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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

On Mental Health and Sin

As I have left Father Ripperger's great book with a friend, I shall not be able to go back and comment on this masterpiece. However, I want to highlight a point which has caused me concern in the past.

Over thirty years ago, a person I knew had a breakdown at university. This highly intelligent woman all of the sudden became extremely depressed and suicidal. Her parents had to come and take her out of college and bring her home to see a psychologist.

Sadly, although the family is Catholic even today, the parents decided on one counselor who was not Catholic. This was hardly their fault at the time, as there were no Catholic counselors or doctors of mental health in the entire metro area where they lived.

The result was that in the several years of counseling which followed, this young woman was encouraged by the doctor to engage in fornication. The counselor felt that this was a way the young woman would experience "normal relationships" and "love".

The young woman's parents were, rightly so, horrified by this advice. However, the young woman took seriously the suggestion of this counselor and ended up in several extra-marital relationships with men. Needless to say, she did not become mentally sound, but lost her Catholic faith entirely and ended up not only on medication for depression for the remainder of her life, but unable to enter into real, solid, good relationships with men.

Father Ripperger notes over and over that one must choose not only a moral doctor for help, but one who understands that sin leads to an unhealthy mind. The mind cannot be separated from the soul, the imagination, the will.

Too many psychologists and psychiatrists are not religious themselves, or even moral. How can these people help another person to become mentally healthy by ignoring the very core of our being, the soul?

To watch a person fall farther and farther away from the truth of who they are, a child of God, an heir of heaven, if they are baptized, as this person is, and completely leave the Faith, and indeed, in this case, all Christianity, is painful. Following the advice of her doctor, this woman has never found stability mentally, and, of course, spiritually in her life she is far away from God. She is now an atheist as well as still combating depression.

Her parents regret their decision of taking her to the doctor they did. They are good Catholics who never dreamed a professional would recommend sin as therapy.

Sin is the turning against what it means to be human. And, habitual sin distorts a person's humanity. Only a life of morality and virtue can help a person recover mental health.

I highly recommend Father Ripperger's book, especially for anyone in the field of counseling.