Sunday, December 30, 2012

What do you do when sorrows like sea billows roll?

Yes, the title reflects the words of Horatio Spafford which he penned after his four daughters drowned in the ocean.  His wife was the only one from the Spaffords to survive. (Horatio was not on the ship).  She even tried to hold their two-year-old daughter as she was ripped from her arms.  A couple of years before the shipwreck, Horatio and Anna experienced a difficult trial.
As you know, the Christian life can be full of dark providences.   Spafford invested in real estate north of an expanding Chicago in the spring of 1871. When the Great Fire of Chicago reduced the city to ashes in October 1871, it also destroyed most of Spafford's sizable investment. The rest of the story can be read by going to the link below.

Robyn and I have lost a daughter, Lindsay Ruth who was nineteen at the time of her death.  She was married and was eight months pregnant with her first child already named Emily Hope. Her precious baby also died and was placed in her arms two days later, fully developed, in the casket. How did this happen?
They were killed by a drugged driver on Sep 11, 2001. We were behind her returning from a prayer vigil for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks. We were the first ones to run up on her dying form. One of our sons was "enlisted" by the paramedics to help try to revive her. Believe me when I say, there was plenty of trauma to go around. A year later, in November of 2002, we were able to buy a different house with money from an insurance settlement because of Lindsay's death.  We invested the $100,000 as a sizable down payment this house. We were trying to resume our lives. Our boys returned to work and school and I did my job as a social worker. Two years after Lindsay's death, Robyn developed breast cancer.One day when she was returning home from one of her radiation treatments in the Spring of 2004, I called her cell phone and told her I had just lost my job. There have been blessings of God since all of this has happened.
Heartfelt Ministries is born.
We started Heartfelt Ministries and know we have helped many hurting people. The ministry has its ups and downs financially and the job market, as many have experienced, is very difficult. We were able to meet most of our financial obligations since my job loss in 2002, but one bad year, when we only made $10,000.00 resulted in our losing the house that we bought with Lindsay's settlement; that happened last December (2011). Many questions have crossed our hearts and the evil one accuses God to us as to His love and goodness. But, we must persevere by God's truly amazing grace.

Are you tempted to despair? Oh  yes!   Are their questions unanswered? Oh yes.
How did the Spafford's make it, how have Christians of all ages been able to endure losses, trials and tribulation?  I have addressed this question in many of my blogs.  Robyn and I have treated the subject in our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, which is published by Kregel Publications of Grand Rapids.  The bottom line is that we walk by faith not by sight. Below are some words from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon, Faith versus Sight.

Spurgeon was a contemporary of the Spaffords.  Read carefully his words.
Genuine Christian reasoning is this—I have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. He says that as many as receive Him are the sons of God. I have received Him, and I am therefore a son of God. Now, whether my Father kisses me or flogs me, I know that I am His son. I am not going to be guided by my state and condition, but by my faith as to the promise of the Word.

Lindsay Ruth
 He further says that if I have received Christ I  have the privilege to be a child of God. Then, whether I am rich or poor—whether I am sick or healthy—all these are matters of sight.III I do not bring them into the calculation. I take the naked Word of God as it stands—that I am God's child. If He slays me I am His child. If He lets me go to prison, if He should suffer me to rot in a dungeon, or to burn at the stake, I am still His child! I do not look upon circumstances as at all affecting my position.   
Oh Beloved, if you once begin calculating your position before God according to your temporal circumstances, where will you be? Do not talk any more of believing—you have given it up—and you are really walking by sight. Perhaps many of you do not make precisely this mistake, but there is another way of doing it. "Now," says one, "I have believed in Jesus Christ, but I am afraid I am not saved, for I feel tonight so depressed in spirits, and so unhappy." "Oh," says another, "you need not tell me that I have trusted in Jesus Christ, for I am sure I am saved, because I feel so happy."

The purpose of Heartfelt Counseling is to come alongside, and comfort those suffering from mental illness, bereavement and the persecuted church. I invite you consider joining us online for a our CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness) support group.  You can call me at 616.427-0775 or email me, for more information.

Here is the link to  a blog about the Spaffords.

Our book Broken Minds has been published by Kregel Publications.   It is available in Kindle,'
It has a powerful story line and has also been given an academic status by Kregel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why is it I felt so bad, so sad, so quickly?

Copy right 2012, by Steve Bloem

This is not a subject which is usually talked about by evangelical Christians. But if you counsel those who are born again and they have mental illness you will hear it mentioned many times. I have read some great descriptions of depression and the best ones come from those who have have experienced it themselves.
I bought a book once by Kathy Conkrite, the daughter of the legendary newscaster, Walter Cronkite. It included descriptions of her own depression and that of many famous people.
I could only read her book in small doses because it brought on Post Traumatic Stress symptoms because of my own horrible depression over the past 27 years.
Getting Personal, A Hell on earth?
I should get personal at this point. Here is something that I wrote after coming back from Dialectical Behavioral training in Seattle, Washington in the year 1997.
"It (depression) is hard for me to describe after I start to feel better. The problem is that when I am in the throes of a depressive episode, I am too depressed to take the time to write about it. The best description that I can come up with is that it is unbearable anguish; it is a living hell.
I hope you don't think I am being profane. I used to joke about hell when someone would tell me that I should go there. My answer was, "I got kicked out for selling ice cream cones." This was not original with me but being unconverted, I didn't care or understand anything about hell. I guess what I mean is that Hell is the worst reality a person could ever experience and it is eternal. The Good News, the truly great news is that since I have trusted Jesus Christ, I can say with Toplady,

The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.
My name from the palms of His hands, eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.

Depression is by far the most painful experience that I have ever felt. There is no real comparison to what the infinite God/Man experienced when He hung on the cross and became sin for us. Because of the beating he was given, his face was marred more than anyone else. I do not believe Isaiah was talking about Christ's bloody face, though that was part of it; it was because He had been through Hell while on the cross.
Isaiah 52:13-15. See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him-- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-- so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Bipolar 2 disorder
I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist as having bipolar 2 disorder because my depression comes on quite suddenly and is very severe in nature. Here is an account of it in 1997. I was working as a case manager at a local mental health center and had just returned from my second intensive training program which was taught by Marsha Linehan in Seattle,Washington. I began to experience some of the early symptoms of an oncoming depression. Here are some of my thoughts that should have tipped me off to another episode.
May 11, 1997: I was a guest speaker in a little country church today. I wondered, Do I have post-traumatic stress disorder because of what we experienced in the pastorate in Kansas?

What is happening to me?
Also, I am wondering, Is everything temporary? I am experiencing obsessions and I have very low energy. Life is so hard today. I am feeling emotionally drained.
May 12,1997 - I called the doctor and asked him to put me on Buspar to augment my Zoloft. This was hard for me to request it because I usually become passive while in a depressive episode. He said he will call it in and I hoped this augmentation would work quickly.
Distraction through working
May 13, 1997- I am quite depressed today. it is very difficult to concentrate; I have moment by moment sorrow. My mind feels dead, but I was able to get my work done and even teach a Dialectical Behavior Therapy group this afternoon. I was able to relate to many of the women who have Borderline Personality Disorder because many of them also are depressed.
May 18, 1997 - I started work at about 8:00 am today. It seems that none of my fellow case mangers have noticed that I am in a depressive episode. Maybe they do but don't know how to approach me. From about 10-12:00 noon, I was in agony and intense sadness. I was panicky, my stomach hurt and my appetite was gone. I finally told the staff psychiatrist that I could not longer work and had to go home.
Deeper and Deeper into Depression

Immediately, separation anxiety overwhelmed me and I wanted to be with my wife. I called her and she asked me, Is it all right for me to go to a study with the ladies this afternoon or do you want me to stay here with you? I tried to be brave but after I hung up, I think, I have to go home. I sob uncontrollably as I drive home, wiping way tears to be able to see the road. My youngest son greets me at the door and as soon as I see him, I burst into tears. He is stunned and calls for Robyn. I pray to God, Father please don't let me commit suicide. Deeper and Deeper I descend into a Hell on earth. My thought in the middle of the most intense suffering is, How will people be able to stand Hell--- the real Hell?
It is Time to change medicine.
Robyn calls the psychiatrist and she is allowed access to him during his patient session. I try to compose myself when he says that he wants to try me on Ritalin. I went on it but I also begged him to put me on Paxil. He consented to it. Around 2:00 p.m, I feel relief.. Now the depression is bearable but still gloom is all around me. I think to myself, How long will it be before the Paxil works? I know I must wait on God to bring me out of the suffering, most likely through the medication.
Saturday, May 17, 1997. This is my third day on Paxil. I went to Brant's and Tyler's baseball games today. It was a good distraction. My mom and dad came and showed us some support. All I can handle now is watching T.V. (I realized how mindless television can be; it is just about all I can          do when severely depressed.)

Read more of the story of my depression and my wife's view of my depression as a caregiver.
Our book is called, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It.

Are you interested in becoming part of an online support group for those who have a mental illness.
Please call me at 616.427.0775 or email be at

Friday, December 21, 2012

CAMI Online, It is finally here!

Copy right All Rights Reserved, 2008
This may not be photocopied for distribution without the permission of Steve and Robyn Bloem
The idea of CAMI and it set of precepts are also copyrighted.

CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness) Online is a support group for those who are afflicted with depression, bipolar disorder  or some other type of mental illness. It also ministers to people who are care givers of those who suffer these afflictions.  
 Mental Illness is a disease that begs for community and it is often more subtle and much more prevalent than we imagine. We offer a safe environment, a listening ear, practical help for treatment and the hope of deliverance.  There should be no shame or embarrassment; these illnesses are the result of faulty brain chemistry We believe also in spiritual depression but it has a different remedy than biological. It is important to make a distinction. Come, be encouraged and helped because we care about you! All you need is a computer which has a camera (usually a lap top.

It is been extremely difficult to convince pastor's in the U.S.A. that Christian people who have a mental illness need a support group. Much of this is because of the stigma of mental illness. It is also because a number of evangelical groups who believe in  that Scripture is God breathed and without error,
do not believe in the biology of mental illness.  This has caused huge problems for people who have mental illness  and are in a church or looking for one.

One way we can bring the group to the Christian mentally ill person is to offer an online group. We have already started one and it is working well.  We use an Internet provider which allows us to see one another on our personal computers.  There is a group leader who uses the CAMI Leader and Study Guides.
The leader using this study guide asks questions and the other group members discuss them. We pray online in real time with one another.  The group is without charge and the study guide is $6.00 a person. The present online group is using U.S.A. Eastern Standard time.  Please contact us at the link below.
form.!contact/cito .

If you would like to know more about our steady selling book which has personal narratives and also biblical principles that deal with mental illness, please go to

Thanks, SB

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder. It is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Other ASDs include: classic autism, Tourett’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Unlike children with autism, children with AS retain their early language skills.
The most distinguishing symptom of AS is a child’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Children with AS want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else. Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors. Other characteristics of AS include repetitive routines or rituals; peculiarities in speech and language; socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers; problems with non-verbal communication; and clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements. Children with AS are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. They may approach other people, but make normal conversation impossible by inappropriate or eccentric behavior, or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest. Children with AS usually have a history of developmental delays in motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. They are often awkward and poorly coordinated with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy. 

Aspergers not a culprit in murder

There isn't really a case to be made that the school killer did so because he had Asperger's syndrome.
If you have a mass shooting it does not automatically mean that mental illness is the culprit.
The killer was an anomaly, he was an evil person.  Perhaps the leaders in this nation should pray for revival.  If a person knows Christ as Savior he had a higher code than many.  If a person has the Holy Spirit in his heart, he is not likely to murder someone.  

Please see our website,

Monday, December 17, 2012

September 11, 2001 and now, Did God turn His head?


Jack Pinto and Noah Ponzer buried today on December 17, 2012
by Robyn Bloem  Co-founder - Heartfelt Counseling Ministries

What they did not teach him at seminary
Our daughter who was 8 months pregnant, was killed by a drugged driver on 9-11-01, returning from a prayer vigil for the nation and the family members of the terrorist victims. I had to work through many issues in my own Christian heart. As I was still meditating, praying and weeping my way through life, a seminary professor came to teach a summer SS class of adults. In his meandering lesson, he mentioned that Sept. 11 is what happens when God just turns his head for a moment.

Have we forgotten the children who were lost before penicillin and other medical treatments?
As the bobble head class members bobbled, I started to fume. Finally, I raised my hand and said, As a mother and grandmother who lost my children on 9-11-01, I'd like to know why you think God turned His head that day...why would you say that?I   had been praying and reading old Puritan works like Samuel Rutherford, Thomas Boston-men from periods in history when Christians had to grapple with the loss of children and God's Hand in tragedy. Their children and children of their flock were dying of strep and TB, plagues...they had to deal with what most of Americans do not have to deal with.

When suffering we want to fix it.
When we face these tragedies, we want to fix blame, sue people, do anything we think will prevent suffering...well, there is no end to pain on earth. Horrible things happen to innocents and we cannot keep everyone in our parental view all the time. Well, we were actually 20 feet away from our daughter, following her home-I saw then there was nothing we could do to save her.

The Children of Connecticut
These precious innocent children were victims of life on a sinful earth and the pain these families will experience for years to come is very real. BUT God is God, we are clay, vapor, dust, and helpless. He walks among the children of men, enters any building, any home, any heart and He was there that day allowing this for some reason. He is not weak, bored, disinterested or distant. He is sovereign, wise, loving and powerful. Why and when and why not are not questions we get answers to. He is the great I AM and someday we will be so glad that He did and allowed everything exactly the way He did. I believe that one day I will say, "I wouldn't have changed a thing." Then it will be sight-- now I say it by faith.
 Robyn and Steve are in the process of writing a book about their tragedy on September 11, 2011. Please pray that we connect with the right people.
If you would like to take a peek at our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, please go to  It is also available on Kindle at this sight.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Favorite Blogs visited in 2012

Hello to all my friends!
As we are coming to the end of the year I would like to give you links to some of our most popular blogs.  This is no way takes away from any other blog; they all have been a result of prayer, study and just plain work.

The blog which has been visited the most in the last two and a half years is: Is God with You in the dark

Another very popular blog has been A young man's letter to his parents about his depression.

Another popular blog is

A blog which talks about alternative treatments for depression is Feed the Brain God gave you.

Finally a recent favorite has been,

If you do a google search, sbloemreflections, blog spot, google will give you itemized listings of the blogs.Go to,+blog+spot

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holmes Rahe Stress Chart

What about stress and mental illness?   Many experts tell us that stress is a key factor in major depression and other other maladies of the mind. There is strong clinical evidence that the first episode of a mental illness is more than likely to be triggered by extreme stress.
What kind of stress am I talking about.  Here is a great quote.
Stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that "demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize." In less formal terms, we feel stressed when we feel that "things are out of control."
Richard S. Lazarus
I will show you by this chart what my stresses were when I had my first episode at age twenty nine.  You then can go to the web site, read more about stress. You can also take the test that is below on the link I am going to give you.

If you would like to read a first hand account of my battle with stress and mental illness, please see Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It. Robyn Bloem is my co-author.  The link is
Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page for my score.
My score for the test was 380.
Now, I will take the test and then you can take it at

Life EventValue 
1Death of spouse 100 xx100
3Marital separation65
4Jail term63
5Death of close family member63
6Personal injury or illness 53 xx53x
8Fired at work47
9Marital reconciliation45
11Change in health of family member 44xx44x
12Pregnancy           40xx40
13Sex difficulties39
14Gain of new family member 39xx39x
15Business readjustment39
16Change in financial state 38xx38x
17Death of close friend37
18Change to a different line of work 36xx36x
19Change in number of arguments with spouse35
20A large mortgage or loan31
21Foreclosure of mortgage or loan30
22Change in responsibilities at work 29xx29x
23Son or daughter leaving home29
24Trouble with in-laws  29xx29x
25Outstanding personal achievement 28xx28x
26Spouse begins or stops work26
27Begin or end school/college 26xx26x
28Change in living conditions 25xx25x
29Revision of personal habits24
30Trouble with boss 23xx23x
31Change in work hours or conditions20
32Change in residence 20xx20x
33Change in school/college20
34Change in recreation19
35Change in church activities 19xx19x
36Change in social activities18
37A moderate loan or mortgage17
38Change in sleeping habits16
39Change in number of family get-togethers15
40Change in eating habits15
43Minor violations of the law11
Your 380 Total                                                                                               

Note: If you experienced the same event more than once, then to gain a more accurate total, add the score again for each extra occurrence of the event.

Score Interpretation

300+You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future.
150-299You have a moderate to high chance of becoming ill in the near future.
<150 td="td">

You have only a low to moderate chance of becoming ill in the near future.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why did the Son of God come to earth?

The answer to to this question in America and across the western world becomes more obscure every day.  But Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and Forever (Hebrews 13:8).
I celebrate Christmas with great joy because without Christ birth, death and resurrection there is no Heaven, no hope, only gloom and doom. In John 8:12, Jesus Christ said, I am the Light of the world ; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.
 I could say many more things but I would like you to read a quote that I recently came across ,a quote that is found in the introduction of G. Campbell Morgan's book, The Crises of the Christ
Christ has come, the Light of the world.  Long ages may elapse before His beams have reduced the world to order and beauty, and clothed a perfect humanity with light as with a garment. But He has come: the Revealer of the snares and chasms that lurk in the darkness, the Rebuker of every evil thing that prowls by night, the Stiller of the storm-winds of passion; the Quickner of all that is wholesome, the Adorner of all that is wholesome, the Adorner of all that is beautiful, the Reconciler of contradictions, the Harmonizer of discords, the Healer of the nations, the Savior from sin.  He has come: the Torch of truth, the Anchor of hope, the Pillar of faith, the Rock for strength, the Refuge for security, the Fountain for refreshment, the Vine for gladness, the Rose for beauty, the Lamb for tenderness, the Friend for counsel, the Brother for love.  Jesus Christ has trod the world.  The trace of the Divine footsteps will never be obliterated.  And the Divine footsteps  were the footsteps of a Man.  The example of Christ is such as men can follow.  On! until mankind wears his image. On!towards yon summit on which stands, not an angel, not a disembodied spirit. not an abstract of ideal and  ideal and unattainable virtues, but THE MAN JESUS CHRIST.

Peter Bayne, A.M.  The testimony of Christ to Christanity.
This was quoted by G. Campbell Morgan .The Crises of the Christ (1936)Old Tappen: Fleming H. Revell Company page 12.

Perhaps you would like to give a copy of our book Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel
Like You're Losing It to someone for Christmas. If you would like to read some reviews and/or order it go to
You can also get it on Kindle from this web site.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why was the great preacher Lloyd Jones afraid to leave his home town in Wales?

Copy right 2016

Heartfelt (Counseling) Ministries is launching an on-line support group using our CAMI material. It is done through Skype or possibly through Google Plus.  Here is a chance to meet others in the privacy of your own home through the Internet. Please email me at if you are interested. You can also go to our website and use the contact us form.


Lloyd Jones my mentor

One of my greatest mentors is a man I have never met. I feel like I know him because I have read his whole whole set of sermons on the book of Romans. I also read his volumes of sermons on Ephesians. I have read his classic two volume biography Ian Murray. And in fact I have read other volumes of sermons and his lectures on Puritan pastors in England during the Elizabethan period. His name is David Martyn Lloyd Jones.

Lloyd Jones M.D. turned pastor and preacher
Lloyd Jones was a famous doctor and his boss was Lord Horder, who was a doctor to the Queen of England.  He felt a call to the ministry and planted a church in Wales.  He then was called to a famous church in England were he preached in an expository manner for many years.

Answer to the question in the title of this blog.

The answer to the question found in the title of this post is that he had what today would be called separation anxiety and which in his case lasted all his life long. He is quoted in Broken Minds as saying this:

But, in addition to this, I must add that I suffered at the same time from far greater sickness, and a more painful one, which has remained with me all along life's path- and that was hiraeth (Welsh for "a longing for home or homesickness)....What is the reason for this? The psychologists cannot explain it. I believe that... that it is decided in part by the functioning of the ductless glands. Be that as it may hiraeth is an awful thing, as also is the feeling of loneliness, and of being destitute and unhappy which all stem from it. It is difficult to define hiraeth, but to me it means the consciousness of man being out of this home area and that which is dear to him. That is why it can be felt even among a host of people and amidst nature's beauty.
Bloem Steve and Robyn. Broken Minds, Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, page 141. The above quote is from D. Martyn Lloyd Jones and is found in Ian Murray’s biography of Lloyd Jones, The First Forty Years, Volume, 1899-1939.

Lloyd Jones and Nouthetic Counselors

There are some people who have read his fantastic book, Spiritual Depression Its Causes and Cures, which is published by Eerdmans Co.and have concluded that its author, Dr. Lloyd Jones did not believe that biological or what is called endogenous depression ever existed.

In fact there are many schools of thought that believe that major depression (also called endogenous) is not really a true classification of depression. They are the same people who might like to put Lloyd Jones in the same genre of Jay Adams.
This is simply not true! Lloyd Jones actually distanced himself from Adams saying that his non biological approach to mental illness was cruel. This can be seen his book which consisted of a series of lectures to Christian physicians in England. It is called Healing and Medicine ,Kingsway Publications.

Send your pastor this blog

If you are reading this and should I say that you live in the U.S.A. or Canada your pastor should be aware of this. This especially true if you belong to an evangelical Presbyterian church, Reformed church or many other fundamentalist churches and groups. You can send him this blog.  I pray that God would turn the hearts of  pastors toward the the hearts of the

He is a Savior and the Perfect God/Man who as our High Priest and  Champion  experienced depression in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). Please see Broken Minds, page 217,218.

An Irish pastor called me on the phone after he read our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It and he told me of the following quote that I was not aware of at the time.
Adams and Szacz

Referring to Thomas Szacz he says, ".....he (Szasz) goes too far in saying that there is no such thing as mental illness. Unfortunately, too, he now has a number of followers who are writing up his views in popular books. One of the best known is Jay Adams with his widely selling Competent to Counsel. But he is just a popularizer of Thomas Szasz and he is simply affirming, with Scasz, that there is no such entity as mental illness that the patients are really suffering from sin and need to be dealt with purely in a scriptural manner. These writers reprimand those sufferers and counsel them with great severity.

Lloyd Jones on seeing mental illness as a physical reality

It is necessary for us to work with those in this field who have to establish the reality of mental illness; otherwise we are going to be guilty of great cruelty to some of those who come to consult us. Why would I affirm the reality of such illness? I suggest that the familiar (heredity) element in case histories alone is sufficient to establish it. Another factor is the periodicity so characteristic of many cases - clear, lucid intervals, and then recurrence. Not only that, but there are many cases of mental illness which do not respond to all spiritual, scriptural treatment and, indeed, are even made worse by this.

If you would like to read more about Broken Minds which comes in paperback form, Kindle and Ebook, please go to

Please visit us at our web site

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bethlehem, Psychatric Hospital was horrible.


Bethlehem (Bedlam) "Madhouse"

Operated from1329-1948

Eventually known as Bedlam

Nuns took in the sick, i.e. lepers, frail old women, etc.

1375, seized by the Crown

1403, royal edict turned it into “mad house.”

The Hospital became famous and notorious for the brutal ill-treatment meted out to the mentally ill. In 1675 Bedlam moved to new buildings where the playwright Nathaniel Lee was incarcerated there for five years, reporting that: "They called me mad, and I called them mad, and d*** them, they outvoted me."

The inmates were first called "patients" in 1700, and "curable" and "incurable" wards were opened in 1725-34. Visits by friends and relatives were allowed. Indeed, for poor inmates it was expected that those connected to them would periodically bring food and other essentials for their survival. (Jonathan Andrews)

In 1817 it was reported that “the basement is appropriated for those patients who are not cleanly in their persons, and who on that account have no beds, but lie on straw with blankets and a rug; but I am sorry to say it is too often made a place of punishment to gratify the unbounded cruelties of the keepers.” (The Interior of Bethlehem Hospital, by Urban Metcalf, 1817.)

James Norris (17??-1814), once an American seaman, now chained to his bed. Norris had been admitted in 1800 and so terrorized the small staff that in June 1804 he was permanently confined in an iron harness.

Ten years later when Wakefield visited, Norris was still in the same spot!

Norris’s isolation and constraints were described at the time:

A stout iron ring was riveted round his neck, from which a short chain passed through a ring made to slide upwards and downwards on an upright massive iron bar, more than six feet high, inserted into the wall. Round his body a strong iron bar about 12 inches wide was riveted; on each side of the bar was a ring; which was fashioned to and enclosed each of his arms, pinioned them close to his sides.

Norris was removed from his shackles but died within a few months. Bedlam was closed.

Visitors/ gawkers/pitiless spectators

As late as 1815, Bethlem Hospital showed its lunatics every Sunday for one penny. People would pack lunches and bring the family to gawk at the patients who were naked or near naked. The people found it amusing to watch them shriek, howl, sing, and tear at their hair and bodies. The annual revenue from those visits amounted to almost 400 pounds which means that an astonishing 96,000 visitors came to see the mad each year. (Michel Foucault)

Bedlam Hospital housed the very disturbed and troubled; Donald Lupton in the 1630s described ‘cryings, screechings, roarings, brawlings, shaking of chains, swearings, frettings, chaffings.'

Hospital General in Paris 1600’s

A visitor wrote “the unfortunate whose entire furniture consists of a straw pallet, lying with his head, feet and body pressed against a wall, could not enjoy sleep without being soaked by the water which trickled down from that massive stone.”

Winter was worse. When “the waters of the seine rose, those cells situated at the level of the sewers became not only more unhealthy, but worse still, a refuge for a huge swarm of rats which during the night attacked the unfortunates confined there and bit them wherever they could reach them. Madwomen have been found with feet, hands and faces torn by bites, which are often dangerous and from which several have died.” (Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization).

Nellie Bly (May 5, 1864 – January 27, 1922) was the pen name of American pioneer female journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She wrote an expose in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within.

From the moment I entered the insane ward on the Island, I made no attempt to keep up the assumed role of insanity. I talked and acted just as I do in ordinary life. Yet strange to say, the more sanely I talked and acted the crazier I was thought to be by all except one physician, whose kindness and gentle ways I shall not soon forget.”

This was part of a seminar that Robyn and I gave at Rush Creek Bible Church.  It is called Mind, Mood and Faith. If you would like us to present this seminar or others that we conduct, please contact us at
We also are working at getting our CD  that was recorded at Rush Creek Bible Church edited and available for sale.  Please pray for us that we would find someone to help us.
If you would like to see some reviews on our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It,  you can see them at