She Thinks She’s a Tree!

“Hey buddy! You have to help me. It’s my wife. She thinks she’s a tree!”, said a man who knocked on the door on the Soupy Sales show. “Then why don’t you take her to a psychiatrist?”, Soupy replied.

“Come on dear,” said the frantic man as he pulled a tree past Soupy’s door.

I joke, but there is a serious problem in our country today with substance abuse and other problems, particularly in Bucks County, PA.

Because the church hasn’t been effectively helping people with problems, and out of desperation, people have been turning to secular psychology and psychiatry. Although churches are starting to offer Biblical solutions to problems, it is still ingrained in us that we need “professionals” to handle big problems.

There is a problem with much of modern psychology and you may as well be the woman who thinks she’s a tree who is just dragged away, as chances are you won’t get the help you need.

This is what I found, as did others with mental health clinics associated with the Bucks County health industry. A couple years ago, I lost my job, my dog, my house and had other problems and I psychologically went on a downward spiral, through a virtual black hole. Some of the problems were a result of my own doing. Nonetheless, although the Salvation Army helped me get on the right track, people there palmed me off to Penndel Mental Health, where I was given Paxil, which made me worse. The cognitive behavior therapy gave me a methodology to work things out, but it wasn’t the cure.

I just heard “The Addiction Network” ad come on again, where a bearded guy with glasses and scrubs makes his spiel and Augustly states “addiction is a disease”, inflecting the word “is”.

On pastor and Christian counselor Jay Adam’s website, the notion of drug abuse, and by extension, mental problems being a disease is addressed:

“Mental Illness

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Donn R Arms

Folks let’s get this straight. The mind is not a physical organ. It cannot have a disease, illness, or injury in anything other than a metaphorical sense such as a sick economy or a sick joke.

Typhoid fever — disease
Spring fever — not a disease
Scarlet fever — disease
Bieber fever — not a disease”

For sure, drug “addiction” has physical symptoms. I know from experience that the dope I got from someone in a lab coat has severe withdrawal symptoms. But my anxiety was caused by my mental attitude, precipitated by my habitual ungodly behavior. I got my anxiety, and depression under control and continue healing as I try to submit myself to God and his ways, fighting my fleshly, sinful nature and get my head right. There is some merit to cognitive behavioral therapy, in that what you think results in subsequent behavior and that it is at least concerned with personal responsibility and decision making.

As one of the characters on Monty Python and The Holy Grail said, “it’s only a model.” You have to fill in the blanks in the flowchart in cognitive behavioral therapy.  After evaluating behaviors/outcomes as a result of thinking, you may want to rethink what you did. The flowchart:

 

I fill in “thoughts” with the right stuff, God’s Word, or at least basing my thoughts on scripture.

The 12 Steps, which was started by Alcoholics Anonymous, is the right stuff. It is faith based. More than 90 percent of substance abuse treatment centers used AA principles and more than 30 percent of referrals to AA came from various treatment centers in 1949.

I recently saw the movie The Untouchables again, which depicted the corruption and degradation of the so-called progressive period. By 1949, our society started healing from the social ills, and I use “ill” as a metaphor.

I personally know people who are incessantly off and on in their attempts to stop abusing alcohol and other substances. This happened to a guy during the early years of AA. He even was treated for his problem by Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung. About a year after finishing treatment with Dr. Jung, the man went back to the bottle. The Doc’s prescription was “a spiritual conversion with a religious group” as he was considered a nearly hopeless case. And with God’s help, he overcame!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alcoholics_Anonymous

There is hope with God.

Recovery is not instant. In fact, it can take a long time to change bad habits and heal wounds. One bad, sinful problem I’m working on is unforgiveness, harboring resentment against people who grossly wronged me. As the case with any problem, you have to admit you are wrong and allow God to change you. There are people in the homeless and those in need community who, despite concerned, caring people reaching out to them,  continue their bad habits, with is actually besetting sin.

https://www.gotquestions.org/habitual-sin.html

I’ve been trying to help a lung cancer patient who wants to give up and has engaged in irresponsible, destructive behavior. She has, however, made some progress. People who reach out to help people are not responsible for results; just doing the right thing.

The problem with modern psychology/psychiatry is that it tends to treat human behavior like science, the physical world of inanimate objects. This doesn’t work. Contrary to Marxist thought, two different people in the same place and situation don’t always behave the same. This is a materialist view of humans. In fact, I think Marx wrote of “Dialectical Materialism.”

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 5: 15,16

Another Brick in The Wall

One of the myths about the homeless is that they are all mentally ill. Another myth is the way people are labeled as “mentally ill.”

Some experts don’t think “mentally ill”  is an accurate term. They don’t think that people with mental problems should be labeled as being ill.  For them, “illness”, such as the flu, is caused by a virus. They ask what is the source that causes mental illness?

At the community meals for the homeless and those in need in Bucks County, PA, there are a few guests who act in a bizarre manner. Some observers have postulated that they have mental problems. Are these people “mentally ill”, and not responsible for their behavior, the way a cold makes you sneeze? Well, we are more than just a connected series of organs, nerve endings, etc., that respond to stimuli. We are a special creation. We can reason and tell the difference between right and wrong.

There are some people who can’t, or won’t distinguish between right and wrong. One character, known as “Birdman”, goes from table to table at community meals, as people are finishing up their meal and asks them if they want various items that were set out for their table, as he reaches for the items. Last night at every table he tried to get ice tea, people turned him down.  A defeated predator, he slinked away and whined  “everyone has to keep it for themselves.”

At one meal, we told him we wanted what was on our table. I added that this is for our table; “go to your own table, leave us alone, you are annoying.”

At a meal after that, as I approached him at the back of the room as I was getting my drink, he asked “Am I annoying you?” I said he wasn’t. He then asked me how he annoys me. I responded “I’ll treat that as a rhetorical question.”

Birdman doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. Is he “mentally ill?” No. He just has bad manners and doesn’t have borders. He evidently subscribes to the concept of “The Noble Savage”, where one ignores the restraints of civilization and just follows one’s animal instincts. This concept most recently became vogue at Woodstock, where unruly spoiled brats invaded the farm country at all hours with their revelry, disturbing people in the community.

When I was in elementary school years ago, when the Bible was read in the classroom, at recess we had “out of bounds”. This was an area marked off where we were not allowed to go. We weren’t just afraid that a safety or even our peers would catch us. It was just somewhere we did not dare go. Like the ladies room in the Star Trek Enterprise, a place where no man has gone before, it’s a place kids were reluctant to enter.

Birdman is oblivious to the concept of out of bounds.

There’s another nut – I use the term just to identify bizarre behavior – who goes to the community meals who also selfishly thinks she is a special privileged character who, not content with what the hosts graciously prepared for everyone else, demands a custom meal. I call her “Queen Nora.” At one meal the Queen asked “Do you have anything with beef?”

Both Birdman and Queen Nora think that anyone with a car is obligated to be their chauffeur, simply because they have a car and they do not.

While I’m on a roll, he’s another anecdote about another nut who has gone to the community meals. I don’t have a name for her yet. This one doesn’t like anyone to touch her or even walk behind her, especially when she sits at the table. On one occasion, as we were finishing a meal, another busload of guests came. The hosts were rolling a desert tray down the aisle.  Wanting to leave before the other people entered, she chirped “I’m finished my dinner; just give me my cupcake and I’ll go.” Nobody complied. “Does anyone speak English?”, she stammered. She held up her hand and repeatedly demanded “give me my cupcake!”

Even the few examples, whom some people on casual observation may conclude are people with mental problems, are not representative of homeless people.

The homeless are just a microcosm of society. And they are not all alike.

Today, society has become Godless. The Bible was taken out of the public schools. Pink Floyd got it right when they sang:

“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”

Indeed, in our society you are just another brick in the wall. This is the case with the mental health industry in Bucks County. It’s representatives canvas the homeless community like Jehovah’s Witnesses and shanghai the homeless. Their bate is housing. One representative told me that he doesn’t believe in “housing first” because the homeless have to get straightened out first. This presupposes that they all have such big drug, alcohol or mental problems that they need “professional” help before getting housing. Wrong!

The Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) also treats the homeless as if they are just another brick in the wall. Unlike others who hold the homeless accountable for their behavior, they’ve been known to give unruly homeless people a free pass, evidently reasoning that it is the way homeless people are supposed to act. This mentality fosters negative stereotypes about the homeless and contributes to hobophobia, the irrational fear of the homeless, which, incidentally, is not tax deductible.

Hummmmmm…

But not with God. He made us in his image and has taught us right from wrong. There are absolutes!

“Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults.” – Isaiah 51:7

Up On The Roof

“When this old world starts a getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I’ll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space…

Up on the roof”

— James Taylor, Up on The Roof

People are sometimes just too much for me to face, and I feel like having Scotty beam me up and I’ll drift right into space. Indeed, we all need an occasional retreat, a time to stand down, recuperate, reboot, but we have to come back and face the real world.

In my last blog, I talked about showing grace to difficult people. I wrote that there must be rules and borders. But when people don’t follow rules they agreed to it’s tempting to give up on them — write them off.

I was brought up old school. When I was in elementary school, there was an area marked off in the school yard as “out of bounds”. Kids didn’t dare cross the line and go “out of bounds”. No! For shame for shame, if we did. Unfortunately today, in the tradition of The Noble Savage, borders are evaporating, between countries and are codified in the term “Generation X.”

Some people close to me are having trouble following rules and are going out of bounds. One is undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer. Yet, like seven out of ten smokers who contract lung cancer, according to information at the cancer center, she continues to smoke, despite continued warnings and explanations why she needs to stop from the medical community. She’s also a sporadic drunk, overdoing wine on four occasions since I met her a year ago.

She’s also taken other substances to excess.

A nurse said that a little red wine, unlike a little smoking, is good for her, but because she’s underweight and because of her medical condition, excess alcohol can have a devastating effect.

Not only is this creating problems for her; it’s creating problems for me because I’m left with the mess. Her destructive, reckless behavior is driven by her attitude that she just wants to give up on life — she has no reason to live. I’ve tried to help her change this attitude, and it’s tough.

Frustrated, and angry, I lost my temper again and started to put her down — just giving up on her.

I realize my attitude was wrong. A Christian sister pointed out that my friend has been suffering from a disease that’s been eating away at her for about a year and that the right thing to do is to show compassion and have patience with her.

I am calling myself out on this blog, as I don’t make exceptions.

Christians are sinners saved by grace, and I am no exception. As the apostle Paul wrote, don’t let sin dominate in your life. The key is to confess your shortcomings to God and ask his help to overcome them.

I apologized to my friend and am striving, with God’s help, to show more compassion and patience with her, while trying to hold her to the rules, which she agreed to, and setting borders.

Instead of just being an escape from the world, I climbed the stairway to heaven to seek God’s help in dealing with the world. As the Bible says, be in the world but not of the world.

The world, as evidenced in Bucks County, PA, is in bad shape and needs help.  Bucks County is number one for heroine addiction in Pennsylvania and number two in the country.  People are dying.  When I went to my 40th high school reunion in neighboring Montgomery County a few years back, I learned that several of my classmates died from drug overdoses.

A little while back, I overheard an eye opening conversation in the men’s room at the public library in Levittown, PA.  A guy remarked that drugs are getting more deadly and added that addicts don’t care; the only thing that’s important to them is getting high.

There is a big homeless problem in Bucks County; many people struggle to find a place to live.  The government is failing the homeless.

We live in a hurting world.  The Bible believing churches need to step up their efforts to minister to the world, though positive thought and deed — by reaching out to people.  In lower Bucks County, churches have been doing a lot to meet the material and spiritual needs of hurting people.  We need more.

One of the hosts at a community meal for the homeless and needy said that she wished her small church could do more for people.  Besides graciously providing material things, they have been making their “friends without walls”, as they call them, feel at home and wanted.  Collectively, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

Being there for someone with any need, such as depression, goes a long way.  This blog illustrates how concerned Christians can help others.  http://www.theclause.org/2014/03/mental-illness-the-christian-perspective/

The church needs to have an positive affect on society, influencing society and not vice versa.  One’s  faith should not be privately engaging but socially irrelevant.  An good example of this is a free program that addresses people need help is the 12 Step Journey Program held in churches in Levittown.  http://www.12stepjourney.com/

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

— 2 Corinthians 5:20