When we feel depressed, anxious, or distressed, are we mentally ill? Or are we spiritually confused?
Not long ago, I railed against the mental “illness” concept (see The Death of Mental Illness). While it can’t be denied that people have problems in the mental sphere, I object to the widespread assumption that they suffer from organic diseases. Yes, symptoms sometimes diminish with pharmaceutical treatment, but that doesn’t prove they are caused by faulty neurons. But if we abandon the “brain dysfunction” formula, what do we replace it with?
It’s tempting to call depression, anxiety, mania, and other psychiatric symptoms spiritual maladies. Unfortunately, many people in our culture object to the language of mysticism and prefer the supposedly verifiable terminology of science. And yet, there does seem to be an aspect of soul-sickness in the conditions we label as mental illnesses.