Christian Psychologist admits manic-depression amongst Pentecostals

Judy: I enjoyed meeting you again (I'm sure we must have crossed paths sometime during our four years at high school), and discussing some of my favorite topics. I haven't gotten a hold of your book yet, but plan to read it sometime soon and also check out your reviews. I'm sure I'll find the content very challenging!

As far as the stats on manic-depression, I cannot cite any studies I've come across, but I will forward anything I find in the future. I have a close friend in Florida who has "left the fold" of fundamentalism who also was diagnosed as bipolar. She just graduated with her masters in counseling and keeps up with more of the research on mood disorders. I will check in with her at Christmas when I visit my family in Orlando.

The stats I quoted you were from Duke University Medical Center's Epidemiologic Catchment Area survey (Meador, Koenig, Hughes, Turnbull & George, 1992) which examined the relationship between religious affiliation and major depression. The six-month prevalence of major depression among Pentecostals was 5.4 percent compared to 1.7 percent for the entire sample. Something to look into, huh?

To answer your question about the post-reunion party, I believe a group went out to a nearby restaurant/bar. Since I had my 13-year-old daughter with me, I decided to make it an early night as well as enjoy a full day on Saturday visiting friends and relatives, etc.

Gotta run for now, but I look forward to hearing from you again. Enjoy the holidays...



Ed: I went to a class reunion last year where they gave away a copy of my book, Leaving the Fold, and the mention of the book interested one woman in particular who introduced herself to me and told me that she comes from a large family of Pentecostal ministers, and now works at Pat Robertson's CBN University where she is currently obtaining her master's in psychology. She used to be a "Bible counselor," but soon was at odds with the simplistic prescriptions she was dealing out to people, so she went for a genuine degree in psychology, though just how genuine it can be at CBN University is another question. Still, I had a good talk with her and she didn't run away when I told her things like, "Any religion that believes in heaven and hell is gonna be a haven for manic-depressives," and she even supplied further damning info below, including infor about a manic-depressive thread running through her entire family. (Email above).

Having been a fundamentalist I now have a joy and peace in things that I never had as a fundamentalist. My peace does not "pass all understanding," but is now equal with my understanding. As a Christian I was bi-polar. I'm more level emotionally and rationally than before. More patient, even with my most devout Christian family members and friends. Leaving the fold was also revelatory as a rite of passage just as entering it was, but in a different way. Leaving reawakened my natural curiosity (or, looked at another way, my natural curiosity awakened my itch to leave), and I learned more during the long involved arduous process of leaving than I did while entering or while in the fold. I learned more about myself and other people and the Bible and lots of other related ideas and issues. I also learned to enjoy more of life and a wider range of people, ideas, music, humor. Each testimony in the book, LEAVING THE FOLD, begins with a brief paragraph that is a synopsis of the testimony that follows. Those synopses are drawn from the testimony itself, and they often express the positive effect that leaving the fold had on each of the book's contributors.

Also, two years ago at my high school reunion where they raffled off a copy of my book, a female Christian psychologist who studies and works at Pat Robertson's university and CBN headquarters, told me how interesting the book sounded, and as we talked more she told me that she used to be a Biblical counselor, but she became dissatisfied with the simplistic Biblical answers she had to deliver at each counseling session, by the numbers, insisting that wives not leave their abusive overbearing Christian husbands, etc., and, she also told me on the sly that she was interested in the apparent connection between the most emotionally charged Christian denomination (Pentecostalism) and DEPRESSION. She cited some figures from a Methodist hospital emergency ward that placed Pentecostal christians in the highest average rank of manic-depression cases. She also saw a lot of depression in her own large family. Her Dad and brothers were Pentecostal preachers and they suffered from bi-polar depression along with her Mom. Depression ran through her family. So, she dumped the simplistic "Bible counseling" and sought a genuine psychology degree (at Pat Robertson's University where she was already working). After listening to her tell me this I commented that "any religion that teaches there's only heaven or hell is gonna be a haven for manic-depressives."

Best, Ed

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