4thought.tv – Malcolm Bowden – Christian Evangelical Geocentric Creationist – posits sufferers choose mental illness

It’s depression awareness week and 4Thought.tv are airing views on mental illness from a faith perspective.

Tonight (25th April) will be the turn of Malcolm Bowden, a self-professed Evangelical Christian. From my cursory Internet roaming he is also an: anti-science, young earth creationist, geocentrist; advocating, a “Bible Only” approach to counselling.

Oh dear.

What follows is a transcript of Bowden’s appearance on TV tonight; which in all honesty, whilst writing, I felt quite sick to my stomach and somewhat sullied.

Here it is:

I consider that depression and many other mental illnesses are very deliberately decided by that person.

My name is Malcolm Bowden, I’m a committed evangelical Christian, and have been giving true Biblical counselling to many people with mental health problems. And from my experience, I believe that depression is a behavioural problem, rooted in pride, self-centredness, and self-pity.

True Christians, if they accept the Bible as being the Word of God, they will read in there many encouragements to live the full outgoing and loving Christian life. And a Christian, a TRUE Christian, should not ever be depressed, because he should be living his life for others, and he should have that peace of heart with God, when he knows that God has promised him a wonderful future in heaven with him.

Many depressed people turn in on themselves and feel that people are against them, the world’s not going right, they don’t appreciate how hard they’re working, they’re terribly proud of their situation, and try to be perfect in order to impress people, and people aren’t ultimately impressed, and when they suddenly deflate themselves, they fall right back into a pit of depression.

Man is basically so proud and so self-centred, he refuses to come to God in total humility. But that is ultimately what God is seeking from all of us, and we reject His requirements at our peril.

Seriously, where do you even begin with this?

Just a couple of points.

Firstly, shame, not pride, is the currency of mental illness.

Secondly, there is no element of ‘choice’ in mental illness and it’s this perverted thinking that heaps yet more shame and blame on the laps of sufferers.

Thirdly, from Bowden’s perspective I wouldn’t even be a true Christian….

Isn’t this exactly the type of thinking we’ve been fighting so hard against, for so long.

Anyway, in order to provide yourself a much needed antidote to Bowden’s poisonous bullshit, please do take a minute to listen to Debbie Harvie’s appearance on 4Thought.tv.

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24 Responses to “4thought.tv – Malcolm Bowden – Christian Evangelical Geocentric Creationist – posits sufferers choose mental illness”

  1. David Keen Says:

    I’m a committed evangelical Christian and I disagree with Mr Bowden. I can’t find anyone in the 4thought vox pops who is a member of the Association of Christian Counsellors, who would be better able to speak on the subject.

    Jesus soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Living your life for others doesn’t guarantee inner peace, sometimes it’s gut-wrenching.

  2. Peter Kirk Says:

    This is enough to make me stop calling myself an evangelical, or even a “TRUE Christian”. From now on maybe I will stick with “Jesus follower”. Or maybe not now that I see David Keen’s comment, as I wouldn’t want to cut myself off from him.

  3. Gillan Scott Says:

    Well that rules me out as a true Christian and pretty much every other Christian I know.

    4Thought.tv is great at giving many people the chance to air their views and experiences, but unless we do some research as you have done Stuart, then we have very little idea who they are and what their background is.

    It can do plenty of harm saying you’re an evangelical Christian and then spouting this stuff and probably will. It’s a bit like saying a true Christian will never have doubts about their faith, which is also nonsense.

  4. Ray Barnes Says:

    Just what a deeply depressed, self-hating, drowning in misery victim of depression needs – when they have just tipped a can of petrol over themselves – along comes the loving, caring, committed Christian, smug Mr Malcom Bowden, with a box of matches!
    What an appalling travesty of “true” Christianity he is.
    Where does the word love appear in his nasty little diatribe?

  5. Gordon Says:

    So basically he’s a nutcase, and as such he gets airtime. That’s always the way.

  6. Ben Trovato Says:

    I’m always wary of ‘feel-good’ Christianity; and when feel-good Christians suggest that suffering Christians aren’t true Christians, I have to wonder what Bible they are believing….

    I think this chap needs our prayers; for I suspect that, as one finds so often, his beliefs about others (eg ‘I believe that depression is a behavioural problem, rooted in pride, self-centredness, and self-pity…’ ) are a projection of his own anxieties, which he is, as yet, unable to acknowledge.

  7. Tim Says:

    What Ray Barnes said.

    When will people like Mr Bowden get it into their heads that the brain is an organ and, just like any other organ in the body, sometimes it doesn’t work properly and needs the help of people that can provide it.

  8. sinead Says:

    I’ve just watched the 4thought bit by Malcolm Bowden and having come from a family where depression is extremely prevalent I was disgusted.

    How he could say that people who suffer like this are self centered and rooted in pride is beyond me!

    I have seen my father unable to feed or dress himself he was in such a low state. Where my mother would have to take care of him.
    Where does pride come into that? His pride had been overcome by this terrible disease.

    This man should not be giving counselling to any person who has a mental illness. His views on it are outlandish and disgusting.

    I have great faith in God and I believe he sees mental illness in a completely different light to this so called loving christian.

  9. Sue Says:

    It is the sort of crass, callous and self-righteous garbage that make me A. Disgusted and B. Angry even though I know I should just chill out, shrug my shoulders and think “What an idiot”. It wouldn’t even be worth worrying about if it weren’t for the fact that he will have had an influence over some people’s lives and made them feel guilty and not good enough to have a faith.

  10. joe Says:

    go back to the dark-ages ya muppet, ur a disgrace

  11. Emma Says:

    Just watched it myself, followed a link on Twitter to here. People like that make me embarrassed to be Christian sometimes!
    I suffer from bipolar disorder and have had some rather nasty depressions in my time – I cannot recall feeling prideful before or during. In fact I have low self-esteem and the depression feeds on that.
    I also wonder what Bible Bowden is reading, large parts of the Psalms would be missing, I assume?
    A shame Channel 4 chose to put him on air – there will be lots of people who go away with their prejudices about Christianity confirmed.

  12. Adiutricem Says:

    I read it twice. What does it even mean?

  13. Simian Says:

    Wow! Totally jaw dropping!

    I take comfort in the fact that Mr Bowden has so many wacky ideas that hopefully people will not take seriously his outrageous theories about depression.

    But it is disturbing that he uses religion to lend an air of respectability to his deeply unhelpful ideas. This man is playing with fire, and his behaviour is incredibly irresponsible. One person who believes in his ideas and ignores the advice of highly qualified specialists is one person too many.

  14. Ben Trovato Says:

    A further reflection. Our Lord was asked by those in His time who had Bowden-like views: was it this man or his parents who sinned, causing him to be ill? His answer was an unequivocal: Neither!

  15. Scout Says:

    4thought.tv gives airtime to a lot of people on the fringes of religious belief. Some of them are very interesting and some are wacky, but there are some like this which make my stomach turn over. I can well understand Stuart’s reaction.

    Malcolm Bowden came to my attention years back when he co-wrote a notorious book called ‘Breakdowns Are Good for You’. A review of the book on the Christian Medical Fellowship site may interest some readers here: http://www.cmf.org.uk/publications/content.asp?context=article&id=880

    I did not know Bowden was a geocentric creationist, but I’m not too surprised. If you disregard orthodox, mainstream science in one area, then it is much easier to disregard it in others. In my experience, there is a connection between going in for this kind of thing and being receptive to extreme ideologies (eg. anti-semitism, Islamophobia and the nastiest strains of homophobia). There are “ex-gay” ministries which interpret chapter 1 of Romans to mean that a person will only experience same-sex attraction if they are so sinful and wicked that they have completely turned against God. Not very far away from Bowden’s nonsense, really.

    Mental health issues are not very well understood. I’ve heard from Christians (including Catholics) who have been to their churches for counselling or healing services and come away with the feeling that once it became apparent they weren’t getting better, they were being made to feel that it was their own fault or that they hadn’t put enough faith in God. People with these problems have often had bad experiences in the secular field as well (eg. with doctors, social workers, psychiatrists…).

    That said, I do not disregard the concept that a person’s mental suffering may be exacerbated or even caused by their actions or by the specific way they choose to mentally interpret what is going on around them. Both professional counsellors and mainstream religious ministers would acknowledge this. Sometimes a good counsellor can encourage a person to take greater responsibility for their actions and to see things differently, and so bring about an improvement in their condition. Nothing controversial about that, I think. Where Bowden goes wrong is in the way he simplifies and misunderstands mental illness in order to suit his very rigid set of personal religious beliefs.

    He’s not entirely without a point. There is a certain fashion in some sections of society which glamourises mental illness and encourages people to identify and attach themselves to it in a way which is unhealthy. Think, for examples, of self-harming sites on the internet which encourage self-harming, or “pro-ana” sites which encourage anorexia. Personally, I can think of a few people I’ve known who have seemed positively narcissistic about their depressions and anxieties, seeming to think that they view the world from a higher perspective than anybody else around them. A certain form of pride or egotism *can* go alongside mental suffering, although more usually I think it is probably mixed in with self-hatred, shame and morbid pessimism.

    As I say, Bowden is probably not entirely without a point. His crap would not be so hurtful and offensive to people if there was not some element of truth somewhere in his analysis – it is this which makes it so cruel and so poisonous. But a truth badly stated and mixed in with falsehood becomes a lie. Bowden goes too far. His theories will doubtless please those who are already prejudiced against the mentally ill and are looking for reasons to blame them for their difficulties. What I worry most about, though, is what effect he will have on hardline Christian families where a family member suffers with mental health issues.

    What people like this come out with is painful, but don’t let it get to you, Stuart. You’re a finer Christian that he is any day.

  16. marc Says:

    The man talks bull…. and, by the way, makes for an excellent reason as to why many will not want to go near Christianity. I can only think that 4thought TV wishes to expose evangelicals to the world as complete ignoramus’s. Is the guy a psychologist, a psychiatrist or perhaps even a medical doctor? I very much doubt it.

    Quite candidly, the harm he is causing by coming up with such trite nonsense surely makes for a good case to the press complaints whatever?

  17. webmaster Says:

    Funny you should mention Complaints Marc:

    Mental health charity lodges complaint with Ofcom after Channel 4 broadcasts ‘offensive, harmful and ignorant views’

  18. marc Says:

    Thanks for the link Webmaster. I am entirely in agreement with the article. I watched the program and was absolutely astounded. I could hardly believe my ears.

  19. bfb Says:

    Mr Bowden’s comments are among the most profoundly wrong things I have ever read. Not only wrong but dangerous, if he sees this I ask him to desist.

  20. Recommended website of the week: eChurch Blog | God and Politics in the UK Says:

    [...] The first article is on Malcolm Bowden’s appearance on 4thought.tv after the Channel 4 news on Wednesday.  I often watch 4thought.tv as it sometimes gives Christians a chance to talk about their faith in relation to a particular issue and present a slice of the gospel.  The down side is that 4thought.tv invites people from all sorts of backgrounds to voice their opinion.  This is perfectly fair, but occasionally you will get someone calling themselves a Christian with, how shall we put it - ’unorthodox’ views who can potentially damage people’s perceptions of what Christians are really like. [...]

  21. Weekly Round Up: To Be Continued | The Church Sofa Says:

    [...] at the @eChurchBlog watches Malcolm Bowden on 4thought.tv and is (in my opinion) rightly [...]

  22. Simian Says:

    I see that Mr Bowden has published a reply to the criticism that his 4Thought appearance caused, and that he is totally unrepentant.
    It’s at: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/malcolmbowden/4thought%20comments.htm

    I’m almost speechless with rage. Here is a man setting himself up as an authority on depression, and yet his writing so clearly demonstrates that he has completely misunderstood not only the illness, but also the role of medication, the role of properly trained counsellors, and the nature of professional counselling.

    To take one quote at the heart of his views on depression:
    “It is pride, self-centredness and self-pity that are at the root of all depression.”

    How can a man who is so profoundly ignorant and misguided be so certain that he is correct and almost everyone else is wrong?

    This troubles me because I cannot think of an effective way to get through to him, and to persuade him to alter his incredibly damaging views. I doubt that logical argument or empirical evidence would have any effect. What is one to do?

  23. Sue Says:

    There is very little you can do to change the mind of people with these sort of entrenched views. A lot of their christian counselling is about controlling other people andexerting power over them. As someone who was sexually abused I (thankfully) after a few enquiries and reading some materials, decided against christian counselling. My secular counsellor treated me as an adult with dignity and respect. I never felt coerced or stereotyped. This gave me the confidence to truly explore, understand and put things in perspective for myself and later to understand what had happened through the lens of my faith as well. I am sure that there are good christian counsellors, but I am afraid that I am probably a bit prejudiced and would never, never go for specifically “christian” counselling for anything like abuse trauma or depression. It is incredibly easy for people to set themselves up as counsellors without any proper training in issues of mental health or psychiatry – and sheer ignorance can be very damaging! My advice is to steer clear and IF you go to any counsellor and feel you are not treated with dignity – leave! One in three of us suffer from some kind of mental health problem at some point in our lives and deserve not to be stigmatised and blamed in this way.

  24. bfb Says:

    I have read a much of the response from Mr Bowden as I can, his views are dangerous nonsense, negligent and ill informed; they are certain to worsen suffering and might cause worse. Anyone who is ill but sufficiently functioning to be able to read them please do not do so. Anyone seeking information do not use this do not accept what he says and certainly do not make his views known to an ill person.

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