I wanted to start a series on some of the thinking that I’m doing about depression this year. And the thing I’ve discovered so far is this: if you’re reading a book on depression that implies that you just need to make better decisions to become less depressed, you’re reading the wrong book.
From one angle, the above might be obvious: depression is a mental illness, and decisions are in the realm of the mind, and so decision making is going to be impaired in some way.
And yet, and yet: this is the principle implied by a swathe of the literature out there, especially from the Christian counseling movement. 1 The principle that if the depression sufferer chooses to do X then they will get Y. 2 And the flipside of that principle implies that failure to get better is a failure of good decision-making.
This comes partly from an Enlightenment view of the self. To put it simply: If I am because I think, then what I think will result in who I am. And if I think better, then I will make better decisions. 3
The criticism here is not that there is no truth to this, but that it is an unbalanced, non-biblical view of the self. We are more than what we choose to do. 4
In the end, the clearest indicator of this is the gospel; the glorious clarion that finds you—in your self—not in order to make better decisions. But to invite you—in your self—to a richer, fuller relational self, deep within the love of the Father.
- A view that has descended from Jay Adams, the founder of the Christian counseling movement. ↩
- Where X is anything from self-contemplation, connecting with family, journalling, prayer, exercise, reading the Bible, and Y is anything from complete recovery from depression to a renewal of hope. ↩
- And with the implication that, if you don’t think better, somehow, you’re not doing it right. ↩
- After all, we are not essentially our minds, but we are fundamentally bodied selves too. ↩