One of the most exciting areas of current medical research is the brain-scanning technology (Magnetic Resonance and Positron Emission Topography) that is enabling scientists to “see” what is happening in the brain in real time. They can see the way certain parts of the brain are activated by certain thoughts, and then compare the chemical changes and electrical impulses of healthy and unhealthy brains.

For example, this popular science report (based on this detailed research) explains why so many creative people also often suffer from schizophrenia (e.g. painter Vincent Van Gogh; American mathematician John Nash, of A Beautiful Mind fame). Apparently, both creative types and schizophrenics lack important dopamine receptors in the thalamus, receptors that are used to filter and direct thought. The resulting excess of disorganized information produces a creative spark of genius in some. But, in schizophrenics, it results in bizarre and disturbing thoughts.

What a gift of God’s grace that, through the work of scientists, He is giving us these helpful insights into understanding the complex and heart-rending problems of fallen human nature. And can we not also marvel at how, sometimes, God is pleased to turn even this “fault” into creative and productive good.

Sadly, some Christians in the counseling field have written some very unwise and insensitive things about schizophrenia, further stigmatizing it. With the increasing weight of scientific research, I hope they will have the integrity and compassion to voluntarily retract some of the cruel and hurtful words they’ve put into the public domain.

  • Anne Marie Henderson

    Thanks for that posting. Many Christians fail to realise that schizophrenia is a medical condition at all and treat those who suffer from it as if they have simply strayed or are not committing themselves to the Lord as they should. We had a precious family member who suffered severely from this condition at times but he was a lovely Godly man and his condition caused himself great distress when he was aware of it. The lack of compassion, empathy and understanding from some in the church even to the point of condemning the use of necessary medication only served to make the situation worse. I cannot understand why they feel it sensible to accept medical help for physical conditions but believe it is wrong for mental conditions. Mental is not the same as spiritual. I thank the Great Physician that he gives earthly physicians the talents and skills to deal with this distressing medical condition and I also praise him that our family member is now, I believe, with the Lord who loved him and saved him from all the effects sin has brought into human existence.