Blame It on the Brain?: Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience (Resources for Changing Lives) [Paperback]

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Item Description...
Viewing brain problems through the lens of Scripture, Edward T. Welch distinguishes genuine brain disorders from problems rooted in the heart. Understanding that distinction will enable pastors, counselors, families, and friends to help others- or themselves- deal with personal struggles and responsibilities. While focusing on a few common disorders, Dr. Welch lays out a series of practical steps adaptable to a wide range of conditions, habits, or addictions.

Publishers Description
Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, Alcoholism, Homosexuality. Research suggests that more and more behaviors are caused by brain function or dysfunction. But is it ever legitimate to blame misbehavior on the brain? How can I know whether ?My brain made me do it?? Viewing brain problems through the lens of Scripture, Edward T. Welch distinguishes genuine brain disorders from problems rooted in the heart. Understanding that distinction will enable pastors, counselors, families, and friends to help others-or themselves-deal with personal struggles and responsibilities. While focusing on a few common disorders, Dr. Welch lays out a series of practical steps adaptable to a wide range of conditions, habits, or addictions.

Item Specifications...

Pages   204
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.49" Width: 5.45" Height: 0.55"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1998
Publisher   NEW GROWTH PRESS #1265
ISBN  0875526020  
EAN  9780875526027  

Availability  0 units.

Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > Neuropsychology   [883  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Recovery > General   [366  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Neurology > General   [2187  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Medicine > Specialties > Psychiatry > General   [3841  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Neurology > General   [1918  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Psychiatry > General   [2590  similar products]
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Psychology   [391  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Chemical imbalances ARE real  Mar 20, 2007
I'm surprised that this is still under debate in the 21st Century. Scientific research has shown that mental illness IS real and is the result of genetics and/or emotional trauma. Individuals like Dr. Welch seem to think that I and my fellow mental health consumers have chosen to be mentally ill. I assure that not once was I presented with the option of NOT being bipolar or OCD. I was born with these disorders, I live with these disorders, and I will die with these disorders. You might as well blame diabetes on disobedience, because there's an equal likelihood of recovery.
Required reading  Nov 9, 2006
This book is very well written and it gives the reader a lot to digest. I would not call it an easy read but it is very much worth your time as it dispells many of the excuses and just out right lies being fed to us by society with the help of the medical profession. The most outstanding feature was the fact that the book exposes sin as just that and nothing more, something few people are willing to do these days.
The brain is physical, but the battle is spiritual.  Apr 12, 2006
Welch makes society's trend more evident by pointing out distinctions the medical society and the ungodly would prefer to leave covered up. That makes sense considering how guilt, responsibility, and integrity are losing popularity. He brings up hotly debated topics such as homosexuality and does a wonderful job at explaining the importance to distinguish between what is a matter of the heart (spirit/faith) verses physical. He also points out how depression is becoming less acceptable due to the replusiveness of trials and tribulations. I would like add that Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament connects the word "pharmakeia" to sorcery and witchcraft, so as to be kept in mind if and when you read this book.
Does the brain get too much credit?  Nov 4, 2004
Dr. Welch has a Ph.D. in psychology as well as theology degrees, and has been a counselor for years. His doctoral work was on brain physiology, so Blame it on the Brain is the fruit of 20 years of reflection on the subject.

Welch wonders if the brain "has been given too much credit" (p. 12). Many have held the brain responsible for some bad behavior: "My disease did it!" (p. 13). While the observations of the rapidly expanding field of brain sciences can be very helpful, when interpreted through a biblical lens they can be put in a more modest and helpful perspective. How do these discoveries illustrate biblical truths that can be applied to people's lives? Instead, too often sin problems are mislabeled as solely brain problems, and thus the true cause is left unaddressed (p. 25).

Four very practical principles emerge from this approach to mind-body issues: 1. The brain cannot by itself `make' a person sin (pp.49f.). 2. Each person's abilities (brain strengths and weaknesses) are unique (pp.53f.). 3. Brain problems can expose heart problems (pp.56f.). 4. Sinful hearts can lead to physical illness; upright hearts can contribute to good health (pp.58f.).

In part two of the book these principles are then concisely but thoughtfully applied to a series of examples. First are apparently physical issues: Alzheimer's disease (pp. 67f.) and head injury (pp.85f.). Next are more psychiatric issues: depression (pp.115f.), "A.D.D." (pp. 131f.), homosexuality (pp.151f.), and alcoholism (pp. 183f.).

Welch's treatments of these problems abound with practical, sensitive insight. In the process he clearly defines the deeper issues at stake: what is the soul?; what is the body?; what is sin?

For me, a crucial component of the book is the section on the mind-body relationships, especially pp. 43-48. Welch is careful to distinguish the heart from the body, but without separating them. Drawing upon rich Trinitarian analogies, he is careful to outline a model that seeks not to over-emphasize either the duality or the unity. This understanding enables us to try to distinguish between sin and sickness. As Welch ably define sit: "any behavior that does not conform to biblical commands or any behavior that transgresses biblical prohibitions proceeds form the heart and is sin" (p. 43). Conversely, "any behavior that is more accurately called a weakness proceeds form the body and is sickness or suffering" (p. 44). We are to repent of sin. But things that reflect only our creaturely limitations are not immoral, but proceed from our fallen bodies.

The example Welch uses of hallucinations is illustrative. The Bible does not prohibit them, so we can not admonish someone for experiencing them. We are called to compassion for them. The hallucination may have been caused by a prior sinful choice, and the hallucinatory may respond to them with sin, but the hallucination itself is not sinful. A helpful chart on p. 45 lists out some examples of body problems (broken bones, mental retardation, feelings of depression, hallucinations) and heart (mind) problems (anger, pride, drunkenness). Of course, many problems involve both the body and the heart or mind, and in unequal and obscured proportions. How do we separate out the differences? And why is it helpful to try?

Each summer during high school and college I worked in a nursing home. The changes I witnessed in particular residents after being away from them for almost a year were often shocking and tragic. I think of a seemingly kind and affable man named D., who in a few months seemed to transform into an unrecognizably profane and lewd bore. Welch demonstrates convincingly that such brain or body problems as D.'s Alzheimer's can expose what is in the heart. The brain appears to have led the person into bad behavior, when it is more accurate to say that the brain problem allowed certain otherwise hidden parts of their heart to be uncovered. Welch contends, "In some case brain problems function like truth serum for the heart" (p. 58).

Welch's treatment of the subject is fairly comprehensive but far from exhaustive. Questions of application remain. If meds can only, at their best, address the body issues and not the heart, how do we know which needs addressing? Welch addresses this in a wise, but frustratingly brief section in pp. 125-127. Adopting Welch's guidelines is easy enough, but applying them to real life situations, I know from experience, is another matter. What about the person who meets some but not all of the criteria listed on p. 127 (they are over forty; have had no prior history of problems with depression; are taking prescription drugs, etc.)? This is not a flaw in Welch's treatment of the topic, just a limitation of its brief explication here.

I have known a person, for example, who had his first bout with depression at age 62. But it was extremely serious. He became despondent and delusional and was checked into a residential treatment facility. His case meets the first of the two criteria listed by Welch, but not the last two. Clearly, his depression was triggered by some circumstances in his life (some the direct result of some horrible choices, others not). Yet, just as clearly it seems that the depression, while largely originating from his sinful behavior, now had a physical component. His medications, while wrought with multiple serious side effects, did seem to successfully contribute to his ability to function. Yet, if I were given a decision making role in his `treatment,' I would want to somehow know: were the drugs really helpful, or was it their placebo effect? And if they did reduce his anxiety, is that all necessarily good? Did he not need discomfort to drive him to make changes in his absolutely horrendous behavior? And if so, how much and what type of discomfort?

Anyway, Welch's book wrestles with some deep issues and presents them in a lucid and readable format.
A Solid Book  Feb 5, 2002
This book by Welch is divided into two major sections. In Part One: Biblical Foundations, Welch begins by asking several questions regarding human behavior in a number of different areas which he will cover later in the book. Here it seems that his main objective is to get the mind of his readers to contemplate questions about subjects that may be new or unfamiliar to them. He does a good job of avoiding any difficulties which might have arisen from the rather technical nature of some of the subjects by asserting that, "What is needed is not necessarily more sophistication in understanding the brain. Instead, what is needed is a more in-depth and practical examination of Scripture that is relevant to these questions" (p. 19-20). In this chapter, he remains resolute in affirming the supreme authority of God's Word in understanding and applying the deluge of information which our secular society is bent on giving us. The rest of this opening section is spent with the following two chapters discussing the relation between the human mind and body. He leads the reader through some of the high points in this discussion, giving a general overview of the secular positions regarding the mind/body relation, as well as surveying the relevant Biblical passages which speak to the issue. Particularly helpful here is his emphasis on the fragile, yet integral, relationship which exists between the mind and the body. As he says, "Heart and body are both two and one. They are two in that the body cannot be reduced to heart or spirit, and heart cannot be reduced to body. But they are mutually independent. They need each other. Human life cannot even be imagined without both the inner and the outer person" (p. 47).
In Part Two: Brain Problems Seen Through the Lens of Scripture, Welch seeks to give some practical application of the principles gleaned from Scripture in the previous section. This latter portion of the book is neatly divided into three subsections. In chapters 4 and 5, we read about legitimate brain dysfunctions which are the result of Alzheimer's disease (and dementia) or serious head injury stemming from an accident. Here, Welch wants the reader to understand that there are indeed cases where the brain can suffer illness or injury to the extent that the behavior and mental capacity of the individual will be directly affected. He is quick to point out that though these conditions may harm the outer man, they do not necessarily mean that the inner man will also begin to dissipate. In chapters 7 and 8, we read about psychiatric problems such as depression and attention deficit disorder (ADD) which may or may not be the result of the brain's alleged deficiencies. Here, Welch seems to indicate that though there may be some relation between the aforementioned psychiatric problems and the activity of the brain, we ought to exercise caution when attempting to ascertain a solution to the given problem. He is also quick to point out that the depression or ADD may be the result of a spiritual problem and that the care of the individual and their relation to God ought to factor in the treatment every bit as much as medicinal treatments. In chapters 9 and 10 we read about two areas of human behavior which the brain is often held responsible for...homosexuality and alcoholism. In both cases, Welch is insistent that the brain cannot the cause of one's sinful behavior. As he says so plainly, "The ultimate cause of sin is always the human heart" (p. 169, emphasis added). He argues that when these behaviors are seen as proceeding directly from the brain's activity, then the connection that exists between human beings as morally accountable agents and a holy and righteous God is severed. What needs to take place is repentance from such sinful behavior in light of the promise of God's gracious provision of forgiveness which can be found in Jesus Christ. Though these sins present particularly strong forms of bondage, God's mercy can break even their stronghold.

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