The following is part of a continuing series of excerpts from an as yet unpublished book by Dr. Adams entitled Adams’ Answers.
Of course not. From the outset of the Nouthetic movement we have worked closely with physicians. We feature them in training programs, publish their books, and refer people to them regularly. That is a totally false charge that is often made against us. Now, we are careful to distinguish between true disease and that which does not have an organic etiology. We are concerned to see that medicine not be used to obtain pain relief while by-passing non-organic causes of some difficulty in living.
Roughly speaking, there are two types of medicine. One is supplementary to bodily output. For instance, if the body is not producing insulin as it should, we think it proper to add insulin from the outside. Or, if one is suffering from atrial fibrillation we believe in taking a beta blocker in order to achieve a normal, steady heart beat. The use of medicine in such cases helps the body to function as it was supposed to function.
The use of psychotropic drugs, on the other hand, inhibits the body from functioning as it should. It is that use of medicine that we deplore. Mood changing drugs affect a person in such a way that the benefits of pain and other unpleasant feelings are not realized. Discomfort was designed to call attention to some underlying problem (organic or non-organic) so that it might be dealt with. One would hardly want to desensitize the nerve endings on his fingers because he has found that touching a hot stove hurts. If he did, the first he would know of the fact that he was resting his fingers there would be when he smells meat cooking! To desensitize these nerves, in the long run, would cause serious damage to the body. As an alerting system and warning device, then, pain is a friend. We do not believe in masking such pain by drugs.
There are, of course, many organically-caused problems. Our counselors regularly refer counselees to physicians whenever they suspect that something organic may be behind their behavior. They do not want to miss a brain tumor, an aneurysm, or anything else that might require medical treatment. While Nouthetic counselors refuse to diagnose, since we are not trained to do medical work, whenever we suspect that something more than heart-motivated behavior is operating, we will send counselees to a physician for a medical checkup.
For some time the problem of when to refer to a physician was a serious difficulty. There were no guidelines. Now, since the recent publication of The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference, by Bob Smith, MD, we have a helpful guide to enable us to make much better judgments about the matter. This book, written and published under Nouthetic counseling auspices, meets a real need. It alone cannot make the determination as to whether or not to refer a counselee to a physician, but it helps counselors to become aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of a physical illness. The very fact that this publication was produced within Nouthetic circles gives the lie to the charge that we do not believe in medicine to treat truly organic problems.
What we do deplore is the use of medicine to deal with problems that have no organic cause. We are averse to masking those difficulties with medicine. For instance, if one’s conscience is troubling him by triggering unpleasant feelings, we think that the solution to the problem is not found in drugs but in dealing with whatever it is that activated the conscience in the first place. In such cases, the counselor deals with sin, not with the feelings. That is the bottom line.