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.
This short book is aimed at counsellors and pastors and aims to provide ‘a foundational biblical framework for understanding psychiatric diagnoses and the use of psychoactive medications.’ This is an important little handbook because our culture increasingly uses psychiatric diagnoses to describe problems of living and increasingly seeks solutions through medications. It is full of the wisdom of an experienced biblical counsellor from the Christian Counselling and Educational Foundation. Although written from an American context most of it applies to this side of the Atlantic. The American Diagnostic System (DSM) is less used here than the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), but the concepts are similar, as are the pros and cons from a biblical perspective. Emlet points out that simply being human involves organizing, classifying and interpreting our world. He emphasizes that diagnoses are just descriptions and don’t have implications for causation. People are either ‘too warm or too cold’ to these issues and he steers a middle course. He doesn’t dismiss psychiatric diagnoses, but shows where they can help and then highlights the risks of reducing personal responsibility for behaviour. The biblical counsellor can benefit from the published experience of those who work, sometimes exclusively, with one type of problem. Case observations from secular practitioners can send us back to Scripture to further understand and develop a biblical perspective of the observations they have made from their worldview. His review of the use of medication is equally helpful, although the proprietary names of some of the medications are different in this country. He views medications as gifts of God’s common grace but warns that they can become idols. A gospel–centred ministry should aim to address both the bodily and moral–spiritual aspects of life, and both relief of suffering and perseverance in the midst of suffering are in line with God’s purpose. Whether or not medication is used, ‘the goal is always to help a person grow in love for God and for neighbour.’ Emlet gives helpful case examples to illustrate his points and the book is an easy read. I would recommend it to all who counsel.
Total Price: £1.99