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Date Posted: 18:00:05 12/05/04 Sun
Subject: UBF and mental illness
In reply to:
's message, "Discerning voices and mental illness" on 14:55:32 12/05/04 Sun
Caitlin has brought up a subject that I have been thinking about mentioning for a while. UBF seems to have a disproportionate amount of mentally ill people. I was in a very small chapter with a stable membership of about 15 (half of whom were UBFKoreans). Yet during my several years there, at least eight mentally ill people came and went. Most of them obviously had depression. Two of them mentioned hearing voices. This a type of psychosis and would probably indicate bipolar disorder or schizophrenia (see http://www.nimh.nih.gov for a better explanation). In addition, one of my "sheep" expressed deep concern in some of his "life testimonies" about his compulsive shopping, which is a sign of bipolar disorder.
So let me explain how UBF views mental illness. The two people who heard voices were proclaimed demon-possessed and were looked down upon. Those who were taking medication were pressured to stop taking their medication. They were strongly advised not to meet with psychiatrists or psychotherapists. One who broke this rule was severely and publicly rebuked. UBF is like Christian Science in that they expect that God should heal people miraculously rather than through doctors and medicine.
I think that mentally ill people are particularly susceptible to UBF for two reasons. One, their illness (especially depression or anxiety) programs their brain for self-doubt and low self-esteem. Second, they are desperately suffering and looking for some help. UBF comes along with a promise to solve all their problems.
Since leaving UBF, I learned that I have had severe depression and anxiety since early childhood. My disorder was obviously severely aggravated by my UBF involvement. I have been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons. I have tried at least thirty different medications and am now taking a delicately balanced concoction of Effexor, Remeron, Cymbalta, Valium and Geodon. It is definitely helping. I could not be more thankful to God for using these medicines to help bring me back to life.
I would like to offer my encouragement to Caitlin. Mental illness is a medical condition. It is not a form of spiritual weakness. If you hear voices, it is because of the illness. It is not a voice from God or from demons. Do your best to help yourself overcome your illness. The more you feel better, the better equipped you will be to lead the productive spiritual life that God intends for you.
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