Mental Health and Mormonism in Cyberspace
There is a fascinating cluster of mental health posts in the Mormon blosmos.
Steve M. from the Bubble has kicked off an interesting discussion about depression and Mormonism.
From the Ashes picks up the topic and provides an excellent discussion of a peer reviewed research article on depression and Mormon women. Anyone who is more interested in facts than opinions, should read her post.
Probably by coincidence, The Cultural Hall gets a piece of the action as well.
Steve begins with his personal experience and then explores mental illness in Utah and how LDS authorities relate to mental illness.
Here is how Steve understands the relationship between genetic predisposition and Mormon culture in his own case:
Looking back, I can identify habits and thought patterns typical of OCD in myself as a young child. I believe those have been with me for as long as I’ve been able to think, and are probably the result of some biological factor. On some level, I think that my own struggles with mental health are rooted in a genetic predisposition.
However, I can’t deny that my OCD has been influenced by my environment. My dad demanded virtual perfection of me as an adolescent. I went to early-morning seminary every day, attended church every Sunday, held a part-time job, saved for a mission, earned my Eagle Scout award, participated in extra curricular activities, took a number of AP classes, maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school, and abstained from drugs, alcohol, and the other vices in which my friends indulged. I never stayed out too late, never got into serious trouble, and never used profanity in my parents’ presence. Yet my dad still had the audacity to call my work ethic and integrity into question whenever he spotted the slightest chink in my armor. As a result, I came to believe that nothing short of perfection was acceptable, and that I was constantly on the verge of plummeting into the dark pit of selfishness, slothfulness, and moral depravity.
With respect to Mormon culture, Steve concludes:
. . . there is at least a lack of awareness among Mormons regarding mental illness (this is likely also true of the general public at large). There is also a possibility that culture-specific factors may complicate things for those facing mental illness. Many Latter-day Saints who have personally dealt with the effects of mental disorders feel that the pressure to be “worthy” and live up to the commandments, coupled with widespread misunderstanding about the nature of mental and emotional disorders, can be debilitating to sufferers.
A case in point would be that of sixteen-year old Kip Eliason, who in 1982 committed suicide out of the anguish and depression resulting from his inability to be “worthy” by totally abstaining from masturbation.
Coincidentally, Tom Sawyer posted a masturbation confessional on The Cultural Hall.
Was your experience growing up anything like mine? Did you find the inclination difficult, if not impossible to control? Did masturbation hurt you spiritually? Should it hurt us spiritually? Have you adopted a more mature and open-minded view of masturbation as an adult? What do you teach your kids regarding masturbation? Or do you teach them anything? Is Cyndi Lauper right: do we all â€œbopâ€?
Regarding Masturbation and the Churchâ€¦
Has the Church adopted a more lenient view on masturbation in the past 20-30 years? Is the masturbation question still asked of our youth? Can masturbation keep someone off his or her mission? What should the Churchâ€™s position be on masturbation (in your opinion)? Same as it ever was? Donâ€™t ask donâ€™t tell? Repent only if one feels it has become a â€œproblemâ€? Are there any historical LDS precedents on this front? For example, was this issue even on Joseph Smithâ€™s radar screen? Brighamâ€™s? Does LDS views on masturbation differ significantly from mainline Christian views?