The Crutch of Pop Psychiatry

“It is hard not to feel as if you are inadequate or have failed. (A diagnosis can) take some of the pressure off.”

”It’s okay to be imperfect if you have the explanation of a diagnosis for your limitations.”

This is what this Religion of Enoughness has given us. We want to be self-diagnosed to have a psychiatric disorder to give us the grace we need.

The Religion of Enoughness is this Savior-less religion that puts you as the justifier of your entire existence. You become the inner accountant who takes extensive notes on your failures to measure if you are enough.

It is a religion because our very DNA wants us to have a religion. Our brains need a religion to help us order our world. Since so many are rejecting dependency on a Savior, our brains came up with this new religion. And social media is so very willing to be the “Bible” for us. Social media has become the standard we try to measure our enoughness with.

Of course, the standard is always changing.

The Religion of Enoughness has us all needing crutches.

You’ve heard this mantra aplenty in our culture of the Religion of Enoughness, “You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for how happy you are.” This becomes the justifier of your decisions, the good and the destructive ones.

If my happiness is up to me, how do I know that I am happy? How do I know when I have “made it?” Who will tell me? Who is setting the standard?

Those of us who depend on a Savior who isn’t us set the standard as Jesus who pours grace on us like it is the never-ending gift that it is.

Social media is now giving us the “gift” of self-diagnosing a psychiatric problem to help explain why you can’t reach your enoughness.

Hashtag ADHD or bipolar or depression or anxiety and you can diagnose yourself from people claiming to be experts. #Tourettessyndrome might explain why there is an increase in young people seeking medical help for tics, though these were tics they didn’t have before they saw the videos. This is called the social contagion effect. Has life gotten so competitive that people are actually seeking to be diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome?

I am so grateful that our mental health care is a frontrunner topic now. In the early 1980s I chose a psychology major over theology in my pastoral training because I knew I was dealing with people with human problems. I also knew I could pick up good theology teaching in so many other places, which I have. I am so happy that we are all talking about mental health now, especially in our churches.

But there is a difference between pop psychiatry and pop psychology. Pop psychology is applying theories of counseling to your friends over coffee. Pop psychiatry is someone often untrained diagnosing serious psychiatric disorders.

How many narcissists have you met or are hearing about from your friends? More than who are actual narcissists. Narcissism is a personality disorder with very little medical help. If you love someone who has been diagnosed as a narcissist you are on a long road of continual heartbreak. The rest of these “narcissists” are ill-behaved and selfish individuals who are taking up the air of healing from those who really suffer.

This Religion of Enoughness has given us pop psychiatry so we can have a good excuse as to why we are not enough.

A diagnosis relieves you of the pressure to be perfect from the striving of perfectionism.

A diagnosis allows you to live with limitations.

A diagnosis takes the overachieving pressure off.

A diagnosis gives you a community to belong to. Because the community of Enoughness is competitive.

A diagnosis gives you belongingness. There are online communities just waiting to welcome you. A self-diagnosis serves as a “ticket” for entry.

A diagnosis can explain why you have certain undesirable qualities like shyness. Because in the Religion of Enoughness shyness is not acceptable.

A diagnosis can help you feel special or stand out, especially if you are still achieving with your diagnosis. Now you have another way to show the world how enough you are. You are so enough you can overcome your diagnosis.

A diagnosis shows vulnerability because it’s not cool to be perfect anymore—as you continue to strive to be perfect using your diagnosis as that means.

A diagnosis is an “offset” to relieve the guilt from growing up in a privileged background. A diagnosis allows even the privileged to voice their thoughts and feel included.

All of these thought are taken from this article from written by Joseph E. Davis Ph.D. Read it.

“Diagnostic categories and brain talk are all too often being used in ways that have very little to do with mental illness.” –Joseph E. Davis Ph.D.

Getting a diagnosis becomes even easier with “internet doctors” you can find on TikTok who will diagnose you and give you prescriptions with a 10-minute phone call.

Social media has been helpful (it really has) to give people information so they can have “symptom language” to get help from a doctor. I had a teen who I guessed was bipolar. But I am a pastoral counselor, not a psychiatrist. Through social media she was able to add up her symptoms. With my encouragement she knew how to ask a doctor for help. She was pretty scared in this process but she also knew deep in her soul that this part of her could be true.

I don’t need her to be a part of a bipolar community of acceptance. I need her to take her medicine so she can be the beautiful creative that she is. She doesn’t need her diagnosis as a crutch to explain her limitations.

And people say Christianity is just an emotional crutch for those who can’t handle life.

The Religion of Enoughness has us all needing crutches. Whether it is the numbing behavior of drinking too much wine or crazy-busyness or a psychiatric diagnosis.

How about choosing a Savior who isn’t you?

Jesus sets the standard and fills in the gaps with his life. This is my beginning and end point and it is filled with grace. From here I can mature into who I already am.

I choose a Savior who isn’t me. I choose this countercultural way. It is full of imperfect progress and that is beautifully enough.


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