MY APPEARANCE ON CHANNEL 4 - 4thought- 7.55pm 25 April 2012
A REPLY TO CRITICS.
I was interviewed by channel 4 on 15 March 2012 on depression.
I know that my views appear to be very negative and judgemental but they were fairly represented in the transmission. The problem was that with such a controversial view, it really needed at least some time to give an explanation; time which was not available. It is to provide this explanation that this article is written.
To see the programme, go to
The 4thought transmission - click here
AN IMPORTANT NOTE
In the transmitted programme, it was never stated that True Biblical Counselling is effective for both Christians and non-Christians alike. We point to the pride and self-centredness of the person that is at the root of their problem and the non-Christian can accept this and improve without following our Christian recommendations. That they will continue on their Godless way is saddening, but at least we have made their earthly life more bearable. It is this impression in the programme of saying “You have to be a Christian to be cured of depression” that caused much of the understandable resentment. I apologise for this but what I said that may have been edited out, I cannot remember.
1. WEBSITE. I was not allowed to give any publicity to my website or book which contain much that has changed many people's lives.
In view of this, I would ask critics to visit my website where I have a number of letters/emails received from people I have helped particularly with their depression. The direct link to the page is -
At the start are four articles – (i) this reply, (ii) comments, (iii) how I stumbled upon True Biblical Counselling and (iv) depression
2. CHRISTIAN SUPPORT.
A number of critics said they were Christians and were disgusted that I should call myself a "committed evangelical Christian", thus bringing disrepute upon our faith. I am certainly made to appear as the only Christian who holds to such extreme views.
So on this subject let me give a few quotations. Would a few quotes from the great Dr. Martin-Lloyd Jones on depression persuade many evangelical Christians? Not to those whose mind is made up already! Remember he was a MEDICAL doctor nearing the highest levels in the medical world, which he gave up for the ministry. These are taken from his "Spiritual Depression" and I copy what I have said on my website.
"Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on depression
When I started to read his book "Spritual Depression", as he was a highly regarded medical man, I fully expected him to take the conventional line of drugs etc. Much to my surprise, his views were in exact accordance with ours! I quote some of his statements; "..I say that this person is still morbidly and sinfully preoccupied with self. I said just now that we have to be brutal with this condition. [emphasis MB] And it has to be said that the real trouble with these people is still 'self'... They appear very humble and full of contrition, but it is mock modesty, it is a self-concern... Forget yourself, leave the judgement to Him; get on with the work." [p.87] "In a sense, the depressed Christian is a contradiction in terms, and he is a very poor recommendation for the gospel." [p.11] "..and saying: I am in great difficulty - it probably means that we are all the time centred upon ourselves. That is introspection, and in turn it leads to the condition known as morbidity." [p17].
One very damning comment was "Psychology, I believe, is one of the most subtle dangers in connection with the Christian belief.... we do not preach psychology, we preach the Christian faith." [p.265]
Throughout the book, he says exactly the same that we are proposing - that it is self-centred and self-pitying thinking that is the cause of depression.
The Apostle Paul went through terrible hardships but not once was he ever depressed. Indeed he said Christians should "Rejoice; again I say rejoice" and "Think more of others than yourself". Not once did he ever succumb to depression but claimed that the Christian faith was "..joy unspeakable and full of glory."
One might ask “Where were the psychologists and drugs in Paul’s day?” 2 Tim. 3v16-17 says that the Bible is ALL that we need for guidance in living the full Christian life. Depressive thoughts should be banished by thinking positively as we read in Phil.4v8
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
When I led the group on counselling, I said they should do so under the authority of their local church. However, when I met huge opposition from many evangelical organisations and ministers, I realised that where they had been brainwashed by psy propaganda, I was more biblically based than they were for I took the its commands seriously. Since then, I have accepted their criticisms with equanimity.
Jay Adams found he had not been trained to deal with counselling in his theological college, so he investigated the subject in depth, writing some 40 books and pamphlets on counselling. He followed O. Hobart Mowrer as he went round psychiatric hospitals curing schizophrenics simply by breaking past their defence strategies to get to the guilt that they had been hiding deep inside them. They acted in a bizarre and aggressive way simply to prevent people from enquiring too deeply and discovering their guilty secrets. Adams wrote much on depression. He pointed to their self-absorption, but did not pinpoint that basically they were acting self-centredly.
O. Hobart Mowrer asked whether the Evangelical religion had “sold its birthright for a mess of psychological pottage”
3. THE CHAOS IN THE PSY PROFESSIONS.
A little-know fact is how the professions define the many classifications of “mental illness” for inclusion in the now huge Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Inclusion of an "illness" in this officially recognised manual requires only a show of hands by a gathering of psychiatrists of the symptoms of the illness. If a person has a certain number of the symptoms on the list, then they are classified as having that particular "mental illness". THERE IS NOT A SCRAP OF SCIENTIFIC BASIS TO THE WHOLE OF THE PSY PROFESSIONS - ((psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists).
Although not the same as depression (but they are closer than you might think), to illustrate further how unscientific and chaotic the whole of the psy professions are I give the following two accounts.
The Pheonix Conference: Schizophrenia was discussed at this huge conference in 1975 which had all the big names in psychotherapy. "Three out of the four members of the prestigious panel on schizophrenia declared that the disease [?] was non-existant." R.D. Laing insisted that schizophrenia "did not exist until the word was invented."" Such views from such prestigious names has never reached the mainstream psychiatric/psychological professions - their income is too closely connected to maintaining this facade.
Thomas Szasz, a member of the schizophrenia panel, has written a book called The Myth of Mental Illness. There are as many theories as there are practitioners in this field.
(B) Glasser, Harrington and Mainord
Glasser, in his book Reality Therapy, recounts how he, Harrington and Mainord had huge success rates (80-100% cures with very few relapsing) with criminal girls (G), schizophrenics (H) and men in a general psychiatric hospital (M) simply by training them to take responsibility for their actions. So you see a wide range of "mental illnesses" CAN be cured, but their method is not acceptable in today's "politically correct" culture. I quote from this book at length in our book "Breakdowns are good for you" [BAGFY].
Harrington, with all his experience of curing “mentally ill” patients, said to Glasser;
The “Chemical imbalance” - dopamine or serotonin?
The medical explanation is that depressed people suffer from a lack/excess of dopamine or serotonin. How did they come to this conclusion? They terrified rats into shaking immobility by giving them random electric shocks. They then examined their brains and found they were changed in these chemicals. They then assumed that this is what happens with depressed and inactive people! To make a connection between rats deliberately terrified by PHYSICAL shocks and the non-physical cause of the decline of depressed people due to their personality weaknesses is not just ludicrous but positively harmful as it gives the medical profession a reason for treating them with powerful drugs that simply numb the brain. The drug companies (Big Pharma) are making billions from these and many other unnecessary drugs in collusion with the psy professions.
The professor of psychiatry that revealed this became a Christian AFTER he had risen in the ranks. He said Christians should not go in for psychiatry because it used "fishy thinking".
All anti-depressant drugs are as effective as each other - there is little between them. 50-60% of people are helped, but so are 30-40% who took a sugared pill! So they are only effective for 20-30% of those that take them. Basically, they simply deaden the brain and stop it working efficiently. The innocent public have no idea just how much "wool is pulled over their eyes".
The real reason that this "chemical imbalance" is so acceptable is that it enables depressed people to say to the world "Look, it is not my fault that I am depressed." To point this out is bound to be unpopular and create a vicious backlash - as I have experienced!
I have pleaded for the scientific evidence of this “chemical imbalance”, but have received no response. All articles refer to a “hypothesis” about a chemical, and the subject is still heavily debated. This is hardly an adequate reason for drugging people - with their terrible side effects.
Google “chemical imbalance” and see how there is virtually NO evidence for such a claim which is used to medicate the millions of depressed people – giving huge profits to the drug companies.
There is no doubt that hormones can upset your metabolism, particularly after childbirth and menopause. However, this should be apparent to any observant counsellor. I had one case where a lady cricised me for my views about depression, but happened to mention how terrible she felt dragging herself to the gym with her new baby. Now depressants do NOT go to the gym and I suggested is was a hormonal problem. She said her lady doctor and a group at her hospital had laughed at her when she suggested this. She eventually became so desperate that she treated herself with Hormone Replacement Therapy. Within a few weeks she was fully cured.
Anger, rage – and depression
It is acknowledged by the professionals that an important component of depression is anger and rage. They are angry with the world for not treating them as they would like, but they are also angry with themselves for making a mess of their life. But although this component is well recognised it is not given any publicity. Why should this be? Surely it is because anger is an emotion, and should therefore be under the control of the person. In addition, that it is a controllable emotion seems to contradict the mantra that it is a “medical illness” which places them under the medics and absolves them from blame for their behaviour.
The danger of going to psychiatrists/psychotherapists
Prof. Eysenk examined 760 cases treated by psychoanalysis (Freudian) and 7,293 treated by psychotherapy. He found their cure rate was 44% and 64% respectively. However, those who received NO treatment had an improvement rate of 72%. Fifteen years later, he repeated the examination, and got much the same result.
Is it advisable to go to the professionals?
4. CASES OF DEPRESSION
I have examined a number of cases - people who have come for help, or simply read our book, or have written (or been written about) in magazine articles. Given enough "background" information of their past life, I have found every time that they have had a pattern in their attitude to life of wanting praise, admiration, ambition, friendship etc. without really giving themselves to others in simple love towards them without seeking any return. Everything was looked at from THEIR point of view; they could not just “forget themselves”.They were consistently wanting praise but they never really "gave of themselves". If they DID do "good works", there was always an underlying desire to "buy" people's affection, which was often seen for what it was - so they never received a truly affectionate response to the depth that they were wanting. People are very sensitive to anyone who does NOT "give themselves" in open friendship; the signals that they send you on such occassions are extremely subtle and difficutl to define, but they are easily sensed by most people. When they find that they do not get the full response that they are seeking, we have the beginning of that inward collapse that heralds depression. What they should do is GIVE of themselves in a quiet loving way and not expecting (seeking?) any responding return of affection. That will come when they are recognised as being truly "open hearted and genuine" people with a REAL interest in the welfare of other people, with no facades or barriers they hide behind.
In this short paper I feel I must be blunt. Life is full of problems, calamities and catastrophies that come upon us all. What many have done is to mentally collapse at the first hurdle of opposition, and frankly, what has really happened is that they have failed to face up to them in a mature way - they have never grown up to take the rough and tumble of the world in a mature (Christian?) way.
THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH.
One of the most important passages in the New Testament to me is Ephesians 4v11-13. This is the only passage where it sets out clearly WHY God placed us in churches. He gave us Preachers, Pastors etc. and gives the various reasons that finally culminate in saying that it is so that we may become “mature, like Christ.” Thus, worship and evangelism are NOT the PRIMARY function of the church, despite what many think and claim. When we are mature, then we will worship and evangelise in ways that are approved by God.
Surely, it is here that the local church can play such an important part in the helping of those who are depressed. They will be able to fix their eyes on the glory of God and the love of Jesus, and take their attention away from their obsession with themselves.
Some will say “Aren’t we all born with different personalities. Doesn’t that make a difference?”
In all my reading of the New Testament I have never found any allowance made for different “personalities”. Christ simply said “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” There is no limit to being loving, gentle, patient, strong when needed, etc. and the controlling of bad traits like anger, egotism, meanness, etc. and we can train ourselves to improve in all these areas!
Edward Welch in his excellent “When People are Big and God is Small” says “The man who fears God fears nothing else” and “When we seek people’s approval we do not realise that we have made ourselves slaves to them.”
5. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
The most common accusation by my critics is that "I have obviously never experienced depression otherwise I would be more sympathetic to this terrible illness". The implication is that only sufferers from depression should counsel other sufferers; a dubious proposition indeed. What is invariably offered is what I call "tea and sympathy" and "a shoulder to cry on". They go away happy, and both counsellor and counsellee are both satisfied. Unfortunately, this rarely cures their problem at depth, and they are likely to return to their former state when stress and pressure arise again. as it is bound to come in time.
What is badly needed is for the real cause of their problem to be revealed to them - gently but firmly. For their testimony of what happens to them when they DO respond to this approach I repeat that the reader should go to www.mbowden.info/bibcoun1.htm Many admit that they are now more stable, at peace with themselves, no longer perfectionists to prevent criticisms, not so ambitious etc. Some in fact say they are glad they went through depression because it taught them what the real priorities in life are. On this, I would mention that at one time in my life, when I was far from being mature and long before I became a Christian, I went through an extremely stressfull and testing three months. When it was over, I was lying in my bed and all the pent up fear and anxiety that I had supressed suddenly bubbled to the surface and I began to be so stressed that the room began to "swim" around me and I realised that I was on the point of having a "mental breakdown." I have a very clear memory of saying to myself "You have only one life to live. Either you face up to life and overcome your fears or you will buckle under and be a mental wreck for the rest of your life." This started me on the right path although I struggled with it for many years, but I was very determined to enjoy my life.
On another occasion, I gave my first public lecture against evolution with no other person's support. The night before I gave the lecture I was so fearful that I literally shook with fear in my bed. However, I was so determined to publicise the truth about the falseness of evolution that I forced myself to give the talk. The result was that I have never had any fear of public speaking since. It is this determination NOT to be limited by my inadequacies that has paid a huge dividend over the years of increased confidence and joy in serving God in any way He makes available to me. I have truly had a comparatively stressfree and happy life.
Critics portray me as a hard-hearted man who cannot possibly be a Christian. In response, I can assure them that I am greatly loved by all 15 of my immediate family - (ask them if you know one of them!). In addition, every Christmas I circulate about 120 copies of 4 sides of A4 jokes that I have collected in the previous year. Recipients always look forward to receiving them. [See them at
Christmas Jokes ]. I can assure the reader that our house is far more often filled with laughter than most others. I merely mention this to show that I am far from being a kill-joy. It is the truth of a situation that I am always seeking, not the conventional propaganda that is consistently being pumped out by the mass media and by many churches that is absorbed by the general public. It is this that puts me at variance with the vast majority of people who accept the conventional wisdom.
FINALLY - I fully expected a huge amount of criticism - some of it from other Christians. I would repeat that many have been grateful for the way in which I have opened their eyes to what they are doing to themselves. Jay Adams has said "It is NOT kind to empathise with people without pointing out the real root of their problem".
I find that the truth of any situation is always rejected if it conflicts with a person's deeply held views that they have cherished for a lifetime. The process of admitting to oneself that you have been wrong on any important subject is too stressful and humiliating to the inner pride. So such evidence is firmly rejected without being prepared to consider carefully whether it is true or false.
Unfortunately, this also applies to many Christians when faced with contrary views.
I have found in many areas of life, that the real truth is quite different from what the majority of people believe. I am therefore presented with the stark choice – popularity or the truth. I will always try to spread the truth no matter at what cost to my “reputation” – tattered already that I know it is in the eyes of the world. What gives me such confidence is that my critics will not be my final judge; that position is held only by God – and I am well prepared to stand before him and take HIS criticisms, and His alone.
I could present much more but will leave it there.
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