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Mental Health vs. Spiritual Health

February 11, 2007

This was the title of a meeting I went to last week. It was the first one in a while I almost walked out on.

Here was the good I took from it, namely, some pretty decent definitions of what it is to have mental or spiritual health–

Mentally healthy: Measured in behaviors, not emotion. Being healthy involves behaviors that contribute to your health and to the world more than they hurt.

Mentally unhealthy: Behaviors that harm you and involve taking more than you contribute to the world.

Spiritually healthy
: Measured in emotion, specifically joy. When one feels positive emotions like joy when adhering to one’s set of beliefs.

Spiritually unhealthy: Negative emotions and pain associated with one’s beliefs.

Then we got into this discussion-

Speaker’s question: Can the content of the beliefs be separated from the emotion of those beliefs? For instance, was Hitler spiritually healthy? After all, he took great joy in his terrible beliefs.

My answer: YES, by your definition sir, spiritually healthy is feeling consistently positive emotions from your beliefs. It doesn’t matter how fucked up they are. It does matter when it comes to mental health though. Again, by your definition, his behaviors were destructive, so though he was spiritually healthy, he was definitely not mentally healthy.

I was about to raise my hand and give this answer when he fired back with this–

Speaker’s answer: NO, he was not. His beliefs were not TRUE beliefs. They were a lustful, bloodthirsty and most likely transient joy, not true joy. Now I’m not gonna say one God or belief is better or worse, but I believe one can only get true joy for our Christian God….

This where he proceeded to go on and on about the differences between false and true joy and how we are “creatures of worship”, quoting a few Bible quotes, blah blah blah….

At this point I was still intent on sticking it to him with his own definitions, but then he started talking about how Satan has fooled us into believing in the false gods/joys and I was done.

I mean, I don’t care if he believes in that, I don’t look down on anyone who does, BUT you cannot argue a faith-based issue with logic. His definitions made sense until he decided to go off on a tangent about his own beliefs and whose beliefs are real or not. Based on that, its like the only people who are spiritually healthy are those who believe in the Christian God and do not feel pain from that belief. But how many does that fit? Even the best Christians feel guilt, shame, etc. They actually can make some pretty terrible patients if they believe their disease is their punishment for sin.

I was about to walk out after that when he decided we should take a 5 minute break. Great.

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