Consider this: Why is it that people only excuse their bad behavior on mental illness, but never their good. Whenever they help a little old lady across the street, or give money to a poor neighbor to help with rent, that always gets chalked up to their own moral goodness.
It’s only when they kill, or steal, or lie, or commit suicide that people start talking about it being something quite apart from their nature, over which they had absolutely no control, that MADE them do such a thing (against their will of course!).
Do you see what that reveals about our presuppositions about human nature? It demonstrates that most people believe (quite contrary to what the Scripture teaches) that humans are innately good, and that their moral badness is best explained by forces that are far beyond their control.
I am NOT saying that there is no such thing as a genuine mental illness, or that a genuine mental illness cannot impact and affect behavior. It can and does. However, we are so averse to ever blaming, or judging, or condemning, that we resort to excusing, even when the logic doesn’t really work. We just don’t like to think that people we love are truly selfish at the core of their being. Some would always rather view them as sick.
Anna Russell wrote these poignant words:
I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed
To find out why I killed the cat and blackened my husband’s eyes.
He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find,
And here is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind:
When I was one, my mommy hid my dolly in a trunk,
And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.
When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,
And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.
At three, I had the feeling of ambivalence towards my brothers,
And so it follows naturally I poison all my lovers.
But I am happy; now I’ve learned the lesson this has taught;
That everything I do that’s wrong is someone else’s fault.
Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is also the Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net.
Photo credit: TheGiantVermin /Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Good words, Israel. There is such a thing as true mental illness. Having worked around psych inmates for 20 years I have a close-up perspective of mental illness. I’ll share it with you one day if you desire to hear my humble opinion and observation. Maybe when I get back from Malaysia.
Well put. Accurate observations, although real mental illness exists, the trend is often toward excusing and shifting blame.