Pills for the Soul? Forward by
Carl E. Armerding, PhD
Dieter Mulitze’s third book is clearly his most challenging. Building on the case for a biblical healing ministry in his first two books, Dieter now moves to a critique of prevalent models of psychiatry, and the Church’s all too facile acceptance of ‘worldly wisdom’ in this field.
In a volume that confronts the widespread prescription of a variety of drugs, in response to psychiatry’s burgeoning list of “mental disorders” (represented by the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), Mulitze invokes the literature of both psychiatry and theology, together with the experience of generations of patients, to utter an urgent wake-up call.
Claiming that our modern Western society has gone after a false messiah, and become addicted (literally as well as physically) to wares being peddled by a cartel combining the pharmaceutical and psychiatric industries, Dieter Mulitze says, in the most plain language of his writing to date, “Stop, Look, Listen.”
Why are Christians, with others in society, willing to trade time-honoured, and biblical, concepts like the “soul” and “healing” for purely materialistic notions that reduce emotional sickness to brain chemistry? Pointing out that, from biblical times onward, the “healing of the soul”, and the “renewing of the spirit” have provided relief from despair, sorrow of heart, alienation, effects of abuse, unreconciled conflict, addictive behaviour, etc., Dieter calls for the Church to get back to its roots, and make use of the abundant resources of the gospel.
In his first book, Mulitze showed that a gospel stripped of healing is a truncated gospel. In his second volume, he examined the nature of biblical healing, and the centrality of Jesus as the Healer and Deliverer of the whole person. In this third volume, while affirming Jesus as the Healer of Souls, Dieter first builds a devastating critique of much of contemporary psychiatric “business”, claiming that in place of real healing, we have become a society controlled by substances that cannot and will not mend anything.
In such a hard-hitting, and critical approach, the reader is entitled to ask, “What does a scientist trained in quantitative genetics and computer science really know about psychiatry? Or, for that matter, theology?” The answers are to be found in the book itself, which evidences wide reading of secondary sources in both fields, together with reports of the work of those fully qualified to speak to the issues. But make no mistake, Dieter Mulitze is not some armchair novice quoting a few experts to make a superficial case; he has lived out the results of his studies in years as a practitioner of the care of souls. As in his earlier works, it is this combination of rigorous scholarship with years of observation, and extensive practical application, that makes the case so compelling.
Finally, I must confess that, in taking up the challenge of writing a foreword for this book, I realize afresh the limitations of my own experience, both in the field of psychiatry and in the kind of caring for souls that forms the focus of the volume. As such, I am in no position to pontificate on Dieter’s formal critique of modern psychiatric trends. But I have spent a lifetime watching people, and observing what makes for health and deliverance. And even from this vantage point, it is patently obvious that much in our modern approach has gone seriously wrong.
Dieter tells us what has gone wrong, and builds a compelling case for where we have strayed, together with offering the Church a simple but profound means of recovery. If all were well with our collective soul, we might feel more free to set aside this challenge. But, given widespread bondage to the pharmaceutical drug culture, in which Christians are fully complicit, together with the cries of the afflicted for help not being given by the “industry”, we ignore this discussion at our peril. Dieter’s call for a return to biblical categories (“Why is my soul cast down?” Psalm 42:5), together with biblical solutions (“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me...and you shall find rest for your souls”, Matthew 11:28-29) is surely one that we who claim to follow Jesus must heed. With the early disciples, should we not confess afresh, “Lord, to whom (else) can we go? You (alone) have the words of eternal life” ( John 6:68). If Dieter Mulitze is right, we have gone after other gods, with devastating results. Only by returning to the Living God, and making use of the resources he has given, will the Church again become a resource for God’s salvation and healing.
Carl E. Armerding, PhD is Former Director of Schloss Mittersill Study Centre, Mittersill, Austria and Former President of Recent College, Vancouver, BC, Canada