What Are You Listening To?

Today, I finished the book Listening to Prozac by Peter D. Kramer. The following is an excerpt of my interaction with the material:
The argument is made in every case study that there are clear biological influences that impact a particular mood or personality. Personality is a delicate balance of biological dispositions and acquired self-revelation. Neural structures are impacted by the thoughts and desires of an individual. Particular medications (Prozac) have helped redirect/rebuild the neural structures through serotonin enhanced actions that enable heightened awareness of improved self. Kramer makes the point (p.127) that maybe psychotherapy affects the neural structures as well. This is an interesting theory. Biblically we understand that there is a unity of the inner and outer man (Proverbs 27:19; Matt 26:41). Authentic change comes from the “heart” and is reflected in the actions of the outer man (Matt 12:33-37). I believe that eventually the counseling movement will gain insight as to the biological evidence of change. Observable higher levels of serotonin in a hopeful heart submitted to Christ is not beyond medical plausibility. However, Kramer’s premise is fundamentally flawed. The “animal” or “physical” part of man does not dictate man. The body can influence the choices of the soul, but it can not dictate it. Being physically burdened does influence thoughts and actions, but it never overpowers personal choice. We are no longer slaves to our sin and the effects therein (Romans 6). Raising or lowering the serotonin levels (or dopamine) in an individual will have a greater influence physically, but will never make a choice for an individual spiritually. Divine revelation and not medically guided self-revelation is the true pathway to authentic change (Psalm 119:105). I do however agree with Kramer’s theory. Because of the unity of the inner and outer man, authentic change should yield observable biologically reconstructed neural structures in individuals. I believe that is why Kramer is so hesitant to embrace the change he sees in patients on Prozac. It short cuts the process of change. The “work” of change (authentic view of self in view of the Divine) is not experienced but the benefits of it (purpose and peace) are through re-engineering the brain. The fragile state of this kind medical change is evidenced when the patient is off the drug or the prescriptions are altered. We should patiently and thoughtfully navigate through our medicated subculture, but never underestimate the transformational power of Divine Revelation.

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