Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications by Michael R. Emlet

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications

OCD, ADHD, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder . . . these are not just diagnoses from the DSM; they are part of our everyday vocabulary and understanding of people. As Christians, how should we think about psychiatric diagnoses and their associated treatments? We can t afford to isolate ourselves and simply dismiss these categories as unbiblical. Nor can we afford to accept the entire...

Title:Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications
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Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications Reviews

  • Josh

    Balanced, compassionate, and wise. And all that in less than 100 pages, succinctly compiling so much of CCEF's way of doing ministry. Highly recommended.

  • Blake

    A very insightful book that I think can and should be a resource for believers, so as to understand the psychiatric world and the perpetual labeling of problems that people have with living life in a broken, sin-cursed world. Although the author is a little more favorable of the medical model than I am, I think he gives a fair treatment of what is the problems with the medical model for counseling issues. He also provides helpful insight into an answer for peoples' problems, showing how God and

    A very insightful book that I think can and should be a resource for believers, so as to understand the psychiatric world and the perpetual labeling of problems that people have with living life in a broken, sin-cursed world. Although the author is a little more favorable of the medical model than I am, I think he gives a fair treatment of what is the problems with the medical model for counseling issues. He also provides helpful insight into an answer for peoples' problems, showing how God and His Word truly do provide solutions to those problems and he challenges the common assumptions within the culture that lead people down the medicinal path but don't truly deal with the root issues, nor do those assumptions/beliefs/practices truly provide people with real hope. I do hope that the publisher can lower the price of this book soon as I believe the cost will keep some from reading the book, given that the book is not a real lengthy book so some might be inclined to not purchase it because of its cost. Overall, I think this is a helpful resource and one I think should be read by all.

  • Becky Van Daniker

    Before I begin my review, it is important to mention that Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R. Emlet is geared towards pastors and those who work in the mental health field. It is not written for patients with a diagnosis seeking answers.

    Now I can begin my review. I originally picked this up because this is a huge topic amongst Christian counselors. Or at least it was the Christian college I attended and received my counseling degree. The main reason that I was able to understand what th

    Before I begin my review, it is important to mention that Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R. Emlet is geared towards pastors and those who work in the mental health field. It is not written for patients with a diagnosis seeking answers.

    Now I can begin my review. I originally picked this up because this is a huge topic amongst Christian counselors. Or at least it was the Christian college I attended and received my counseling degree. The main reason that I was able to understand what the author was talking about most of the time was that I studied the DSM. If you’re not familiar with that, then all of the medical jargon will be quite confusing.

    The author explains in the first section of the book what descriptions really how and the history behind them. The second half of the book is about prescriptions and how they can be both helpful and unhelpful. The author also shares that while prescriptions can be practical and helpful, they aren’t a cure-all, and longs to help his patients have a relationship with the Lord. Most of his writing is neutral, but he explains that there needs to be some kind of balance which I highly agree with.

    While none of the information is new, this is a book that I think many Christians do need to read through because this is a topic that is often misunderstood. Although Christians are starting to be a little more accepting of things, many still think that many mental illnesses are derived from sin. While some are, not all of them are. I found the book quite interesting and the author shares sound theology and Scriptures to back up each statement.

    Highly recommended, especially since the book is short!

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

  • Adam T Calvert

    By far the best book I've read regarding a Biblical view of psychiatry and its practice.

    This book is aimed toward pastors and other Christians involved in abundant counseling ministry; but really any Christian could benefit from it. He seems uniquely qualified to write it (having both an M.D. and an M.Div); and the church can benefit greatly from that.

    While he rightly doesn't support the use of drugs for something that is a legitimate sin issue, he certainly shows that there truly are issues tha

    By far the best book I've read regarding a Biblical view of psychiatry and its practice.

    This book is aimed toward pastors and other Christians involved in abundant counseling ministry; but really any Christian could benefit from it. He seems uniquely qualified to write it (having both an M.D. and an M.Div); and the church can benefit greatly from that.

    While he rightly doesn't support the use of drugs for something that is a legitimate sin issue, he certainly shows that there truly are issues that should indeed be dealt with from the use of drugs (under the care of a psychiatrist or other medical professional qualified in those drugs).

    Knowing which ones fall into which category is also dealt with. And the answer is that it really depends on the person, the abnormal behavior (whether it's depression, anxiety, hyper-activity, obsessive compulsiveness, mania, etc.). And the goal of course is to get to the root issue that is causing the abnormal behavior. Is it sin? Is it a chemical imbalance? Is it both?

    How the person is treated depends on the answers to those questions.

    Nonetheless, the main objective for the counselor at the time of crisis with the counselee is to show the love of Christ and bring God's Word into the situation. This does not mean to counsel them to immediately stop taking any kind of psychotropic drug (he especially warns

    that, as abruptly stopping some of those medications could have life-threatening consequences). Nor does it mean to immediately recommend they start taking psychotropic drugs.

    Emlet does a terrific job of continually bringing it back to the uniqueness of each individual coupled with the effects of total depravity; and how each person and situation calls for a unique approach.

    Far from making a blanket statement that all psychotropic drugs are perfectly acceptable and taking them should not be causes for concern for a person's spiritual life, Emlet persuasively argues that it's just as much true that pastors and other Christian counselors should be very cautious in taking the approach that the one being counseled just needs more faith in Christ or the Scriptures. There

    legitimate abnormalities to the mind and how it functions (certainly as a consequence of the fall); but there are also Biblically acceptable medications in restoring that person's mental health.

    Obviously, in and of itself medication is not

    answer to someone's spiritual heath. Bible reading, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and an active role in serving the body of Christ and advancing His Kingdom will always grow spiritual health. But sometimes medication is truly needed to get a person to the point where he or she is able to do those things (or do them more effectively).

    I'm so thankful for this balanced and Biblical perspective on looking at psychiatry, its place in a broken world, and its use (in part) in redeeming that broken world. God bless Michael Emlet and his ministry!

    I highly recommend this book to pastors and those who counsel regularly from God's Word. While you can read it in one sitting, be assured you'll want to keep it as a reference for a long time to come.

  • Erin

    Michael R. Emlet draws on his years of experience both as a family physician and counselor to present a tool for people in ministry everywhere. Whether you are a pastor, church leader, or lay person interested in learning more about psychiatric diagnoses and the uses of medication, you will enjoy Emlet's balanced and Biblical perspective on this difficult topic.

    In the first half of the book, Emlet discusses the what the DSM is, how it has changed over the years, and what a diagnosis may or may n

    Michael R. Emlet draws on his years of experience both as a family physician and counselor to present a tool for people in ministry everywhere. Whether you are a pastor, church leader, or lay person interested in learning more about psychiatric diagnoses and the uses of medication, you will enjoy Emlet's balanced and Biblical perspective on this difficult topic.

    In the first half of the book, Emlet discusses the what the DSM is, how it has changed over the years, and what a diagnosis may or may not mean for an individual. In the second half he dives into the issue of medication, and trying to find the wise balance of when to consider using medication to go alongside other areas of treatment. I thought this was a great point in Chapter 14: "It is important to remember that we exist as body-spirit creatures. We are simultaneously body and soul. There's never a time we're not spiritually engaged. And there's never a time we are not bodily engaged. This means that attention to both physical and spiritual aspects of our personhood is mandatory in ministry."

    I liked how Emlet made a point that if a person has a psychiatric diagnosis, that's not so different from a person who may have a physical diagnosis. Someone may be battling cancer, but they themselves are not cancer. It's similar with mental issues, in the fact that someone may suffer from bipolar disorder, but that does not define who they are. They are still a human being in need of a Savior and compassionate interaction with fellow men. "A diagnosis, if present, is one of many starting points for ministry, and certainly not an end point," Emlet encourages in Chapter 8.

    As each individual person is different, so will be treatment for any needs in the life of that individual. There is no perfect or universal treatment for any of these things, and one must seek God's guidance. I liked how multi-faceted health and wholeness was presented as the goal. This line in Chapter 13 seemed to sum it up beautifully: "...As believers we hope not only for symptom reduction but also tangible growth in love for God and love for people." As far as the book itself, it is informative and easy to read, with extensive footnotes for people who might like to further investigate this subject. The chapters are short so that a reader will not feel overwhelmed by the information. I would recommend book to anyone interested in better understanding these things and equipping themselves to help those in our paths who have these needs.

    This review originated at

  • Shantelle

    by Michael R. Emlet wasn't exactly what I was expecting - especially not in the first quarter or so of the book. But it had good information to impart, and I feel like I've learned a lot. I received some things to ponder, and now have an overall more balanced view of medications and how to help those dealing with mental struggles.

    For a long time, I've wanted to know more about the struggles o

    by Michael R. Emlet wasn't exactly what I was expecting - especially not in the first quarter or so of the book. But it had good information to impart, and I feel like I've learned a lot. I received some things to ponder, and now have an overall more balanced view of medications and how to help those dealing with mental struggles.

    For a long time, I've wanted to know more about the struggles of the mind. Helping people work through emotional/mental issues - counseling, on a small scale - has been something on my heart. On the other hand, I'm a deep thinker and I understand, to some extent, some of these mental struggles, having dealt with anxiety for many years.

    So yes. This book was very interesting to me. At first, it was a little over my head, what with some of the history of psychiatric stuff and all these technical terms, in-depth diagnoses, and medications and what they do. But as I kept reading,

    really became engrossing to me. I started understanding things a little more. And then, toward the middle of the book, the author started talking more about the spiritual and emotional side ... and asked the question: How do we approach mental illnesses and struggles? Is medication always the answer? Where does faith factor into all this?

    There were some real-life stories and situations that were very helpful in understanding people and seeing this author's points.

    Overall, I felt Michael R. Emlet approached this subject with solid history and facts, wisdom, good information, grace, and some great thoughts. One thing I liked that he said, more than once, is: we are both body and spirit. To neglect one or the other when helping someone, or reaching out for help yourself, is a mistake.

    I'm glad I read this book. I plan to keep it on my bookshelf for future reference, and recommend to those wanting to understand more about this subject.

    Descriptions and Prescriptions

  • Tima

    As Christians we often view mental illness incorrectly and either dismiss medicine completely, or forget the faith that plays such an integral part in our lives. Some people feel that taking medications for a mental illness is of the devil, while others take or advise taking the medicine blindly without any regard as to the side effects, reasons for needing the drugs, etc. The author has taken a Biblical approach to show both the benefits and downsides of both approaches. His desire in writing t

    As Christians we often view mental illness incorrectly and either dismiss medicine completely, or forget the faith that plays such an integral part in our lives. Some people feel that taking medications for a mental illness is of the devil, while others take or advise taking the medicine blindly without any regard as to the side effects, reasons for needing the drugs, etc. The author has taken a Biblical approach to show both the benefits and downsides of both approaches. His desire in writing the book was to give Christians a look at both perspectives with a hope that the reader can see the middle line and choose something that will fit them and their Christian lifestyle.

    As a person suffering from a mental illness myself, I was intrigued with how the author would conclude his perspective. I've had Christians on both sides of this "counsel" me and I was looking forward to seeing his conclusions.

    The book is very thin (98 pages), so will make for a quick read. I was surprised at how technical the writing was. If you aren't very medical, it will be very easy to get bogged down in the first few chapters. The author uses several stories to help tell what he is talking about so this does lighten up the depth a little. He concluded with the idea that there isn't a right or wrong, but rather a mixture of the two with regards to every single patient being different and therefore needing different things. The concept is great, but I finished with the feeling that I wasn't really helped in any way. And that the author's real feelings on the matter were that the ultimate goal was to not have to take any medication if at all possible. So while the theory was probably correct, this book didn't really help me at all. I think this book would be better suited for a person who works with mental illness and not a patient in search of the correct balance.

    I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity. All thoughts expressed are my own.

  • Shannon (Mrsreadsbooks)

    I was initially hesitant to read and review this book. I am both a Christian and someone who has multiple mental illnesses. I wasn't sure which way this was going to go, as some Christian's opinions about mental illness are not particularly helpful for those who suffer from those illnesses. This book is broken down into two sections; Understanding Psychiatric Diagnoses and Understanding Psychoactive Medications. Then the sections are further broken down into smaller chapters. The first sections

    I was initially hesitant to read and review this book. I am both a Christian and someone who has multiple mental illnesses. I wasn't sure which way this was going to go, as some Christian's opinions about mental illness are not particularly helpful for those who suffer from those illnesses. This book is broken down into two sections; Understanding Psychiatric Diagnoses and Understanding Psychoactive Medications. Then the sections are further broken down into smaller chapters. The first sections discusses how mental illnesses are diagnosed, a brief history of things like the DSM and how these diagnoses impact ministry. There were two quotes from the author in this section that I really liked; "If a Christian has no problem using Tylenol for a headache, why wouldn't she use an anti-depressant when she is depressed?" and "Even with clear cut medical problems we don't say, "I am diabetes" or "I am cancer". Why would we say, " I am bipolar" or "I am ADHD", as though this is the sum total of our person-hood?" I agree very much with both of these statements and I am happy that the author included them.

    The second section of this book discusses psychoactive medications and begins by explaining the different categories of medications and what they are used to treat. The author then goes on to explain how these medications works and the chemicals they effect. So this book would be very useful for someone who has little to no knowledge about some of these conditions and the medications that are used to treat them. Throughout the book the author offers both Biblical references and scientific references, facts and information, which I found to be very helpful. One of the quotes from this section that I really enjoyed was, "I believe it is right to view the development of psychoactive medications as a good gift from God, an extension of the ruling and stewarding function he gave to humanity at creation (Genesis 1:26-28). At it's best, scientific discovery explores God's world in all its astounding complexity and seeks to alleviate some of the misery we experience as fallen creatures in fallen world." The author does take the time to discuss how pastoral and other counseling can be very useful for those who have mental illnesses. And although psychoactive medications are a gift from God, we also need to make sure that our relationship with God is also on the right path. He gives a lot of good advice about finding psychiatrists and therapist who at least understand, if not share, your religious beliefs.

    Overall, I thought this was a very good book that discusses some very difficult issues. Many in the Christian community, especially in the past, have thought that mental illnesses were simply individuals who weren't "being good enough Christians". Which we of course know if not true; mental illnesses are just as real and serious as physical illnesses. The author did a great job in this book of explaining everything from by a Biblical viewpoint, as well as a scientific one and I would definitely recommend this book.

    Thank you to the publisher, New Growth Press, for sending me a review copy of this book.

  • Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)

    Before I go further with the review, I need to make clear that this is a book written primarily for people involved in ministry – breaking down info and applying wisdom to the situations they would find themselves in. It’s not meant as a patient reference or really even for someone whose loved ones suffer from mental illness of some sort.

    There are several things I really liked about Emlet’s approach. While he remains mostly neutral, he achieves a great balance between advocating for the appropri

    Before I go further with the review, I need to make clear that this is a book written primarily for people involved in ministry – breaking down info and applying wisdom to the situations they would find themselves in. It’s not meant as a patient reference or really even for someone whose loved ones suffer from mental illness of some sort.

    There are several things I really liked about Emlet’s approach. While he remains mostly neutral, he achieves a great balance between advocating for the appropriate use of counseling/meds, as well as “viewing medication as simply one component of a full-orbed God-centered body-soul treatment approach”.

    “…be glad for symptom relief but simultaneously look for the variegated fruit of the Spirit; perseverance in the midst of suffering, deeper trust in the Father’s love, more settled hope, love for fellow strugglers, gratitude, and more.”

    Two other points that he made really stood out to me:

    --“Using medication in select situations may be analogous to calming the surface waters to allow for deep-sea exploration.” In other words, sometimes you need to calm the brain’s misfires before you are able to work on the spiritual. Such was the case in my own life. I knew what I needed to do to have peace – lean into Jesus and His Word – but it wasn’t working. Once the medication I was prescribed started working, I was able to climb out of that pit using the spiritual tools I already knew were mine in Christ.

    --A good standard question for ministers to ask themselves is, “What seems wisest for this particular person with these particular struggles at this particular time?”

    Bottom Line: Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R. Emlet is a very balanced (and quick!) read about some hot-button topics within the Church as a whole. Neither wholly discounting nor wholly embracing the use of counseling and medications, Emlet instead attempts to lay the groundwork for a Biblical approach to treating psychiatric diagnoses. I can see how this would be a very helpful resource to clergy and lay ministers who are on either end of the cold-hot spectrum and even for those struggling to explain why a balanced perspective is best.

    (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)

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  • Cafinated Reads Molly

    This won’t be a long review since this is a short book. If you are a pastor or church counselor, this book would be a great addition to your shelves or office. It’s a book that is filled with great information for those seeking help with their mental illnesses. It’s filled with Biblical sections and will help them better understand ways to help. The pages within give you a better understanding of the illnesses and what psych meds are used to help them. 

    Since I am not a pastor or a church counsel

    This won’t be a long review since this is a short book. If you are a pastor or church counselor, this book would be a great addition to your shelves or office. It’s a book that is filled with great information for those seeking help with their mental illnesses. It’s filled with Biblical sections and will help them better understand ways to help. The pages within give you a better understanding of the illnesses and what psych meds are used to help them. 

    Since I am not a pastor or a church counselor I can’t give this more than 3.5 stars since I am not into this type of book. However, that said, I am recommending this book to those that are in the clergy of the churches to help with those that come to them. You will gain good Biblical insight, along with good medical insight to help. Hats off to Dr. Emlet on creating an informative book for the churches. 

     

    *Cafinated Reads received a complimentary copy of this book from LitFuse Blog Tours and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*

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