Pharyngula

Here’s a real horror story: a place called Mercy Ministries claimed to offer psychiatric help to people in Australia, and what they offered instead was nightmarish religious discipline and doctrine. There’s something subtle in there, too, that ought to make us ashamed: the Australian reporter calls it an “American-style ministry”. Isn’t it sad to see that our country is becoming an adjective for idiocy?

Anyway, here’s one woman’s summary of her “treatment”.

Nine months without medical treatment, nine months without any psychiatric care, nine months of being told she was not a good enough Christian to rid herself of the “demons” that were causing her anorexia and pushing her to self-harm. After being locked away from society for so long, Naomi started to believe them. “I just felt completely hopeless. I thought if Mercy did not want to help me where do I stand now?

And here’s another account:

Careful and articulate, her struggle with the horror of her descent into despair at the hands of Mercy is only evidenced by the occasional tremor in her hands and voice as she describes her experience. She was sharing the house with 15 other girls and young women, with problems ranging from teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse, self harm, depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders.

“There were girls who had got messed up in the adult sex industry – a real range of problems, some incorporating actual psychiatric illness, others just dealing with messy lives, and the approach to all those problems was the same format,” Johnson says.

Counselling involved working through a white folder containing pre-scripted prayers.

“Most of the staff were current Bible studies or Bible college students, and that is it, if anything. You just cannot play around with mental illness when you do not know what you are doing. Even professionals will acknowledge that it is a huge responsibility working in that field, and that is people who have six years, eight years university study behind them.”

And while there was nothing that was formally termed “exorcism” in the Sydney house, Naomi was forced to stand in front of two counsellors while they prayed and spoke in tongues around her. In her mind, it was an exorcism. “I felt really stupid just standing there – they weren’t helping me with the things going on in my head. I would ask staff for tools on how to cope with the urges to self harm … and the response was: ‘What scriptures are you standing on? Read your Bible.”

This is the bottom line.

And yet Mercy continues to operate without the scrutiny of government authorities, under the radar and with impunity.

Of course. A lot can be forgiven if you just label it “religious”.

Comments

  1. #1 Ichthyic
    March 17, 2008

    Here’s a real horror story: a place called Mercy Ministries claimed to offer psychiatric help to people in Australia, and what they offered instead was nightmarish religious discipline and doctrine.

    reminds me of Alcoholics Anonymous. Just let your will be subsumed by a higher power, man!

    as a tangent, I do hope the “faith based initiave” BS will end when Chimpy leaves office.

  2. #2 Doug
    March 17, 2008

    That’s how you know something is a fraud, they put the word ‘Christian’ in front of it. Christian science, Christian psychiatry, Christian rock, etc.

  3. #3 rimpal
    March 17, 2008

    PZ, who knows? Maybe “Doctor” I[E]gnore[ance] is their consulting expert? The sorry specimen is started the week over at the dishonesty guys’ web page bawling over Moran calling him and Wells an IDiot!

  4. #4 Brownian, OM
    March 17, 2008

    That’s how you know something is a fraud, they put the word ‘Christian’ in front of it. Christian science, Christian psychiatry, Christian rock, etc.

    Doug, you forgot Christian love.

  5. #5 Mike P
    March 17, 2008

    #2, #4

    I wonder what that says about Christian Bale.

  6. #6 Stephen
    March 17, 2008

    That’s horrible, though nothing new. I’ve heard dumbass Christians portray mental illnesses as demon possession, but to actually treat all mental illnesses as one – and all in the same manner to boot, with pre-written prayers – is disgusting.

    These kinds of organizations, including AA, cause active harm, and as such should be subject to government intervention, or at least a good lawsuit or three.

  7. #7 Fiben Bolger
    March 17, 2008

    The whole idea of groups like Mercy Ministries, the creepy Exclusive Brethren and Sydney’s pentecostal mega-church Hillsong – which had frequent high-level ties to the previous Howard Liberal/National coalition government – being involved in mental health is disgusting. Having grown up with a bipolar parent whose key symptom was descent into religious manias (a very common symptom) I am genuinely horrified at the damage this is likely to have done to the “successful graduates” as much as to those who were expelled.

    The Howard government had, like Bush, involved religious organisations into job search/unemployment, health and community service roles. Howard and some of his key ministers had far too much contact with those organisations. This is one outcome. Good riddance to them.

    It’s yet to be seen if this is an area that will be rolled back by the new Labor government: it is one I hope IS rolled back. The new PM, Kevin Rudd, proclaims his christian belief but Labor in general is far more secular than the coalition. Scrutiny begins now.

    Anyway, I’d much rather that we continue exporting our religious nutters (g’day Ken) than allow them to continue messing up Australian lives.

  8. #8 Sastra
    March 17, 2008

    Some of the more extreme Christian sects encourage beliefs and behaviors which are not very different from those found in mental illness — hearing voices, having visions, repeating meaningless rituals, feeling constantly watched, discerning special signs and messages in otherwise ordinary events, etc. Someone who actually was mentally ill could “pass” as normal for quite a while — possibly indefinitely.

    In which case, this sort of “Christian health care’ could be seen as useful, in that a schizophrenic who learned to channel their individual delusions into a more culturally acceptable form will gain a community. And, of course, reinforcement for their original problems.

    I have a Mormon friend who was once married to a schizophrenic. She confessed to me at the time that it was hard to know when God really was giving divine messages to the head of their family – and when Bob was just off his meds.

  9. #9 Stephen
    March 17, 2008

    Anyway, I’d much rather that we continue exporting our religious nutters (g’day Ken) than allow them to continue messing up Australian lives.

    Stop sending them our way. I have a feeling you guys boxed up Ken Ham and sent him Stateside as a practical joke, but we are not amused.

  10. #10 RamblinDude
    March 17, 2008

    One of the churches I was taken to as a kid was some First Church-of-God-something-or-other (I think it had the word science someplace in the title, which meant it was up to date and modern), and they tried to perform an exorcism on a lady who had some rather bad physical problem. It was something like cerebral palsy and she was in a wheel chair. They tried and tried to get that evil spirit to “COME OUT!!”, and she choked a lot and coughed, and everyone was full of hope that any moment that evil spirit was going to be expelled up out of her mouth, and there were a lot of tears, and we were all trying to think pure thoughts because we didn’t want that evil spirit making its new home in any of our bodies, after all, and……..nothing much actually happened. It was a scene right out of medieval Europe, except everyone drove cars home.

    Everyone was disappointed that there wasn’t enough collective faith to get the job done.

  11. #11 Nentuaby
    March 17, 2008

    #5

    Well, he ISN’T a large cube of hay, now is he? QED.

  12. #12 katie
    March 17, 2008

    A family friend of mine recently died in one of these Christian halfway houses. He was an alcoholic, with long-standing heart problems. They’re still figuring out what exactly happened…but what couldn’t have helped is that he was left, in his room, for THREE days before anyone bothered to go up and check on him.

    You woulda thought when he missed meals… someone, surely, would have wondered… it wasn’t until we called them up and asked to get him checked on that they finally did so.

  13. #13 Holbach
    March 17, 2008

    What insane madness! They should be regarded as foreign
    invaders and cut down with extreme prejuidice as you
    would with any hostile invading force. Do we need any more
    blatant examples of the dangers of insane religion?

  14. #14 Geral
    March 17, 2008

    “American-style ministry”

    Haha ouch.

  15. #15 Jason Failes
    March 17, 2008

    “It was a scene right out of medieval Europe, except everyone drove cars home.”

    Well-phrased way of capturing the oddness of living in the (somehow) highly religious 21st century.

  16. #16 Michelle
    March 17, 2008

    You can’t mess around with distress. What they are doing is PROBABLY criminal. Saying they can stand in for doctors and psys is WRONG.

  17. #17 Bee
    March 17, 2008

    Can I ask if AA is run differently in the US than in Canada? I’m curious because I coincidentally know half a dozen (Nova Scotian) people who have been AA members for fifteen to twenty-five years, who did in fact successfully stop drinking, and who aren’t involved in any religious practice. Some of them claim to be non-practicing Christians, others are agnostic. One of them, a good friend, claimed that the ‘Higher Power’ notion was taken by most members as symbolic of one’s own ability to control one’s own behaviour. It seemed to me to be just a support group where people encouraged each other and shared strategies that might work.

    Mercy Ministries just sounds criminal. How are places like this even legal?

  18. #18 H. Humbert
    March 17, 2008

    So those with the abhorrent, destructive delusions are the ones considered sane? Mercy Ministries: where inmates run the asylum. Literally.

  19. #19 Julie Stahlhut
    March 17, 2008

    Substitute “cancer” or “diabetes” for “mental illness”, and someone would be suing the pants off these quacks. This place isn’t merely negligent towards people with life-threatening illness — it’s actively torturing them.

  20. #20 niffit
    March 17, 2008

    Urghhh! It just creeps me out that in a modern society there are so-called mental health facilities like this in operation. With as far as psych has come, (not very, lobotomy was all the rage some 50 years ago). I guess all you need is some kind of clinical facade with an admissions counter and you can do whatever you like back in the counseling rooms. Notice the prevalence of women mentioned as “patients”, some with very serious mental and behavior issues. They might as well be in prison with the institutional god botherers there to thunk them over the head with their bibles.

  21. #21 niffit
    March 17, 2008

    Oops, I didn’t realize initially that it’s a women’s only hell hole. My point was that troubled boys go to juvi or prison and get preached to, whereas troubled girls usually go to mental and get spared the ecumenical BS.

  22. #22 Marc
    March 17, 2008

    Bee, AA is really different depending on where you go. Where I am, there’s a great Atheists/Agnostics group (AA prefers the term ‘non-religious format’.) Other groups are overtly religious and even close with the Lord’s prayer.

  23. #23 Jamas Enright
    March 17, 2008

    So you missed the followup article that said that these “ministries” are opening up new centers around Australia, and that the sponsers “Gloria Jeans Coffee” have no interest in these claims against them?
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4442565a12.html

  24. #24 Kagehi
    March 17, 2008

    Well Bee, I am sure some have decided to make AA more secularized, possibly recently, and possibly due to their original methods being outed as illegal (i.e., you can’t send someone to religion as punishment for a secular crime, even if a lot of idiot judges think so). The format used by those running the program as originally created basically, while they may dance around the issue, say:

    1. This isn’t really your fault, since your are too stupid to control your own actions.
    2. A higher power (i.e. god) can give you the means to control your actions.
    3-12. Give full control over your actions up to the higher power in #2, rather than doing something stupid, like thinking you can control yourself.

    Again, having been outed, they might have needed to adjust this to be less blatant, and some groups might have recognized the stupidity of this method and adjusted it themselves. The purists though, they still follow the three step 12 step program, your not in control, you never will be, so let god control you (via what our resident preacher says). The programs, when run that way, tend to be entirely focused on the theory that conversion to religion will “save” your from your addiction.

    In any case, its quite irrelevant anyway, since they generally either replace the addiction with addiction to the program, place artificial bandaids over it, like obsession with sin, or fail entirely to help the person. Its almost unheard of for any of them to actually address the underlying causes of the problem. After all, its damn hard to do that, when your basis for all addictions and problems is, “You don’t have self control.”, no one asks, “Why not?”, and the answer is always, “Seek a higher power!”

    For someone whose problem is lack of self esteem, you might destroy them, or you might strengthen them, depending on how you present the “higher power” message. For those for which the problem hasn’t a damn thing to do with that, such as addictive personalities, or those lacking direction, while still having some fairly normal self image, or with real problems that don’t involve *only* self image, you either get fanatics, or drop outs. And, the organization that runs the programs likes to ignore the drop outs and not bother to find out why they dropped out. That is how they get 90% success rates, while federally funded secular programs, which are **required** to try to track down people that leave early and find out why and/or what happened to them, can’t claim such a rate.

    In reality, the few documents on the programs you can find with honest numbers indicate that its more like a 90% drop out rate (which even in those they call, “left for unknown reasons”, not “failures”) for AA and 12-steps. That is precisely the same rate of *success* as you find among people that go cold turkey, and never get any help at all.

  25. #25 DuWayne
    March 17, 2008

    I hate to say it, but this sort of thing is all too common in the U.S. as well. It would be as simple as going through two years of seminary, to be legally entitled to provide the same services that a licensed psychotherapist provides. A lot of religious based substance abuse recovery programs have no actual psychologists on staff and many consider it a failure of the program if participants take any drugs, legal or not, prescribed or not, though most make an exception for drugs that keep a person alive. But any quality of life drugs, are strictly prohibited, including those that might help with substance abuse problems.

    There are also a lot of programs for troubled teens, for example, that do much the same. They do not have to have any actual psychologists on staff, as long as they have enough accredited ministers on staff. The same is true of ex-gay programs and the like. The conditions in these programs, are often times atrocious. “Patients” are regularly treated as sub-human. Accusations of demonic possession or influence are standard and prayer is the answer, along with often times severe corporal punishments. These programs often include “treatments” that would be illegal in American prisons or jails, but are apparently perfectly acceptable under the guise of religious correction services.

  26. #26 travc
    March 17, 2008

    Sounds like the scientology approach without the ‘e-meters’ and slightly different books.

  27. #27 Mold
    March 17, 2008

    AA has its uses but the description above beggars my imagination. I live but one mile from a PA mental hospital (Warren) and it is far, far better than what you’ve written. The patients have rights, there is substantial oversight (sex with a patient will get you fired, forever), and the treatment is so good the Europeans have dropped by for a looksee.

    These @ssclowns should be prosecuted to the full extent allowed by law.

  28. #28 Dan
    March 17, 2008

    Substitute “cancer” or “diabetes” for “mental illness”, and someone would be suing the pants off these quacks. This place isn’t merely negligent towards people with life-threatening illness — it’s actively torturing them.

    Posted by: Julie Stahlhut

    Actually, no. They wouldn’t. If they were sued, they would claim religious freedom, and when dealing with cancer patients, these folks would happily watch their patients die while convincing themselves and those seeking to prosecute them, that they simply aren’t praying hard enough.

    Religion is a full-blown mental illness in and of itself, and the fact that society excuses and encourages this criminally negligent bullshit is astounding.

  29. #29 Richard Eis
    March 17, 2008

    Well, i’d be taking them to court for damages and having them investigated. I bet there’s plenty of people that could club together who have been through something similar there.
    I can bet that quite a few “unchristian” things have been going on there. Let’s hope there is a nice juicy scandal.

  30. #30 Tim Tesar
    March 17, 2008

    Abusive mental health practices are by no means limited to “Christians” (in fact I suspect there are many very responsible Christian mental health services). A completely secular method called “Recovered Memory Therapy”, destroyed or damaged many lives. They deserve just as much criticism as the people described in this case.

  31. #31 MandyDax
    March 17, 2008

    H. Humbert:

    Mercy Ministries: where inmates run the asylum. Literally.

    That’s exactly what I was going to say. If I were somehow placed in their care, I’d try to elope at every chance, and then seek out the police once I was free. This disgusts me.

  32. #32 Kseniya
    March 17, 2008

    AA works pretty well in my experience, but then again I live in a relatively liberal/secular part of the USA.

    I welcome my fellow commenters to tell (point me to) some stories about the harm done by AA.

    Kagehi, please cite your sources regarding “reality” and “honest numbers”. I’m curious about that. The relatively unstructured and anonymous nature of the program makes it pretty hard to track success or failure of regular members (let alone transients) accurately.

  33. #33 jeh
    March 17, 2008

    I’m sure there are faith-based, taxpayer-funded “ministries” that have perpetuated at least equal and more likely much worse in the US, often on young people who need “rehabilitated.”. I don’t think we will have the full story until Dear Leader is out of office (and hopefully on his way with Cheney to the Hague).

  34. #34 JJR
    March 17, 2008

    Bee in #17 above writes:

    “Can I ask if AA is run differently in the US than in Canada?”

    Depends on what part of the USA. AA in San Francisco is going to be different than AA in Houston, Texas, or New York.

    Some atheist addicts try to secularize AA for themselves to make it tolerable, but actually you’re far better off checking out Rational Recovery (RR) than trying to fit square pegs into round holes via AA. There’s also Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS). Trouble with SOS and RR, these are mostly solo projects. Family pressure–quite apart from court orders–may make one do the AA dance for awhile, whether you want to or not. AA will keep others off your back. RR will actually help you get better, if you want to get better.

    That’s been my experience, anyway.

  35. #36 H. Humbert
    March 17, 2008

    Kseniya, AA works far from “pretty well,” unless you consider success to be a 90% failure rate. (Although depending on who you ask to do the figuring, a 95-98% failure rate may be more accurate. Keep in mind, about 5% of substance abusers regularly succeed by going cold turkey.)

    http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html

  36. #37 danley
    March 17, 2008

    There is a secular 12-step group started by James Christopher called Save Ourselves (SOS). Albert Ellis also presented Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. There are plenty of non-religious resources for recovery and mental health that need to be practiced.

  37. #38 Mold
    March 17, 2008

    Recovered Memory had more than a tinge of religion. I suggest you research it more thoroughly.

  38. #39 Christopher Aaby
    March 17, 2008

    As a person with a fairly scientific frame of mind, I think it’s important to point out that the people at Mercy are not neccessarily doing what they’re doing because they’re religious – they’re doing it because they’re cruel and / or out of their minds.

  39. #40 Date Fingers
    March 17, 2008

    Another Aussie here…

    We had Benny Hinn out here a couple of weeks ago, we’ve got that world youth day thing later this year with the pope, and now these bastards. I don’t think I like what’s happening here.

    “That’s how you know something is a fraud, they put the word ‘Christian’ in front of it. Christian science, Christian psychiatry, Christian rock, etc.”

    Well, not in all cases. After reading this I can think of a few terms with Christian in front that are absolutely true and genuine. Christian arseholes is one that comes to mind…

  40. #41 raven
    March 17, 2008

    Another Aussie here…

    We had Benny Hinn out here a couple of weeks ago, we’ve got that world youth day thing later this year with the pope, and now these bastards. I don’t think I like what’s happening here.

    Allow me a quiet moment of schadenfreude. You sent us Rupert Murdoch and Ken Ham, we deserve it. LOL

    Actually it isn’t a total disaster. After the fundies destroy your country, the Dark Ages won’t last too long. And after people figure out what happened to their civilization, the backlash won’t be too pleasant for those who perpetrated it.

    There is something of a backlash going on in the USA against these morons. Huckabee, the Dominionist candidate only got 10% of so of the total primary vote. And a lot of people including Reps. seem to be avoiding him.

    The theocrats have totaled the USA and killed a lot of people in the wars. Grain prices are at record highs, gas is 3.50 gallon, oil over $100/barrel, banks are collapsing (Bear Stearns just went down), and the economy is heading southward. Forget teaching evolution, when people pay more for everything, lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose their kid’s lives, and the financial system melts down, then they get ticked off.

  41. #42 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 17, 2008

    gas is 3.50 gallon, oil over $100/barrel

    Part of the reason for that is that the US$ has been turned into a pathetic wimp. 1 ? = 1.56 $.

  42. #43 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 17, 2008

    gas is 3.50 gallon, oil over $100/barrel

    Part of the reason for that is that the US$ has been turned into a pathetic wimp. 1 ? = 1.56 $.

  43. #44 kmarissa
    March 17, 2008

    Part of the reason for that is that the US$ has been turned into a pathetic wimp. 1 ? = 1.56 $.

    Tell me about it. Talk about a bad time to plan a trip to Canada. When I realized the Canadian dollar was now worth more than ours, well… I… I just don’t know if I can handle it…*sniff*

    It’s like everything I ever knew has turned upside down.

  44. #45 AmeliaP
    March 17, 2008

    Although this story is awful, it does please me that it is actually causing quite a stir down here in oz. The story appeared on the front page of the one of the large daily newspapers in Sydney (the Sydney Morning Herald), and migrated to most of the other newspapers, and nightly news television. So who knows, maybe this exposure will get something positive done about the situation.

    It’s also causing a stir as Mercy Ministries is supported by Gloria Jean’s Coffees (sort of like an Australian Starbucks… although we’ve got Starbucks here too), which is a very large buisness. GJ’s, which always seemed like quite a reasonable company (they hang gay rainbow flags outside their stores, help out environmental charities ect…) has said it will not change its sposorship deals with MM. This has naturally angered some of their client base. A letter to the SMH this morning argued for something along the lines of a buoycot.

    As someone suffering mental illness myself, I must say this story is horrible. But at least mow it has come to light.

  45. #46 Skemono
    March 17, 2008

    Another Aussie here…

    We had Benny Hinn out here a couple of weeks ago, we’ve got that world youth day thing later this year with the pope, and now these bastards. I don’t think I like what’s happening here.

    Think of it this way: yes, those things happened. But your country also has people exposing all these events. There were three articles on this Mercy Ministries stuff today, and when Benny Hinn went to Australia an Aussie went undercover to the event to expose him.

  46. #47 Matt
    March 17, 2008

    No more Gloria Jean’s coffee for me from now on.

  47. #48 Tim
    March 18, 2008

    By coincidence, a friend and I made an investigatory visit to Hillsong just this Sunday, the day before this story broke. I’m writing it up on my blog at http://reanalyze.blogspot.com/2008/03/hillsong.html – I’ll finish the story tonight (Aussie time).

    (Yes, this post is a shameless plug for my blog, though the coincidental timing of my visit was rather convenient).

  48. #49 October Mermaid
    March 18, 2008

    I’m not at all surprised. My family is comprised mostly of southern Baptists, and the answer to every problem is Jesus. If you believe in all of this stuff, it makes sense, though, after all. I have bad anxiety attacks and if I make the mistake of coming to them, guess what the solution is. Jesus. And if that doesn’t work, I’m asked about how my “walk with the Lord is going.”

    After all, if I were really close to God, I wouldn’t be having any problems. He can do anything. Try, try, try to understand. He’s a magic man.

  49. #50 Marc Buhler
    March 18, 2008

    There will be more on this story soon….

    This is in the SMH Opinion section today.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/why-mercy-ministries-was-godsent-for-hillsong/2008/03/17/1205602284113.html

    ******* (from the article) ****
    Hillsong has always been proud of the origins and progress of the Australian incarnation of Mercy Ministries. According to Hillsong folklore, a female congregant, unable to find help in Australia for an eating disorder, travelled to the United States for treatment at Mercy Ministries. Mercy Ministries was created by an American, Nancy Alcorn, who says she was frustrated in her role as a juvenile justice officer because of the injustices of the system. She determined to open a place for young women that would be independent of government funding and intervention, and free, so women would feel sincerely cared for.

    While the Australian congregant was at Mercy Ministries, she was visited by a Hillsong pastor. The pastor was so impressed with the work being done she decided to bring the program to Australia.

    Mercy Ministries was a godsend for Hillsong. Desperate young women who are violated by the world draw a sympathetic audience. It seemed a simple concept for Hillsong to mimic locally and it was presented as a utopia of female health. Hillsong is an organisation based on recruitment and fund-raising. Mercy Ministries was an opportunity to do both on a new and larger scale.

    The founders of Mercy Ministries are fundamentalist Christians who are primarily obsessed with women’s bodies and what they choose to do with them. The Bible is used to justify the supposed inferiority and intrinsic sinfulness of women and homosexuals. Hillsong teaches that a woman’s purpose, as an afterthought of God, is as a helper and a companion at best, and with Eve as their ultimate matriarch, the cause of the fall of all mankind.

    ******** end quote *******

  50. #51 Kseniya
    March 18, 2008

    I think I’m way too close to A.A. to make an objective judgement about. I’ve seen too many people succeed, with and without the religious aspects. Some of this success has rubbed off on me, because two of those people were my mom and dad, who both got sober within a few months when I was eight. Their sobriety, for which AA received much (perhaps too much) of the credit, in their minds and in mine, changed my life for the better in more ways than I care to list. Could they have done it differently? I suppose. Do I wish they had? No. Are there better ways? I suppose so… Those articles are compelling.

  51. #52 crankynick
    March 18, 2008

    Raven @ #41

    There is something of a backlash going on in the USA against these morons. Huckabee, the Dominionist candidate only got 10% of so of the total primary vote. And a lot of people including Reps. seem to be avoiding him.

    I got a case of (Australian) beer that says he still winds up on the GOP ticket as the VP candidate…

  52. #53 AmeliaP
    March 18, 2008

    I just found this article on the Melbourne Age’s website:

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/corporates-move-quickly-to-cut-ties/2008/03/17/1205602341992.html

    Apartently, corporate donors to Mercy Ministries are moving to cut their ties and funding. I approve in this instance, but I really do worry about the state of mental health facilities in Australia that allows organisations such as MM to proliferate.

  53. #54 raven
    March 18, 2008

    I got a case of (Australian) beer that says he still winds up on the GOP ticket as the VP candidate…

    He could, not going to lose a case of beer.
    1. The USA has traditionally (recently) scoured this country of 300 million people for…the worst possible candidate to be president. No idea why.

    2. McCain is 71, has had cancer twice, and could drop dead any time. He may well pick Huckabee as the VP candidate to suck in the 10% who are afraid of living in the 21st century. In the possibe case that McCain wins and then dies, Huckabee will not be the VP, he will be the president.

    In this not unlikely case, stockpile food and wine. And lift a glass occasionally to the country once know as the last superpower and hope some of us survive the Dark Ages.

  54. #55 C.W
    March 18, 2008

    Mmmmm… lawsuits.

    Don’t you have a law somewhere that prevents incompetent do-gooders from posing as mental health professionals?

  55. #56 Christophe Thill
    March 18, 2008

    Hard to understand for me. Don’t they have some sort of national health authority, an agency or perhaps a ministry, withouth whose approval you can’t run any kind of clinic, hospital or therapy facility ? They have officiel approval for schools (or so I guess) but not for health ?

  56. #57 Hematite
    March 18, 2008

    I feel sorry for you guys. I guess AA changes a lot from country to country, and it sounds like they really suck in the US and Australia. The AA in New Zealand is great. They’re a completely secular organisation with a genuine committment to helping people, and they have a great public image. I’m sure almost every New Zealand family has a story about how AA helped them when they needed it most.

    If you don’t believe me, check out their web site at aa.co.nz

  57. #58 Kseniya
    March 18, 2008

    The religious aspect of the AA groups my parents were involved with here in Massachusetts are very low-key, and the program, as practiced from individual to individual, varies quite a bit. It’s not uncommon to close the meetings with The Lord’s Prayer, but some people (my dad, for one) decline to participate, and nobody cared. There were no requirements whatsoever. God was optional. The prevailing mindset was: “Whatever works.”

    The organization itself has no religious affiliation. There’s no formal membership; there is no process in place for “joining”. Show up when you want to; you’re a member only when and only as long as you claim to be. The program, as outlined, is spiritual, but people are free to implement it as suits their personal beliefs. The first time I ever heard of the “higher power”, some guy was saying it can be whater you think it is or need it to be – a tree, even. I know my dad formulated an “hp” that was, in his words, the sum of all the recovering alkies who’d come before him, plus the friends and family who supported him in his effort to get sober. For him, AA was more a framework within which he could protect his nascent sobriety, and a social group where, several times a week, he could hang with other recovering alkies – some of whom had many years of continuous sobriety behind them – and talk about the ins and outs of drinking and recovery, what pitfalls to avoid, and so forth. (On another level, it was a social group. They had fun. They made friends.)

    This suggest another aspect of the mindset is not, as some have said, that “You can’t do it alone,” it’s “You don’t have to do it alone.” The powerlessness thing may also be somewhat misunderstood. The message is this: many alcoholics are fighting a battle they cannot win, but they fight it to prove they are “strong” when strength is not the issue. One of the catch-phrases is “Surrender, and win.” The message is not, as some suppose, “You can’t stop drinking,” it’s “You can’t control your drinking – you’re an alcoholic, and your drinking controls you,” an assertion that the evidence supports every time. Some keep a bottle of booze on hand just to “prove” that they’re “stronger” than “it”. This strategy usually backfires.

    Anyway, I’ve seen (by proxy, I admit) too many people succeed in AA to dismiss it the way some do, though I admit my family’s experience means little with regard to the statistical efficacy of the program relative to other approaches.

    My dad attended regularly for five years, and has been sober for over fifteen. That makes him one of those who left “for unknown reasons” and apparently some folks would be quick to assume that he was a “failure” of the program, because that assumption suits their hypothesis about the utter uselessness of AA. My mom slacked off on meetings after seven or eight years; when she had ten-plus years she fell off (jumped off) the wagon. She drank a handful of times over a two-month period, and the impact was horrendous. She got back on track with the help and support of her local AA group – though I admit that the key component was her willingness to pursue and embrace sobriety once again. If she hadn’t been, she wouldn’t have been back at the meeting anyway. (Does her slip make her a failure, or a success? She was sober for all but a half-dozen days out of twelve years.)

    It does seem pretty clear that those who succeed are ready for success – I have no doubt that my dad is one of those; he never failed, because he never tried until he was ready – though one thing that’s rarely mentioned outside the halls of AA is the “fake it till you make it” phenomenon, which describes a path taken by some folks who are seeking sobriety before they’re ready to embrace it, and being regularly exposed to recovering alcoholics helps them get a handle on what’s wrong with their lives and what can be done about it. Some of those people are there only because the court has ordered it – and exposure to AA helps them get a handle on their alcohol problem quicker than if they’d stayed out of the system entirely. Make of that what you will.

    Also – I’m not sure, but I think in MA the court will give a person a choice of programs, such as RR as an alternative to AA.

    I freely admit to having all kinds of biases here. My point is only that AA, in Massachusetts anyway, isn’t some kind of religious cult that crushes the egos of the people who go through the program. Many recovering alkies will admit, however, that a stripping away of ego is a benefit to recovery. This ego-stripping is, as they say in the program, “an inside job,” meaning that each individual has to give up the idea that they’re in complete conscious control of their own impulses and that they know better than everybody else what will and will not work; it is not accomplished, as some people seem to think, by other group members hammering away with some sort of AA doctrine of utter powerlessness and fealty to God.

    If AA has become more secular in some areas over the years, it wasn’t because of some kind of vague 1st Amendent implication, it was because the people practicing the program in those areas have made it so – dynamically, continuously, without purpose aforethought. Ironically enough, given the rather severely god-oriented nature of the steps as written, in practice AA is an egalitarian, libertarian organization, with virtually no power structure beyond what adminstrative bodies exists to keep the program coherent over a large geographical area. People are free to come and go as they please, practice the steps (or not) as they please. It operates at the lowest possible level: locally. Each group is a loose collection of individuals who share a common goal, and the only written-in-stone transgression one can commit is to harm another person. Aside from that, nobody is answerable to anybody but themselves with regard to how they achieve and manage their sobriety.

    The downside to all this liberty is that some groups do “go bad” – for example, now and then a member of long standing will (perhaps inadvertently) set himself up as sort of a guru of the group, and the group will begin to take on aspects of a cult of personality, as if that person is some kind of avatar of AA. However, drunks tend to have an aversion to authority figures, and those groups tend to either change or wither. The danger is that the vulnerable people will cling to the guru. Usually there are enough of the other type around to help keep those unhealthy bonds from forming, or to break them if they have.

    Another obvious and undeniable problem is the addition-substitution effect. I have no doubt that some recovering addicts get addicted to their recovery programs. File under “the lesser of two evils.” As for underlying causes, well… that’s a big topic. I’ve already gone on too long…

    Maybe the best thing about the program is that it provides a context for sobriety. It gives someone who wishes to stop destroying their lives and the lives of the people around them a place to go to hang with people who don’t drink and who know what it means to struggle with alcohol addiction. The steps? Ehh. Do some, all, or none. Whatever works.

  58. #59 H. Humbert
    March 18, 2008

    Kseniya, I see that despite your claim that you are too close to AA to judge it impartially, you actually composed a very thorough summary of and rebuttal to the existing criticisms, including the ideas that recovery programs usually “succeed” only when an addict is ready to commit to sobriety anyway, and that there exists the possibility that the recovery program can itself become an unhealthy obsession. I think I’m less inclined to always dismiss that last possibility as the lesser of two evils. I also believe the wildly varying quality of individual AA groups makes court-mandated attendance problematic in many cases.

    However, I’m not willing to say these programs are all bad, and if the right person gets into the right kind of program at the right time, I’m sure the results may seem nothing short of miraculous. I also know that when your looking for help in treating a loved one, you’re often grateful for any kind of assistance at all.

  59. #60 Kseniya
    March 18, 2008

    I think I’m less inclined to always dismiss that last possibility as the lesser of two evils.

    Yes, Mr. Humbert. I understand. My curt and simplistic justification of the substitution effect did not accurately reflect my thoughts regarding it. I should have made it clear that this issue, like the underlying-causes issue, is bigger than I could prudently hope to address in a comment that was already too long.

    I’m pleased that you thought my comment was reasonably objective, but I really am too close. I’m trying to get some distance. My first impulse, when I read Kagehi’s comment and some of the others, was to compose a dismissive “Of course it works, you have no idea what you’re talking about” type of response, but it didn’t feel right (I’m a fan of Kagehi’s from way back) so I figured the problem was not with those comments, but with my reaction (yes, emotional reaction, not reasoned response) to them, and that perhaps the person who didn’t know what she was talking about was ME. So I read through the links you provided, and slept on it all before responding.

    Still, I’m feeling myopic about it. Even since I was eight years old, I believed that AA was the best thing that ever happened to my family – though I realize that it’s sobriety that was the best thing that ever happened to us. But it’s all intertwined. My personal experiences have been very powerful in forming my opinions about AA, addiction, and recovery. However, I can’t let those opinions and emotional attachments keep me from challenging my assumptions and looking at them objectively.

  60. #61 raven
    March 18, 2008

    AA works when you really want it to work.

    Regarding the Higher Powers part, it varies from place to place and mostly is very low key. They aren’t out to convert people, they are out to get them to stop drinking.

    Sure there is a high drop out rate. All drugs and drinking programs have a high drop out rate. The most important variable is that people have to be ready to stop.

    I’ve seen some remarkable successes in AA. And some dismal failures.

  61. #62 PJC
    March 18, 2008

    I’m a law student at the University of Technology Sydney and to all those who are asking questions about Australian laws that might come into play here I’m actually trying to find out what Mercy Ministries can be sued for. My torts tutor has a PHD in mental health and torts law and sits on a panel that investigates the relationship between the two. I’m sure he’ll have an interesting take.

  62. #63 Kagehi
    March 19, 2008

    Well Kseniya. I am happy to know that even twelve step isn’t impervious to to reality and that it does change in some places to be secular. However, those places are not imho calling themselves AA in the original sense. The true program was invented by two men that met up and helped each other out of their addiction to alcohol, then placed all credit on their success with god and prayer. And, technically, the head organization is something like the Universal Church Ministries, or some such. I don’t remember the precise name, but its not UU, its some protestant group, and not one of the liberal ones that accept alternatives to, “all your bases belong to Jesus”.

    Its not a surprise that those which break from the original format and treat people, more or less, the same way secular programs would, tend to be more successful. Just don’t let the main head organization find out (or point out that its become secularized), you might find the program managers being “reeducated” by someone that doesn’t like that. Well, unless they have thrown in the towel on it, realized their original system doesn’t work, and have started to do an end run around the real purpose the program originally served, so they can claim, “What? Indoctrination? Its never been about indoctrination or conversion!”

    I suspect that the closer you get to where ever their head organization is, the more like what I described the content and methods become. Kind of like how sex ed changes radically between say California and the deep south…

  63. #64 Kseniya
    March 19, 2008

    Hey! I’m glad you took another look at this thread. I have to address a couple of your remarks, and if this makes you unhappy I apologize, but I can’t let this stuff pass by without comment:

    And, technically, the head organization is something like the Universal Church Ministries, or some such.

    That’s news to me. Where are you getting this? AFAIK, the “head organization” is A.A. World Services, based in New York. One of the precepts of A.A. always has been that it is “not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution.”

    I suspect that the closer you get to where ever their head organization is, the more like what I described the content and methods become.

    I doubt that very much – and so should you, unless you’re willing to believe that the most godly A.A. groups in the world exist in and around Manhattan.

    Just don’t let the main head organization find out (or point out that its become secularized), you might find the program managers being “reeducated” by someone that doesn’t like that.

    Huh? “Reeducated”? WTF?

    There’s no such thing as a “program manager”. The “main head organization” has no authority – all groups are self-governing – and has no way to enforce anything anyways.

    Maybe my first impulse was right: Someone’s been feeding you bad info; you don’t know very much about A.A., and have some pretty weird misconceptions about it. I say that with no rancor, and anyone reading this is welcome to prove me wrong. But – dude! – from where I sit, you’re simply spreading disinformation about A.A. Unintentionally, I assume; but either way: cut it out. :-)

    If you want to focus on efficacy, please do. I support you in any effort to disseminate reliable information on that. But it appears you have confused the organization and methods of A.A. with those of some far more sinister entity.

    -K.

  64. #65 Ichthyic
    March 19, 2008

    But it appears you have confused the organization and methods of A.A. with those of some far more sinister entity.

    they could be referring to the ideology of the people who originally pushed the idea of AA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholics_Anonymous

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Group

    I spent a bit of time looking at the people behind it, and the wiki summaries are fairly accurate in this respect.

    there is no denying that AA works for some, in some places, as an immediate deterrent to problem drinking, and as a support group mechanism.

    as to its long term effectiveness, without treating the underlying psychology behind the addiction, it simply cannot serve the role of long term cure in and of itself.

  65. #66 Kagehi
    March 19, 2008

    Well, as I said. It may have changed over time. And yeah, its also possible that some purely religious groups are **claiming** to be tied into the same programs. I know for a fact that you won’t find AA or NA in the part of Arizona I am in without it being tied fairly close to some of the more conservative churches.

    As for the idea that Manhattan can’t be the source of crazies, maybe not the same variety of crazies, but in general the core organizations of a number of unified religious groups are **found** in the large cities, not hiding in the brush in some redneck state, where the largest city at the time the groups where founded had less than 100 people in them.

    Like I said. I don’t remember the name that was linked to them. Maybe it was like World Ministries, or something similar instead. But definitely a religious group, and definitely not people who went out of there way to make sure the program really did work, instead of fudging numbers and ignoring drop outs. That is really the critical issue anyway, not if they are more secular in appearance and message than they where originally, but if they have bothered to admit their own failures, and try to change to program to correct that. The information available suggest the answer to both questions is “No” and “No”.

  66. #67 Ichthyic
    March 19, 2008

    Like I said. I don’t remember the name that was linked to them. Maybe it was like World Ministries, or something similar instead. But definitely a religious group,

    again:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Group

    track the evolution of that group over the decades, and I think you’ll find the connections you are seeking.

    you can make your own conclusions as to how much control any one religious group has over the AA dogma at this point. I’m not sure just how strict they are with “licensing” AA groups at this point in time.

    However, from all the AA groups I’ve ever examined (from the POV of friends and relatives that have participated in various places and times), it’s poor psychology (sometimes BAD – as it tends to become a place where co-dependents look for fixes), but tends to work occasionally a stop-gap type measure to avoid immediately addictive behavior.

    The bottom line appears to be that AA can act as kind of an “emergency room” type treatment, better in some cases than others, but anyone participating typically has underlying issues that are best treated within the framework of professional medical care.

  67. #68 RamblinDude
    March 19, 2008

    Kseniya 57#,

    Interesting and informative. I, like some of the others here, have always been a bit put off by what I’ve seen of 12 step programs (some, not much).

    One woman I knew had a problem with bulimia, and I remember being instinctively averse to some of the methods they used. Basically, it wasn’t “whatever worked”, it was insistence that one surrender to the higher power–God. I remember thinking that their constant hammering of the message, “I am powerless” didn’t seem all that precise or relevant to her problem which, to me, was obviously more psychological than physical.

    In another program for drug addiction, I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting and was impressed with the honesty of the participants. It was refreshing to hear people bypass all the usual bullshit and get to the heart of things, how they were really feeling. After listening to this group therapy session, many of the addicts pulled out cigarettes and lit up. It was one of the tactics these members had adopted; to take up smoking, and focus their cravings on nicotine, instead! Couldn’t help but think there was something less than aesthetic about that solution. They may have had a high success rate, though, I don’t know.

    I certainly don’t know the answers to people’s addiction problems, but the AA you describe, of your parents experience, seems like a very sensible approach.

  68. #69 Kseniya
    March 20, 2008

    A.A. has no affiliation with the Oxford Group under that or any other name. The roots of A.A. can be found in the history of the Oxford Group though, yes, but I defy you to find a connection more tangible or meaningful than the simple fact that Bill Wilson was a member of the Oxford Group prior to the founding of A.A.

    It’s important to note that the Oxford Group didn’t quite work for Bill. The method he developed with Dr. Bob, which became codified as the Twelve Steps in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the publishing of which effectively announced the break from Oxford. Any claim that A.A. is somehow under the control of Oxford or its successors is revisionist history worthy only of conspiracy theorists.

    Regarding A.A. being “tied” to churches: A.A. has no affiliation with any sect or denomination. Many groups do, however, use halls in church buildings for the purpose of holding meetings. Churches are a good source of cheap or free space for that once-a-week 60 or 90 minute meeting. Some early-morning and noon-time groups do meet daily, or every weekday.

    None of this means the group or its members are “tied” to the church in any ideological way; they just have to take care of business and clean up after themselves as any good guest or tenant should. The church hosts and may promote the meeting on its bulletin board and include it on its schedule, but an A.A. meeting is NOT a church function, and the church has no say in how the meeting is run beyond whatever logistical details are involved in the use and care of the room and its furnishings.

    You’re right, Kagehi, to point out that cities aren’t immune to hosting crazies, but you’re moving the goalposts here. Your original statement was this:

    I suspect that the closer you get to where ever their head organization is, the more like what I described the content and methods become. Kind of like how sex ed changes radically between say California and the deep south…

    I’m telling you your suspicion is unfounded, for more than one reason. First, there’s no Mecca or Vatican City or Cathedral of A.A. The fact that World Services offices are in Manhattan is irrelevant to local groups in the city and surrounding areas. There’s nowhere to go to worship the A.A. idol, which doesn’t exist. There’s a bit of a cult of personality around Bill W. and Dr. Bob, but that’s about it. A.A. is just about as decentralized as an organization can get.

    Anyway, for your suspicion to be validated, you’d have to demonstrate that A.A. groups in and around New York City, southwestern Connecticut, and northeastern New Jersey practiced old-style godly A.A. (with all the attendent, though imagined, indoctrination methods and strong-arm tactics) than A.A. groups farther away from NYC. I assure you, you will be unable to do so. Don’t waste your time.

    Your original comment, however, suggests the truth of the matter, and I’m not sure why you can’t see it. Local style of A.A., just like sex ed, reflects the mindset of the local culture, so A.A. in San Francisco is going to be a bit different from A.A. in Godsmack, Alabama for exactly the same reasons sex ed is gonna be. I don’t have to explain it – you already GET this.

    Now, back to fudging numbers and ignoring dropouts. I’d like to hear more about that, but you haven’t provided any reference materials – unless you’re talking about the links that H. Humbert provided the other day. I’ll have to go back to those pages; there’s a lot of stuff there and I haven’t had time to get thoroughly acquainted with it all.

    Also, I’ll say it again, I recognize the program has its limitations and that its self-governing nature, while generally a positive aspect, is unavoidably leads to a lack of oversight and consistency. It’s not therapy. It’s not rehab. It’s an option. I believe the world is better with A.A. than without it, but I’m not going to stand here and be The Blind Dogmatic Defender of Alcoholics Anonymous. I don’t know everything. I’m just trying to separate the truth, whatever it may be, from the rumors and misconceptions, as best I can.

  69. #70 Kseniya
    March 20, 2008

    RamDude: Yes, you’ve hit on one of the nicer things about A.A. – something about it encourages people drop their usual defenses. Addictions breed secrective and defensive behaviors, and feed on denial, emotional repression, and other forms of dishonest self-talk. The kind of honesty and openness you describe works against those behaviors and mindsets fostered by addiction.

    It is ironic, though it’s no secret and nobody denies it, that cigarettes and coffee are, umm, ubiquitous in A.A. Lesser of two evils, again. One step at a time.

    Anecdote: Back in the bad old days, my dad smoked. One day he quit. He drank more after he quit. Alcohol helped him get over nitocine withdrawl. Of course, his alcohol consumption stayed up there, and being an addictive type, he started smoking again about 10 months later anyway. A month after that, he got sober, but continued to smoke.

    He later told me that as much as he hated cigarettes, when he was newly sober he was happy to have them and was almost proud to be a smoker – a sober smoker. It raised his defense against alcohol by satisfying some of his compulsive urges. He totally understood the substitution thing that was going on, but he knew better than to try to make too many changes all at once. Program wisdom is: try to avoid major changes in the first year (including romance, which, while tempting for anyone who’s clearing up and meeting other sober people, has torpedoed many a newcomer’s sobriety) but after six months sober, right around the first day of summer, he quit smoking and bought a mountain bike, and that was that. One thing at a time. (We’d ride bikes together through the local parks and bikepaths and the beautiful graveyard across the street. He’d never done that stuff when he was drinking…)

    One thing at a time, yeah. Whatever works. And I haven’t even mentioned “the marijuana maintenance plan”… LOL. All kinds of behaviors are tolerated in A.A. Its strength is also its weakness: Nobody’s In Charge.

  70. #71 Ichthyic
    March 20, 2008

    RamDude: Yes, you’ve hit on one of the nicer things about A.A. – something about it encourages people drop their usual defenses.

    actually, that’s not peculiar to AA, but is a natural outcome in groups that share common problems.

    people tend to realize that since everyone there faces similar problems, there is little reason to mount standard defenses.

    It’s one of the reasons group therapy is so popular; it’s very easy to manage, and often serves to at least get people to share their problems out in the open.

    I think it’s also why blogs are so popular. it’s like group therapy, but everyone gets to stay relatively anonymous.

  71. #72 Michael X
    March 20, 2008

    Ichthyic,
    Would you say this blog community and others like it, are like a form of therapy? Or could such communities serve the opposite purpose of being “echo chambers” as has been so often said?

    I’m interested in the idea of what types and traits of community are beneficial in reforming ones problems as opposed to those that have the support of a community, but in the end only serve to placate the root issue.

    Sounds like a job for REASON & SCIENCE!!!

  72. #73 Azkyroth
    March 20, 2008

    an I ask if AA is run differently in the US than in Canada? I’m curious because I coincidentally know half a dozen (Nova Scotian) people who have been AA members for fifteen to twenty-five years, who did in fact successfully stop drinking, and who aren’t involved in any religious practice. Some of them claim to be non-practicing Christians, others are agnostic. One of them, a good friend, claimed that the ‘Higher Power’ notion was taken by most members as symbolic of one’s own ability to control one’s own behaviour. It seemed to me to be just a support group where people encouraged each other and shared strategies that might work.

    According to my wife’s description the program has a Christianity-derived mentality but the overt religiosity is quite variable, depending on local chapters; her group emphasizes the “higher power” concept as a connection to something greater than oneself and a reminder of external responsibility; she cites her love for our daughter as her “higher power.”

  73. #74 Michael X
    March 20, 2008

    Azky,
    I can report the same going to a few meetings with my father, and some others with my friend. All of their meetings seemed to lean more on the idea of “higher power” than any christian view.

    I do wonder about the effectiveness though. Being an anonymous group, it has had a bit of trouble keeping records to track its effectiveness. Can anyone point to related stats?

  74. #75 Patchouli
    March 28, 2008

    The first psychologist I saw rang and spoke to Mercy. She wrote to them over a period of time, just trying to get answers. They were very evasive; they avoided her calls. Eventually she got some paperwork, some case notes, from them

  75. #76 Terri
    May 2, 2008

    Sounds to me that these people are “religious” in everything they do. Including their approach to their own beliefs.
    I happen to be a “Christian” …one that speaks in tongues has spiritual discernment and all that stuff you all have spoken of. I have met and am friends with a woman who definitely has had a “demon” or two. She has been ritually and sexually abused by a cult or group of people involved in the darker regions of the occult. Her programming causes her to be involved in acts that would freak most people out. Because of this, she is mpd with disassociation and ptsd on top of all that. She has been terribly abused and is about to be placed by us in a mental health facility because of her tendancy toward self harm and threatening of others.
    Not all Christians believe that everything that ails you is a demon. There are those of us who truly use what is called common sense and discernment to see when a person really needs a physician or psychiatrist or some sort of medical help.

    I feel for those persons who have been “treated” by “counselors” who practice such misunderstanding of the Word of God to the detriment of others.

  76. #77 Rebekha Jeanne
    March 18, 2009

    There are absolutely a LOT of terrible things going on in the name of Christianity, no doubt about that. However, if you would take the time to study and understand Christianity, you would find out that God gives everyone certain struggles, for example, depression, but faith alone is not the answer for everyone. I know this, being a Christian and struggling with issues of self-harm. Those who would attack my faith would be wrong for it; who are they to say how God will help me overcome, be it Him or another individual?
    I agree; these people need more than to choke on faith, although a balance (faith plus treatment) may just be God’s will.

  77. #78 E.V.
    March 18, 2009

    Rebekha dear: This thread is a year old.

    There are no gods, fairies or invisible pink unicorns. Depression is the result of a combination of things but chiefly neurotransmitters in the brain not working properly. Genetic predisposition, trauma, stress etc. all lead to this psychiatric disorder. Yahweh, faith or trials have nothing to do with it. Seek medical attention from a reputable source. Praying won’t make it go away, I’m telling you that from experience. -Former Seminarian.

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