During my early teen years I developed a mental illness. Since then my life has taken many turns, some towards recovery. I have written about my experiences so that the lives of others who have a mental illness might be improved. I hope that my insights will stimulate new thought concerning the meaning in psychoses, the forces of stigmatization, and the search for survival. My experiences and attitudes have implications not only for the psychiatrically disabled, but also for those who support the ill: their families, therapists, and physicians.
Part I: An Integrated Approach
The resources in this section are evidence and support for an integrated approach to psychiatric care in treating the body, mind, and spirit. Through my writing I explain how spirituality, alongside of biology and other factors, is an integral part of recovery and is essential for healing the emotional, psychological, and physical suffering inherent in illness. Research has shown that spirituality in particular or, religious faith, play an important role in the recovery process.
Resources on Spirituality and Health: Compiled by Marcia A. Murphy, September 2009 (PDF). These resources consisting of articles and websites provide evidence and support for an integrated approach in mental health care in treating the body, mind, and spirit. Research has shown that spirituality in particular or, religious faith, play an important role in the recovery process. This list can be a starting place for health care providers or anyone interested in this topic. A brief summary of the resource will precede each reference.
(280 MB) is a presentation by Marcia A. Murphy. This is a PowerPoint slideshow with her voice narration.
As a Christian and a person in recovery from a mental illness, Marcia is advocating for people with a psychiatric illness within the church and broader community. The purpose of her presentation is to increase awareness of the plight of people who have a mental illness and the challenges they face. She hopes to call attention to the inaccessibility of the healthcare system and, thus, the unavailability of effective treatments resulting in further deprivation and suffering for the ill. Marcia hopes to show how spirituality and religious communities are important for improving the quality of life and functioning for people with a mental illness and to offer ways the church can aid and support this population. Click on title to download file for viewing. This is a large file–allow time to download.
Breathing Life into Dust: What it means to be made in the image of God in terms of our mental health is a PowerPoint slideshow created by Marcia A. Murphy. This includes her voice narration. She says that mental illness is an unplanned detour on the road of life and that healing begins with faith, hope and love–transformation into mental health, reflecting God’s image. Click on title to download file for viewing.
LifeStoryRF From Death to Life: My Life Story by Marcia A. Murphy. How do we survive psychosis? What pulls us through? In this PowerPoint slideshow with voice narration, Marcia tells her story about suffering, mental illness, and being restored by God’s grace. It is a story of spiritual death, survival, of overcoming obstacles to find a new life through faith in Christ. Click on “LifeStoryRF” to download file for viewing.
My memoir, Voices in the Rain: Meaning in Psychosis, is the story of my experience with mental illness through which I find spiritual meaning and, ultimately, God. As a person who has experienced severe psychiatric illness and landed on my feet, I believe I offer a unique first-person perspective. I tell what such illness is like, its symptoms, stigmatization, hospitalizations, and daily life. I take you into my world where I found insights into the spiritual meaning of my illness. My story may give desperately needed hope to others who are ill, their families, psychiatric professionals, as well as to those who know someone who is ill. Available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Grand Rounds, Schizophrenia Bulletin (internet advance access May 4, 2006), Vol. 33, No. 3, 657-660 (2007). This short story is a work of creative nonfiction and is based on real events from my life. Dr. Gingerich (a pseudonym), my psychiatrist, put on a Grand Rounds on the topic of recovery from schizophrenia. During the Rounds, I am interviewed and I talk to an audience of mainly psychiatric professionals, i.e., medical students, psychiatric residents and psychiatrists. I give my view of my experience of schizophrenia and what I believe brought about recovery.
First Person Account: Meaning of Psychoses, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 3, 541-543 (1997). In First Person Account: Meaning of Psychoses, I address the scientific community. I encourage mental health professionals to go beyond the biomedical model of brain dysfunction to consider the devastating impact of psychosis. I describe the psychotic symptoms I experienced as a young adult, problems I’ve had over the years, and factors that led to improvement in my condition.
[Coping With] The Spiritual Meaning of Psychosis, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Vol. 24, No. 2, 179-183 (2000). In [Coping With] The Spiritual Meaning of Psychosis, I present a thematic analysis of the meaning of psychosis. This is based on interviews I conducted on individuals who were taking part in a rehabilitation program. In this article, I ask the psychiatric community to consider these persons’ interpretations of psychotic phenomena. And I urge counselors, therapists, and doctors to recognize how spiritual attitudes and lifestyles give direction and meaning to the lives of those with psychiatric disabilities.
Rejection, Stigma, and Hope, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, 191-194 (1998). Next, Rejection, Stigma, and Hope describes the pain caused by stigmatization of the mentally ill. I share my own experience of stigma as well as the experiences of those at the rehabilitation center where I conducted interviews. I also give examples of discrimination and prejudice. To conclude the article, I tell of how I found hope in the face of rejection, and how I believe mental health professionals and organizations can restore dignity to the lives of those with psychiatric illness.
Psychiatric Illness from the Religious Perspective. Unpublished manuscript (1997). Psychiatric Illness from the Religious Perspective was written with the intention of promoting spirituality in medicine. Using a combination of personal account and theory, I describe the transformative impact of psychosis. Standing alone, I feel the biomedical model of psychiatric illness is reductionistic. Instead, I believe a holistic view of mental illness is needed that merges secular psychiatry and religion. This validates the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit. I describe how adopting this perspective brought healing to my life.
Before I Started to Serve. In Sharon Kutz-Mellem (Ed.), DIFFERENT MEMBERS ONE BODY: Welcoming the Diversity of Abilities in God’s Family (pp. 27-28). Louisville, KY: Witherspoon Press (1998). The last article, Before I Started to Serve, is an essay published by the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.). In this one I state what any psychiatrist will tell you that schizophrenia does not involve split or multiple personalities. This misconception has been fueled by the media and Hollywood. I explain that schizophrenia is a term that covers many kinds of symptoms such as, thought disorder, hallucinations (auditory or visual), delusions, apathy, and withdrawal. A person can have some or all of these and individual cases vary enormously. This essay also provides examples of activities I undertook in the church which led to fellowship and a sense of well being. By involving myself in the religious community, I found that the love of Christ–through the Christian people–counteracts stigmatization that often breaks the heart and crushes the spirit of those with psychiatric disabilities.
Part II: “Come now, let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18a
In this section I hope to encourage rational thought and discussion about controversial topics with the hope that such reasoning and communications will result in greater understanding.
Christian Apologetics and Postmodernism: A Rebuttal (2009). With this paper I hope to clarify various theological and philosophical positions that divide religious communities. Opposing camps often sit side by side on church pews. When we say we worship God what exactly is the focus of our worship? Can it matter to God as to who or what we think He is? Should it matter to us? This composition is just a brief preliminary sketch of a more complicated debate that I may develop elsewhere.
Reflections (2013). What is the church? Who are God’s people? This essay contains my reflections upon the apathetic condition of many who profess Christ. What does the Bible show God to be in regard to the afflicted, poor and oppressed? And, is the Christian community reflecting this God of the Bible and the example of Jesus Christ?
Letter to My Therapist (2013). Originally written because of a request from a person putting on a graduate school symposium on the topic of suicide, I wrote this letter to show the depths of problems that may compel a person toward suicidal thoughts and actions. These thoughts are my own, taken from my own experience. The answer from the therapist is authentic—my own therapist responded.
Eugenics & People with Disabilities: The Roots of Societal Rejection, Neglect and Indifference (2013). Who can decide who is worthy of life or death? How do we judge a human being’s worth? How do we treat those that society sees as weak and dependent? What is the Christian response? What is yours?