A Little-Known Country, Part 36 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #87)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #87.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Psalm 42:5-6 which reads, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Jonathan Harnisch. He said, “The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down-what business have you to be disquieted?’ You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’ -instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.’”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 36):

Negotiations with Dr. Worcester were somewhat delayed because of his absence from Boston, but on his return he responded at once. There was then some difficulty in the matter of securing
the needed information. This is indicated in the following letter.

WESTBORO STATE HOSPITAL
5 November 1921

Dr. Elwood Worcester
Emmanuel Church
Boston, Massachusetts

DEAR SIR:
Replying to your letter on November 2nd with attached letter from Mrs. Boisen, I wish to say that if you care to visit our patient, Anton T. Boisen at this hospital, I would be very glad to have you do so; or if you will designate a day and an hour when Mr. Boisen may call upon you in Boston, I will arrange to have him do so, provided of course that his mental condition remains as good as at the present time.

I might state that his case is one which is characterized by periods of acute excitement during which he is quite violent and attempts self-injury.

In accordance with the law, our records are not open for inspection.

Very truly yours,
W. E. LANG, Supt.

To supply Dr. Worcester with the information he wanted Fred Eastman forwarded to Norman Nash the letters I had written him. To these, Nash added my letters to him and turned them over to Dr. Worcester. My interviews with Dr. Worcester began, if I remember aright, early in November, 1921, and continued until May or June of the following year. I found them very
helpful. We maintained communications until his death.

At the close of our conferences Dr. Worcester turned all these letters over to me, saying that I might sometime want to make use of them. The two following letters I wrote to Dr. Worcester
during this period.

WESTBORO STATE HOSPITAL
20 November 1921

Dr. Elwood Worcester
Emmanuel Church
Boston, Mass.

DEAR DR. WORCESTER:

In the interview of last Monday the following ground was covered, If I remember correctly:

1 . The precise nature of the original trouble.
2. The character of the first abnormal condition.
3. Some facts regarding the love affair around which the whole thing centers.
4. Your advice that I take up some outdoor work.

I hope that the following facts have been established:

1. The original trouble was primarily a mental one. There was no habit of masturbation and no perversions, as I understand those terms. There was difficulty in controlling the wayward sex interests.
2. The first abnormal condition, while containing many morbid elements, was a clear-cut conversion experience, with effects which were wholly beneficial.
3. The love affair was not rooted in friendly association but rather in inner struggle and in what might be called quite accurately the need of salvation. The motive power has been the deep feeling that this was for me the right course, the only one I could follow and be true to my best self.
4. The danger that I may underestimate the gravity of these abnormal conditions and the necessity of avoiding future recurrences. This danger I recognize. The horror of the recent catastrophe is with me still. It has been terrible beyond the power of words to express. And yet
I do not regard these experiences as “break-downs.” If I am right in believing that through them difficult problems have been solved for me and solved right, and if through them help and strength have come to me, am I not justified in such a view?

As I have tried to understand my own case and as I have studied the problems of others in this hospital, I have come to the conclusion that there are many patients whose problems are little different from those of many who go to hear Billy Sunday and “hit the saw-dust trail.” They have no physical trouble. They are just sick of soul. Now to the physicians here anything in the nature of automatisms, any “Voices,” any visions, even a belief in providence or divine guidance is per se evidence of insanity and justifies commitment. Just last Christmas I was denied permission to visit a friend on the ground that I still believed that in the experience through which I had passed there might be the working out of a divine plan. And yet, as I understand it, some such faith has always been fundamental in the Christian philosophy of life. I think there can be little question that such men as Saul of Tarsus and George Fox would fare badly before a present-day psychiatric staff. Certainly they exhibited phenomena of abnormality. But with them the abnormality was a source of power and strength. I am therefore hoping for the day when cases of mental trouble which are not primarily organic in origin will be recognized and treated as spiritual problems and that the church will develop physicians of soul of a type whose work will be based upon sound and systematic study of spiritual pathology.

It is such a study that I desire to undertake and my desire to take work at some theological school is for the purpose of preparing for such a task.

In this purpose I am guided by my belief in the importance of this task, also by the faith that I can really make some contribution to it. It was the faith that my chief contribution should lie in the experience through which I had passed which led me a year ago last spring to refuse a tempting position with the Congregational Social Service Commission. I cannot see that the catastrophe of last fall should now destroy that faith. On the contrary, it seems to me to have widened the problem and to have thrown new light upon my particular experience.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 37 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 34 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #85)

Our Scripture Verse for today is Mark 2:17 which reads, “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Charles Spurgeon. He said, “Especially judge not the sons and daughters of sorrow. Allow no ungenerous suspicions of the afflicted, the poor, and the despondent. Do not hastily say they ought to be more brave, and exhibit a greater faith. Ask not ‘why are they so nervous and so absurdly fearful?’ No… I beseech you, remember that you understand not your fellow man.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 34):

In the course of my negotiations for release I wrote to my old teacher, George A. Coe, under whom I had done my major work at Union Seminary. I had hoped that as a specialist in the psychology of religion he might be able to help. The following letter, written in longhand, is one of many I have received from him. He followed closely all subsequent developments. Every reprint of an article of mine which I sent him was acknowledged with painstaking and illuminating criticisms. Although at this time he had no suggestions to offer, I still count him among the great teachers to whom I am most indebted. This letter reflects the attitude of many leading psychologists and theologians of that time, toward the problem of mental illness.

Thousand Islands Park, N.Y.
September 1, 1921

Dear Mr. Boisen:

I have read your letter with keenest interest. It sounds just like you and I have difficulty in thinking of you as ever losing your poise.

If only I knew about mental disorders to diagnose them, I would gladly put my knowledge at your disposal. But I touch the subject at the outer fringes only, and then, very, very little. In fact, since you were at the Seminary I have been giving only diminishing attention to it, my energies being fully absorbed in the topics of religious education and the psychology of religion.

In general, too, my views of mental disorders, as far as I have views, tend in the physiological direction. I can see how mental habits can be formed, and I realize that habit is a large part of neurasthenia. But the question remains, Why just these habits in the neurasthenic and opposite habits in the normal person, the environment being practically the same.

If the attacks from which you have suffered are, as appears, rather severe, then your physicians are probably right in assuming a physiological root, even though the process whereby a given content arrives is that of suggestion. The fact that the specific physiological root has not been discovered hardly decreases the probability that there is one. I speak thus freely because you are so cool and objective yourself. I am glad that you have the disposition to face all the facts and that nothing needs to be concealed.

I sincerely hope that you will soon be a free man again. Meantime, how much you have to be thankful for, especially (in addition to skilled medical help) the interesting and important work of institutional photographer. I wonder whether you will go on to microphotography of diseased tissues.

This letter will bring you little of the help I would like to extend to you, but it is weighted with agreeable memories and hopes for the happiest outcome of your trouble. Please let me know after a while how it fares with you.

Cordially yours,
George A. Coe

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 35 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 33 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #84)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #84.

Our Scripture Verse for today is 1 Peter 5:10 which reads, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from William Samuel Johnson. He said, “He knows not his own strength who hath not met adversity.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 33):

How do I account for the recurrence of last Spring? …One factor was certainly the fear of this place and of others like it. While the dominating ideas were still much the same, the ideas most prominent in this last disturbance had to do with the imprisonment and the way of escape from it. There was the terrifying thought growing out of that experience that God himself was helpless in the hands of the doctors and that I must somehow or other help to set him free. It may also be noted that last fall when I came back to normal, it was largely the result of a severe beating which left me weak and helpless and unable to continue the struggle. In this disturbance on the other hand I fought my way through to some sort of solution. It was no accident that ten days after leaving the disturbed ward, I found the work in which I am now engaged. It was in line with the solution I had arrived at in Codman Upper.

I feel therefore that I am not ready to be junked yet.

But granting the danger of a recurrence, what should be done about it?

The answer will depend in the first place upon the character of the disturbance and the possible harm I might do to others. If I am a menace to society, I must of course be kept where I can do no harm. Thus far I find no evidence that there was even in the wildest delirium the slightest danger to any one else. I can remember most everything, and if given a chance I could give a very different interpretation to the words which were taken as indications of danger. In my own consciousness it was the best part of myself which was dominant throughout those disturbed periods and from the moral standpoint I was never more nearly right than at the very moment I was taken to the hospital. It was in some ways the highest point I had reached. That has been and is still my feeling. In saying this I am not forgetful of the shocking character of my ideas. I am thinking rather of my dominant concern with the grim problem of existence and survival, not of myself but rather of others. There was throughout no sexual excitation. And the ideas were fluid. There was in other words no Mr. Hyde personality, but rather a better self, blind and chained and struggling for release.

I recognize what you have in mind in speaking of the danger of a recurrence coming in the midst of an important piece of work. Last August you gave me a small job working up some statistics for your two books. Before that task was completed I went haywire, and the study was not completed in time to be of use to you. In general, however, the periods of abnormality have come in connection with some important transition or turning-point. They have not come while I was at work but in the “in-between times.” And more than once I pulled myself together when in such a condition and have assumed responsible work and carried it through with some degree of success.

I appreciate your offer to help in any way you can. I do not, however, think it will be necessary for you to act as custodian. I am hoping now that I may be able to take some work in the Harvard Divinity School and in the affiliated institutions which will help me to clear up the problems which this experience has brought to the fore and to prepare myself for a new task.

Perce was here the other day and brought with him some good advice which he had hatched out coming down on the train. He urged me to take up concrete work of some sort. Such a course, he thought, would be the best means of helping me to regain and preserve my sanity. I replied to Perce that sanity in itself is not an end in life. The end of life is to solve important problems and to contribute in some way to human welfare, and if there is even a chance that such an end could best be accomplished by going through Hell for a while, no man worthy of the name would hesitate for an instant.

I often think of a little incident which occurred when I was in Washington. One of the old Forest School men had just returned from two years in the North Woods and a lot of his old class-mates were gathered around him while he dished out yarns about his experiences in the wilds. Finally one of the men asked, “Say, Bill, have you ever been lost?” Bill straightened up, glared at him, and replied with some heat: “Lost! Of course I’ve been. It’s only the dubs who never go five miles from camp who don’t get lost sometimes.”

I agree with Bill. The kind of sanity which has to be preserved by sticking close to camp and washing dishes for the rest of my life is not worth preserving. I could never be happy or contented in such a course, especially when I feel that the particular territory in which I lost my way is of greatest interest and importance. I want to explore and map that territory.

There is one principle which seems to me very important. You are in doubt about a certain course. The facts are not known and cannot be known. In such a case the decision should be in favor of the course which promises the greatest returns, even though you cannot be sure you will succeed. I refer, of course, to the principle stated by Professor James in his Will to Believe. Of course I cannot be absolutely sure that there will not be a recurrence of trouble, but the possibility of such a recurrence should not in my judgment deter me from the course which promises the greatest opportunity for service.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 34 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 31 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #82)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #82.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Psalm 94:18-19 which reads, “When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Juliette Lewis. She said, “The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 31):

The following two letters were written to Fred in the course of these negotiations.

31 July 1921

Dear Fred:

I am sorry that I gave you the impression that my recent illness was in any way to be laid to your account because you had sent me a copy of The Unseen Guest. I remember very distinctly that I asked you to send it. The responsibility was therefore mine. The last thing I would want would be a censorship of my reading. Perhaps it is unfortunate that I read it just at that time, but I am glad to have seen it.

Your account of the labor situation is most discouraging. Sometimes I think that if there is no work in sight it might be a good plan to go back to the Seminary where I could tackle this new problem with the help of such a man as Professor Coe. It seems to me a problem in religion and psychology and philosophy rather than in medicine. Such a plan would have the advantage of giving me a new start. I would not get that if I began as a scaler of logs or photographer or pastor of some little church.

I am bearing in mind constantly that in rejecting Dr. Holt’s splendid offer in the survey field, my feeling was that my chief contribution should lie in the experience through which I had passed. The recent catastrophe has not altered that view. It has only changed my interpretation of my experience and has connected it up with a very different field from that with which I would otherwise have connected it. But the values in that experience still remain. I cannot for the life of me see that I am any the worse for the recent disturbance. In fact, I really believe there has been some progress. I hold with Prof. Coe that the important consideration in any religious or mystical experience is the result attained and not how it was attained.

I am glad to report that the celebration on the Fourth, in spite of many short-comings from my point of view, was regarded as quite a success. Apparently it was the first thing of the sort attempted here. The photography is also going well. This is the first time I have had a good dark room with running water and plenty of chemicals. I have the task of taking the pictures of all the new patients and I am also taking pictures of the buildings and grounds and of the hospital activities. They granted me a few days ago the privilege of selling some of these views.

Dr. Chambers inquired this morning if I had heard anything from you recently. He then volunteered the suggestion that if I wanted to go to the Blomingdale Hospital, I could be transferred any time. That would, he said, apply to any form of release under sponsorship. My feeling is that if I have to stay in any institution of this sort, I had rather stay here where so much interesting work is opening up.

They are allowing me many privileges now. I went alone to Worcester the other day and my job as hospital photographer takes me freely into all the wards.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 32 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #80

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #80.

Our Scripture Verse for today is John 14:27 which reads, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from C. S. Lewis. He said, “I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache and about lying awake.’ That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 29):

3. I would suggest further that more stress be laid on the daily walks. In addition to short walks on which all might go, there should be a longer walk in the afternoon for all the physically fit, and this walk should be made more interesting by varying the route. In this connection I would call attention to the fact that the walks are often omitted even when the weather is favorable.

4. It would seem to me advisable to have the reading room open more of the time. This is the more important because the dormitories are generally closed. I would suggest further that the older and feebler men, at least, should be allowed to lie down at times, especially after dinner. An opportunity to bathe before going to bed would also be appreciated.

5. Short talks on mental or personal hygiene by one of the physicians before the assembled patients might be helpful.

6. The fact that few of our men know about the Patients’ Library and that there is often difficulty in getting there during library hours should be noted.

16 June 1921

From: A. T. Boisen
To: Dr. Chambers
Concerning: Work

In this morning’s conversation the question of work was discussed and three possibilities were mentioned:

1. Checking in the laundry room
2. Work in the marking room
3. Photographic work (which might be occasional and irregular)

After thinking the matter over, I question seriously whether either of the first two would provide what I need just now. I am afraid they would offer little variety and would therefore prove irksome and confining. Of course I wish to be of service, but other things being equal I would prefer work in which I was interested and for which I had some aptitude.

It has occurred to me that it might be possible to combine the more or less irregular photographic work with an assignment to the wood-working department. This would mean work for which I have always had a particular fondness and of which I have done a good deal. I might, for instance, be given the job of making bean bag outfits or ring-toss sets for different wards, if this idea were approved, and I should greatly delight in making such things as bulletin boards and book cases.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 30 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 28 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #79)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #79.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Psalm 18:18-19 which reads, “They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Thomas Moore. He said, “Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 28):

OPENING DOORS
I was transferred downstairs on June 4, 1921. The first week was spent doing little else but eating and sleeping and recuperating from the long ordeal upstairs. Then I began to look around for something to do. My first request for work met with the reply that I was not yet strong enough. This was the situation at the time of the following memorandum, which was written on June 15 and given to the physician the next day.

From: A. T. Boisen
To: Dr. Chambers
Subject: Amusement on Codman Lower

It is now eleven days since I came to Codman Lower. During the first week I was chiefly engaged in recuperating from the ten weeks of tub treatment up-stairs and I did little but eat and sleep. This week, however, I am beginning to accumulate some surplus energy and I am looking around for some way of spending it to good advantage. To my surprise I find that this is no simple or easy problem.

The striking feature of this ward as compared with the other wards with which I am familiar is the lightness of the ward work and the lack of occupation for most of the men during the major part of the day. This results from the fact that there are no bed patients here, while more than half of the men are regarded as not yet fit for regular work. At this present moment (2 PM) twelve patients are at work outside the ward while thirteen are now here on the ward and have been here all day. These thirteen got up this morning between half past five and six o’clock, washed, dressed, took breakfast, and helped with the ward work. This was completed before nine o’clock. At ten we took half an hour’s work. The rest of the day we’ve been chiefly occupied in doing nothing. As I look around me here on the porch, I see one asleep, two are talking together, four are reading news-papers, five are looking into the dim distance and, judging by their expressions, they are thinking very gloomy thoughts. In fact, the remarkable thing is that more are not engaged in ruminating, for there is little else to do. There has been no work since nine o’clock, except in the kitchen and serving room, and there are no facilities for recreation. At present Codman Lower possesses the following recreational equipment:

1 victrola–a treasure which is a great source of comfort to us all.

1 set of checkers safely locked up in the reading room and accessible only by grace of the attendant.

6 books, viz., Newcomb: Popular Astronomy, 1879
Bruce: Scientific Mental Healing
Roosevelt: Hunting Trip in South Africa
Ralph Connor: Patrol of the Sundance Trail
On Holy Ground
Holy Bible

Sundry copies of the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, Country Gentlemen, Harper’s, Munsey’s, National Geographic, all much appreciated, but mosly consumed.

These books an magazines are now safely locked up in the reading room. In addition there are two books drawn by two men from the Patients’ Library at Center.

My judgment is that some additional facilities for occupying the time and attention of the men on this ward would be beneficial. Speaking at least for myself, who generally have little difficulty in finding plenty to do, I would emphasize the fact that time does hang heavy on my hands and that the general atmosphere is one of gloom. I venture therefore the following suggestions:

1. The supplying of additional equipment for indoor recreation:
2 collapsible tables for cards, checkers, writing etc. (No tables at all are now available.)
Sets of checkers, cards, dominoes, chess etc.
Traveling library
Bulletin board
Book case
1 set of ring-toss

2. Equipment for out-door recreation
Playground balls and bats
Horse shoe outfit
Volley ball and net

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 29 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 27 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #78)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #78.

Our Scripture Verse for today is 2 Corinthians 12:9 which reads, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Richard Eyre. He said, “We can alleviate physical pain, but mental pain–grief, despair, depression, dementia–is less accessible to treatment. It’s connected to who we are–our personality, our character, our soul, if you like.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 27):

8 April 1921
Dear Fred:

Just a few lines, while there is yet time, to tell you that I am still in the land of the living. I have, however, been deep down in the valley of shadow and I do not know whether I shall ever emerge.

Yes, I wrote despondently the week before Easter and I still adhere to what I said in those letters. The reality is far more terrible than I had ever believed and I fear the world is in for very troublous times. Christian civilization seems doomed.

I will ask you to ponder over that suggestion about the family of four as a means of keeping intact the family line. I think my suggestion that life is in two cycles is true and the family-of-four idea with unselfish love as the basic principle will be the means of preventing syphilitic infection and of breeding up the race until Christianity can come into its own.

I hope you will think of me kindly. My opinion of myself is not very high.

It may be noted that I was still dominated by the idea of impending world disaster and by the idea of the family-of-four. One reason for the persistence and strength of the latter may be found in the fact that the tubroom contained just four tubs. These stood in my mind for that idea. It seemed that it was a new type of cell, and it was associated with the idea of rebirth. It seemed that the psychopathic ward was the meeting place between this world and the world beyond, and the tubroom was the place for the regeneration of wornout personalities. I regarded it as my duty to stay on guard in the tubroom and I actually spent a large proportion of the ten weeks in that room. Somehow or other through those tubs the destiny of the world was going to be determined. It was my job to defeat the plans of those whom I regarded as enemies, some of whom, it seemed, were representatives of the devil himself. This required constant watchfulness, and throughout those ten weeks I scarcely dared to sleep.

All the time the idea persisted that if I could destroy myself, I could save the situation. On several occasions during the previous fall I had made such attempts. Now again I made repeated attempts. I had the idea that the way out was down and not up, and that I must descend to the lowest possible level. On several occasions I lay for hours during the night on the cold cement floor with no clothing on so that no one might be able to get below me and that the enemy might thereby be discomfited.

Symbolism was of course a prominent feature of such an experience. Things were not what they seemed to be. Everything had some deeper meaning. The patients around me were embodiments of good and bad spirits. So also were the attendants and the doctors. The different kinds of food all stood for something. I would eat no meat, no fruit, no pie, no sweet stuff of any sort, but lived on bread and water and beans, and very little of these. To have eaten of the other things would have brought misfortune upon my friends. But it was always a difficult matter to know what to eat and what not to eat. The different tubs also meant different things, though just what they meant I was not sure, and I was always wanting to be changed from one tub to another.

Gradually, however, some sort of solution seemed to be taking shape. The terror was disappearing and I was beginning to stay put instead of plunging around and throwing things into confusion. I was also getting fearfully tired and I was beginning to question some of my premises. But I kept going back to the tubs until I felt that nothing further could be accomplished. I finally consented to stay out if assured that I might be able to “help.” I was then transferred downstairs.

Immediately then the old fears and the old ideas vanished, fears and ideas which, so long as I remained on the disturbed ward, were picked up from other patients or absorbed from old associations.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 28 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 25 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #76)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #76.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Philippians 4:6-7 which reads, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Charles Spurgeon. He said, “Fits of depression come over the most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 25):

20 March 1921
Dear Fred:

The feeling is growing within me that before committing myself to the doctors at Bloomingdale I should like to talk things over with you carefully. You see, I have been doing quite a bit of thinking since I read the book you sent. It opens up a wide view and gives rise to questions which require intensive thinking. It draws my attention away from the problem of insanity to another problem of which I fear the doctors might not approve.

I am still planning to come down to New York Friday or Saturday night, arriving early in the morning.

21 March 1921
Dear Fred:

I am very sad to-day.

Last November, after your visit here, you wrote me a fine letter in which you gave precisely the right suggestions. The time of my stay here is drawing to a close and the task you set me is unaccomplished. Your friend Anton Boisen has failed and his task remains undone.

My eyes are opened now through the book you sent me. I see and am much troubled. The failure is a tragic one. Its awfulness I can scarce imagine.

Have you noticed in reading The Unseen Guest that while the facts related there may be true, as I believe they are, it is not Christianity which it teaches. It implies a religion of ancestor worship. You notice, don’t you, that Stephen is “of the same degree” and that the doctrine of evil and pain is inadequate. Evil and pain in this world are for him merely hallucinations. I tremble when I think of what this means.

I am feeling anxious about my release, for I am under a heavy strain and I am afraid they may keep me here, when what I need is to be with friends who understand. If anything should prevent my release this week, I fear for the results. The doctors have no understanding of my problem. I hope you will do all you can to hurry the thing through.

I see it all so clearly now. We are indeed just part of larger personalities, but with our eyes closed to that relationship. Our responsibility here is to do the allotted task. And I have failed.

22 March 1921
Dear Fred:

In my recent letter I flew some signals of distress. I am sending you a few lines to-night to ask you to take those signals down. The problem has cleared up and all is right again. I suppose it is the fact of being still in custody which makes me so fearful.

I still feel that if I could get a place to stay and a little something to do outside of Bloomingdale, that might be a better plan.

I have not yet figured it out, but I am feeling rather happy now.

P.S. One hour later. It comes to me again that the situation is now very, very critical. Everything is hanging in the balance. I need your prayers and your help. You must get me out of here this week, no matter what happens. Oh, it is indeed terrible. Our Christian civilization is doomed and the battle will have to be fought all over again. It must now be fought against evil forces which are greatly augmented.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 26 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 24 (Out of the Depths #75)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #75.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Matthew 11:28-30 which reads, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Charles Spurgeon. He said, “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 24):

RELAPSE
After three months of negotiations my mother and sister withdrew their objections, and arrangements were completed for my transfer to Bloomingdale, where I was to pay the nominal charge of ten dollars a week. The date was set for March 25, but on March 24 I became acutely disturbed and had to be sent to Codman Upper, a disturbed ward. The causes of this relapse were somewhat complex.

I had been eager to go to Bloomingdale; and yet, as the letter of December 16 shows, I dreaded the psychoanalytic treatment by men I did not know, perhaps even more than the incarceration at Westboro. For the psychoanalysts were doctors, and my fear of the doctors still carried over from my forcible hospitalization.

Then, back of it all was the conviction that I was not wholly wrong. I had been plunged into a strange new world, and the specific ideas from the previous delirium had been stowed away in the back of my mind with big question marks after them.

Just about a week before the transfer to Bloomingdale was to be made I was given a copy of The Unsee Guest. This was a book on spiritism, one that does not make much impression on me now, but at that time I became intensely interested in it, and under its influence the slumbering ideas were reawakened. They began to seem possible, then probable, then true. Meanwhile I had become more and more absorbed. I could think of nothing else. All night I lay awake thinking, all the time knowing that further detention at Westboro was sure to result. The dominant emotions were intense interest and intense fear.

My condition did not remain unnoticed, but the authorities were planning to go through with the transfer anyway. However, on the morning of the day I was to have left, I took matters into my own hands and visited one of the physicians in his apartment in order to discuss with him certain propositions pertaining to the family-of-four, which at that moment had become for me a plan of collaboration between medical and religious workers.

The following five letters to Fred Eastman show the development of my state of mind at the time of onset.

18 March 1921
Dear Fred:

I had a talk with Dr. Lang this morning and learned with satisfaction that he had acted favorably to your proposition and that all that now remains to be done is to attend to the customary red tape. At first he was inclined to insist upon your coming to get me. Finally he consented to allow Mother to sign the needed papers and to let me go down to New York alone. I am hoping to be released next week so that I can be with you on Easter Sunday.

I have just finished The Unseen Guest, and have found it of absorbing interest. In fact the impression it made on me is tremendous. It seems to supplement and clarify and support so startlingly the experience through which I have passed and the ideas with which I have been struggling. Once more, just as in that book of Freud’s, I have seemed to check up ad find my answer right. I suppose I am pre-disposed to accept this book at face value. Perhaps for this very reason I ought to be more cautious.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 25 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

A Little-Known Country, Part 23 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #74)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #74.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Isaiah 41:10 which reads, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from John Green. He said, “There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 23):

The following letter of February 14, 1921, to my old comrade-in-arms, Norman Nash, then teaching at the Episcopal School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers additional evidence of the growing interest in the mental hospital as my future field of work. It reveals also an excessively critical attitude.

Dear Norman:

Your inquiry as to my present whereabouts is not easy to answer. You will readily understand this when I tell you that I am at present an inmate of a hospital for the insane, where I was committed last October. As measured by the ability to work, to think straight and to maintain a fair degree of cheerfulness and confidence, I am now, so far as I can judge, as well as I ever was. But here I am, and no relief is in sight.

The cause of it all was an abnormal condition, similar to others I have had on four previous occasions. Each one of these has marked a turning-point in my life and, along with abnormal and pathological elements which I have always recognized, it has brought me what I have regarded as most sacred and most authoritative. This time I became bewildered and terrified until my sister in turn became frightened and I found myself committed. For three weeks I was in a violent delirium, which nearly proved fatal. Then on October 29, I seemed to wake up and in two more weeks I was as well as ever. But I am now in the hands of doctors who do not understand and with whose view-point I am quite at variance.

This catastrophe has of course destroyed my hopes and plans. I came back last July with the intention of taking a pastorate. From that I am now turned aside. My present purpose is to take as my problem the one with which I am here confronted. I believe that many forms of insanity are religious rather than medical problems and that they cannot be successfully treated until they are so recognized. The problem seems to me one of great importance not only because of the large number of sufferers involved, but also because of the religious and psychological and philosophical implications which inhere in it. I am sure that if I can make to it any contribution whatsoever, it will be worth the cost.

The hardest thing is to realize that those of us who are here are practically counted as among the dead. We have no standing in the eyes of the law. We have no rights. Our word counts for nothing, and our wishes, our feelings, our judgments are only so many reasons for doing otherwise. If I had to describe this place, I would say it is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the light is gone and the loved ones cut away, while those in control are industriously engaged in suppressing the symptoms which might lead to recovery, all too often through the agency of devils with the pitch-forks of authority in their hands. Over the door I would write, “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.” [All hope abandon, ye who enter here.]

Perhaps this is a bit strong, and yet I feel that it is not far from the truth. This is indeed a place of lost souls and the methods of treatment are nil. It is just a great prison which they call a “hospital.”

I am not complaining of my present treatment. I am living very comfortably, too comfortably. I am accomplishing nothing. I am rusting, and sometimes I get very impatient.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 24 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.

—PRAYER—

Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!