A friend of mine and I were recently talking about mental illnesses like ADHD, bi-polar disorder, depression, and mood swings. Somewhere in the conversation he told me about this book: Blue Genes by Meier, Clements, Bertrand, and Mandt. Since he’s a solid Christian and a good psychologist, I ordered it and read it right away. I did find helpful – enough so to mention it here.
This book is sort of a short guide on certain mental illnesses – what they are, the brain chemicals involved, the nutritional side of things, and medicinal remedies. There are real life stories scattered throughout the book that give hope for readers who are suffering mental illness (or know someone who is). The chapters are devoted to certain illnesses such as paranoia, anxiety, post-partum depression, ADD/ADHD, depression, bi-polar disorders, and hormonal imbalances (among others). The authors give helpful insights on sleep, vitamins, foods, and healthy habits. I really appreciated how the authors talked about which medicines are typically best for different mental illnesses. The book is written from a Christian perspective, but it isn’t really a theological guide on these things.
There are some weaknesses in Blue Genes. I’m a little hesitant to agree with the authors’ view of dreams. They believe that God sometimes communicates to people through dreams, so we should really interpret dreams. I also was hoping for a more robustly biblical insight – such as a longer discussion about sin, sanctification, and trials in life (for just a few examples). While it is a helpful book, it isn’t “the best ever.” (As a side, I hope it is updated sooner than later, since there have been medical advances since the book’s publication in 2005).
As a pastor, friend, and father, I’ve had to deal with some of these mental illnesses first hand. The are not imaginary, nor are they to be taken lightly. There are such things as chemical imbalances and hormone deficiencies that need medical attention, prescription drugs, and counseling. Of course, we shouldn’t throw a pill at every problem, but sometimes the problems are biological and pills definitely work. This book helped me understand mental illnesses better. I do recommend it. It shouldn’t be the only book you read about mental illnesses, but it should for sure be one of them.
rev shane lems