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  • Writer's pictureAdam O'Neill

What is Christian Psychiatry?

Updated: Aug 3, 2023


What is Christian Psychiatry?
 

Article Summary:

  • A psychiatrists worldview matters when delivering care.

  • Worldview impacts how we view sickness and it's healing.

  • Pain is inevitable in life but the right heart and mind orientation can reduce suffering.

  • Christians proclaim God as good in and through the use of medicine not in spite of it.

 

Repeated studies, the most recent published in 2017, have confirmed that psychiatry is the most secular field of medicine. The few providers that practice Christian psychiatry are often confused and alarmed by this fact. Why?


First, our worldview matters in how we practice medicine. The worldview we have influences how we see and interact with the world. Our worldview changes how we see ourselves and others, how we view pain and suffering, and what we pursue as ultimate good. Some have argued that a provider should attempt to take on the worldview of their patients, but I have doubts this is ever truly possible (at least not completely). Only someone who holds so loosely to their own view, or else they hold a worldview that is a sort of kaleidoscope of views, would be able to approach seemingly everyone (except, I find, the one who affirms their view strongly enough to call it the sole Truth). It is questionable whether they actually believe and could throw off such foundational beliefs.


Second, sickness has a source and identifying it is the cornerstone of medical practice. How can we adequately treat what has not first been correctly identified and defined? I do not affirm that all illness, mental or physical, comes from personal sin, but I do affirm that all sickness is the result of living in a fallen world.


Third, viewing suffering as inevitable but purposed for the Good of believers (Romans 8:28) changes how we treat illness. This does not mean we allow patients to suffer for the sake of suffering, and we work to heal what we find as broken, but not before affirming what we know to be true. That these “light and momentary” afflictions (and I too struggle to see my patient’s struggles as well as my own as light and momentary) are producing for us “a weight of Glory beyond comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). So, as we pursue treatment for the relief of suffering, we begin first by changing our posture, through this mindset and toward the pain, not away. Carl Jung proclaimed, “What we resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”


Finally, we proclaim Christ’s redemptive work through the practice of medicine, not instead of it. God has redeemed us through his Son spiritually and provided good gifts for our fallen mental state. Medications, therapies, supplements, and vitamins have all been shown to improve mental health when correctly applied.

If you are interested in receiving care from a provider who affirms these tenets, I encourage you to reach out to Adam O’Neill & Associates. We do not promise to have all the answers, but we will be with you in wrestling for the answers and seeking Truth together.



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