Book [Work in Progress]
A Mental Health Initiative [MHI]
To Loose the Bonds of Injustice
The Plight of the Mentally Ill & What the Church Can Do
by Marcia A. Murphy
To Loose the Bonds of Injustice is a collection of essays which are generally analytic, reflective, observational and interpretative, all written by one person who has lived the life of a mental patient in the United States of America during the period after the closures of big institutions in the 1950’s and the advent of community care-based treatments often involving psychiatric medications. Instead of an academic look from the outside this is an inside view of someone who has a lot to say about deplorable conditions and the role of the church and society in counteracting those conditions.
In her previous book, Voices in the Rain: Meaning in Psychosis , Ms. Murphy shared her story of how she became ill and what it was like to have a psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and clinical depression leading into the importance of faith in recovery. Please refer back to this volume for information on her personal experience of psychiatric disability and the role of a spiritual outlook. In this present work Ms. Murphy explores topics of interest which became her main focus during the next several years after the publication of her first book. She takes an in-depth look at the challenges she faced which many others with mental illness experience as well.
Ms. Murphy shares her reflections on the work she found meaningful within the church and in the broader community despite facing many difficulties. Struggling to get her basic needs met is a reoccurring theme: a life of poverty at a subsistence level; disincentives for employment and discrimination; lack of affordable housing and the threat of homelessness; societal rejection (exclusion) and subsequent isolation; difficulties with groups; learning new social skills and good values that help to halt the cycle of abuse learned while growing up. She explains how for those with little or no family support it is nearly impossible to survive without a caring community of faith.
This book is also the first to offer the unique perspective of applauding the heroic attempts of psychiatry in the West, healthcare providers who struggle to meet the demand in their clinics due to lack of funding to support them. Subsequently, many of the mentally ill are reluctantly turned away because of the lack of available psychiatric staff and/or hospital beds. Not only is this a problem locally, but shortage of treatment is on a global scale and an assessment of such shortage leads to recommendations for how to implement needed changes.
Additionally, and perhaps most significantly, a major theme emerging from all this is the question of meaning: meaning found in her suffering, meaning found in spirituality, and meaning in the religious paradigm inherent in her story. The book explores interconnecting subjects on multiple levels in ways that have not yet been approached in other literature.
Ms. Murphy shares her thoughts and reflections with the intent to make a difference, sharing her view of what positive changes need to be implemented on both an organizational and societal level. She shares how vitally important it is for religious organizations to move toward inclusion of those who struggle, welcoming them into their communities, embracing them as children of God. With the enactment of social integration there is hope of a better quality of life for all involved–for all individuals have gifts to help build up the church, even ‘the least of these’.
This book is for those who know of someone suffering with a mental illness as well as the general public: the ill themselves, relatives, health care providers, educators, those in religious organizations, and government officials. With this offer of in-depth insights an invitation is extended to the reader to examine habits of the heart. From out of indifference and complacency let there be a growing compassion and an emergence of actions–steps going forward to improve the quality of life for and with all those with mental health needs.