Yesterday I took six children to the eye doctor for their annual exam. While waiting, Ben picked up an old Maclean's magazine. A picture of a bald woman caught his eye, and he began reading the accompanying article. I leaned over to see what he was reading, and discovered the name of yet another disorder. This woman did not lose her hair to chemotherapy, she was not a skinhead, neither was there any other physical reason for her hair loss. No, she has a disorder called trichotillomania, a psychological condition where people feel compelled to pull out their hair.
We live in a society that is obsessed with disorders, manias and phobias. Common disorders include attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. There is a whole slew of manias. I found a long list of them here. And here is a long list of more phobias than you ever knew existed.
One problem with all these disorders, manias, and phobias is that once a person has a label, there is no cure for them. All they can hope for is to "control" the problem with medication and/or some type of therapy. (For example, one recommended therapy for trichotillomania is, oddly enough, rug hooking.) There is no real hope that they will ever get over their problems completely. Why? One reason is that waiting to treat all these patients is a whole army of psychologists and psychiatrists. And let's not forget all the pharmaceutical companies supplying myriads of medications. This is all big business. It would not be economically feasible to "cure" all those people.
Actually, the diagnosis of mental illness (the general term under which all these disorders, etc., fall), is usually not medically legitimate. One doctor working with thousands of cases like these would always send his patients for complete neurological exams and tests. The conclusions found that only about 3 per cent of all those cases actually had chemical or physical causes.
I am not denying that there is something extremely wrong with us and our society today. Something is terribly wrong. But the problem is not physical. It is spiritual. People like their labels because now they have a "legitimate" excuse to sin. Labels help a person remain self-centered instead of God-centered. A person who truly wants to glorify God with all his being will do whatever he can, through the grace of God, to rid himself of whatever "condition" he may have that causes him to focus on himself. He will learn to recognize his sin for what it is and will confess it as such and forsake it.
Do I sound harsh and uncaring? Unsympathetic? A surgeon has to cut into a patient, usually causing much pain, in order to help his patient. His patient recognizes that this pain is necessary for healing to take place. Yet when a Christian points to someone's sin, he is accused of being judgmental and harsh. But a person needs to know there is a sin problem before he can truly experience and appreciate the permanent cure that comes from God alone.
Because there really is a cure.
"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:34-36).
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (1 Timothy 1:7; note that the Greek word translated "sound mind" actually means "self-control" which is the very opposite of bipolar disorder and many other "mental" issues).
Too bad more of us aren't afflicted with hamartophobia.