Tag Archives: psychiatry

Bella & Edward, Harry Potter, and Winnie the Pooh: Psychoanalyzing fictional characters


This one really has nothing to do with Christian history, but I can’t resist. It’s a Wall Street Journal article on the use of fictional characters in psychiatric training at major American universities. Here’s a little taste:

Mental-health students even explore children’s literature for buried psychological themes. Analysts have had a field day in the “Hundred Acre Wood” with A.A. Milne’s characters. While the world of Winnie the Pooh seems innocent on the surface, “it is clear to our group of modern neuro-developmentalists that these are in fact stories of seriously troubled individuals, many of whom meet DSM-IV criteria for significant disorders,” wrote Sarah E. Shea and colleagues in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2000, referring to the handbook of diagnoses.

Piglet clearly suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, the authors noted. Eeyore has chronic dysthymia (mild depression) and could benefit greatly from an antidepressant. Tigger is hyperactive, impulsive and a risk-taker.

Pooh is a bundle of comorbidities that may include cognitive impairment, as he is often described as a “bear of very little brain.” “Early on, we see Pooh being dragged downstairs bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head,” the authors write. “Could his later cognitive struggle be the result of a type of Shaken Bear Syndrome?”

The rest of the article is here.

Evangelicals and psychiatric services


The following is part of a talk I was invited to give to a group of psychiatric residents (doctors-in-training) here in the Twin Cities a few years ago. The talk was on “the evangelical tradition,” and was intended to give these medical practitioners a sense of the beliefs of evangelicals, possible impediments to serving this constituency, and ideas of how to serve them better.

I have already posted other portions of this talk here under the titles “Basic, basic Christianity” and “Evangelicalism–a basic summary,” part I, part II, and part III. What follows is the final portion of the talk, which outlines issues that may face a professional providing evangelicals with psychiatric services, and ideas on how to serve (some) evangelicals better:

Now I’d like to turn the corner and address more directly some of the challenges that may come up in serving evangelical Christians from within the field of mental health care.

The insights that follow mostly come from my Bethel colleague Steven J. Sandage, Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Studies, Bethel St. Paul. Steve has served as clinician, psychologist, and chaplain in a variety of settings (community mental health, correctional, university) and currently engages in part-time clinical practice. He taught at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Medical College of Virginia as an adjunct faculty prior to coming to Bethel.

As Steve has related it to me, some evangelicals have a tendency to over-spiritualize—they frame problems as spiritual, not being able to think in an integrative way about the interactions of their minds, emotions, spirits, and the material world. They may refuse medication, for example, because they think this would show a lack of faith in spiritual truth or spiritual reality. Continue reading