The materialist idea that you are “all body” — nothing but matter — is hardly more dangerous than the opposite idea, that you are “all spirit,” that negative feelings or thoughts are mere illusion, to be overcome, without remainder, by thinking the right thoughts.
Case in point: Our friend J.P. Moreland’s frank new book, Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace, takes him as the experimental subject of what amounts to a test of the thesis that humans are both body and spirit. Dante Witt writes about it at The Stream, with admirable candor about the role of anxiety (or more specifically, OCD) in her own life:
He woke in absolute terror. It was the middle of the night, and he had no idea why he was so afraid.
It was widely respected Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland’s first panic attack. It took him months to find out how to deal with it and to heal.
To win the struggle with mental states that he knew to be aberrant, [Moreland] had to clarify for himself and for others his beliefs about psychiatry, mental disorders, the mind, and the soul. But this time it was from the first-person perspective: it is not my theory; this is happening to me.
As a prominent devout Christian, Moreland found himself contending with two extremes of popular culture: “Why can’t faith alone heal?” pitted against “Why can’t pills alone heal?” So he found himself starting to live the approach he had often explained in his writings.
That is powerful: It was not just a matter of “theory” but what was “happening to me.” Moreland seeks to offer a “holistic” method, and I’m moved by the way it encouraged Dante Witt to courageously share both her experience and this important and heartfelt advice: “Don’t wait and use psychiatrists as a last resort. They are trained to diagnose disorders that baffle the rest of us. Had I seen a psychiatrist sooner, instead of relying solely on counselors, I could have avoided years of anguish.”