same questions.

Er–not whether I could talk to cats. But all that stuff about right/wrong and the pointlessness of everything in an evolutionary world?  Yeah. If that’s mental illness, I readily admit, I have it, too…

The idea that we shouldn’t have to play by society’s rules is a perfectly legitimate conclusion, in a world of chance and chaos. 

Some of my favorite quotes of David are these:

-“I noticed that people didn’t share my amazing insights into reality… I started wondering if maybe something might be wrong with me.  After pondering this for several months, I realized why I was different.  I had evolved to a higher stage of humanity…”

-“I understand that most of you Atheists out there live perfectly normal lives. But I could never understand why you would want to. Think about it: we’ve got this massive universe. And over here is this tiny little crumb of a galaxy…  and, crawling all over the Earth are these feeble, selfish, self-destructive lumps of cells constantly deluding themselves into thinking that what they do is so important.

“The Universe couldn’t conceivably care less whether you loved your neighbor as yourself or you tortured him just for fun…so you might as well do whatever you feel like doing with the little bit of time you’ve got…”

It’s not hard to dismiss David as some type of psycho, who’s simply lucky he hasn’t had a big meltdown in 20 years.  It’s easy to argue we should just ignore him, except to send a doctor or police officer to monitor and make sure he doesn’t snap again…

But, does he sound crazy NOW?

And, you’ve got to admit, if we’re just happy cosmic accidents, we have a very hard time explaining to people why they shouldn’t commit murder.

We basically just have to hope they don’t feel like–and lock them up if they do.

How can we answer WHY humans keep trying to pretend things are meaningful? And–if we’re just products of evolution–aren’t the ones who obsess about chemicals like “love” and “empathy” the truly crazy ones? 

—-

There are millions of people in the U.S. trying to fix a psychiatric “problem” of one kind or another with drugs and other therapy. They’re trying to become more “normal.”

But, how do we know anger and fear and torture aren’t just the next stage of Human Evolution?

I know what I believe, but I want somebody to talk with me about this…

Talk to me about this man who was certifiably insane, and now he lives like you and me…

Someone explain what “normal” is…

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6 thoughts on “Can Mental Illness Be Cured?

  1. persedeplume

    Hi~ newb comment.
    First off, in the interest of honesty, I haven’t read your other posts linked so I don’t know what your feelings are about mental illness, and I *really* had to force myself to watch the whole video. Nothing I heard was intellectually or emotionally compelling to me in the slightest. It DID make me angry to hear the same old tripe dressed as a miracle, and the “atheism whitewash” we get from apologists who wish to demean atheism. I have no way of knowing how much of what he said was true. He certainly didn’t offer any evidence. Was he a sociopath with schizophrenic episodes cured by a prayer of all things? If he was diagnosed as such, it would defy current medical knowledge that he had achieved anything other than a recovery. Recovery doesn’t mean cure. Traditionally, the medical model of treatment has defined a “good outcome” from schizophrenia only in terms of a total cessation of symptoms, with no further hospitalization. There are a certain percentage of schizophrenics that have structural brain abnormalities. If he is one of those, then his claims are testable, and I know of no recorded instance in medicine where structural anomalies have been miraculously cured. Also, sociopaths can integrate by learning to use coping skills from life experience and therapy. They still don’t feel empathy, but they know to “act” like they do. That’s how serial killers hide in plain sight in their communities.
    There are compelling reasons for Dave to present as a “christian”. It’s de rigueur for prisoners to get a good case of jesus right before the parole board hearing. There are religious prison outreach programs that provide support for parolees, housing jobs, etc. and it’s helpful with maintaining the facade of propriety in the communities where they reside. Is it possible he’s reformed? Yes. Prison’s not a good place to be and most will try and avoid it given an opportunity. Is his position on belief credible? In my mind Dave starts from a position of horseshit and ends with the conclusion that god is the answer. Not even beginning to buy it. Would I sleep with him in the same house? Not in this lifetime. He falls into the category of trust only after lengthy and repeated rigorous verification.

    …..”how do we know anger and fear and torture aren’t just the next stage of Human Evolution?”

    Because it’s not a successful model biologically whereas cooperation is. There’s absolutely no environmental pressure that would encourage that behavior long enough to produce a speciation event.

    Whew. That was long winded. Sorry 🙂

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      I’m afraid you missed several of my questions…

      Re-read this part: “You’ve got to admit, if we’re just happy cosmic accidents, we have a very hard time explaining to people why they *shouldn’t* commit murder. We basically just have to hope they don’t feel like–and lock them up if they do…”
      You assume the fact that you have certain feelings is BETTER than a so-called sociopath’s lack-of-feelings. In fact, you have so much faith, you’re willing to lock up people who choose a different path than you. (You don’t ever wonder WHY you trust your feelings so much? You’ve never considered that maybe you were just taught to “be good” from the time you were a child, but none of it really matters anyway?)

      “How can we answer WHY humans keep trying to pretend things [and life in general] are meaningful? And–if we’re just products of evolution–aren’t the ones who obsess about chemicals like ‘love’ and ’empathy’ the truly crazy ones?”

      I’m afraid “science” can’t explain love and empathy, my friend. There’s no REASON for compassion in a cold, uncaring, natural world. As David Wood said, “The Universe couldn’t conceivably care less whether you love your neighbor as yourself or torture him just for fun…”

      So, I don’t know what makes you (or anyone else) the authority on which feelings are right and which are wrong. Mother Nature doesn’t care if we live or die. Why should you?

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      1. persedeplume

        In the interest of maintaining a semblance of brevity, I’ll respond to your questions here~ any comment overall I’ll post on my blog.

        “You assume the fact that you have certain feelings is BETTER than a so-called sociopath’s lack-of-feelings.”

        Yes, people with empathy and a sense of fair play are able to be loving and nurturing. They make decisions often where they are able to place the welfare of others above their own. It has the added benefit of not hammering your parent while they sleep. That’s savage *and* cowardly. If you could choose between those worlds, which would YOU choose?

        “In fact, you have so much faith, you’re willing to lock up people who choose a different path than you.”

        I would say there’s a difference between choosing a different path and criminal activity. Wearing funny hats and only one shoe in public would be choosing a different path. No one gets injured in the process.

        “You don’t ever wonder WHY you trust your feelings so much? You’ve never considered that maybe you were just taught to “be good” from the time you were a child, but none of it really matters anyway?”

        Rational people don’t rely entirely on their feelings. They certainly wouldn’t make wise decisions based solely on what they were feeling in the moment. In fact, emotion can be described as a internal measure of agreement/disagreement. It is a chemical/biological process that occurs in the brain. Good parents teach their children the coping skills they need to survive in a civil society. Many factors are involved. Environment, experience, culture, beliefs, genetics, and education all influence them. It’s not a perfect process, we all make mistakes. In total, children who are empathetic and caring lead happy productive lives. Society benefits.

        “How can we answer WHY humans keep trying to pretend things [and life in general] are meaningful? And–if we’re just products of evolution–aren’t the ones who obsess about chemicals like ‘love’ and ‘empathy’ the truly crazy ones?”

        Things are meaningful because we feel they are. We assign meaning to things and events also because that’s how we make sense of the world around us. It’s the only process available to us. And if you think it isn’t perhaps you could give us an example of love or empathy occurring independent of the brain.

        “I’m afraid “science” can’t explain love and empathy, my friend.”

        Yes it can. See explanation above.

        “There’s no REASON for compassion in a cold, uncaring, natural world.”

        Yes there is. We evolved to be compassionate in an uncaring natural world. It makes our lives better. We can experience happiness. We play, wonder at the beauty and complexity of the universe, and work to expand our understanding of it.

        “As David Wood said, “The Universe couldn’t conceivably care less whether you love your neighbor as yourself or torture him just for fun…”

        I never thought I’d agree with Mr. Wood on anything, so I say with some amazement, I agree completely. Although for very different reasons.

        “So, I don’t know what makes you (or anyone else) the authority on which feelings are right and which are wrong. Mother Nature doesn’t care if we live or die. Why should you?”

        I don’t recall asserting I was an authority on feelings. They are what they are. Some of us have more of them than others. Mother Nature is an anthropomorphism having the same reality as god. It’s an incoherent concept. I care about living because I enjoy life. You should too. I hope you have a long and happy one.

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      2. mrsmcmommy Post author

        The hardest part of conversations like this is deciding where to end. I think we’ve just about reached as good a place as any. The problem is that you Naturalists pick and choose how valuable you want to make your feelings…

        On one hand, you tell me love and empathy are chemical processes in the brain–and we can’t rely on them. But, on the other hand, you claim they give meaning to life. Meaning to life?! How can molecules and electricity be MEANINGFUL? I think David Wood is right: you’re deluding yourself. You’re grasping at straws, because your entire worldview rests on accidents and chance… but you have somehow been programmed to believe in “something more.” (Like beauty and happiness and meaning.)

        Anyway, I think it’s sad that so many of us talk in circles to prove our lives actually matter, when they DON’T in the long run. Love or kill? Survive or go extinct? What difference does it REALLY make? We’re just doing what humans have been doing for thousands of years because those complicated chemical-makers tell us to. And, if we get out of the line society has drawn for us, they’ll pump you full of drugs and throw you in a cell. (As Mr. Wood said sarcastically– “You call yourself a free-thinker…”)

        I doubt you’ll ever grasp the point I’m trying to make here, but that’s okay. I guess it doesn’t really matter whether we agree/disagree in the long run. If you’re correct about our history, then this conversation won’t matter in 50 billion years. So, like, whatever…

        Thanks for playing, Persedeplume!

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  2. Christian Wife and Mom

    Great post. I’ve watched Acts 17 Apologetics stuff off and on for a couple of years. I came across this video on a friend’s Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised to hear his story because my only reference for him was the sane person he currently is. I had to ask myself why I was surprised. Is it a surprise that the Maker of something has the ability to repair it? It’s a beautiful story of God’s power to heal.

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      It’s a surprise, I think, to have the privilege of witnessing that kind of healing in today’s hard-hearted world.
      This video puts me in tears every time I watch it. There are no clever camera angles–no sweeping orchestral music… and the main speaker is so matter-of-fact, you’d think he were explaining a calculus equation. It doesn’t make sense why something like this would affect me so much.

      Except, it’s pure-and-simple Truth, coming straight from a modern day Paul. I LOVE this story sooooo much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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