Saturday, November 4, 2017

Blog Tour: Descriptions and Prescriptions

Book Description

As Christians, we should neither blindly accept nor entirely dismiss psychiatric labels, diagnoses, and medicines that are prescribed to help those who are suffering. 

Descriptions and Prescriptions provides a balanced, biblically (and scientifically) informed approach that will help us understand and minister to those struggling with mental health issues.

My Review Of The Book: 
This is such a powerful little book. When I first read that this was going to be a biblical view of psychiatry, I would be lying if I wasn't a little nervous about it. I have to say that this is the best book I have read regarding psychiatry and it's practice from a biblical perspective. 

With that said this book is geared toward people in the counseling ministry, perhaps pastors or Christian therapists. I am neither but I am a psych student currently and a Christian and gained so much from this little book. I believe any Christian can get insights and grow from this reading.

The author is qualified for this type of writing having both an M.D as well as an M.Div. That is something that really gives credibility to the things written in this novel.  This isn't just an opinion piece. There is some science behind it. 

I think one thing I loved about this book is that he isn't completely in support of psychopharmaceuticals, something that I believe is overused at this period of time. He does realize there are times they are needed but not always. He explains that there are times when the issue can be worked through without them. 

I am unsure about the link between sin issues, and other psychiatric issues as that were sort of a grey area for me. I think the answer depends on the person and the abnormal behavior they are trying to work on. The issue whether it is anxiety, depression, mania, or so on. They could have a few root issues causing it. The question becomes is it a chemical imbalance or is it sin? This can be a hard question to answer. 

The book explains that the objective the counselor has is to show the patient God's love, not to stop psychotropic drugs. Thankfully he warns against the abrupt stopping, which can have consequences that can be life-threatening. He also doesn't argue recommending them starting drugs. His main advice is rather to work counseling them to find the real root of everything. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from Lifuse Publicity in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

A Note From The Author: 

What do you think when someone you know is diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder? Or has started to take a psychoactive medication? Do you say to yourself, "Finally, he is getting the help he really needs!" Or do you feel skeptical about either the diagnosis or the solution (or both), and wonder if what the person really needs is simply to trust in Jesus more?

It doesn't take too many conversations in the church to realize that there are widely divergent views regarding the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues. Like many, you may find yourself falling into one of two camps. Let me call this the Goldilocks Principle. What do I mean?

You may be someone who is "too cold" toward psychiatric diagnoses. Perhaps you're highly suspicious of using these labels. You believe that they are secular understandings of the person that compete with biblical categories and solutions. At best you don't think they're helpful, and at worst you believe they are harmful and dehumanizing.

Descriptions and Prescriptions
Descriptions and Prescriptions

Or perhaps you are "too warm" toward psychiatric diagnoses. You may embrace them as nearly all-encompassing explanations of the person's struggle. You may gravitate toward medical solutions and diminish the relevance of the biblical story for these particular problems. But is there a third way, a balance between these two extreme tendencies?

Similarly, you may be "too cold" toward psychoactive medications. You're extremely wary of ever using them. If you're honest, you believe that Christians really wouldn't have to take psychiatric medication if their faith were robust enough. And what about those side effects-why risk it? Or you may be among those who are "too warm" toward psychoactive medications. If a Christian has no problem using Tylenol for a headache, why shouldn't she use an antidepressant when she is depressed? And about those side effects-they are invariably worth the benefit. But is there a third way, a balance between these two extreme tendencies?

That is one major goal I had in writing Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical View of Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications: to help you move from either extreme-too cold or too hot-toward a view of psychiatric diagnoses and medications that is hopefully "just right." Perhaps you don't tend toward one of these extremes but you are looking for the biblical and scientific framework that allows you to maintain that third-way position. That's exactly what I hope this material will do. I want to take seriously what help psychiatric categories and medications provide but also recognize their limitations.

There is no doubt that many people suffer greatly with emotions and patterns of thinking that bring grave hardship to them and to their loved ones. The pressing issue is how best to know and understand their struggles. And then, having understood, how best to provide compassionate and wise help. After all, we are called to "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). Psychiatric diagnostic classification and psychoactive medications provide a way to understand and help those who are burdened in particular ways. This book assesses the limitations and benefits of understanding and helping people using that lens.
I have written this resource primarily for helpers in the church-pastors, counselors, elders, deacons, youth workers, men's and women's ministry coordinators, small group leaders, and other wise people who may not have a formal title or ministry job description but are actively engaged as intentional friends in one-another ministry. You are on the front lines of pastoral care and, no doubt, you have cared for and will continue to minister to people who struggle with mental anguish, who are diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, and who may be using or have questions about psychoactive medications.

This resource is in no way meant to be a comprehensive guide to helping those diagnosed with a mental illness, nor will it discuss the multifaceted approaches that exist for helping those who are suffering in this way. I simply want to provide a foundational biblical framework for understanding psychiatric diagnoses and the use of psychoactive medications. Ultimately, I want this book to help you to think wisely and compassionately about these struggles so that you are just a bit more equipped for this important work of burden-bearing and counseling.

(Adapted from Michael R. Emlet, Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications [Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2017], now available)

Learn more about Michael and his new release here.

 Meet the Author

Michael R. Emlet, MDiv, MD, practiced as a family physician for over ten years before becoming a counselor andfaculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He is the author of the book CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet, the minibooks Asperger SyndromeAngry ChildrenChronic PainHelp for the Caregiver, andOCD: Freedom for the Obsessive Compulsive.

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