Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Victory Over Depression

Earlier this year I read the best-seller Classic Christianity by Bob George. In the endnotes it advertised another of his books, Victory Over Depression, that was written with the purpose of helping folks living with and suffering from depression find a path through their troubles from a Christian perspective. I decided that I would pick up a copy. After reading it, I can only say that it was a complete disappointment from start to finish, and what is worse, folks who follow the advice contained in this book could find themselves even farther from stability and wellness.

The trouble starts when it becomes clear that Bob George does not truly understand what depression is and what it is not. He immediately defines it as something akin to a sad period in one's life, sort of like an extended bad mood. If you want to understand something about what true depression is, I would recommend that you read William Styron's book Darkness Visible. Styron states that "such incomprehension has usually been due not to a failure of sympathy but to the basic inability of healthy people to imagine a form of torment so alien to everyday experience. ... Most people in the grip of depression at its ghastliest are, for whatever reason, in a state of unrealistic hopelessness, torn by exaggerated ills and fatal threats that bear no resemblance to actuality."

If those words give you some improved insight, then you will appreciate that depression will not be alleviated with approaches like "if you have fear, anxiety, and depression, then you are not fully trusting in God", which is the core of George's guilt-themed mantra. Time and again he would relate an anecdote from one of his counseling sessions where he would listen to someone's woeful story and then start arguing with them over some point of semantics. He actually thought he was being so clever trying to cure folks with his high-brow academic ramblings. If it were me in that situation, my state of mind would only worsen, realizing that if this is supposed to be helpful, then I am even more lost than I had ever thought before. George also states his opinion that taking medication to fight the debilitating effects of depression is sinful because we are not relying on a trust in God. Utter rubbish and an extremely foolish and dangerous point of view. If this is what "Christian counseling" is all about, count me out.