Sunday, May 04, 2014


As I have said before on this blog, we do not have a mental health system.  We have a mental illness system with people being defined by their supposed illnesses rather than their obvious abilities. In DSM-5 is a list of behaviors and reported occurrences when grouped together is given a name and called an illness. If I tell a mental health professional that I have had periods in my life when I really felt good about myself and had lots of energy and did not need much sleep and that I was easily drawn off course during these periods and maybe a tad irritable. However, I would always have high goals, but some did not turn out so well and these periods of feeling on top of the world were always followed by a drop into the depths of hell I would no doubt be given a diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder.  None of the statements to the mental health professional have to be true.  The people living with me may know more about the truth, but even they cannot say if I am hearing voices or not.  Psychiatry is not based on science.  Psychiatry is based on the stories told to mental health professionals and what they think they can observe.  Defining mental health and coming up with a “mental health” system based on human rights and the person’s abilities is far from a reality no matter what words they use to describe the system taxpayers are funding.

Healthy soul is as hard to define as mental health.  I have put them together because it is my belief they are closely related, but first let us deal with what a healthy soul is.  Dallas Willard (who died last year at 77) was a Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  John Ortberg, Pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, reports that Professor Willard said, “When I die, I think it may be some time before I realize it.”  That may sum it all up. A healthy soul can be defined as a soul so close to the Creator that when the earthly body is shed the soul is not even aware of the change.  The transition is seamless.  Professor Willard gave Pastor Ortberg a hint at how one might be able to start getting their soul in such shape.  Ortberg reports in an interview with Publishers Weekly that Dallas Willard responded when asked how to have a healthy soul by simply saying, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry in your life.”

Healthy soul and mental health go together because we are more than simply a biological being.  We have an eternal living part of us called a soul.  Holistic health only comes when we pay attention to the whole and part of our whole is holy.  You don’t have to believe you have a soul to have a soul.  You simply have one and your soul will live on after you shed the body your soul now dwells in.  Holistic health is a healthy soul, mental health and a healthy biological body.  Will we ever get it right?  Probably not because we always want to emphasis one part of ourselves more than the other.  If you make that mistake, make it in favor of your soul because it lives the longest.

© Ed Cooper, 5/4/14, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

    All rights reserved

David Willard (1935-2013)

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