Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications by Dr. Mike Emlet: A Book Review

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications

“Psychiatric diagnoses are descriptions, not explanations.”

Descriptions and Prescriptions is divided into two sections. The first section delves into Understanding Psychiatric Diagnoses – the Descriptions.

Dr. Emlet hopes to bring the reader to the Goldilocks Principle of not being ‘too hot’ or ‘too cold’ of what he views as the extreme positions.

Several of the chapters in this section address the problems and pitfalls of Psychiatric Diagnosis.

“To wrap up the last four chapters, the concerns with the diagnostic system when considered together suggest that psychiatric diagnoses have less functional authority than we might initially believe. The DSM may be the best secular classification scheme available, but it remains fraught with difficulties identified from within psychiatry itself.”

From there, Dr. Emlet goes on to explain the implications of these diagnoses in ministry and concludes the section with what he believes is the value in these diagnoses.

“At the end of the day, the goal is not simply to confirm or condemn a given diagnosis but to carefully, persistently, lovingly, and biblically bring God’s redemption to bear upon people who struggle with the problems encapsulated in a diagnostic description.”

The second section delves into Understanding Psychoactive Medication – the Prescriptions.

“This is important. If neuroscientific and psychiatric researchers acknowledge the current limitations of biomedical hypotheses regarding the origin of psychiatric symptoms, how much more should we, as those who bring biblical counsel, acknowledge the complex nature of these struggles, taking into account underlying spiritual, biological, relational, situational and socio-cultural factors.”

Space utilized to address the mounting research in regards to the safety and long-term effects of psychotropic medications would have been a welcomed addition to this volume, particularly since Dr. Emlet is a physician discussing their usage. He does suggest books from opposing views in the footnotes on page 65.

By the end, most will know whether they fall into Dr. Emlet’s view of ‘just right’. Some may find him ‘too hot’ or ‘too cold’ in his conclusions. Perhaps our own positions have been challenged and we have moved on the spectrum.

For those reasons, this volume, being more of a primer due to its brevity, is profitable to begin the discussion and encourage the reader to explore these areas in more depth, especially if this is their first exposure to this information.

“Whatever helping role in the church God has given you, I pray that you have gained encouragement to pursue those struggling with disordered thinking and emotions, knowing that God himself will provide wisdom to care for both the body and soul of those he entrusts to you.”

One caveat: On pages 32-33, sexuality researcher, Alfred Kinsey, is noted for the influence his conclusions had for prominent psychiatrists to remove homosexuality as a diagnosis. This caveat isn’t to highlight Kinsey’s conclusions or to assert that they were included for any reason other than that basis but rather to expose what a wicked man Alfred Kinsey was for those unfamiliar. Dr. Judith Reisman has written extensively on Alfred Kinsey for those who are interested.

Purchase Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications


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