The Bazlers are probably unaware of the fact that they are involved in an either/or logical fallacy. One logic book describes the either/or fallacy s follows:
The either/or fallacy, sometimes called false dichotomy, consists of mistakenly assuming that there are only two possible solutions to some problem or that solving some problem consists of choosing between only two alternatives. The argument moves by showing that one of the alternatives is false or unacceptable and concludes that the other must be true.1
Based upon their naiveté about true diseases and their erroneous either/or fallacy of true diseases and spiritual disorders, the Bazlers use the strongest possible language to condemn individuals who are on psych meds where no true bodily or brain disease has been found. It may never have occurred to them that a condition such as depression could be a combination of a true disease and a spiritual disorder or a true disease not discovered during a medical examination.
Depression and other mental disorders can be related to a person’s spiritual life, but to categorically say that it is either physical or it is spiritual is just plain erroneous reasoning. There are many other bodily symptoms that consistency would demand that they be labeled spiritual disorders when no physical disease can be found. Backaches are a frequent complaint that often escape a specific disease diagnosis. Are those backaches spiritual problems? Likewise for sinus and respiratory disorders where no true disease is found—are these spiritual problems? And, how about headaches where all the possible testing has been done, but the headaches persist? Since it affects the brain, are these spiritual problems as well? What do the Bazlers and others do with the fact that women have “twice the risk of depression as men”2 and two-thirds of those with General Anxiety Disorder are women?3 Through the years the list of true diseases has expanded and will continue to expand as more cause and effect relationships are discovered. Many disorders labeled psychological by the psychotherapists and spiritual by biblical counselors may be identified in the future as true diseases causing symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
In the past, when a reason for a symptom could not be found, psychiatrists jumped in with their psychiatric diagnoses. And, people were told that their symptoms were all in their head. In fact, there was a time when asthma was thought to be caused by family relationship problems and other such nonsense. The Bazlers have simply shifted the blame from the psychological to the spiritual, which for Christians becomes a hopeless cycle of condemnation and guilt on top of the symptoms already being experienced.
Based on their either/or fallacy, the Bazlers make many erroneous statements, such as the following:
Like marijuana and alcohol, psychiatric drugs give us an escape from reality and, like Andrea Yates [who killed her five young children], open us up to demonic influence beyond our control. Psychiatric drugs are the gods we turn to when we have problems we can’t bear. The living God waits with open arms to receive us, but like Adam and Eve, we run and hide instead. . . . God desires that we confess our sins to Him instead of hiding from Him. When we resume trusting God and obeying Him moment by moment, we will find that our mental-emotional-behavioral conditions will miraculously disappear, and the fruit of love, joy and peace will grow once again.4 (Emphasis added.)
The first sentence of the foregoing quote from the Bazlers is the logical fallacy of “Appeal to Force.” One logic text says: “You may recognize the fallacy of appeal to force by the presence of a threat either explicit or subtly disguised.”5 The Bazlers are warning the readers to accept their conclusion about the use of psychiatric drugs or they may be open to demonic influence like Andrea Yates. Instead of giving a scientific reason for not taking psychiatric drugs, the Bazlers threaten the reader by saying, in effect, “Accept what I say or you’ll be sorry.” The intelligent reader will be convinced by factual information and reason, rather than by scary threats, here and elsewhere in their book. With no warning about going off psychiatric drugs after a complete medical examination reveals nothing and with an appeal-to-force threat that you’ll be sorry for using psychiatric drugs, followed by a promise that “When we resume trusting God and obeying Him moment by moment, we will find that our mental-emotional-behavioral conditions will miraculously disappear, and the fruit of love, joy and peace will grow once again,” who would not be greatly tempted to follow the Bazlers’ advice? Unfortunately some will.
Psychology Not a Medical Approach!
The Bazlers close this chapter by once more stating their either/or fallacy and adding another condemnation:
Psychology misses the mark with its medical approach to spiritual issues. Instead of popping a pill, we should bring our mental-emotional-behavioral problems to the Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ, and discover the cause of our problems and feelings.6 (Emphasis added.)
The Bazlers statement that “Psychology misses the mark with its medical approach” itself misses the mark. It is psychiatry and not psychology that has a medical approach! Lisa, with her training in psychology should know better!7 But, this is a common mistake they repeatedly make in their book.
The Bazlers go on to say:
Are you not trusting God in a certain area of your life? Are you disobeying Him in some way? Think about your relationship with God before running to prescription drugs. After examining what God has to say about your problems as revealed in His Word and by His Holy Spirit, if you honestly confess where you have strayed and get back on course, God will cure you. That’s His promise.8 (Emphasis added.)
Charles Spurgeon, who is considered by many as the prince of preachers and whose numerous sermons and other writings continue to minister to people, suffered acutely from depression at various times throughout his ministry. He was afflicted with various physical ills that could have contributed to his depression, just as people today may suffer from various physical problems that have not yet been identified with depression. Some diseases creep in subtly and some, which can cause depression and anxiety in their early stages, are not identified for years. Because of the limitations of a physical exam, no matter how extensive, you may never know for sure if the anxiety or depression has a physical base. Leaping to a conclusion that it is a spiritually related depression or other mental disorder after a complete physical that reveals nothing is naïve at best and cruel at worst when put into practice.
There are many examples we could provide from our own experience and from other testimonies of overlooked physical causes of mental disorder symptoms. There are two cases of Christian women, with whom we are personally acquainted, who were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders because no known physical disease was discovered even after numerous physical tests and examinations by a variety of doctors. Both women were diagnosed as having a psychiatric disorder. In the first case, it was suggested that the woman’s husband might possibly be involved in her disorder. After several years of struggling, she was finally found to be a victim of Lyme disease, which is caused by a deer tick. The second woman reported a number of psychiatric symptoms and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Months later, after she had continued to suffer from the various symptoms, an astute doctor discovered that her symptoms were due to a coxsackie virus pathogen. Can you imagine the damage the Bazlers would cause with these two Christian women and many others?
During the period of time prior to the discovery of Lyme disease in the one and the coxsackie virus in the other, with accompanying psychiatric symptoms in both, these two women would have been labeled as having spiritual problems by the Bazlers. They would probably tell these two women who had thorough physical examinations by a variety of doctors, “Our mental problems are really spiritual problems that we can diagnose and treat biblically.”9 Along with other condemning statements and false premises heaped upon them, these two women would have been devastated. Then, after the discovery of their true disease, the Bazlers would be regarded as false teachers.
Claims without Proof
In their anti-psychotropic drug tirade, the Bazlers, quote two psychiatrists to support their position. They quote Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who is a nationally known anti-psychotropic drug advocate. We interviewed Dr. Breggin after his book Toxic Psychiatry was published and asked him the following question: “Dr. Breggin, do you have patients for whom you prescribe psychotropic medications?” He answered, “Yes, I do because they request it.” So, the anti-psychotropic drug advocate Dr. Breggin does prescribe psych meds to his patients.
The second person mentioned by the Bazlers is Dr. Gary Almy, a psychiatrist who was associate chief of the medical staff at an Illinois hospital. During his over twenty-five years as a psychiatrist he did prescribe psychotropic drugs to patients. In a talk he gave, Dr. Almy says, “I do still use medications from time to time.”10 The two mainstays supposedly in support of the Bazlers’ anti-psychotropic drug position both prescribed such meds to their patients, probably because no medical condition was found. Also, Dr. Almy, a Christian, would probably not agree with the Bazlers either/or fallacy! And, Dr. Breggin, who is not a Christian, would likely not support their either/or fallacy either.
The Bazlers give a number of examples about the brain’s complexity and how little is known about it. They say:
Psychiatrist Dr. Gary Almy agrees: “Science understands little about the function of the brain and even less about how the various psychiatric medications affect the brain.” Even the researchers themselves admit they don’t know much about the human brain. After reviewing the biochemical disease models of depression, the director of the depression research program at the Massachusetts General Hospital confessed in 1997, “The dark side of all of this is that we have many elegant models, but the real fact is that [when it comes to] the exact mechanisms by which these things work, we don’t have a clue.“11
If the scientists “don’t have a clue,” then neither do the Bazlers! If the scientists “don’t have a clue” about the “exact mechanisms,” then the Bazlers are in grave error venturing in where ignorance rules. Their one chapter alone could inflict great spiritual damage to those who read and believe it even though the Bazlers “don’t have a clue” about their condemnations based upon their conclusion about mental disorders being spiritual.
There are many examples of spiritualizing mental-emotional-behavioral problems. The internet has hundreds of examples of those who spiritualize mental disorders. Three examples from our book shelf are Bible Counseling by Dough Mallet and Debra A. Read, Only God Can Heal the Wounded Heart by Ed Bulkley, and Breakdowns are good for you! by Robert J. K. Law and Malcom Bowden.
Mallet and Read say:
Jesus did indeed work with “mentally ill” people all the time. Every person He touched needed Him to heal his or her “mental illness” because “mental illness” is really a spiritual matter. To take it a step further even, we have found that those who are classified as “mentally ill” in reality have a distorted view of who God is, whether through incidences in their past, or through present doctrinal errors to which they are clinging.12
To communicate the underlying theme of his book, Bulkley tells a story about a young man “who had difficulty dealing with the normal pressures of living.” After a short time in psychotherapy the man was “placed on strong psychoactive medications.” After two weeks of drug treatment his parents saw him and “could hardly believe the change.” His mother said, “He looked like a zombie.” She also said, “He was so drugged that he could hardly communicate.”
The following three paragraphs are Bulkley’s comments about this situation:
Fortunately for this young man, his parents believed in the power of God to heal the heart. They placed their son in bed and began playing tapes of biblical teaching as they prayed for his recovery. After two days of listening to the Word, the young man sat up, his eyes clear, and said, “It’s all so simple!”
He hurried to the bathroom and flushed his psychoactive medicines down the toilet. His recovery was rapid and total and he is now a productive husband, father, and businessman.
“It’s all so simple!” That’s the essence of this book.13
We are concerned with those who tell such stories. To begin with, Bulkley probably does not even know the man to whom he is referring, as these stories are passed around from one biblical counselor to another. Therefore there is uncertainty as to the actual details and scope of the man’s condition. Following the above story, Bulkley says: “You may have been told that your problem is genetic and that there is nothing you can do except to dull the pain with medication.” Many have been told by their medical doctors that their condition is genetically related. Where does this leave those individuals who have been medically diagnosed with a brain disorder, told that it is likely genetic, and are being medicated? Apparently they are to follow the example of the young man in the above story. We believe that, in telling the story in the way he does, Bulkley may influence individuals under medical care to abruptly flush their “medicines down the toilet” with possible disastrous results.
Law and Bowden declare: “All problems that can be dealt with and solved in counseling sessions are always due to the pride, self-centeredness and self-pity of the counselee” (bold theirs).14 They also say, “It is when people cannot get their own way and feel hard-done-by that they can descend into self-pity and begin to display one or more of the many forms of ‘mental illness.’” They declare: “Get rid of self-pity and the ‘mental illness’ will disappear.”15 A one-sentence summary of their position is: “the fundamental cause of all” mood disorders is the “self-pitying and sinful response of people to difficult situations.’”16 For a further analysis of Law and Bowden, see our article “Breakdowns are good for you! Discredited.”17
To be continued….
1 Robert M. Johnson. A Logic Book, Second Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1992, p. 248.
2 Blues Buster, Vol. 2, No. 11, p. 1.
3 Harvard Mental Health Letter, Vol. 19, No. 7, p. 1.
4 Lisa & Ryan Bazler. Psychology Debunked. Lake Mary, FL: Creation House Press, 2002, pp. 116-117.
5 Johnson. , op. cit., p. 241.
6 Bazler, op. cit., p. 118.
7 Ibid., p xiv.
8 Ibid., p. 118.
9 Ibid., p. 115.
10 Gary Almy, “Split Mind: Biblical Look at Schizophrenia.”
11 Bazler, op. cit., pp. 104-105.
12 Bible Counseling. Dough Mallet and Debra A. Read. Longwood, FL: Xulon Press, 2003, p. 31.
13 Ed Bulkley. Only God Can Heal the Wounded Heart. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers,1995, p. 9.
14 Robert J. K. Law and Malcom Bowden . Breakdowns are good for you! Bromley, UK: Sovereign Publications, 1999, p. 2.
15 Ibid., p. 3.
16 Ibid., pp. 3-4.
17 Martin and Deidre Bobgan, “Breakdowns are good for you! Discredited,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 17, Numbers 1-3, www.psychoheresy-aware.org.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, March-April 2010, Vol. 18, No. 2)