This question is familiar to me.
People think that with as much as I see and am seen by, as a psychiatrist, I do not feel awkward. Not so. I can face all manner of dragon, beast, friend or foe, but put me with a Christian who wants to know why I do not talk about God as much as they think I should in my medical practice, and I become a wet-eyed girl again, hopping from foot to foot.
This would never have been a question someone would dare have asked Kreplin or Bleuler. But then I am not Kreplin or Bleuler. I get asked. Kreplin and Bleuler would not be caught discussing psychiatry casually nor personally. I do. In the history of psychiatry, what has developed the culture of our practice, we have biases toward the practicing of medicine without bias. I am biased otherwise.
Conversely, the culture of Christianity in our generation is that we do almost the opposite – nothing is not about Christianity. Everyone is a creation of God so that makes it everyone’s business.
You can see how there is a tension between countries and I am a train hopping hobo. You know the risk in train hopping, do you not?
Why don’t you talk about God more? (Hop! Hop!)
I tried to explain this to my Dad.
“Dad, so many people, who have been hurt, perceive that the trauma related to God. The Christian language, is for them, a wolf in sheep’s clothing and can be activating. So many people are confused about God and I’m not to confuse them more.” This is consistent with the culture of psychiatry and standard of practice.
It is uncomfortable on even a more personal level though. Being Christian means that God and I are united, married, intimate and there is not much more personal than that.
We have discussed before the difficulty in describing behaviors without tagging them with a moral quality. This is important in part because our emotions and behaviors come from our hard wiring, our temperament, not from a stick shift or consistently from choice. We intuitively think that what comes naturally from our personality is a thing of rightness or wrongness.
We have explored that emotions and behaviors come from the brain, a human organ, and not Jerusalem, or the city of Oz. Emotions and behaviors come from a human organ, tissue matter, and are symptoms of the health condition of that organ. Emotions and behaviors sometimes come without invitation. When our brain is not healthy, what we feel and do that is not friendly to Me or others are symptoms of that illness.
So now when we describe God, a very personal, intimate union in us, we oft affect our humanness. If I describe my perception of God to another, there are huge personal implications. Maybe that person does not want an intimate relationship with “Someone” who has my personality traits, my temperament, and as generated by the condition of my brain health. Maybe that person might feel violated rather than be in a patient-doctor relationship. Maybe that person might afterward, as I have felt when others described God to me, think they need to take a good hot shower or at least wash their mouth out. Icky. You think?
One of the reasons I love the writing of King David is that he just tells his story. Not much more convincing than someone’s story.
The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me….
When a patient is in treatment with me, there are unique moments that come and go when my story comes out, but it is not standard.
Why don’t you talk about God more?
So there you have it. That is why, for now. I hope to grow and assume this will not be my opinion nor practice forever.
And between me and thee, at Friend to Yourself, we are also still figuring this out. Together.
Questions: Do you wish your physicians talked about God more? or less? Why? How has it affected your treatment? How do you wish it would change? Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip: When people talk about God, or hurt you and you believe Christianity or religion is involved, remember they are human, not God.
(Even me! lol!)