By David Joel Miller.
Beware the promise of one and only one way to recover.
There have been a whole bunch of comments and posts recently telling us that Mental Illness and addiction are not illnesses because there is no “cure” for them. People have also left comments on some of my posts that suggest that their particular webinar or training program can cure people. There is, on the internet, always a host of posts suggestion that modern science is a fraud and that you need to adopt their particular brand of religion.
Most of these pieces contain some truth. Just enough to make them dangerous. There are also a lot of attacks on doctors, mental health programs and most anyone who does not agree with the poster.
These comments also have included a number who report that their spouses were cheating and then they visited a particular fortune-teller or voodoo practitioner who put a spell on their wandering partner who is now all attentive and faithful. These instant cures often come with a hefty price tag. I routinely delete these comments. If you want spells there are places you can google to find them but this blog is not the place for that.
I know I opened the door on the religious posters by letting on that those clients who believe something do better in treatment. I support people’s need to have some belief system about right and wrong but there are a lot of distortions in some of these posts that are pushing their particular group as the one and only true way.
In the interest of promoting interaction and free speech I try to approve as many comments as possible as long as those who get approved do not abuse the comment process.
Here are some of the main logical fallacies and factual errors to watch out for.
1. Confusing religiosity with religious faith.
We see a lot of people with a history of a mental or emotional illness who suddenly become fervent devotees of a particular religion. I am not talking here about a conversion experience and then being observant in practicing that religion.
Excessive religiosity includes joining small sects who have different divergent beliefs. Then the new convert, in an effort to convince themselves, becomes an ardent missionary to spread this faith. They spread this new religion mostly by insisting that anyone who does not agree with them is evil and needs to be attacked and punished.
Sometimes these progresses to the level of distortions and invalidation anything that does not agree with their conception of reality.
One commenter reported that members of his faith, he reports being Christian, were not terrorists and do not kill people. This leaves him with the problem of explaining away the times people have died at the hands of people who said they were Christians in religiously motivated wars.
The easy but untruthful response to this dilemma is to say that those people were not “real Christians.” Pretty soon everyone who disagrees with this person is not a “real” Christian and whatever he says is the only truth.
This line of reasoning has also been applied to people with divergent political views who then get described as “not real Americans” etc.
A more honest answer is that people of any and all religions have been known to do things that fall short of their ideals. Good people sometimes do bad things and bad people sometimes do good things. The world is not all black and white. It also includes green and purple.
When your religion becomes mostly about forms and less about positive values you are headed in a dangerous direction.
I enjoy hearing people tell me that their faith in their higher power has improved their life. I do not enjoy reading attacks on people of other faiths in the name of spreading truth.
2. When I say —– (word x) I mean.
Words are the way we communicate. If someone creates their own unique meaning for a word and do not let the rest of us in on that they are off base. Use either one of the dictionary definitions, the connotative meaning that most of us understand or create a new word to describe what you are talking about but do not redefine existing words.
3. Defining away the problem.
One poster said Mental illness is not a disease because doctors can not cure it and went on to say, when I say – I mean. Sorry but most illnesses are not cured. Chronic illnesses like Diabetes, High Blood pressure, congestive heart failure and so on are controlled not cured. That does not invalidate them as illnesses.
This is confusing illness with infection. If there are bacteria causing the illness it may be possible to kill all those bacteria and “cure” you of that infection. You could however still have an illness from the damage that this bacteria has done.
Just because something is missing one particular feature does not make the whole condition go away.
Just some quick thoughts. I have approved as many comments as possible. Those who contribute to the solutions are welcome. Those who spread the problems and sneak in spam or commercial pitches get deleted or banned as best I can.
I know of no one way to get an instant cure but I believe strongly that people can and do recover and that there are many ways to achieve that recovery.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.
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