Dr C. Edward Pitt is a full time GP* and spare-time writer. He lives and works in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He is way too busy.
He has been studying and working in the medical profession since 1992. In that time he has gained the qualifications of MBBS (UQ) and the FRACGP. He spent a number of years in hospital paediatrics before getting sick of shift-work and moving into General Practice.
Since attaining his GP Fellowship in 2005, he has gained experience in many and varied areas of medicine including Skin Cancer Medicine, Cosmetic Medicine, Aged Care, and Sexual Health & Family Planning. He serves as independent medico-legal expert in the field of general practice, and serves in executive positions on a number of national and state level boards for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
His work has been published in a number of different spheres. In the early 2000’s, he was a regular writer for a nationally published Christian magazine, “Alive”. He published his first book in 2009, “Stress Out” and in 2015, he published “Fats and Figures”, a short book on heart health. He published a formal rebuttal to the work of Dr Leaf in 2013, “Hold That Thought: Reappraising The Work Of Dr Caroline Leaf”.
In early 2016, his first peer reviewed article was published, “Cutting through the Paleo hype: The evidence for the Palaeolithic diet” (Australian Family Physician, 2016 Jan/Feb; 45(1): 35-38)
His most recent work, “Kintsukuroi Christians: Turning mental brokenness into beauty” was published in 2017.
He is also a husband, father to two rambunctious small boys, coffee connoisseur, try-hard leg spinner, amateur actor and a terrible dancer. Whatever time he has left, he usually wastes it on Facebook!
(* GP is short for General Practitioner, also known as a Family Physician in some parts of the world)
Thanks for the Understanding Thought blog. I enjoyed it. And I thought you did a good job of a quick explanation of GWT and of our LIDA model. One small correction. We think the cognitive cycling rate is roughly 10 hz, not 20 hz [Madl, T., Baars, B. J., & Franklin, S. (2011). The Timing of the Cognitive Cycle. PLoS ONE, 6(4), e14803.] Also, a LIDA based account of so called unconscious driving can be found in [Franklin S, Baars BJ, Ramamurthy U, Ventura M (2005). The Role of Consciousness in Memory. Brains, Minds and Media, Vol.1, bmm150 (urn:nbn:de:0009-3-1505)]
Both are available directly online, or at .
Professor Franklin, thank you for taking the time to review the post, and for your very gracious complement. It is high praise indeed coming from a man of your vast intellectual stature. I have adjusted the blog accordingly, and I’ll be using the references you suggested to update my book’s manuscript when it’s due for review. Thanks again!
Matthew 7:3 3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
You might think you know who has the speck and who has the plank, but so many times, people who use this verse out of its context can’t see the forest for the trees. All the best to you.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Dr Leaf’s theories. I heard her speak over the weekend in Sydney and I was grieved to hear her speak about mental illness. I was mortified. Her ‘ministry’ is dangerous and needs to be questioned. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful commentary.
Thanks for the encouragement Simone. It’s much appreciated.
I agree with you about Dr Leaf’s teaching on mental illness. If I can encourage you, and anyone else who has significant concerns re: Dr Leaf, to respectfully make your concerns known to both your friends, and the national executive for the church organisation you’re a part of. Make your voice heard, respectfully and consistently. If everyone shares their concerns, then it’s more likely that action will be taken by our church leadership.
Again, thanks for the feedback, and all the best.
Thank you thank you thank you! I had the misfortune of hearing Dr Leaf speak today, and I was absolutely appalled at what she said. She was speaking at a church conference and it was disturbing to see about 1000 people slurping up very word she said. As someone who lives with depression, I was enraged at her ideas and claims about mental illness. A quote verbatim “Toxic thoughts lead to dementia and alzheimers.” I am so glad I came across your blog, you have given me some peace of mind (no pun intended). At least I know there are people out there challenging her work.
Hi Francelle – You’re welcome! I sincerely empathise with how you felt listening to Dr Leaf speak, and the reaction of congregation to her. I encourage you, like I encourage everyone who has had a similar reaction to Dr Leaf’s teaching, to make your voice heard. It’s only by politely but persistently raising our concerns that people will stop taking her claims seriously. So I suggest that you take the time to tell your friends about your concerns with Dr Leaf’s teaching, and also to write to your pastors, the organisers of the conference, and to your National Executive of the church body you belong to. If enough people make their voices heard, then our church leaders will have to relook at Dr Leaf’s teaching, which can only be a good thing. Take care.
I had the priviledge to meet dr Leaf about ten years ago in South Africa. She used to be a leader in her research on neoroscience. Many people was familiar with her name and she was frequently invited to present teaching courses in public- and private schools around the country. I did a course on the Geodesic Information Processing model. It was an excellent course and still use the metacogs in teaching my students. She is always friendly and helpful from what I remember. However, there is a definite shift in her teachings. It seems like she is concentrating more on new age teachings or mystical experience. She has moved away from truthful Biblical teachings towards experiental practice with a divinity out there. Although she is still using scripture as base, it is clear that it is a vehicle for her new age teaching to make it more believeable for Christians. Her teachings are very dangerous. She is a cultural change agent and does not fit the role of objective researcher any longer. Regretfully, I can no longer read her facebook entries or stand her speaking rubbish on her blog.
Hi Trix. Thanks for your comment. I think your historical perspective on Dr Leaf is very interesting. I do find her teachings disturbing, and her objectivity and her interpretation of scientific research is certainly open to debate. As for your suggestions about Dr Leaf’s teaching being a vehicle for New Age teaching, and that she is a cultural change agent … I’m not sure if I can speak to that one way or the other. My approach on this blog and in my book is to contrast her teaching to the current scientific research, and highlight discrepancies. I’m not an expert in New Age teaching, and I don’t want to venture beyond my knowledge and training. Whilst I can’t endorse your view, I have published your comment so that others can make up their own mind. Whether her teachings align with New Age teachings or not, I can say with confidence that her teachings are scientifically weak, and for that reason alone, they need to be revised.
Thanks for taking the time to share.
I find this discussion interesting especially in regards to what teachings are being labelled “new-age”. I have only watched a few of Caroline Leaf’s lectures on YouTube, so I’m not well versed in her teachings. I’m trying to ascertain weather I should read her books or not, but I’m also trying to discern the motives and intentions of those people criticizing her work.
In regards to new age beliefs, I would like some examples of what Trix considers new age teachings from Caroline Leaf.
When I look at a passage of the bible like Mark 11:22
(New International Version)
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
I wonder if Jesus’s words would be taken for new age belief. I also wonder how his words would be treated by those in the scientific community. Walking on water, telling mountains to jump…
Thanks for your comment. You raise some valid questions. Personally, I’m not well-versed in new-age teaching, and as such, I haven’t ever suggested that Dr Leaf is new age, though there are others on independent blog posts and commenters on this blog who have.
Without trying to second guess the views of others who comment here, but I think the idea that Dr Leaf’s teachings are new age comes from her assertion that you can fix everything on your own with just positive thinking. Perhaps Trix or other commenters would care to weigh in at this point and clarify the concerns about Dr Leaf’s new age links. Also, have a look at some other sites. Women of Grace (http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=40982) is one that I know of, but there may be others. I hope you’re able to find some satisfactory answers to your legitimate enquiries. Good luck. If you have any other questions or you’re willing to share what you’ve discovered, please feel free to comment again.
All the best.
I have read your critique of Dr. Leaf as well as her husband’s clear and responsible rebuttal.
Considering your medical credentials, family medicine, many would question YOUR qualifications to judge this very well-respected neuroscientist.
Marianne, thank you for your candour.
You’re welcome to believe whomever or whatever you like, though it’s a shame that your dismissal of my work rests primarily on the baseless assumption that family medicine is a second-rate form of medical care. General Practice is a medical specialty in its own right. To achieve the title of GP, one has to complete nearly ten years of university-level education. Dismissing my work on the grounds that I’m a GP is simply an an ad hominem logical fallacy.
Secondly, I’m yet to find convincing evidence that Dr Leaf is a neuroscientist. If you know of any university research positions she has held in neuroscience labs, or any journal articles on neuroscience that she has published, then please forward those details to me and I will happily publish a correction.
Thank you for your feedback. All the best to you.
Career path in becoming a Cognitive Neuroscientist
“DR. CAROLINE LEAF’S DEGREES”
Keep this site going, I am learning.
Hi Dr. Pitt. Thank you for moving beyond your reaction to this constructive response.
When I engage my PCP in the States, I am vis-a-vis a consumer of theoretical science as a whole. I expect my PCP to exercise judgment on my behalf for EVERY medical science that could be medically significant for ANY medical problem I present. I expect them to translate the theoretical in the interest of practical medical care. This is on some level an unreasonable expectation, but on every level it is at least non-trivial (borrowing a term from systems engineering). This fact should not be underestimated in the defense of your qualifications to judge Dr. Leaf as a peer practitioner. It should also be noted that unlike your professional structure, her popular structure allows her to own all of her successful translations and none of her failures.
It also might be helpful to consider Abraham Kuyper’s “You Can Do Greater Things Than Christ: Demons, Miracles, Healing and Science” translated by Dr. Jan H. Boer. I have been professionally encouraged by Dr. Kuyper’s perspective on science and engineering as a legitimate expression of gospel miracles in the ‘new creation’ of resurrection-centric Christianity.
Thanks for your very eloquent encouragement and summation of the complexity and breadth of primary care medical practice! And yes, it’s true that Dr Leaf does get to own her successes and ignore her failures (which she does with great effect, all of the time). If I get the chance, I will try and have a look at Kuyper’s book. Thanks for the recommendation.
All the best.
Your motto includes the word ‘love’ but I can’t hear much love in what you write.
All the articles I have read are spreading hate about one person whom you seem to be targeting.
Please reflect on your personal motives. What love and light are you bringing to the world? Why would you want to discourage people from believing that they can take control of their thoughts and that they have unique gifts to share with the world?
Jessica, I appreciate your forthright commentary. You make important points that I’m happy to address.
I admit that Dr Leaf’s teaching is a very common topic on this blog. As background, I have respectfully communicated my concerns about Dr Leaf privately, to Dr Leaf herself (via a proxy), and to various pastors including the National Executive of the Australian Christian Churches. I have also respectfully posted concerns with Dr Leaf’s teaching on her Facebook feeds, but was blocked from posting by Dr Leaf’s censors. And so this blog has become the primary platform for discussion and critique of Dr Leafs writing and teaching, out of necessity. However, I do not limit my writing to just a critique of Dr Leaf, but I also focus on a number of other topics and I critique a number of other pseudoscientific social media memes. Indeed, I have been working on subjects other than Dr Leaf for the last few weeks, hence why there has been a hiatus in my posts. Overall the last time I checked, I blog on Dr Leaf about 50% of the time.
While you may disagree, I don’t hate Dr Leaf personally, nor am I using this platform to spread hate as you suggest. I clearly disagree with her teaching and the “science” behind it, and I am simply critiquing her work. This is the way science happens, and indeed, this is the way all ideas and knowledge grow. We have a Biblical imperative to test everything and hold on to the good (1 Thess 5:21). Thus, I’m not doing anything that should not have already been done for anyone, Christian or non-Christian, who presents themselves as an expert.
I have reviewed my personal motives many times in my journey. I do not believe that I am acting in any way outside of my personal values, or Gods values. In Ephesians 4:14-15 we read “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” It’s my aim to speak the truth in love, so that the body of Christ grows more mature. This may seem critical, but central to this point is the question, love for whom? Should I not question Dr Leafs scientific interpretation just so I don’t offend her? What about the thousands of people around the world for whom Dr Leaf’s teaching misleads? Who is standing up for them? “Why would you want to discourage people from believing that they can take control of their thoughts and that they have unique gifts to share with the world?” I suggest you read my book in its entirety, but the short answer is that trying to control thoughts only leads to more psychological distress, while trying to prove anything with faulty science simply leads to false conclusions, and fails to do justice to whatever truth may have been present.
Dr Leaf had her chance to hear what I had to say in a private forum, but she declined to reply. Instead, her husband chose to arrogantly dismiss my questions and refused my offer to further engage. I have had an open invitation for Dr Leaf to respond to any of my public critiques, but to this day, she has chosen not to. So I will continue to provide an alternative viewpoint to Dr Leafs teaching, until such time that Dr Leaf is willing to review her factual basis for her teaching. My offer remains open – I will publish any response that she wishes to make. I am even willing to go a step further – I will meet with Dr Leaf while she is in Australia later this year, any date, anywhere in the country, if she is willing to meet face to face.
I said before that no one is above a formal critique, and my work is no different. If I’m factually errant, I will publicly apologise and publish a correction. Feel free to review my work and let me know if my assessment is incorrect. Please cite your sources, I will review them and correct my work as required.
I understand that many of Dr Leafs followers will dislike me and my work because I have the audacity to critique their hero. I’m sorry if you feel like I’m attacking her. But like I said, I encourage you to look beyond your personal support of Dr Leaf and review the facts I have highlighted. Ultimately you’re welcome to disagree with me, and even dislike me. But please consider the facts I have elucidated before you make your final decision.
I’m glad you mentioned “speaking the truth in love” my thoughts exactly and something to think on.
Jessica, I’ve spent time reading this blog after briefly watching Dr. Leaf speak on TBN (not a Christian station I endorse or frequent). I intentionally searched for another voice besides Dr. Leaf’s because hearing Dr. Leaf’s claims made me want to know who this person is making such absurd claims. She’s an excellent speaker. But long ago I had to learn just because I can discuss something authoritatively and well, doesn’t make me right. All that is needed to forward error is just a little bit of truth. My reaction to what I have read on this blog differs considerably from yours. I am pleased with Dr. Pitt’s sound reasoning, and more importantly, his tact and kindness is his discussion and responses. Not only is he asking legitimate questions, he is a true gentleman about it. Jessica, I would like to urge you to reconsider your strongly stated reaction to Dr. Pitt’s blog as “spreading hate”. To disagree and challenge another reasonably, politely and in a measured fashion is not hateful. Contrary to what your reply implies, Dr. Pitt is not attacking Dr. Leaf, he is questioning aspects of her teaching and asking for evidence of her knowledge in the area of cognitive studies and experience. I think he is being a responsible modern day Berean, biblically and medically, in questioning Dr. Leaf’s claims. Today’s culture touts the “hate” word anytime there is public discourse and disagreement. Dr. Pitt is asking reasonable questions.
“it’s second edition.”
I love your blog and the work you’re doing, but I’ve noticed that you have often used “it’s” when you mean “its.” This error occurs above, but I’ve also seen it in several of your blog entries, and some other sites you control. Just a friendly heads up! Your work debunking questionable science is great, so we don’t want any needless distractions like these.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks John. English was never my best subject at school, which is why I’m a doctor not a journalist I guess 🙂 Feel free to alert me to any other proof-reading errors that you happen to find and I’ll try to correct them ASAP. Thanks for your interest and encouragement.
Dr. Pitt, I appreciate and respect your humility and grace in every response. Your attitude speaks volumes. According to Dr. Leaf’s theories, you should live a very long and healthy life.
Hi Susan. Thanks for your warm encouragement, and for standing to my defence. It’s very much appreciated. Believe me when I say, Jessica was still fairly polite in what she said (there have been much worse comments on my blogs), and ultimately, everyone’s entitled to their opinions. But still, I appreciate your generous encouragement. Please spread the word of your concerns of Dr Leafs teaching to your friends and pastors. Warmest regards, Chris.
It looks like you are a busy man!
I trust your studies on Dr. Caroline Leaf
will force us to think.
My question in a prevous post are any of her ideas similar to the Four Temperament theory linked to the Fruits
of the Spirit by Dr. Tim
I can say both are fantastic speakers!
Interesting that you got no reply.
Hi IamAKMcCoy. I’m not sure if it’s that interesting. I do try to reply to most comments but I’m also quite busy at times, and it may have been that I meant to reply and simply got distracted by a myriad of other things. After all, I am still only human.
I’m sorry for not replying sooner. It was only when another person commented that this came back into my feed. I’m also very sorry that I’m not familiar with Dr La Haye’s teaching, especially the one you mentioned. So I can’t give you a definitive answer, sorry. Happy for you to enlighten us on the teaching of Dr La Haye if you would like.
All the best.
God bless you doctor!! I have been looking for intelligent responses to Caroline Leaf I am absolutely dismayed at how churches are spreading her fame. Instead of relying on the finished work of the cross she is teaching new age mumbo jumbo and people believe her. Infuriating.
Hi Jaana. Thanks for your feedback. I understand your frustration. The best antidote is to share the concerns you have about Dr Leaf’s teaching with others – talk with your friends about your concerns, and also talk to your pastors and write to the National Executive of the church denomination that you are part of, outlining your concerns. It’s only by voicing our concerns that people will start to take notice and reexamine Dr Leaf’s teachings. All the best to you.
I wrote to Q Commons: Hi folks,
Great to hear of your event in October. It attracted my attention as I am reading Guinness’s book on the Public square.
Trust it is a blessing to Christians and our society as a whole.
With that hope, I’d like to draw your attention to questions about the teaching of Dr Leaf.
This blog by Dr C Pitt is actually a model of the respectful, constructive conversation you hope to engender. The writer is a medical doctor and Christian. He raises serious questions about the validity of Dr Leaf’s teaching- which are not answered by her husband/spokesperson.
If you want to advance the cause of Christ in the public square in Australia, please reconsider the platform you are giving Dr Leaf.
G. C. BSc, B Min
30 years in university ministry, but not speaking for my organisation
Thank you very much for your affirmation. I’m grateful for your public support, and your willingness to share my work. I hope that more people will follow your example and stand against pseudoscience and for the truth.
All the best.
Brilliant. Just brilliant. Keep up the OUTSTANDING (and gracious) work! Don’t let up! My husband and I came across your blog whilst researching C. Leaf – as we are alarmed & disgusted with her teaching. And even more astounded that the church and alot of influential leaders are lapping it up. We’d like to know “WHO SWITCHED OFF YOUR DISCERNMENT, Church?”. “WE” are NOT the source of our well being, our health, our peace or ANYThING else! There is only One Worthy of that Honor! We are amazed how quickly beloved friends and fellow prayer ministry groups are being sucked into the deception. Especially since it is NOTHING new. Check references Church! Research WHO influenced the “scientists” who come up with this nonsense! And it is: NON-SENSE! IT IS NOT THE GOSPEL. It’s NOT in The Word.
Super-position and Quantum Thinking, New Thought, Neuroscience mind mapping has been around in New Age and occult for decades. It is nothing new or ground breaking for the 2000’s.
The church has opened the door to the demonic and is shutting OUT God and Holy Spirit. The church needs to turn and run in the other direction – back to Word and Spirit. There is NO substitute for Jesus! “We” don’t “co-create anything….we get to partake b/c of His GREAT mercy. My family and I are praying for leaders and the church. She (Leaf) came out of no where and very very quickly is teaching the Body of Christ all kinds of rubbish…mixed in with a wee little scripture here and there. But what is truly alarming is the number of mature Christian leaders who oughta know better. It is NOT hard to “debunk Leaf’s teachings and hype” – one doesn’t have to research very long to come up with EXACTLY everything you have written.
You are spot On Bro! and we appreciate you and are relieved someone has the guts to stand up for The Truth and contend for the faith SO graciously! You shine Christ, and make sense.
We LOVE the Church and we love the many leaders who have fallen for and promoted this rubbish, GLOWINGLY we might add. As tho they were entranced.
When they come to their senses and realize how the enemy slipped in right under their noses – we pray that they won’t be crushed but that they would arise in strength and The Word and BE the Bride of Christ.
This is TYPICAL NEW AGE teaching AND tactics. To us – it is so obvious she is as you say a ‘self proclaimed neuroscientist’. C.Leaf is not the only one in the Church teaching this ridiculous tatt. There are some evangelical, catholic and pentecostals churches teaching the same sort of rubbish, all proudly quoting New Age leaders and atheists as well, not really realizing what they signed up for. or do they?
We have GOT to be discerning and KEEP OUR ARMOUR ON! 30 years ago in America it was plain that this kind of “stuff” was New Age and occultic and you knew NOT to ‘pick up that book’. NOW; it’s so subtle and mixed up with everything else – it really takes a discerning heart to weed it out. It’s WHEAT and TARES time. And the TARE might be teaching or influencing your Pastor! AND WAIT! WHAT does science have to offer the church? the lost? NOTHING. IT IS NOT THE GOSPEL!!!! It doesn’t ‘prove’ the bible. God Almighty needs ‘proving’ ? Our God, Creator of the Universe, who sent His Son Jesus Christ to redeem us, Who gave The Holy Spirit to help us…and we “need” to buy a 21 day detox for our brain? What an insult to a HOLY GOD! Science doesn’t prove the bible. The bible doesn’t need “proving” – you either believe it or you don’t. You’re either a friend of God or a friend of the world.
This has really touched a nerve in us. We will NOT let up about this teaching by C.Leaf nor anyone else teaching this total deception. My husband and I pray we are as calm and wise as you have been in explaining the DANGER of this type of teaching – we are thrilled to have found you and that you “see” and “hear” rightly and have the courage to speak out FOR THE SAKE OF The Church and NOT to beat anyone down…we see it. This is very dangerous teaching. It’s NOT The Gospel and it does NOT glorify God but only focuses on ‘self’ and man. We are not even convinced when Dr leaf speaks. She should NOT be teaching the Church of Jesus Christ. Period.
Let alone our children.
She may be a nice woman. She may even be a Christian. Only God knows a mans heart. BUT her teaching is wrong. It’s NOT the Gospel. It is New Age whether she realizes it or not. She too is deceived. BUT THERE is Hope, Amen. His Name is JESUS.
God bless you and yours,
May you be encouraged and lifted up as you continue in doing good; getting the word out there and informing the people. Jesus warned us about these days when MANY will be mislead. The Holy Spirit EXPRESSLY warns about these days in I Timothy 4:1 “some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”.
we too, should warn and prepare the church, those days are HERE.
Yours in Christ,
2 Peter 2
Thanks for your enthusiastic and passionate support.
I wholly agree with you about how the church has uncritically embraced Dr Leaf’s teachings. I can’t really comment on any similarities between Dr Leaf’s teaching and New Age teaching, as my expertise is more related to the science, though a number of other commenters have made similar observations.
I also wanted to encourage you not to throw out science because of one rogue ‘scientist’. Science studies the truth of the natural world. It doesn’t prove the Bible as you say, but it also doesn’t negate the Bible. My favourite quote, which reflects my philosophy in this, comes from William H. Bragg, British physicist, chemist, mathematician and Nobel Prize recipient,
“From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.”
I encourage you to openly discuss the concerns that you have with Dr Leaf’s teaching with your friends and pastors. It’s through each one of us speaking out that the truth will ultimately shine through.
All the best to you.
Brilliant quote from Bragg!!!
“From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it.”
Would God agree that man’s power to achieve the unique purpose He has given to each of us comes from science (i.e. the study of the natural world)?
I’ll answer the question for anyone who is struggling to respond. No, He wouldn’t.
A true believer of Christ DOES NOT receive their power from the study of the natural world (i.e. science). This premise is aligned to Romans 1:25 thinking and is prideful. Pride is subtle and cunning and looks to man’s strength. God resists the proud (I Peter 5:5)!
I have respect for science. It is a way of study. It is a tool. And it is also LIMITED. And it is full of error because it is developed from mankind who is flawed and imperfect.
Now, when a person is in Christ they are new creatures as they take on the mind of Christ. All things are new in the life of a Christian who draws to God and God draws to them (2 Corinthians 5:17, James 4:5-10)!
The only source of power for a Christian should be God Himself (i.e. Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
Matthew 28:18 KJV – “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
This is simple biblical truth.
Again, if any Christian dares to deny that science is not man’s source of power to achieve their purpose…PLEASE do a word study on power in the Bible and find the true and only source of power.
Please don’t allow the prestige of William H. Bragg to draw you away from the glory of God. The enemy of our soul, satan, attempted that and we know how it played out and we know how it will end.
Your favorite quote, Dr. Pitt, begins with a sentence that is a lie. Please don’t accept the lie.
Dr. Pitt, with the exception of the gross error of quoting William H. Bragg, I look forward to reading more of your writings. I will do so with discernment and with the love of Jesus.
I greatly appreciate the grace in which you present your disagreement. We need more of this in the Body of Christ when we do not agree with one another.
I have learned some good things from Dr. Leaf from a recorded teaching of her speaking that was published in 2014. I intend to research more of what she has to say and I will research differing opinions within the Body of Christ. You’re included in that list.
My litmus test for everything is always the Bible. God explains Himself and our world best and forever without error. Listening to the Holy Spirit makes it easy and He will guide me to Truth (Psalm 32:8, Matthew 11:30, John 16:13).
John 14:6 KJV – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
I am not enamored with awarded and degreed men and women. I love God. I love His people who put His Word first and live it and have simple & supernatural results to show. I love the world and I want souls to be saved.
I accept whatever you have to say that lines up with Truth. Prayerfully, you will do the same.
Thanks for your comment. I apologise that it’s taken me a while to reply – I’ve been snowed under by a lot of deadlines in the last week or two, which pushed many things aside including attention to the blog.
I appreciate your passion and your intent, and I think we would agree on principle, but not on all details.
For example, let me answer your question, “Would God agree that man’s power to achieve the unique purpose He has given to each of us comes from science (i.e. the study of the natural world)?”
My reply is that I can not speak for God. His ways are higher than our ways. It would be somewhat immodest and presumptive for me to suggest that I know how God thinks and feels.
However, I’m willing to use the power of deductive reasoning to put forward some theories. It may be that there are many ways in which he has empowered us to achieve his will. After all, if our only source of power was the Holy Spirit, then we wouldn’t need the massive brain that he has given to us. Perhaps science is one of those ways, as well as the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it depends on what you’re trying to achieve?
So I don’t deny your argument that we need the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible certainly makes that clear. But God gave us a brain as well. We would do well to use it too.
Further, when it comes to quotes, we have to remember that they’re general in nature. So Bragg’s quote isn’t meant to be specific and directive, but reflective of a general position. Therefore, Bragg’s quote isn’t necessarily ‘a lie’. It’s correctness depends on understanding its context and application. That’s dependent on the reader as much as it is dependent on the quote.
I understand the sentiment behind your statement, “My litmus test for everything is always the Bible. God explains Himself and our world best and forever without error. Listening to the Holy Spirit makes it easy and He will guide me to Truth (Psalm 32:8, Matthew 11:30, John 16:13).”
But in fairness, the Bible is not a science textbook. I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover. I’ve never read anything in the Bible about quantum mechanics, or even basic physics, or human anatomy, or pharmacology, or ornithology or whatever branch of science you choose to use as an example. So all of the Bible is God’s truth, and we would do well to pay more attention to the Bible in everyday life, but the Biblical text is not scientific text.
To conclude, while I respect your opinion, Bragg’s quote still remains one of my favourites. I agree with a number of your statements, and I certainly don’t deny the power of the Holy Spirit, but I think real life is nuanced and not as black and white as your argument presumes. It’s not sinful to accept the power inherent in the knowledge of science. It’s only sinful to elevate the knowledge of science above God as we see demonstrated by secular evolutionists and scientists.
I hope that my reply has given your comment the respect that it deserves. I appreciate anyone that is willing to look beyond the superficial and delve into the arguments proposed. I’m always open to feedback if you find there is anything in my writing that you disagree with (or agree with). Thanks for taking the time to offer your opinion.
All the best to you.
Hi TL ,may I direct you bsck to the beginning of the bible man was made into the IMAGE OF GOD,meaning that just like Adam was created to GOD IMAGE SO ARE EVERY PERSON WALKING THIS EARTH,to be created to your CREATOR IMAGE MEANS WE TALK ,THINK, DO LIKE HIM,and no where in the bible is there any RECORD OF CHRIST BEING SICK MENTAL DISTURBED OR DEPRESSED and we are taught in the bible,that if we accrpt tge SON OF GOD AS OUR SAVIOR ,WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD now which FATHER WILL GIVE HIS CHILDREN ANY SICKNESS, DESEASE ,MENTAL DISTURBANCE we do live in a fallen and broken world due to the first ADAM DISOBEDIENCE BUT THE SECOND ADAM CAME AND MADE EVEYTHING KNEW ,NOW IT OUR CHOICE TO BELIEVE DEUTRONOMIC 28 WHERE GOD GIVES US THE CHOICE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH that will be talking about SPIRITUAL LIFE SEEING EVERY PERSON DIES ,long beforecDR LEAF CAME ON THE PICTURE GOD DID SAY AS A MAN THINK IN HIS HEART WHICH IS ACTUALY OUR SPIRIT,SO WILL HE BE,it is not NEW AGE THINKING TO HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE YOUR LIFE ACCORDING TO YOUR THINKING to judge dr Leaf on qouting scripture and using the bible ad her platform is that all her critics does NOT KNOW THE BIBLE and has formed there ownn opinions of GOD AND HIS WORD, the MAJORITY OF THE CHRISTIANS OUT THERE CANT BE WRONG WHEN WE TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD AND IN FAITH BELIEVE WE CAN HAVE THE LIFE GOD INTENDED US TO HAVE WHEN HE FIRST CREATED MAN and SAD TO SAY TO ALL DR LEAF CRITICS ,YOU HAVE WHAT YOU THINK snd SAY IT IS CLEARLY WRITTEN IN THE BIBLE ROMAN 10 SAYS FAITH COMES BY HEARING SO IF YOU ARE GOING TO HEAR ALL DAY LONG YOUVARE USELESSVOR YOU DEPRESSEDVOR STRESSED OUT GEUSS WHAT YOUVARE BECOMING WHAT YOU HEAR,the MAJORITY FAITH BELIEVING CHILDREN OF GOD DOES NOT NEED DR LEAF TO POINT OUT WHAT GOD HAD ALREADY MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE ,BUT WE DO APPRECIATED HER TEACHING ON HOW TO APPLY THIS TRUTH TO OUR LIVES,SEEING THAT THE CHURCH IN THE PAST TAUGHT US THAT GOD IS A GOD OF REVENGE SND PUNISHMENT and THAT HE IS OUT THEREVTO PUNISH US ,NOW WITH THE REVELATION KNOWLEDGE OF GOD GRACE AND MERCY BEING TAUGHT THAT HE IS A GOOD FATHER AND HE HAS GOOD PLANS FOR US ACCORDING TO JERHEMIA 29 WE SURLEY WANT TO APPLY DR LEAF TEACHING ON HOW TO BENEFIT FROM RIGHT THINKING for all the dr and scientis we glad you out there taking care of the sick, even christians needs dr,and JESUS one dissiple LUKE was a dr,the lady withvthe blood issue had the right thinking that JESUS CAN HEAL HER subconsiousley she already knew thatJESUS was the ONE of who the prohets were speaking , she must have heard OF ALL TH MIRACLES JESUS PERFORMED AND FAITH CAME BY WHAT SHE HEARDand when she PUT HER THINKING INTO WORDS SHE GOT WHAT SHE WAS HOPING FOR we can LEARN FROM HER KNOW GOD WORD MEDITATE ON IT AND THEN AD THE BIBLE TEACH CALL THOSE THINGS THAT BE NOT AS THOUGH THEY ARE IT IS WRITTEN OF ABRAHAM IN ROMANS 4 IF YOU SICK CALL HEALING,IF YOU DEPRESSED CALL FOR PEACE AND SOUND MIND AFTERALL JESUS WAS CRUSIFIEDFIRVIYR SICKNES AND SINSO THAT WE CAN BE FREE FROM SICKNESS AND SIN PARDON ME IF THERE ARE SOME SOELLING MISTAKES
There are many things I could say to you, but I’ll keep it short. I appreciate your passion, but I suggest you review your theology. Your deification of thought is symptomatic of your misinterpretation of scripture, namely Proverbs 23:7, but also Deuteronomy 28, and Luke 8:40-56. I think you should also review your understanding of the concept of Grace. We are imperfect human beings. On earth, we are being “changed into his image, from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18), which implies ongoing imperfection. The Apostle Paul was told by God that Pauls weakness was an opportunity for God’s strength and grace to flow through (2 Cor 12:9), again which implies that we are flawed. We do not become God-like through the power of our thinking but by living in God’s grace.
I would also encourage you to learn the power of punctuation. A 584 word sentence without a single period is disturbing. And you may not be aware, but writing something in ALL CAPITALS is the text equivalent of yelling. You might be making some valid points here and there, but it’s very hard to tell amongst what appears to be semi-coherent ranting.
All the best to you.
Yes indeed. I agree, you are right. Thank you kindly for that. I admit that after following the research and discovering the influences that influenced CLeaf – we were quite astonished the Church hadn’t picked up on it (yet). Not to mention her list of ‘recommended reading’ – is pretty surprising coming from a Christian (i.e. Tony Buzan, Carl Sagan) +.
I like the way you say it here. I like William H Bragg too. A very admirable man, as are you.
Thanks for all you do!
All the best to you as well, and all your loved ones.
Standing for the Truth,
I stumbled across your blog while doing background research on Dr. Caroline Leaf after yet another friend of mine recommended Dr. Leaf’s books to me. I’ve been reviewing her authorship list. She lists three articles in a publication called “Therapy Africa.” Not PubMed, Scopus nor Google yield any hits for a journal (or publication) called “Therapy Africa.” Have you come across anything about it?
Hi AJ. Just quickly, the only PubMed listed articles of Dr Leafs are the three that were published in the South African Journal of Communication Disorders in the late 1990’s. I did a Publish Or Perish search on her a couple of years ago and there were no other hits or significant numbers of citations. I haven’t come across “Therapy Africa” either. If you find any other original articles that she’s written, please send them through or send me the link. Thanks, and all the best.
Thanks for the confirmation. I appreciate the work you’ve put into researching the important details.
I’ve only read Dr Leaf’s who switched off my brain? book so I can’t comment on her other works. As I see it, she isn’t espousing New Age principles nor is she deviating from reliance on the Holy Spirit as our source of help as some of the commenters here have said. I don’t see anything wrong or shady with what she wrote. A lot of the argument here is about her not having the credentials to being a neuroscientist and I wonder how someone will not want to describe Bill Gates as a great computer scientist, though he doesn’t have a degree. Truth is, we’re living in the information age and everyone could practically teach themselves to be great at something. On top of that, Leaf doesn’t do away with Jesus, prayer, or the Holy Spirit in her book. In fact she gives much credit to Scriptures. True, the science presented in the book can and may contain errors – I haven’t done my share of personal research – but as it is, I don’t see anything that may negatively affect someone’s faith in God. As I see it, she’s giving us a tangible way of renewing our minds. There’s nothing wrong with her approach. We are taught in the Bible to renew our minds, to eat of Jesus’s flesh (which is the Word), to call those things which are not as though they were, and Leaf gives a way to do just that. It’s not like she’s saying to renew our minds by replacing old thoughts with ‘positive thoughts’ – no, she’s actually saying to renew the mind with what’s in the scriptures. I’m a believer that sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, but I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that we are to consume and meditate on the Word day and night, right? Doesn’t Leaf’s method indirectly put this into motion? Her teaching will not distract me from praying, going to church, bible studies, relying on the Holy Spirit, etc. It just adds to these. Focus less on the scientific details because even if it may contain errors, the process she lays out still can benefit anyone in their walk with God. As a final note, we should focus more on the magnification of God in her work because it’s there.
Thanks for your comment. I understand where you’re going with it. I agree with your general sentiment, but I think there are a number of specifics which are more important than you realise or acknowledge.
For example, I agree that Dr Leaf doesn’t deny scripture, and doesn’t dissuade people from praying, going to church, bible studies, relying on the Holy Spirit, etc. However:
1. Dr Leaf’s use of scripture is misleading more often than not; she regularly paraphrases and takes scripture out of context. And she draws extremely tenuous links with scripture and science. Dr Leaf may not deny scripture, but she doesn’t truely honour it.
2. Dr Leaf goes further than just providing a tangible way of renewing the mind. Dr Leaf and her Facebook minions regularly recommend her programs as medical therapy, or at least, recommend her programs to people that clearly need professional medical advice instead. She also actively criticises medical and psychological therapies for mental health, specifically anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.
This is where questions of her qualifications and her scientific acumen are vital. ‘Cognitive neuroscientist’ is a specific academic title, based on the specific field of research that a person does. It denotes specific qualifications and ongoing research in a specific field, which Dr Leaf clearly does not have and does not do. If nothing else, the improper use of the title opens her up to accusations of deliberate dishonesty. Though more importantly, because her claim to be a cognitive neuroscientist has been accepted without question, she now promotes herself, and is promoted by churches as, a mental health expert. This is even further from the truth, but this has not stopped her from making scientifically inaccurate claims about the safety and efficacy of psychotropic medications, which directly put people in danger. You may think that her qualifications or her scientific accuracy aren’t that important, but please reconsider. They have real life implications for the health and life of those who take her at her word.
I also come back to trust as the other key issue. If her science is grossly inaccurate, then how can she call herself an expert? How can she be trusted to stand at the pulpit and accurately teach a sound interpretation of science? And how can she accurately interpret scripture, in which she has not been formally trained, when she can’t accurately interpret science, in which she has been formally trained?
One might use the argument, as you have, that living in an information age, one could teach oneself anything. However, the skill is in 1. finding the correct information and 2. applying it correctly. I have patients coming in every day who have consulted Dr Google, found lots of information and tried to apply it, but they have usually found the wrong information, and/or incorrectly applied it. Dr Leaf has got lots of information, but I would estimate that more than 95% is misinterpreted and/or misapplied.
So, all I can encourage you to do is to continue to review Dr Leaf’s work and mine, and the science that we both cite. If your final conclusion remains unchanged, than that’s fine by me. Personally, I think that vaguely scriptural and 5% correct isn’t adequate, and I think she should be held to a higher standard, but hey, that’s just my opinion.
All the best to you.
I work in the mental health field and I stumbled upon this discussion and although I don’t know much about you or Dr. Leaf and I have not read any books by either of you I am interested in your statement to Jessica:
“…but the short answer is that trying to control thoughts only leads to more psychological distress, “
Because II Corinthians 10:5 tells us to: “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
Would you please be so kind as to reconcile your statement with the verse in II Corinthians?
Thank you for your time.
Thanks very much for raising this point and requesting clarification. It’s a good question, and I’m more than happy to give you my take on the verse.
Starting with the verse in it’s broader context:
“By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ towards you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ Such people should realise that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.” (NIV UK)
This is the first half of 2 Corinthians 10, specifically v 1-11. In this context, it appears that this chapter is a specific rebuke to some of the Christians within the church at Corinth, and also a defense against some of the murmurings and accusations that some in that church were levelling at Paul. For example, in verse 2, “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.”
Verses 3-6 are a specific and authoritative rebuttal against the accusations levelled at Paul, paraphrased as, “You may speak against us and the church, but we have weapons that smash strongholds, and we’re coming to take down those pretensions of yours and take every thought of yours captive to make it obedient to Christ, and punish every act of disobedience …”
So to me, the text seems to be quite specific in its function, rather than a general command. The “we” in the verses is Paul and his supporters and the “your” in the verses is the Corinthian church to whom the letter is addressed.
This conclusion is supported by the way Paul writes in verse 6, “And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” If all Christians are meant to bring every thought into captivity, then all Christians should also be punishing every act of disobedience once obedience is complete (which we don’t routinely do).
The specific nature of the verse is also supported by some Bible commentary: “But how does St. Paul meet the charge of being carnally minded in his high office? “Though we walk in the flesh [live a corporeal life], we do not war after the flesh,” or “according to the flesh,” the contrast being in the words “in” and “according.” And forthwith he proceeds to show the difference between walking in the flesh and warring according to the flesh. A warrior he is, an open and avowed warrior – a warrior who was to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; a warrior too who would punish these Judaizers if they continued their disorganizing work; but a prudent and considerate warrior, deferring the avenging blow till “I am assured of your submission” (Stanley) “that I may not confound the innocent with the guilty, the dupes with the deceivers.” What kind of a preacher he was he had shown long before; what kind of an apostle he was among apostles as to independence, self-support, and resignation of official rights in earthly matters, he had also shown; further yet, what kind of a sufferer and martyr he was had been portrayed.” (C. Lipscomb – http://biblehub.com/commentaries/homiletics/2_corinthians/10.htm)
Similarly, the translation from the original text is more specific than general. The verb used for “bringing into captivity” is aichmalōtízō, “to make captive: – lead away captive, bring into captivity” which is in the Present Active Participle form of the verb. The present tense represents a simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in actual time. The active voice represents the subject as the doer or performer of the action. The Greek participle corresponds for the most part to the English participle, reflecting “-ing” or “-ed” being suffixed to the basic verb form. Actions completed but ongoing or commands are different verb tenses (see https://www.blueletterbible.org/help/greekverbs.cfm for a better explanation). So Paul wasn’t making a general statement, but a specific statement about what he would do in his present time, not the future.
So, does the Bible tell us to bring every thought captive into obedience to Christ? Personally, I don’t think so. I’d suggest a verse which better clarifies what God wants for our thought life is Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian church in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Both the context, and the form of the verb, suggest that this is an ongoing command. And it makes better sense to me … if we spend all of our time trying to fight against every thought that comes into our head, we’d become exhausted, but we can divert attention to those things that are worthy of our attention. And in many ways, what Paul is encouraging is what would be considered now as simple meditation, which has some science behind it, and I think it also fits with the ACT framework, and mindfulness.
I’m sorry if my explanation sounds a little pedantic, but I think so often, we read the Bible and see what other people have told us, or sung in a song, or read somewhere in a blog, and not looked at the meaning of the text, hence why I’m going to some pains to justify my position, to show that I’m not just jumping to conclusions.
I also recognise that I am not a trained theologian, and if someone with better Bible training wants to disagree and point out any flaws I may have in my logic or interpretation, I’m happy to be corrected.
But thanks for your very important question. I hope I’ve given it the respect it deserves.
All the best to you.
Instead of bashing Dr. Leaf’s work try working with Dr. Leaf. Offer your expert advise on the issues of the mind / brain and their functions with a Christian base. It is not Christian like to bash someone you are to lift them up. This big world has so many people that need expert advice from a true believer of Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing it would be for brilliant minds to work together for the good of people not to belittle each other. After all there is only one perfect one and is name is Jesus.
Thanks for your concern.
There are a couple of things that need to be stated here:
1. To clarify, my purpose here is not to ‘bash’ Dr Leaf, which implies that my intention is personal and malicious. Rather, I write to hold Dr Leaf accountable, and to provide an alternative argument to her teaching. Dr Leaf doesn’t need my praise, she has over 200,000 worshippers on Facebook alone. What she needs is accountability, which SHOULD come from her husband, her pastor, her editor, and the “team of professionals” that she claims to have around her. But clearly they have been derelict in their duty, and so it’s been left to me. I will gladly relinquish the role when those closest to her start doing their job.
2. For the record, I have been more than willing to offer my expert opinion to Dr Leaf.
When I first heard her speak, I e-mailed my concerns to the pastor of the church who hosted Dr Leaf, who then forwarded them to her directly. Her husband dismissed my concerns out of hand. They have had my email address since that time, and I have made several public open invitations to meet with Dr Leaf anywhere in Australia or New Zealand, to discuss her teaching and my concerns. She has never taken up the offer, although the invitation remains open, and will do so indefinitely.
I even tried to be the bigger person when she was last in my hometown, and went up to her to introduce myself after she finished speaking at a local church, only to be blocked by her bodyguards, as though I was either unworthy or unwelcome.
So I have made every effort to communicate directly to her, all of which so far have been either rebuffed or ignored. The natural consequence is that my critique has been forced into the public sphere, since Dr Leaf has ignored any private olive branch that I’ve offered. Her choice, I guess, but like I said earlier, my offer to meet remains open indefinitely – I will meet Dr Leaf face to face anywhere in Australia or New Zealand if she’s genuinely willing to hear when I have to say.
Thanks for being bold and open in your willingness to raise your concerns. I appreciate it. All the best to you.
Amen to Loretta’s last reply. I’m new here and from what I’ve sensed from your writings, Sir, is that you really don’t like Dr. Leaf and her teachings. It sounds like you are wanting to get her to stop expressing what she believes to be true after 35 years of study and hands on experience in private practice. I’m very critical myself, and I don’t see anything wrong with her teachings thus far. But one day I may stand corrected. However, from my point of view, speaking in such strong language which you and others do against Dr. Leaf sends a message of discourse to those reading who are not of the faith and does shed a negative light on what is supposed to be the most wonderful thing in the world, which is to have a relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ. Who wants to come into the church to face the same arguing and contention that is in the world?
It’s not my writing that creates discord but Dr Leaf’s own teaching is the negative witness to those who are not Christian. Anyone with any scientific training can easily see the flaws in her teaching, and the fact that Christians follow her uncritically just reinforces their assumptions that Christians are gullible fools. If you think my language is strong, you should see how she is discussed in non-Christian circles. I am positively polite compared to some of her other critics. Who wants to come into the church to face the same arguing and contention that is in the world? I don’t know, but there are a lot of people out there who do not want to come into a church that isn’t willing to think critically or pursue accountability.
Thanks for your comment.
What a relief to find your blog! I have been to a single sermon given by Dr. Leaf given in Canada and what I heard was so infuriating that I very nearly walked out. For some reason patience and politeness prevailed and I stayed where I was (percolating with frustration at the deception playing out before me). I am not a scientist, but am enthusiastic enough about science to know that what I was hearing was not only inaccurate but also misleading.
Your criticism here has convinced me that my gut instincts were not wrong and, as I said, that is a relief. I would like to commend you for the respectful tone you have managed to maintain on this blog and in your dealings with people who comment here. I appreciate you sharing your criticism in such a genuine manner. It would be tempting (and is, in fact very tempting for someone like me) to go off on a scathing rant. Well done for not doing that!
It am glad to know that you are able to balance your scientific and spiritual selves without being drawn into a lot of negativity.
Thank you for maintaining this excellent resource for thoughtful people.
Thanks very much for your encouraging feedback. It’s always very much appreciated.
I’m naturally a ‘scathing ranter’ as well 🙂 so I understand how challenging it is to sit through a sermon where every fibre of your being is telling you it’s all rubbish. Kudos to you for maintaining your decorum. Can I encourage you to channel that frustration into something positive by telling the people around you why you were frustrated with Dr Leaf, and what you thought she was misleading her audience on. It’s only through persistent, polite discussion with those around us that others will know that Dr Leaf’s teaching is not acceptable mainstream science.
I would also encourage you to write a polite letter to the pastors of the church where you heard Dr Leaf preach and tell them of your concerns, and also consider doing the same to the executive council of the church organisation that the hosting church belongs to. Again, pastors and church leadership need to be aware of the legitimate concerns there are with Dr Leaf’s ministry.
You’re welcome to use any of the information I have on this blog or in my book (Smashwords = https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/466848 or iBooks = https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/hold-that-thought/id908877288?mt=13) as part of your broader discussion with others.
Again, thanks very much for the encouragement, it helps me a lot. All the best.
Jealous much? You’re not even trained in Psychiatry, Psychology, brain science or research! Just because you hold a medical degree you think you can criticize someone else who had spent 35 years in the field??!!
Why would you deter people from doing what scripture teaches to take ALL THOUGHTS INTO CAPTIVITY?
Thank you for taking the time to comment. I respect your right to an opinion, and your right to express that opinion. You’re more than welcome to judge me, and make assumptions about my motives. Though it’s a pity that you’ve approached what I have to say with such a closed mind. I don’t mind fair criticism, but if the best rebuttal you can muster is a reference to a chiropractor and a speculative assumption about my motivation, then that’s rather pitiful. And ironic, trivialising my experience as an actual medical doctor while blindly accepting the work of two ‘doctors’ who may use the title but have no actual medical training. At least Dr Leaf has a PhD, but your reference to “Dr” Dispenza simply exemplifies a facile ignorance.
I suggest you read my post ‘Dr Caroline Leaf and the nonsense of negative thinking’ https://cedwardpitt.com/2016/02/09/dr-caroline-leaf-and-the-nonsense-of-negative-thinking/ because I have gone into great detail why Paul wasn’t telling all Christians to ‘take every thought into captivity’. I also suggest that you read https://cedwardpitt.com/2014/07/25/dr-caroline-leaf-dualism-and-the-triune-being-hypothesis/ or https://cedwardpitt.com/2015/01/18/dr-caroline-leaf-and-dualism-revisited/, or just about any other of the dozens of posts about why the mind does not control the brain.
Or go and find the mother of a child with Cerebral Palsy and suggest to them that their child’s condition has nothing to do with their brain, but it’s all to do with their mind. Quote Dr Dispenza to them if you want. See how they react. Probably not well, because insisting that the mind controls the brain is not only unscientific and nonsensical, but also insensitive and insulting to those with brain injuries, strokes, or any number of developmental disorders including those with ADHD and autism.
You may think that my beliefs are archaic, but I strongly urge you to reconsider.
All the best to you.
Sir as a child of God I dont get into arguments about God or His Word, capital letters is my way of expressing what I find important, if you dont believe that THE POWER OF OUR WORDS HAVE VALUE IN THE EARS OF GOD it is your opinion, what I do know Proverbs 18 teaches there IS LIFE AND DEATH ON OUR TONGUE and pardon my mistake it was DEUTERONOMY 30, 19 that gives us the choice to life or death ,and not DEUTERONOMY 28 ,and SPIRITUAL GIANTS LIKE ORAL ROBERTS ,KENNETH HAGIN ,CREFLO DOLLAR, KENNETH COPELAND, BENNY HINN ,PAT ROBERTS, JOHN HAGEE ,ANDREW WOMMACK ,JOYCE MEYER JUST NAMING A FEW MUST THEN ALL BE IN THE WRONG FOR TEACHING ON WOLD TV AND RADIO THE POWER IF OUR WORDS, like you being a proffesional in your field of science,these MEN of GOD IS PROFFESIONALS IN THERE FIELD ,imperfect YES ! but being a victum of your own thoughts and words is our choice,we cant even blame the devil,because CHRUST gave us authirity over him,JESUS also warned us that the devil us a thief who came to steal ,kill,destroy,but HE JESUS came that we shall have life abundantly, being sick and suffering with cancer,or any other desease ,being mentally tormented, IS NOT THE WORKS OF A KIND COMPASSION JESUS WHO WENT AROUND AND HEALING ALL AND STILL HEALS TODAY THROUGH THE POWER OF OUR FAITH FILLED WORDS AND THROUGH DOCTERS, even Benny Hinn a pastir who has prayed over the 30 years for the sick,,saw more miracels than the ordinary pastor,had a HEART SURGERY , but because of his choise to SPEAK HEALING SCRIPTURES FROM GODS WORD OVER HIMSELF HIS RECOVERY WAS REMARKABLE ,he could have become s victm of self pity and quitt preaching ,but he is still preaching the gospel of Jesus all over the worldmsnd he himself has some of the best docters on his tv shows ,the reason , some of the people he prayed for and received healing became sick,and that bothered him,because we know JESUS DOES A PERFECT WORK WHEN HE HEALS but due to man own folly of unhealthy lifestyles and eating and wrong thinking they become victims ,unless the bible is at fault why woukd it encourage us in ROMANS 12 ,1,2 TO GIVE OURSELVES TO GOD AS A LIVING SACRIFICE AND TO RENEW OUR THOUHGTS,and not renewing only for our spirit ,but for spitrit ,soul,and body and paul himself says we should not be conformed to this world,and ad I see and hear ,this world we living in,is full of HARMFUL NEGATIVE TALKING,and please consider what GOD said in JEREMIHA 29 HE HAS ONLY GOT GOOD PLANS FOR US AND JESUS SAID ABUNDANT LIFE NOT IN HEAVEN ONE DAY BUT NOW ON EARTH and it us up yo us to CHOOSE HOW WE THINK AND SPEAK TO HAVE THIS GOOD PLANS OF GOD FALLING DAILY IN PLACE, it is a INSULT TO GOD WHEN WE BLAME IT ON THE SOVERENTHY OF GOD TO THINK HE GIVES US SICKNESS ,IT IS NOT GOD WILL FOR US TO BE SICK BECAUCE BEFORE THE CRUCIFICTION OF CHRIST SICKNESS WAS A CURSE AND WHEN JESUS DIED HE TOOK ALL CURSES ON HIM the WORD TEACHES THROUGH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED NOT GOING TO BE HEALED IN HEAVEN, if a genuine compssionate caring doctor had a choice WOULD HE RATHER PREVENT SICKNESS OR WOULD HE ALLOW PEOPLE TO GET SICK AND THEN OFFER HEALTH SOLUTION,
Leonie, I suggest you step back and have a cold shower, and relook at the words you’re saying. You start off claiming that “as a child of God I dont get into arguments about God or His Word”, and then proceed to have an argument with me about God and his word. You also seem to be operating on a number of false premises and assumptions. Why do you assume that all of those preachers you mentioned preach the power of thoughts? Why do you assume they’re right? Suggesting that they can’t be wrong because they’re all ‘professionals in their field’ is the Appeal to Authority fallacy. Saying that they can’t be wrong because so many others believe it too is the Appeal to Popularity fallacy. I could go on, but to list all of the logical fallacies that your arguments have would take me all night.
You also are either misrepresenting me or misunderstanding me. In the last reply I said that we are made perfect by God’s grace, not our own thoughts. I did not say that God was deliberately making us sick, as you suggested.
Hey, I’m always up for an interesting discussion, even if the person disagrees with my opinions. But if you want to contribute to comments on this blog, you need to make some vaguely rational arguments and put it in a way that others can understand and discuss. An entire essay in one sentence with lots of ALL CAPS shouting is not constructive. Further replies in the same style will not be published.
I think you are trying to strip us; the average, working class citizen, of any hope, for the sake of a personal grudge…
Do you know how many people you are damaging in the process?
And who really cares about expertise and qualifications? If qualified GP’s like you can prescribe Placebo medication to patients and they admit that it works sometimes, why wouldnt you let other patients benefit too from someone else who is not medic? But no! I’ll tell you what’s bothering you. It’s probably her increasing success, popularity and bank account. Because you think how dare she be promoted while you get demoted?
I’m a poor, working class woman who used to have chronic depression and OCD. Doctors like you couldnt do anything for me and they got paid each time I ‘checked in’. My faith in Jesus alone cured me. If my belief has healed me this means that the mind has power over the brain. Why do you want to shake people’s trust and strip them of what might be the last bit of hope for the sake of a grim, bankrupt truth? Live and let live!
Thanks for sharing your opinion. I’m glad that you’ve recovered from your chronic depression and OCD, and I’m sorry that the doctors treating you were unable to help you. You’re welcome to your viewpoint, but allow me to correct some of your inaccurate and embittered presumptions.
First, I’m not here to strip anyone of hope. Indeed, I do what I do here to try and combat the false hope that inevitably follows misinformation. Bad teaching is like being given the wrong directions to get out of a maze – there’s an initial glimmer of hope until the inevitable realisation sets in that you’re just as lost as when you started out. It’s only accurate information that truely sets people free. Please read chapter 3 of my book and you’ll see how I am seeking to instil genuine hope based on accurate information: http://www.debunkingdrleaf.com/chapter-3/
Because that’s what I am providing – accurate information. You may not like it. You may choose to ignore it. You can hate me for sharing it. If you don’t think it’s the truth that I’m sharing, you’re welcome to criticise my information, and if you cite your references, I’ll be glad to look over them and see if I can improve anything.
You, like so many others, think that my motivation is some form of personal vendetta or grudge. I’ve heard it all before – I’m bitter, I’m jealous of her, she’s purity personified, all goodness and light, and I’m a tool of the devil … Again, believe what you like, but rest assured, I’m not against anyone. What I am against is bogus science, and Dr Leaf’s teaching is currently based on bogus science. I have nothing against her personally.
So then, who am I supposed to be damaging? They’re welcome to contact me directly. If I’m really hurting people through what I’m sharing, then I’ll correct my work and publicly apologise, though I have a feeling that the only thing that’s suffering as a result of my work is the misguided faith the church has placed in Dr Leaf.
I’m genuinely sorry that you’ve had a bad experience with medications, but just because they didn’t work in you doesn’t mean to say that they don’t work at all. They’re more than placebos. They have their place in treatment.
Like you, I have gone through the depths of despair. I suffered at different times in my life with severe depression and anxiety. In my darkest times, it was only the realisation that God was still there that got me through. But that fact that my faith helped me get through my mental illness doesn’t prove that my mind has power over my brain. Instead, it proves that God’s grace is sufficient – I am weak and he is strong. If your mind was more powerful than your brain, then you wouldn’t have needed God to heal you, you could have just thought yourself better. Did you think yourself better, or did you rely on God’s grace?
It all boils down to a couple of fundamentals. Dr Leaf teaches that the mind controls the brain. Science teaches that the brain controls the mind. It’s up to you which one you believe. I’ve made up my mind, and I will continue to advocate for good science not false hope.
All the best to you.
Hi my dear. Thank you so much for your kind reply. I will provide an answer to this in the near future. God bless
I understand your point and I agree with it. However, I also agree with Dr Leaf’s point.
I believe that when pursuing her neuroscientific studies; that is when studying the Central Nurveous System (CNS) in its relationship with behaviour, learning and even pathology (brain plasticity in general) -like all modern day neuroscientists- she became very excited to the idea that we; humans, can overcome any damage that has taken place in our bodies, unlike what traditional science used to think. In her excitement, I think she forgot to choose the right methodology to teaching.
And while I agree with Dr Leaf and others that neuroplasticity is a fact (because we have to be blind not to see this truth), I do not see it to be a simple process where success is always guaranteed. And therefore, I, too, have some reservations, not in the possibility of neuroplasticity in itself in general, but about the way Dr Leaf presents the information to lay people, the way she shows it to be so simple and almost mechanic.
On one hand, making out that the process and outcome from neuroplasticity-based therapy are both simple and guaranteed has the potential to increase social persecution and put further pressure on people to change prematurely.
On the other hand, pushing patients to try to change themselves will focus their minds more on the negative aspects of the self, and could strengthen the issue.
However, the insight that her teaching is bringing could generate a hope in those who have already lost hope, that a change might be possible.
Personally, I was battling addiction to anger and depression for forty years, and I was desperately trying to change for more than 20 years. I tried everything, but nothing worked. However, as soon as I put my faith in Jesus and understood the true meaning of the grace of God for the first time last September, that my biggest problem was taken away.
By prayer, intercession, and the right understanding, break throughs can happen, even without medication or Doctor’s intervention. So, brain plasticity is true, but it is not mechanic. People’s brains are able to change, but not through our personal minds, but instead through God and the Holy Spirit. That’s what Dr Lead has always said. That’s what you have said too. But you both used two different methods to communicate this. Dr Lead keeps saying that the brain CAN change, through the mind which can only change through the Holy Spirit, and you said that you only managed to change through God. For me, this is the same statement, but said differently. So, the issue with Dr Lead here is that of methodology not of content.
All the best
Hi God’s Whisper,
May I say, it warmed my heart when you called me ‘dear’ in your comment yesterday 🙂 It’s something my eldest sister calls me all the time, and it was very sweet. It certainly made me smile.
I appreciate your further comment. Your observations on neuroplasticity are very insightful, and your assumptions regarding Dr Leaf’s motives are quite magnanimous. I guess all I can do is look at what she teaches. It’s not for me to start judging her heart or her intentions.
I think you’re absolutely right in saying that neuroplasticity is a fact, and that it is a very complex process where there is a lot of individual variation in its application and its success. I also agree that oversimplifying neuroplasticity brings the wrong expectations.
This is where it gets tricky. On the basis of my professional training and experience, people usually know that they have issues. The critical thing is accurate evaluation of what they can change and what they should change. Dr Leaf has always said that we can change our physical and mental health by changing our thoughts, specifically by swapping “toxic” thoughts for “healthy” thoughts, whereas neuroscience does not. Pushing people into a battle with their normal psyche is counter-productive. Her teaching may ignite hope in some people that have had their hope quenched, but again, is it hope in the right thing?
I really like your summation, “By prayer, intercession, and the right understanding, break throughs can happen, even without medication or Doctor’s intervention. So, brain plasticity is true, but it is not mechanic. People’s brains are able to change, but not through our personal minds, but instead through God and the Holy Spirit.” Again, I think you’re absolutely right here.
I do need to make a small but important correction. Dr Leaf and I may both talk about the Holy Spirit’s influence, but invoking the Holy Spirit doesn’t excuse her bad science. And, I’ve also previously written about other evidence-based treatments for anxiety and depression. I believe that God has given us modern medicine, but he also bestows grace and mercy when that gift of modern medicine reaches its limits.
Ultimately, if you have reviewed the available evidence and you’re still satisfied that “the issue with Dr Leaf here is that of methodology not of content”, then so be it. We may disagree, but I certainly appreciate your open-mindedness and willingness to chat.
In Response To:
It all boils down to a couple of fundamentals. Dr Leaf teaches that the mind controls the brain. Science teaches that the brain controls the mind. It’s up to you which one you believe. I’ve made up my mind, and I will continue to advocate for good science not false hope.
Let us consider what God’s word has to say on the subject of the relationship between the mind and the brain. True hope comes from God and His Word (Psa 119:43,49,74,81,114,147).
I believe, based on God’s word, that: The mind is part of our eternal soul. The physical brain is part of our mortal flesh.
…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).
This indicates that our current body, which contains the brain, will die whereas our soul which contains the mind cannot be killed by men or natural causes. At the end of this age all mankind will be given new immortal bodies which will be restored to our eternal souls.
…I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin (Rom 7:25).
This indicates that the mind is separate or different from the flesh where the physical brain resides.
God Himself, who is spirit and not mortal flesh, also has a mind. In addition, we were made in His image (Gen 1:27).
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? (Rom 11:34)
Our mind along with our emotions and our will are part of the biblical definition of our soul – a major portion of what makes up our heart. All of these EXCEPT the brain are our “inner parts” given to us by our Creator (Prov 18:8, 20:30). A person is made up of body, soul and spirit (1 Thes 5:23). The latter two are eternal and immortal the former will return to the dust. The brain will return to the dust but the mind will not. Which then controls which? Which is of greater importance – the mind or the brain? Are we to believe God or men with their imperfect knowledge of the imperfect science of the inner workings of a man?
…those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom 8:5-6)
To set our mind on something is an action of our will – we decide or choose to do it. Romans 8:5-6 shows that the mind can be set on either the flesh or the Spirit. It does not say that we set our brain on the flesh – that would be like saying we set our flesh on our flesh. We are spiritual beings with a body of flesh in order to interact with God’s physical creation and our mind is not part of our flesh.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).
How are the things of the Spirit of God discerned? Through God’s Spirit making know to our spirit the mind of God. Then our spirit passes on God’s thoughts to our soul which finally, via our mind, emotions and will, informs our brain which directs our body to carry out our will. Hopefully we have chosen God’s will in the matter, but being free willed beings we might not. If we are in Christ we are told we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) so choosing to do God’s will should prevail because God also gave us a spirit of power, love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7).
The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts [his heart]. (Prov 20:27)
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (Psa 139:23)
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matt 15:18-18)
Our thoughts come from our heart, of which the mind is a part, not from our brain. Our brain just interfaces with our mind, stores the thoughts and instructs our body to carry out our thoughts.
An analogous way to think about it is to consider the brain as the hardware of a computer – CPU, memory, and interfaces for input and output. Each computer motherboard has a very simple rudimentary system for booting the computer. An operation system and other programs must be installed to make the computer do useful work. This operating system is software and is analogous to the mind – it is not really physical, just 1s and 0s but it is essential for making the computer do useful work. In the same way the mind is not physical but it is necessary for helping the mind to interpret (process) what the brain perceives (internal and external signals) which come from our environment.
With our soul we make a decision or choice by our will based on our emotions and our mind to believe God over the world, the flesh and the devil. The emotions coming from God’s Spirit to our spirit are based on love, joy and peace (Gal 5:22). The emotions coming from our flesh are very often fear related emotions based on our decision to choose for self-preservation apart from God. Our mind does the thinking while considering our emotions in light of God’s Word and finally our will makes a decision.
Our thought life, which clearly come from our heart, is of such critical importance in regards to us having a fruitful walk with the Lord that we are instructed to: “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5)
God’s word clearly tells us that God wants us to choose life (Deut 30:19).
I hope and pray that this helps,
Thanks for the comment / essay. I appreciate the time that you’ve put into this.
I’ve considered the relationship of the spirit, soul and body in an essay I wrote a year or two ago: https://cedwardpitt.com/2014/07/25/dr-caroline-leaf-dualism-and-the-triune-being-hypothesis/. I think this essay addresses most, if not all of the issues that you’ve raised in your comment.
For example, the three words used in ancient Greek were pneuma (‘spirit’), psyche (‘soul’) and soma (‘body’). According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the words pneuma (‘spirit’) and psyche (‘soul’) were often used indiscriminately. So although the Apostle Paul distinctly used the word pneuma separately to the word psyche as in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, most of the other New Testament writers weren’t so precise.
James wrote that without the spirit (pneuma), the body (soma) would die (James 2:26). This also suggests that the spirit is different to the body, but still integral to the whole person, although given the interchangeable use of the terms, James may have also been referring to the soul.
This idea seems to have some backing in the form of the description given in the Bible of the resurrected body of Jesus. After Jesus was crucified and buried, scripture describes the empty tomb, and the multiple sightings of Jesus by the disciples up until the time that he ascended into heaven (Luke 24). He walked along the road to Emmaus with two disciples, Cleopas and probably Cleopas’ wife Mary (see also John 19:25). He then appeared in the middle of the group of disciples within an instant. He still possessed the defects caused by the crucifixion. He ate some broiled fish and some honeycomb (see Luke 24:42-43). He said to the disciples at this meeting with them, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39) Not only did he have the same physical characteristics as his pre-resurrected body (same appearance, same gender etc), but he also had similar mental traits, such as self-awareness, memory of his pre-resurrection life, and emotions and connection to the people around him. However, he was not subject to the natural laws of physics, twice suddenly appearing in a closed room (John 20:19 and 26).
Therefore it appears that rather than being a spirit housed in a body and furnished with a soul, we are instead an inseparable combination of body, soul and spirit – three unique but indivisible parts – but in different dimensions depending on which side of eternity we currently reside.
From the biological viewpoint, I could prove to you that your mind is not indivisible from your brain by putting you under anaesthetic. General anaesthetic turns off a brain network called the prefrontal parietal network, which in turn, turns off your consciousness, i.e. the function of your mind. If your mind was independent of your brain, then turning off part of your brain wouldn’t turn off your mind.
There are many other examples, and I’ve gone into a lot more depth in the essay.
So while I appreciate your view, and I respect your right to interpret the scripture as you will, I respectfully disagree, and I think basic science and careful reading of the original Biblical text supports my point of view.
Though I’m happy to discuss this further if you wish.
Again, many thanks for the intelligent and comprehensive comment. All the best to you.
Hi godwhisper and john, the point that has been missed is thatno one needs caroline leafs false pseudo science – if we turn our eyes upon Jesus He is our healer. She scorns our saviour and the finished work on the cross by implying that we ourselves can heal ourselves. Not one of us can change without the renewal of the mind that comes from Gods Holy Spirit. Her bogus 5 point tips are just a sales gimmick. What is alarming is that people are putting their faith and trust in a false worldy humanistic teaching method and not in the Word of God.
PS in australia medical doctors dont prescribe placebos unless a person is wilfully taking part in a trial. Homeopaths do that.
Many thanks for the comment Jaana. Your line about homeopaths made my night! Very acerbic, but hilariously funny!!
Take care 🙂
Thank you for your clarification and for your link to your earlier work on body, soul and spirit. I plan to read it carefully soon.
I don’t think we can be on the same playing field, so to speak, unless we can agree on a few key tenants for interpreting the Bible:
1) Proverbs 30:5a – Every word of God proves true
2) 2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God
3) 2 Peter 1:20-21 …no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
4) God never uses a word indiscriminately (that would make Him imperfect) and God is fully capable of making sure that just the words He intended to be used would be used and recorded and passed down to us in the original Hebrew and Greek documents we have today.
5) Man has and will continue to come up with pages upon pages of commentaries and lexicons. They are useful but not the final say. The only way to properly interpret God’s word is by using God’s word to interpret itself. Scripture must be used to interpret scripture. Let God be the one who interprets His own word – He is the perfect interpreter.
6) All interpretation must also be made through the lens of the world view of an ancient or 1st century Jew. Using their world view is critical for our proper interpretation of scripture.
7) The Christian faith stands on three legs. These three legs are the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture. Take away one, and like a three leg table, the divine authority of the Christian faith will surely topple.
Therefore I submit that Thayer’s Greek Lexicon is incorrect regarding their statement that “the words pneuma (‘spirit’) and psyche (‘soul’) were often used indiscriminately.” That’s a human analysis not God’s.
We know that when the body dies so does the brain. We know that Abraham was with Lazarus in Paradise, we know that Samuel was called back by King Saul as a spirit from Paradise, we know that Moses and Elijah were both present on the mount of transfiguration. These men of God where physically dead but had a mind that allowed them to remember and speak to others who could remember – a function of the mind. We know from scripture that God, who is spirit, has a mind. Jesus himself said “He is not God of the dead but the living”. Evil spirits have minds – they think and plot and talk through people! Satan has thoughts (schemes) (Eph 6:11). As Christians we are assured that we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) – we certainly can’t share Christ’s brain.
“From the biological viewpoint, I could prove to you that your mind is not indivisible from your brain by putting you under anesthetic. General anesthetic turns off a brain network called the prefrontal parietal network, which in turn, turns off your consciousness, i.e. the function of your mind. If your mind was independent of your brain, then turning off part of your brain wouldn’t turn off your mind.”
I understand from clinical observation that when the conscious brain is turned off under anesthesia the conscious mind is also turned off but your logic is incorrect to state conclusively that “If your mind was independent of your brain, then turning off part of your brain wouldn’t turn off your mind.” There is at least one other valid option. The brain and mind can be so closely linked that this could happen even if they are in fact two distinct and separate entities. By the rules of logic your example cannot be used as proof that the mind and brain are one and the same. This error in logic is called Argument Selectivity (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201410/analytical-thinking-logic-errors-101). The evidence from scripture above certainly makes the argument for them being separate a possibility. Being under anesthetic is not the same as death – we do not know whether or not other things outside our knowledge could be at work after death.
I respect your belief because it really is not an issue that has any bearing on your or my salvation. In my opinion, though Dr Leaf, just like you and I, are imperfect and don’t have all spiritual wisdom and knowledge, we are in Christ each children of God and should treat each other as such. I personally believe Dr Leaf loves the Lord and the Lord has gifted her with a purpose, and gifting to carry out His purpose for her. All her teaching may not be correct but I choose not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Besides you and I are not supposed to judge her – that’s God’s responsibility.
I have to constantly be reminded that when we express our misgiving about another person we should do so in such a way that we don’t impugn the other person’s character or act as his or her conscience. When we assume the responsibility of another person’s conscience, we misdirect that person’s battle with God to ourselves, and we are insufficient for the task. We are under the commandment of God to love one another. So when a legitimate concern is made known, trust God to bring the conviction that will move that person to seek the truth and change as needed.
Thanks for your reply. I truly appreciate the robust discussion.
I think we agree more than we disagree overall.
I fundamentally agree with your seven-point terms of reference, though not all of the specifics.
I’m not sure what to think about your statement regarding Thayers Lexicon. The lexicon’s conclusion maybe a human interpretation, but how can you be certain it wasn’t divinely inspired? Perhaps there’s an element of confirmation bias in your conclusion. The other thing is that God doesn’t exclusively speak through scripture alone. Is every word of prophecy invalid because it was spoken or written by a human?
Short of God writing something down for us on stone tablets, everything we attempt to understand in the Bible is always tainted with some degree of human interpretation. I’m sorry if that sound’s sardonic … it’s not meant to be derisive or contemptuous. However, even if scripture is used to interpret scripture, at some point or another, the interpreting scripture is still going to be interpreted by a person. The Holy Spirit guides us, and even though he’s perfect, we’re not. I think Paul recognized this when he encouraged us to “test all prophesy, hold on to the good.”
My theory on the triune being as explained in the essay is that we are three distinct but indivisible parts making up the whole person. I think the examples you give in the middle portion of your reply confirm more than disprove my theory. It’s interesting that in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man was very specific about memories (“I have five brothers …”) as well as physical sensations (“I am in agony in this fire”) and even parts of the body (Lazarus’s finger, his tongue). Jesus isn’t telling a story of how the mind is separate to the body, rather that even in the spiritual dimension, a person has a body and mind.
Though none of that really relates to the question of whether the mind controls the physical brain, which seems to be the main point of contention here.
In terms of my biological explanation, I apologize if in my quest for brevity, I was selective in my arguments. So let’s try and reconsider the biological argument in more detail.
There are three possibilities here: 1. the mind controls the brain, 2. the brain controls the mind, or 3. they both influence each other to some degree. By “mind”, I specifically refer to the stream of conscious thought, also considered our conscious awareness.
Medical and scientific evidence makes the first possibility unlikely, and the second possibility likely:
– The brain can function independently of the mind, but the mind can not function independently of the brain.
– Changes to the function of the brain, either through external electromagnetic stimulation, medications or anatomical lesions, changes the function of the mind.
– The various functions of the mind have been mapped onto specific parts of the brain.
So perhaps the mind and the brain are distinct entities, but they must be inexorably linked and are thus not seperate, and also, the mind is dependent on the brain, and thus not in control of the brain.
There may be some truth to the third possibility, but even if that were the case, the dominant force is still the brain, not the mind, as per the premises discussed above.
What’s ironic is that Dr Leaf herself even said that the brain controls the mind in her previous work (see “The gift in you – discover new life through gifts hidden in your mind” 2009, p47) but then contradicted herself in her subsequent work.
I know it seems quite esoteric, and that there is a lot of interpretation and hypothesising going on. There’s no way of knowing with absolute certainty about what our spirit is or what we will look like in heaven. And you’re right, it’s not of primary importance in that it doesn’t affect our salvation. It shouldn’t take focus away from the importance of salvation.
John, I wanted to say again that I appreciate the time you’ve put into this conversation and the intellectual stimulation that it’s provided. I appreciate the challenge to my assumptions and the chance to refine them. I hope that I’ve treated you and your arguments with the respect that they deserve.
Finally I wanted to stress again that I’m not writing what I write on this blog to be small minded or petty. Dr Leaf probably loves God with all of her heart. I don’t know. I can’t judge that, and I’m not about to start trying. But mistruth with the best of intentions is still mistruth. Dr Leaf’s teaching is heavily flawed, to the point that it’s not only wrong but potentially harmful.
I ask, what would you do if you knew someone was teaching something damaging from the pulpit? What if a youth pastor was actively encouraging marijuana from the pulpit? Would you say something to correct that errant teaching, or would you allow his youth group to continue to believe that it was ok for Christians to smoke pot?
Dr Leaf’s ministry and teaching is on a different topic and a different scale but the principle is the same. I’m not going to sit idly by and allow her misinformation to go unchecked, because I love God, and I love his church, and I want the best for it.
Again, thanks for the challenging and stimulating conversation.
Can you offer some real evidence that Dr. Leaf is bordering on New Age teachings/thinking? I haven’t been able to identify any in her talks or am I just being naive? Thanks for your reply.
Hi Mary Ann,
Thats a good question. Several commenters on my blog have suggested that her teaching is New Age, and others have posted their own opinions on their own websites (http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=40982 for example). I think it’s mainly because Dr Leaf says we can control everything with the power the mind, and we can renew our mind with our thinking, which diminishes the power of grace.
Personally, I’m not sure that Dr Leaf’s teaching is New Age. Ultimately that’s for others to decide. My problem with Dr Leaf’s teaching is its scientific and medical inaccuracy and subsequent potential for harm.
I hope this helps. All the best.
She always points people to renew their minds with the Word of God and also teaches the science behind thoughts, the chemical make up of a thought, and what they do, good or bad, to the body. You don’t understand what she is saying at all and she never says you can control the renewing of your mind by thoughts. She is telling people to go to the Word of God and read it to renew our minds. This is biblical. I don’t understand why you, Sir, are quoting her incorrectly and spreading this mal intent throughout the body of Christ. Please consider searching your own heart and being quiet on this until you understand what she is really saying. It’s just not right. Thank you.
I do understand what she’s saying Cyndi, and I disagree with your view. You might think Dr Leaf is pointing to the Bible, but her poor science, flawed logic and inaccurate scriptural interpretation do not reveal the truth, but a perversion of it.
I have searched my heart many times over, but neither my heart nor my mind have ever changed. There is no malice in what I write, just a desire to point people to the real truth and give them a choice about what to believe.
All the best to you.
I can’t fjnd anything on wikipedia about Dr C Edward Pitt.I would appreciate it ig you can supply a link to a wikipedia article about him.
I just want vet the vetter.
I’m not famous enough to have a Wikipedia page yet 🙂 . Most of the details are on the ABOUT page. If you want to know anything else, feel free to ask.
Perhaps someone should ask the people who actually daily help those in addiction, for instance, and allow practical, real, true-on-the-ground answers to be heard for a change. The opinions of other like myself, for instance. I am an addictions counselor of almost two decades experience, a career which started only by God’s grace for me, being a “non-(substance)-addict.” Most of this time I served in an internationally known Christian rehabilitation center that’s seen around 10,000 residents through its doors. All I suggest is that these debates should maybe ask people like us sometime, what we find works and what know doesn’t…? (Kindly note that I am NOT discrediting or disregarding what either Dr Leaf or Dr Pitt do for addicts / clients with depression etc daily…) But the voice of those who do nothing but this work at grassroots level, would be refreshing to hear, for me, at least.
Thanks for your comment.
I’m very interested to know what you think. If you would like to share your knowledge and experience in regards to what helps people and what doesn’t at a grassroots level, then I’m happy to post it. This blog isn’t a stick to beat Dr Leaf with, it’s about truth. I’m interested in cutting through myth and hyperbole and communicating what the science says about many different health topics and treatments.
To that end, you’re welcome to share your opinion as a comment. Or, if you’re willing, I’m happy to publish an appropriately written, evidence based essay on the science of addiction therapy on this site as a guest article.
I only ask that it be based on up to date research, cited in APA 6th or Vancouver format, and length about 1500 words (no more than 2000).
If you’re interested, you’re welcome to reply to this comment and I’ll give you an e-mail address to send it to.
All the best.
Dear Dr Pitt.
I am rather interested, thank you kindly. I will be careful to construct input that is hopefully helpful, but will leave the option to publish it, fully in your hands, as I respect that this is your space and, moreover, you are likely far more informed that I, in many subjects. I only know what I know but do feel I know it rather well.
Just a quick apology in case you perhaps you misunderstood my position: as its neither one of defense for Dr Leaf’s work nor an attack on what you are publishing as true for you (as based on science, etc.) Please don’t see it this way, I got the feeling you did, I’m sorry about that.
Since I’m thankfully not uneducated in my field, as admittedly, one has perhaps come to fear of therapists and counselors in addiction given how we are more often than not “hand reared”; and since I uphold my commitment to CEU both formally through international certification as well as more informally, such as reading up online, I shall very much like to add a little to the debate, but will think quite carefully on it. My goal would be to allow for increased mutual understanding and helpful talking, nothing much more.
Hello Dr. Pitt,
Would you elaborate on the statement ” trying to control thoughts only leads to more psychological distress “?
Thanks for requesting clarification. Nina also asked for clarification on the same phrase, and I apologise to her that I got lost in discussing 2 Corinthians 10 and didn’t explain my statement.
It’s been discussed in the psychological sciences literature prior, but since the late 1980’s, considerable attention has been given to the concept of thought suppression. Thought suppression is the process of consciously trying to avoid certain thoughts, either by trying to replace the unwanted thought with another thought, or simply trying to repress the unwanted thought.
However it’s done, the conclusion is the same: thought suppression doesn’t work. Wenzlaff and Wegner summed it up nicely, “What has compelled the interest of the scientific and clinical communities is that suppression is not simply an ineffective tactic of mental control; it is counterproductive, helping assure the very state of mind one had hoped to avoid. The problem of thought suppression is aggravated by its intuitive appeal and apparent simplicity, which help mask its false promises.” (Wenzlaff RM, Wegner DM. Thought suppression. Annual review of psychology 2000;51(1):59-91.)
Magee and his colleagues took this explanation further, “This shift in focus parallels advances in cognitive theories of intrusive thoughts, which suggest that having intrusive thoughts is a normative phenomenon; instead, the way an individual interprets those thoughts is expected to lead to benign versus serious outcomes … Similarly, having difficulties with thought suppression is a common experience … it is the way an individual interprets that experience that may be key. Previous discussions of thought suppression have frequently implied that people having difficulties with thought suppression often ascribe negative meaning to their difficulties.” (Magee JC, Harden KP, Teachman BA. Psychopathology and thought suppression: a quantitative review. Clin Psychol Rev 2012 Apr;32(3):189-201.)
In other words, researchers have realised that ‘intrusive’ thoughts are normal, and trying to suppress them is like trying to suppress any other normal biological process – it’s impossible, and trying is simply counterproductive. Try to stop breathing for any length of time and you’ll see what I mean. If a person is told those thoughts are toxic, then it’s likely that they’ll have more psychological distress because of the unnecessary fear of those thoughts and their failure to control them.
I hope this provides the clarification that you were looking for. I’m happy to discuss this further if you wish.
All the best.
OK; I am not a brain surgeon nor can my brain seem to absorb all the information and commentary that I have read here today. Maybe I am to simple minded to do so. If so, so be it. But non the less I throw my two cents worth into this mix today.
If I may, from my own personal experience . My first thoughts of suicide began when I was about 8 or nine years old. At 12 years of age was when the idea to die became more of my everyday thought life. For many years to come for particular reasons I choose to stay alive . In many of those years I learnt that I was battling depression and eventually sought out some mental health help and medical help in the form of anti depressants through my doctor.
Nothing seemed to help me . I am not sure why except that maybe the counselling couldn’t penetrate or stand up to my stubbornness that maybe I felt I had all the answers to their input. I was in my mid twenties when I finally decided to take some pills and end it. Naturally I sense I am writing this I obviously didn’t take enough.
What did happen was I fell in love with suicide. I long to end my life from then on but as usual the reason that was keeping me alive was still keeping me alive. Despite my reason to live I still was depressed ! Before my 27th birthday one night when I was determined to take my own life. I believe God saved me. I spoke to him and said thank you I will never be depressed again. He said ‘no you will never be suicidal again’.
I thanked Him for clearing that up for me so that when I was depressed I wouldn’t lose faith in Him. At 27 years old I committed my life to Jesus. Oh what joy that flood my soul. He is real, He is alive. After the honeymoon period wore of and I realized I still had me to deal with, I turn to Jesus. I was reading my bible everyday so when I would see scriptures about renewing my mind. I would question God on that. Is this for me today? How do I do this? If I do this will I still be depressed? What if I do this and it doesn’t work; my faith in You and Your Word will be shaken and I won’t trust You or believe your Word is True. Can I have a sound mind like you say?
I decided to take God at his word and I did what the scripture said to do I counteracted the negative thoughts with thoughts that lined up with God’s truths. At first it seemed ridiculous because I seemed to be battling my thoughts all day long. But I stuck with it. About 3 months or so down the road when I got very discouraged and felt like giving up. I looked back at those months and realized some thoughts had no hold on me anymore. Some thoughts came back here and there but way less then they did in the beginning. The thought that had me down that day was something new that surfaced. It took hold of me in such a way I thought I will never just be okay with me . But about a year or so later I was rarely thinking anything negative. Not to say that when I tried to step out of my box some old stuff didn’t rise up or some new negatives didn’t come into play but I put God’s word into action and moved on.
I turned 57 last week. I have had a good life. Normal living with life’s trials but that is life. I realize I could say what I want with much less words for sure but I want you and maybe your readers if any should read this to know God’s Word is there for us. With the power of the Holy Spirit whom I didn’t mention but no less of important. God gave us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and He does.
So as far as Dr Caroline Leaf goes, I am not here to say she is perfect or that we should take her at her every word. I’m sure she is wrong somewhere in her understanding as most if not all of us are. Does anyone know of anyone perfect who has all understanding and knowledge to be correct. I sure don’t know of anyone.
The main theme of her message seems to be to take God at his Word and put it into action for yourself. As you said God gave us a brain to use. We have to take action reading Gods word does nothing if we don’t do what it says. Dr Leaf confirms everything I went through many years ago with the Lord and so do many other teachers such as Joyce Myers as one example.
Dr. Pitt there is nothing wrong with you questioning Dr Leaf , if you have questions yes you should question. The Bible tells us to question. I am not positive you are doing this but my hope is that before you make your questioning public, you would have the true answers to back up your questioning before publishing. Otherwise is just seems like a public flogging sort of speak. I say that lightly because yes I realize you doubt you question and you want to encourage others to question and I guess that is okay. Well yes it is okay.
I would also like to question you if I may. I have read some of your posts here and I see you have good credentials and that you are a christian. I am wondering if you are a christian that is baptized with the Holy Spirit? You may say what does that matter? IT matters to me but I am sure from what I have read and understood in Gods Word that it is important to Him as well. I hope you don’t mind answering the question! I do look forward to reading more of your blog and I may just have to go out to buy your book. I love to hear both sides to a story as I have learn’t in my life; if I want a good sense of what the truth is I need to dig deeper.
Hi Mrs L. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a powerful testimony. And I’m definitely happy to answer your questions.
When it comes to Dr Leaf, I’m sorry if I’ve made it sound like I’m holding her to perfection. Quite the contrary, I understand that no one’s perfect, and I wouldn’t be so bothered if I thought Dr Leaf made some simple errors. But there is that saying, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Dr Leaf presents herself as an expert in neuroscience, so the standard she needs to be held accountable to is much greater than the standard I would expect of someone who is not scientifically trained. The level of accountability for Dr Leaf is also proportional to her level of influence. Any error that Dr Leaf teaches is magnified because of the number of people that take it on board.
In terms of her message, I think you’re being a little generous. She may tell people to apply God’s word to their thought life, but her interpretation of God’s word, and what she defines as “thought” and “toxic thought” are not consistent with either good theology or good science.
When I compare Dr Leaf’s teaching to your testimony, I don’t think you’ve applied Dr Leaf’s teaching at all. Dr Leaf teaches to fight every thought because any and every ‘negative’ thought is ‘toxic’. From what you’ve said, what you did was more like a method of modern psychology which I call FACT – Faith-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a technique which doesn’t fight with thoughts, but focusses on what is important to your values, in this case, God and his word (hence the Faith-based part). When you ignore the intrusive thoughts rather than fight them, they lose their power. I understand that this may not be how you see it, and that’s ok, but personally I think Dr Leaf is given a lot of credit where it isn’t necessarily deserved.
As to whether I have true answers, that all depends on what you consider true or not true. I can’t categorically say that my facts are all true. All I can say is that I’ve done as much research through the most recent medical and scientific journals and through the best Biblical commentaries that I have access to.
Finally, I can tell you that I was baptised in the Holy Spirit as a child, many decades ago.
All in all, many thanks for sharing, and for being brave enough to ask the hard questions. Keep an open mind and I hope you continue in God’s blessings.
All the best to you.
Gosh I would love to sit with you personally and hash this out. I can’t help but feel when I am reading your blog and your responses to others that you are talking apples and oranges here. I have so much I want to say and questions to ask but I think you have heard it all and have been asked all. Many others here have delivered the questions more eloquently than I could. Can I just simply ask you do you not think people’s negative thoughts affects their moods and if prolonged can affect their minds in such a way to make them sick. Do you think Bipolar just happens or is it the result of long term stress on the brain from the affects of negative thinking. Cause and Effect ! I have not studied and have no degree so I can only go by my own personal experience with depression and suicidal desires. I can tell you I was asked many years ago by a family counselor to go visit a women in the psych ward of the hospital. The women was suicidal and battling depression for a few years. I had just arrived when the Psychiatrist came in. Who are you and why are you here he asked? She is not allowed visitors. I said her family counselor sent me. Her family Counselor wanted me to share with the women what I had gone through and how I helped myself. After talking with the Psychiatrist he agree to let me talk with her. He said if what you say helps her would you mind if I take your strategy/ theory of changing negative & positive thinking and writing it down to the Psychiatry convention I am going to in a couple of months? Which of course I said sure. Did he follow through with that I don’t know. But I do know the next day after I was there the young women was released from the ward . I do not know her history as we lost touch a few months later. But the last I heard about her she was doing very well with moving on with her life. Was it perfect after with no ups and down. I would think not; just as I had struggles and had to put back into practice of changing my thoughts from negative thinking to a right way of thinking. How I used Gods word to think on good things Philippians 4:8 to eventually heal You said some where, thoughts have no power. I think that is true, they don’t unless we give them power. That is my experience at least. But I can’t help but wonder still with all the negative thinking does it change our brain chemistry to affect our moods. until our brain chemistry is changed to cause an illness such as bipolar or other mental disorder.. You also mentioned the biblical text is not scientific text. No but isn’t the Bible Scientifically accurate? Biblical text testifies of science , the science confirms the biblical text. There are a few things you have said in other blog entry’s that I would like to comment on I will have to come back one day when I have some more time.
Hi Mrs L,
I’d love to meet with you to chat more if you want to pay for my plane ticket to California 🙂
First, can you clarify, in what way am I talking apples and oranges?
If you have a question, you’re welcome to ask. I may have answered it before, but if I have, I’ll point you in the right direction. Eloquence isn’t required, just genuineness.
So in general, I know it seems intuitive that our thoughts are the causative factor for our physical condition but I’d suggest it’s the other way around. I’ve discussed this model in my book “Hold That Thought” as well as a couple of blogs (https://cedwardpitt.com/2014/11/08/dr-caroline-leaf-putting-thought-in-the-right-place/ part 1 and 2). ‘Negative’ thoughts are more symptom rather than cause, just like a sore throat is a symptom of strep pharyngitis, not the cause. ‘Negative’ thoughts are the conscious awareness of a deeper dysfunctional process, just like the pain in your throat is something you’re aware but the actual cause is inflammation from the bacterial infection of your throat. As such, thoughts are simply a gauge, a little like the dashboard of your car. The dashboard makes you aware of what’s going on in and out of the car, but the dashboard isn’t driving the car or powering the car.
At most, stress is a trigger for some illnesses in a person who is already genetically vulnerable to it. So with bipolar, it’s likely that a person has genes that make them more likely to get bipolar, and then a stressful event triggers that person’s illness. The same stress for a different person without the vulnerability wouldn’t lead to bipolar, or the other way around, a person who has the genetic predisposition but who doesn’t have the stress may not develop the condition. You can read more here: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-causes-of-bipolar-disorder-manic-depression/ Usually these stressors are external. They’re not the result of negative thinking. And bipolar doesn’t just happen, nor is it a simple cause and effect.
I think Philippians 4:8 is a great verse. This is one of those verses that gets misunderstood though. It’s an exhortation to carefully and systematically plan to attain those things that are good, honest, true, of good report. It’s more than just to ‘think positive’, and it doesn’t mean that we won’t or shouldn’t have ‘negative’ thoughts. Unwanted thoughts are a normal part of human experience, but as you demonstrated through your testimony, the depressive thoughts were still there, but you focussed on the good. Like I said, this fits neatly in with the principles of FACT / ACT.
In terms of your experience with the psychiatrist and the other lady, it’s always hard to comment on testimonials. I don’t doubt your version of events, but as you say, who knows how the other lady felt, or whether she had any struggles, or if she is going ok today? Who knows if the psychiatrist was being nice or if he really believes in positive and negative thinking? It’s very hard to generalise from one case, which is why I usually talk about studies and about groups of people rather than individuals. So what you did was great, and I’m glad it had a good outcome, but overall, it’s hard to apply that across the board. It doesn’t invalidate your experience, but it’s just a different level of evidence.
With regards to science and the Bible, the Bible isn’t a pathway to scientific truth, it’s a pathway to spiritual truth and a map pointing us towards salvation. Science is a study of our natural world, but Bible is a guide to the supernatural worlds. The Bible doesn’t describe quantum physics, inorganic chemistry, cardiopulmonary physiology, etymology, geology, etc etc. That’s what God gave us brains for. People might think I’m a bit heretical for saying this, but I don’t think there is anywhere that the Biblical text testifies of science or that science confirms the biblical text. If anyone wishes to give me chapter and verse where the Bible specifically discusses specific scientific theories or hypotheses, I’m happy to stand corrected. But just because the Bible isn’t a science textbook doesn’t mean there is no truth in the Bible. The Bible is still the inspired word of God, and is all God’s truth. Science and the Bible are not mutually exclusive.
Like I said before, you can ask whatever you like if you have a genuine intention. I’ll do my best to answer as I have just done. I hope it will continue to help you on your journey with God.
All the best.
Thank you for your insights.
After listening to Dr. Leaf’s videos, I was both inspired (I agree, my thoughts are powerful and the Bible has a lot to say about what/how I am to think) and disturbed (the science seemed much weaker than the claims; the absolute stance on meds; the very loose try-to-link-to quantum physics).
But I did not want to throw out my belief that my thoughts impact my body and my life, nor my belief that God (through His Word) instructs me to meditate on His Word day and night and pray without ceasing, just because I disagreed with her explanation of science. I compared her views to Daniel Amen, M.D.’s work (Magnificent Mind at Any Age) and found a balance of belief again.
When I first listened to a Dr. Leaf video, I mentioned her work to our church bookstore. After further listening to videos and research, I will update my recommendation to “stick with Dr. Amen’s book instead.”
Concerning previous posts about thoughts, taking thoughts captive, deification of thoughts:
1. I agree with “taking thoughts captive” needing to be read in context. Thank you very much for your beautiful explanation of that. We can be aware of our thoughts and decide “Oh, that thought’s not me” and move on to a helpful thought/scripture (ACT, mindfulness, ACT-CBT combo, etc.). In that sense, we are taking thoughts captive (being aware), even though I agree that is not what that scripture reference directly teaches.
2. I do not understand the phrase “deification of thoughts.” Thoughts (more specifically, dwelled upon thoughts) are powerful, or God would not have told us what to do with our thought-life. Thoughts do have physical results (heart rate, muscle tension, hormonal release, etc.), physical/emotional charge can cause thoughts (mood-congruent-thoughts), and chronic uncontrolled stress does have negative physical consequences (American Institute of Health and APA both have documents on this). So, thinking the way God directs us to think improves our lives. That does not negate what the Holy Spirit can/will do beyond our thoughts. (He can do beyond what we ask or imagine.)
(A comparison: I choose to eat several vegetable servings each day because it lowers my risk of various diseases, but I’m not making nutrition a deity. And eating vegetables does not negate the need for the stripes of Jesus for healing.)
I must be misunderstanding what is meant. Please explain what you mean with the phrase “deification of thoughts.”
Thank you again for your thoughtful and insightful blog.
Thanks for your thoughts. I’ll try and explain what I mean about deification of thoughts. A few other things too.
Obviously I agree with your sense of concern about Dr Leaf’s teaching. While I haven’t fully delved in to Dr Amen’s work in the same way, I have seen him mentioned a lot on quack watch sites, this one for example: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/dr-amens-love-affair-with-spect-scans/. So I guess it’s a case of buyer beware.
In regards to our thoughts, yes, I agree that we can be aware of our thoughts and ignore them, that’s a foundational principle of ACT, though I don’t that’s taking thoughts captive, that’s more like letting them come and go. It sounds like splitting hairs over metaphors, I know, but we all tend to take the literal meaning of the scripture especially when it’s reinforced from the pulpit. In terms of the Bible and our thoughts, the Bible does say to meditate on God’s word, but again, focussing on what is important is different to trying to suppress negative thoughts. So I think Dr Leaf’s interpretation doesn’t agree with scripture, although I always preface my comments by saying that I’m a doctor not a theologian.
In terms of deification of thought, it was more or less like that which is said in ACT, our thoughts are not in control of us. I know it seems intuitive that our thoughts are the causative factor for our physical condition (heart rate, muscle tension, hormonal release, mood-congruent-thoughts), but I would argue it’s the other way around. I’ve discussed this model in my book “Hold That Thought” as well as a couple of blogs (https://cedwardpitt.com/2014/11/08/dr-caroline-leaf-putting-thought-in-the-right-place/ part 1 and 2). And I would argue that ‘negative’ thoughts are more symptom rather than cause, just like a sore throat is a symptom of strep pharyngitis, not the cause. ‘Negative’ thoughts are the conscious awareness of a deeper dysfunctional process, just like the pain in your throat is something you’re aware but the actual cause is inflammation from the bacterial infection of your throat. As such, thoughts are simply a gauge, a little like the dashboard of your car. The dashboard makes you aware of what’s going on in and out of the car, but the dashboard isn’t driving the car or powering the car.
Thus, (sorry to make this a roundabout explanation), deification of thoughts was my way of explaining how some people put thoughts on to a much higher pedestal than what thoughts deserve, so much so, they make thoughts as like a god. It’s a metaphor, I’m not saying that people are holding thoughts above God.
Does that make sense? I hope I’ve explained it properly. If you’d like me to clarify then please let me know.
As for the additional comment, no problems! I do think there are a lot of websites about stress that are particularly biased, and I also think the evidence that stress causes disease isn’t as strong as what some would think. Ironically for Dr Leaf, one of the papers she referenced to justify her statement that 75-98% of diseases come from your thought life is a paper from Cohen et al, who suggested that there was no conclusive evidence that stress caused major diseases, only that there was an association. In fact, the authors discussed the significant weakness in ascribing stress to certain diseases, not just once, but several times – “Although stressors are often associated with illness, the majority of individuals confronted with traumatic events and chronic serious problems remain disease-free.” (Cohen, S., et al., Psychological stress and disease. JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association, 2007. 298(14): 1685-7)
Anyway, after all that, I hope that my explanation has been satisfactory. If I haven’t explained anything properly, please let me know and I’ll try and explain things better.
All the best!
Thank you for the reply . I would like to say I made a mistake when I said it was like comparing apples and oranges. Even if I had said splitting hairs ii would still not be correct in context to the topic. I still have to digest a lot of what you have said in your blogs I can see more clearly now where you are coming from in your last reply to me. I agree with it. Not sure I like it, but I see now that I have to reconsider. The idea that thought as a symptom is not new to me but I confess through the years I have pushed that idea to the back ground. Probably because Thoughts being the instigator to mental and physical problems seems to speak louder to me. But looking at it as thoughts could be the symptom to begin with is a possibility. I find It harder to accept I admit but something to look further into for sure.
That’s fine. It’s all good. Wherever you find yourself when everything is settled, kudos to you for being open to new ideas. Most people don’t even make it that far. Take care.
Not sure if my previous message was sent? Please get back with me about Dr. Caroline Leaf…
Hi angels4blessings. I haven’t seen any other messages from you. You’re welcome to resend your original comment if you wish.
Thankyou for exposing Caroline Leaf& her false teaching. It’s so easy for people whether Christian or not to believe she’s an authority on the topics she’s writing about, simply by quoting her ‘self-titled’ identity/qualifications.
For the first time, as a Christian myself , i’m waking up to the reality of how much false teaching there is out there& how dangerous it is. It’s been a real shock actually.
Thankyou for taking the time and trouble to check this person out. I’m very grateful to you.
Hi Carol, many thanks for the comment and encouragement. Yes, there’s a lot of false teaching out there, which is such a shame because there are also some pastors and leaders who demonstrate God’s grace and power through their teaching and their actions. When you find them, encourage them and learn from them. And know your Bible, which is your best protection against false teaching.
Again, many thanks for the kind words. May God continue to guide and strengthen you, and all the best.
Drat! A Jesus-loving nurse with good intentions tells me to read, “Switch on your Brain” indicating that it would provide clear steps for some much needed CBT. I’m half way through the book, excited at the prospect of more competently applying Phil. 4:8 (when I usually spiral down into what-ifs, catastrophic thinking, should-have’s and so forth) when I read, “…we are all part of God…” and think, “AAAIGH! She’s a freakin’ pantheist!” (Granted, I was already concerned with about every third verse she would hijack to somehow support her points.) Ugh. Now I get to add depression to my anxiety. And here I thought God was leading me to the book through the recommendation (and the fact that it was in stock and 20% off at the local Christian bookstore)! So . . . Leaf’s program isn’t going to be helpful. Would you recommend your own book (Stress Out–can’t find it but in eBook for Mac and I’m Android) or some other material for good hand-holding in the process of learning how to “take captive every thought” / renewing of the mind / think of such things” or just to shut down the amygdala superhighway I’ve created?
Thanks for getting in touch.
Don’t give up! You sound very well read, and rather astute, and I trust God when he promised that if you seek, you will find.
Indeed, who’s to say that God didn’t lead you to Dr Leaf’s book, but perhaps not for the reason you initially thought.
CBT has it’s place, but where CBT falls down is the idea that you have to conquer your thoughts before you change your behaviour. A lot of people then, by extension, think they have to have no negative thoughts at all. This is the view pushed by Dr Leaf, that every thought is toxic, causing brain damage, causing disease in your great-great-grandchildren, and that you can fix it by just thinking positive et cetera. The problem is that trying to suppress ‘negative’ thinking actually exacerbates it, and our brain is meant to have ‘negative’ thoughts, because they often provide a survival advantage. This is a bit counter-intuitive, mainly because it flies in the face of the conventional ‘wisdom’ we’ve been told for the last several decades. I’ve written more about this in the post: https://cedwardpitt.com/2016/05/24/running-of-the-elephants-why-thought-suppression-doesnt-work/
“We naturally struggle to suppress intrusive thoughts because intrusive thoughts are normal. Trying to suppress them is like trying to suppress any other normal biological process. Try to stop breathing for any length of time and you’ll see what I mean – it’s impossible, and trying is simply counterproductive.
The key is how we react to or feel about our thoughts. If we feel like our thoughts might be somehow causing us harm, then our failure to stop them from bubbling up to the surface of our consciousness is going to cause us distress. It’s a double whammy – we’re stressed because we’re expecting the negative consequences of our thoughts, and we’re distressed by our ‘failure’ to stop them.”
You mentioned Philippians 4:8. That verse says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” It simply encourages adaptive thinking, it never says not to have other thoughts. So your brain is still going to have a ‘what-ifs, catastrophic, should-haves’ conversation every now and then, but you can still follow Phil 4:8 in spite of those thoughts. If fact, I think if you try to suppress the activity of your amygdala superhighway, you’ll end up making things worse.
In terms of resources, I don’t know if ‘Stress Out’ is what you need right now. ‘Stress Out’ is a brief book specifically about stress management – it probably wouldn’t have the detail you’re after right now. I have a book which is about a month out from publication which I think you would find helpful, but if your looking for something now, I’d recommend the book “The Happiness Trap”. It’s written by an Australian doctor called Russ Harris and it discusses Acceptance and Commitments Therapy in detail. ACT has had a lot of success and is supplanting CBT as the dominant psychological paradigm.
In terms of free resources, I’ve written a few blogs regarding various mental health conditions as well as the blog on thought suppression that I’ve already discussed. I’ve also discussed anxiety (https://cedwardpitt.com/2015/10/31/the-prospering-soul-christians-and-anxiety/) and depression (https://cedwardpitt.com/2015/10/10/the-prospering-soul-christians-and-depression-part-1/ and also part 2). You can also have a look at the first few chapters of my other book rebutting Dr Leaf’s work = https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/466848. As context for my rebuttal, I spent a fair bit of time going through some neuroscience and psychology, which you may find helpful.
I hope you find those resources helpful. All the best to you.
Thank you very much for your generosity in time and thought. If your schedule is anywhere close to that of my GP, such responses take up valuable time. Much appreciated.
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for your blog and the support it offers to you readers, especially Christians who suffer from mental illness. As a Christian who suffers from depression and anxiety disorders, I often have experienced the stigma and shame surrounding mental illness…especially from fellow believers. I stumbled across your blog while researching Dr. Leaf (after hearing some of her teaching) and it has been a valuable tool for me in better understanding my illnesses. I believe our enemy uses false teachings and stigma to keep those mental illness sufferers from walking with God and living out their faith. I’m grateful to God for men like you who are able to bring both science and faith together in a compassionate way in order to help strengthen and encourage others. Keep up the good work, and know that you are a blessing to many!
Many thanks for the encouragement, it’s much appreciated, and I’m really glad I could be of some help. And as you are strengthened, offer the same encouragement to others. We can conquer the stigma of mental illness in the church if we keep spreading the word and sharing the encouragement. God bless, and all the best to you.
Thank you so much for investing the time into researching and sharing your findings on this blog. It was honestly a relief to read your reviews, as I shared many similar concerns and perplexities. I have struggled for sometime with Dr. Leaf’s teachings, often wondering where she gets her numbers from and how indeed she can continue to (or ever) be permitted to use the title of ‘cognitive neuroscientist’. It is so incredibly misleading. As a PhD qualified Clinical Psychologist I am aware of how protected titles are here in Australia and the training drummed into us about not practicing or teaching outside of our areas of competency or expertise. This is another reason why I also squirm with the statements that come out Dr. Leaf’s mouth, particularly regarding the disordered mind, her disorder model (that one really gets me) and findings that are taken out of context, etc. It deeply concerns me the impact this must be having on individuals suffering with psychological conditions (in fact I know, because some have confided). In addition, she does this on platform in God’s house with the majority of the congregation applauding! I have attended large conferences where she has presented her ‘research’ and people were in total awe…!
What exactly are her scientifically proven methods that she advertises? There is no critique or peer-review process that has gone into this, from what I can see. I am of the opinion that she has gone way too far and is making increasingly absurd and improbable claims that the vast majority of people don’t pause to question. I can’t seem to find the evidence for claims and if there is, the data is either cherry-picked or skewed to fit with her models. This is hardly science. In fact, it’s scientific misconduct on a mass scale. But then again, she’s not really a scientist. Sorry.
With regard to the issue of your own motives and intentions on the blog, I get why people may hold concerns. However, I am of the view that if someone is going to make claims about being an expert that some level of accountability must occur. In addition, Dr. Leaf arrogantly tries to challenge the medical profession in order to push forward her own (untested) ideas. She makes some very dangerous statements and claims and it stumps me that this goes on. In the end, she is deceiving people and I truly struggle to cope with this. I think writing this comment on your blog has been a help to me and also just knowing that I’m not alone in my concerns.
Thank you again.
Hi Dr Kate,
Many thanks for your encouraging comments of support. I’m glad I can provide a safe, supportive, non-judgemental space to validate and ventilate 🙂 It’s very cathartic, good for the soul, and we’re all friends here 🙂
I agree with everything you say. Dr Leaf’s sources are heavily cherry-picked, misquoted, extrapolated, wholly misinterpreted, or all of the above. Unfortunately, she gets away with such poor teaching because she is not affiliated with any professional organisation to which she is accountable. And as you say, collectively, the church has not only failed to hold her accountable for her teaching, but instead has openly encouraged it. It’s deeply troubling when Dr Leaf openly challenges proven clinical treatments for mental illness without any training or experience to back up her statements, and a sad indictment on the church that, by and large, doesn’t care.
I’ve certainly done everything in my power to encourage the church and its members that they should be reconsidering Dr Leaf’s teaching. Dr Leaf herself isn’t interested in what I have to say. The only option that’s left is to spread the word. If you’re willing, I’d encourage you to share your concerns about Dr Leaf’s teaching with your circle of influence. I’d also encourage you to speak out to church leaders on a professional level – write to conference organisers and their hosting pastors, and write to the national executive of the church organisation you belong to, outlining your concerns about Dr Leaf’s teaching and the impact that is having on the people you counsel. It’s easy for church leaders to ignore my theoretical concerns, but it’s much harder to ignore the first-hand experience of a highly-trained professional who has seen the effect that Dr Leaf is having on the mental health of real people. As we continue to speak out, more and more people will come to question her teaching, and eventually when enough people are asking questions, Dr Leaf will be forced to justify her position.
Finally, I also understand why people might question my motivation. Writing a hundred blog posts and a 60,000 word book against someone’s teaching is highly unusual (especially in Christian circles), and does seem a little obsessive. It wasn’t something on my list of goals when I started university, that’s for sure. But as you say, Dr Leaf’s teaching “is hardly science. In fact, it’s scientific misconduct on a mass scale.” When others within the church start to hold Dr Leaf publicly accountable for her teaching, I’ll happily slip back into the shadows.
If there’s ever anything that I can help clarify or assist with, please let me know. Otherwise, thanks again for your kind words – it’s always uplifting and encouraging to receive supportive comments. All the very best.
I think it shows a clear “issue” when someone has to attack another for their works vs putting their efforts into their own “purpose”. Having 30+ years of “real” experience in living through a multitude of traumas I can attest to what has brought me out the other side as a successful human being professionally and personally. Dr Caroline Leaf provides a blend of spirituality with science. The amount of people that she has literally saved from their own selves is astounding and to be recognized in a positive light. You however, as I do not know, nor care to know, have demonstrated having a psychological “issue”. When someone has to post blog postings trying to demean or slander someone that is trying to do positive works, it shows a clear problem with the individual doing the attack. It also provides others reading it a negative outlook on the person doing the writing (namely you). If you are indeed in the medical practice – why don’t you start sharing your POSITIVE works and focus on what you do to help others, what you believe is the truth and why, vs attempting to tear down others that are trying to educate and do good works to the best of their ability. Unless someone is “God”, there will not be a perfectly clear answer. Is medication the answer? You don’t know for sure, because many people thrive on alternative ways to “fix” themselves. Individuals that have had “labels” placed on them for many years are no longer supposedly “mentally ill”. There is no clear answer. You are not “God” and should be focused on your own “mission” which hopefully is positive one.
Thank you for your myopic little outburst. I found it rather entertaining.
Let’s set some things straight, for the record:
1. I agree with you, Dr Caroline Leaf does provide a blend of spirituality and science. Dr Leaf provides a blend of bad science and weak spirituality. She cherry-picks, contorts and out-right misrepresents elements of science and scripture to make herself sound like a guru. In reality, she is a cheap knock-off, a Christianese version of “The Secret”. If that’s what you define as “positive”, then you have my pity.
2. Can you tell me exactly how many people Dr Leaf has “literally saved from their own selves”? Do you know how many people have endured unnecessary suffering because of her teaching? I know you can’t, because no one can. There are no statistics out there because Dr Leaf exaggerates her successes and obfuscates her failures. She and her team actively block people who disagree with her from her social media pages. If her teaching was so robust, why would she need to do that? What’s she got to hide? You may believe that her ministry helps “astounding” numbers of people, but that simply shows you’re gullible.
3. I have been very open in discussing my mental illnesses over the years. And I have been very open in explaining my motivation in reviewing Dr Leaf’s work. If you’d have read my work before launching your little rant, you may have better understood my reasons. Since you haven’t, I’ll give you the summary: I’m standing up for the truth, for scientific and scriptural accuracy. I’m analysing Dr Leaf’s teaching, not personally attacking her. You may think Dr Leaf is justified because she is trying to do positive work, but a person’s actions are not the same as their motivations, they are two separate things. Dr Leaf’s might be motivated by the best of intentions, but her actions – her teaching, her ideas, her interpretation of science and scripture – are substandard.
4. I know I’m not God. I’ve never claimed to be God. Nor am I promoting medications as the only treatment. Again, if you’d have bothered to read my work before criticising me, you’d have seen that. Have people been mislabelled in the past? Yes. Have people improved by themselves? Yes. Does that mean we stop trying to diagnose people or treat them if an appropriate treatment is available? Of course not. Do we stop diagnosing or treating cancer because some people got the wrong diagnosis or their treatment didn’t work? We need to get better at diagnosing and treating, and recognise that sometimes the best treatment is no treatment depending on the person and their circumstances. Dr Leaf’s blustering about psychiatric labels is inaccurate and impertinent and is another cheap Christianese knock-off, this time of “Mad In America”. Again, if that’s your definition of “positive”, then that’s unfortunate.
5. My life is not defined by my ongoing review of Dr Leaf’s teaching. As opposed to Dr Leaf’s ministry, I actually do save astounding numbers of people and improve their quality of life in my work as a doctor, and I’ve written many ‘positive’ things over many years, and have more ‘positive’ things in press at the moment. Though personally, I don’t care what people think of me or my work, or my advocacy for a higher standard of teaching in the church. I’m following the path that God has laid out for me. Ignorant criticism is inevitable but inconsequential. I’m going to continue to advocate for the truth, irrespective of how people may choose to judge me.
If you have any actual questions about my work or Dr Leaf’s, I’m happy to answer them.
All the best to you.
Hi there how do I get on your mailing list? I would like to read your new book when it comes out. Thank you!
Hi Linda, You can click on the follow button on the bottom right hand corner of the screen. See here for more information https://en.support.wordpress.com/following/. I’ll notify everyone following me when the book is published.
Dear Dr. Pitt,
Please do not feel bad about writing 60,000 words book on this particular theme, as I have read other quite ample and helpful works written by Christians on false teachings and teachers… And thanks God for such authors, and people like you who care enough to do this, and who continue and have the patience for it! That is a great usage of God-given critical mind gift. I have been involved in teaching of false teachers in the Church, who offering pseudo-science, pseudo-psychology, or pseudo-theology… become so deceitfully attractive to people, that they do not only rob them financially, but also leave them with false, and disappointed hope later, and – possibly -more damaged and more hurting ! Somehow people seem to be drawn to apparent “quick relief fixes.” I have seen damage done on others and myself by attempts to obsessively control mind, emotion, God Himself, it is unhealthy. And someone is profiting from it again. My instincts told me it was not right soon after I was introduced to the woman’s speeches. What a shame.
Dear Eva, Thank you. Your comment was very much a word in season. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share it.
God bless, and all the best.
Dear Dr Pitt,
After reading a couple of your posts and seeing how you respond to the many comments you receive, I have to say that I greatly admire the way you choose your words. Your responses are honest and yet they are so full of respect and humility.
It sounds so bizarre but you really are making a positive difference in the world by challenging the claims of a popular christian speaker. I understand how some (perhaps those less inclined towards critical thinking?) may assume you are coming from a place of bitterness or malice but anyone interested in engaging in the search for truth can clearly see that your concerns are valid and your intentions are pure.
Personally, I really appreciate the many hours you have committed to researching and testing Dr Leaf’s claims; Its been incredibly useful and saved me a lot of time!
Keep up the good work, you’re a true legend 🙂
Thanks so much for your encouragement. Your timing was impeccable – definitely a word in season!
You are so right – when you think about it, it is bizarre, and sadly poignant, that one has to challenge the claims of a popular Christian speaker to make a positive difference. Certainly comments like yours do make all the invested hours worthwhile. Please spread the word about Dr Leaf to all those who will listen.
Thanks for making my day. All the best to you 🙂
Hi Dr Pitt,
I wondering if you’ve come across anything by a Dr Michelle Strydom (MK Strydom). Also hailing from South Africa, she acknowledges a debt to Dr Caroline Leaf in her teachings and book. Like Dr Leaf, she seems to be accepted by Christian circles, and what she teaches seems to be rather problematic. She takes, for example, Dr Leaf’s statistic, “87 to 95% of all diseases have been traced back to what goes on in our thought life.” What makes it harder, I think, unlike Dr Leaf, she’s actually a medical doctor. So for her to be pedaling pseudo-science and bad theology seems even worse! (Like “God’s perfect will is actually not healing, His perfect will is that you don’t get sick.”)
Her book, “Healing begins with the Sanctification of the Heart”. is available here:
Click to access Healing-Begins-Dr-MK-Strydom-2nd-Edition.pdf
I would appreciate if you are aware of any robust critiques of her work. Or are able to offer any yourself.
Thank you for the work you do in engaging with bad science. It seems that if we do not, we continue to erode our credibility in a watching world (and deceive ourselves).
Thanks for getting in touch.
I absolutely agree with you – if we don’t engage with the bad science, if we don’t push for stronger accountability, if we don’t stand up for the truth, then the credibility of the Christians church will continue to erode and the Christian church will continue to live in its own false reality.
A few people have flagged Dr Strydom with me over the years. I’d like to say I had the time to review her work, but it’s hard enough to keep up with the endless stream of mistruth from Dr Leaf.
Superficially, any one that unquestioningly accepts Dr Leaf’s unfounded 98% statistic, and then uses that as the basis for their own teaching, is clearly not off to a good start. The statement of hers that you quoted, “God’s perfect will is actually not healing, His perfect will is that you don’t get sick” is true in isolation. God created the world before the fall (His perfect will) without sickness.
The implication that if you’re sanctified then you will have either less illness, or possibly no illness, is false. God also created the world in which we would never die. However, after the fall, we are living in a fallen world and we physically die sanctified or not. Similarly, we’re living in a fallen world and we still get sick, sanctified or not. While sickness was not in God’s perfect will, He also gave mankind (Adam and Eve) a choice, and we bear the result of that choice in our imperfect bodies.
In terms of robust critiques, I don’t think there are any (there are some critiques, but I don’t think they, in turn, are very robust). But I’m more than happy to publish any reasonable, evidence based, and logically valid critique of any Christian teacher whose teachings are primarily pseudoscience. So if you’d like to start the ball rolling, I’d be happy to publish and promote the critique.
By the way, I know a lot of medical doctors that betray their training and experience to embrace all sorts of pseudoscience, which is very sad, but that’s life I guess. Suffice to say, just because someone is a medical doctor doesn’t make their teaching any less amenable to critical review. Everyone should be subject to critical review (even me). That’s how good science works.
All the best to you.
Thank you for your detailed and careful response!
I must have missed the email notification of your reply. But Strydom is teaching in my city again and I got another enquiry about her teaching so I was again looking for a quick resource to point to. And Google led me back here!
But you’re right. There doesn’t seem to be robust critiques. Perhaps that’s an indication I should engage. My training is in theology (and cultural theory) not medicine or anything remotely scientific. So while I sense that her scientific/medical teaching is off, I can’t always articulate why.
Again, thank you for the important work that you are doing here. Keep going at it! God bless.
Thank you. As always, your words are much appreciated.
In terms of providing critique, I think a theological critique of Dr Leaf’s work by someone with theological background would be very powerful. I’m quite comfortable calling Dr Leaf out on her scientific inaccuracies but I’m not theologically trained and so my theological criticism does not carry as much weight as my scientific. But with your theological training and open mind, you would be perfect to review Dr Leaf’s theology. So go for it, I say!
All the best.
I have a comment on this whole matter of mental illness and Dr. Leaf’s way of responding to it. I think in the West, it is accepted practice to medicate for depression, ADHD etc. However, in non Western societies it is much less usual to medicate and more usual to look for other ways to deal with mental health issues. Yuval Noah Harari in his book “Homo Deus a brief history of tomorrow p: 45 says, “If science is right and our happiness is determined by our biochemical system, then the only way to ensure lasting contentment is by rigging this system. … for better or for worse, a growing percentage of the population is taking psychiatric medicines on a regular basis not only to cure debilitating mental illnesses, but also to face more mundane depressions and the occasional blues.” He lives in Jerusalem so outside Western culture. In the post before this another South African Dr. Is said to be advocating Dr. Leaf’s methods. Again it makes sense to her because she is outside Western culture. It seems to me, Dr. Leaf’s method is trying to use the Bible to help people manage their lives rather like in other cultures meditation is used for the same purpose. It is not wrong but goes against Western thinking.
Harari goes on to say regarding providing soldiers with antidepressants and sleeping pills, “…the soldiers’ biochemistry, and if we can find ways to control it we will at one stroke produce both happier soldiers and more efficient armies”. . Harari himself uses meditation to help him cope with life and increase his concentration.
I think all faiths knew what science has recently discovered, that happiness or joy rather is not dependent on circumstances but is internally to an individual. Different faiths have methods to bring this about while science has medication.
For the record, I am a born again spirit filled Christian but I enjoy reading outside of this with the knowledge that Jesus is real.
Dear Mrs Jacob,
Thank you for your intelligent and considered comment. The influence of internal vs external factors for our mental health is a topic much discussed in our modern world. There’s a broad array of opinion on both sides of the fence.
It sounds like Harari, the author you quoted, aligns to the populist narrative that human beings are a product of their environment. I don’t think this narrative is particularly non-western – there are a number of commentators and so-called experts throughout the western world that reject the notion of biological causes of mental illness (Dr Leaf being one). I could be wrong, but this seems to fundamentally be about rejecting ideas which erode the paradigm of self-determination. After all, it’s really hard to sell the idea that you have the power to overcome your psychological distress by thinking the right thoughts if your psychological distress wasn’t actually due to your thinking patterns in the first place.
Specifically, in the quote from Harari that you provide, it sounds like he is setting up a bit of a straw-man with some liberal generalisations. It’s not true that modern science in western (and non-western) culture believes that happiness is solely related to brain biochemistry. On the contrary, it’s well recognised that our mental health is influenced by our external stressors (social, financial, environmental) as well as our ability to process these stressors (through biological and psychological vulnerability/resilience). It’s also not true that “a growing percentage of the population is taking psychiatric medicines on a regular basis … to face more mundane depressions and the occasional blues.” Modern treatment guidelines are promoting psychological therapies as first line for most psychiatric conditions and certainly in Australia, psychiatric medications are not prescribed for “occasional blues”. Meditation has its place, as does mindfulness and basic stress management.
You’re being very kind by thinking the best of Dr Leaf, but I would suggest that Dr Leaf is not about “trying to use the Bible to help people manage their lives”. She misquotes the Bible to support her baseless pseudoscience. The fact that some people might say they feel better for her ‘ministry’ doesn’t legitimise it, just as positive testimonies for astrology do not legitimise astrology.
Personally I think faith and medicine are complementary. Sure, medical science is catching up on the value of faith and social connection to our health, but faith, social connection, meditation and psychological flexibility have their place along side medications to be used when appropriate, not for ‘happiness’ but for the management of proper psychiatric pathology which can affect those with the strongest of connections to God and their community.
Many thanks for the very interesting comment. All the best to you.
Dear Dr. Pitt,
Thank you for taking the time to respond. It is certainly food for thought.
Harari is a academic at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem although I’m this book his aim is to be provocative.
Wishing you all the very best.
Hello, Dr. Pitt! I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to respond to Dr. Leaf’s teaching. I recently saw her recommended in a book I was reading. As I browsed through her teachings, I was concerned that they didn’t seem to be well-founded in Scripture, and as I then began to come across some of your posts, I was grateful that you put so much fact-based research, from her own words, from science, and from Scripture into one place. It made my research process much faster! I am often saddened to see this type of false and misleading teaching having such apparent success, being so popular and so widely accepted…Still, I remember that 1 Timothy 4:3-4 tells us that the time will come when people will not endure sound teaching, but will heap up teachers to themselves that will say whatever they want to hear, turning to fables instead of truth; and I remember that people cannot be deceived except by their own consent (according to the amplified translation of Jeremiah 14:16); and so I am comforted and reminded that all is still proceeding according to God’s perfect plan, nothing is a surprise to Him, all of His children will certainly be gathered to Him and not one will be missing…But I do appreciate knowing that there are others out there who test all things in light of Scripture, hold fast to what is good, and fight the good fight of letting people know what is true and what is false. So, thank you! Yours in Christ,
(Sydney Michalski, wife and mother of 3, from Downeast Maine)
Thank you very much for your comment.
You’ve put it all into perspective so beautifully. I really do appreciate such timely words of wisdom.
And I’m very glad to have been able to help – it is good for my soul! Thanks for the encouragement.
All the very best 🙂
I’m really interested in this subject, is Caroline leaf teaching positive thinking? or brain rewiring like the work of Norman Doidge and neuroplasticity which is helping Dementia patients? You would know more than me being a doctor.Its very tough. i am of the mindset we only need the word of God but medicine and new discoveries in true science do help and are not against the word? How can we be sure this is sudo science? For me it is too works driven, but i have issues with perfectionism and that is another story! I don’t feel its Godly but cant explain why. Love some thoughts?
Dr Leaf teaches lots of pseudoscience, but her fundamental premise is that the mind is in full control of the brain and the body. If the mind is in control of the brain and the body, then all diseases of the brain and the body are because of abnormal patterns of thought in the mind (“toxic thoughts”), and if all diseases of the brain and the body are because of abnormal patterns of thought in the mind, then the cure for all diseases is to fix the abnormal patterns of thought in the mind.
While that sounds plausible on the surface, the evidence doesn’t stack up. If the mind controlled the brain, then taking medications that affected the brain should not affect the mind, but we know that’s not true every time we have a cup of coffee. And no one in the 60’s who used LSD would have had hallucinations from the drug. Real science has proven that the mind is a product of the brain.
So because Dr Leaf is wrong about the most basic of all facts, everything that she says which is built on that is wrong.
Dr Leaf is a pseudoscientist of the highest order.
Rewiring the brain like Normal Doidge wrote about is true science (although Doidge generally cherry-picks the most compelling stories and romanticises the science a lot). Caroline Leaf loves to throw in buzzwords like ‘neuroplasticity’ but her assertions about it (that neuroplasticity is thought dependent/mind-driven) is completely wrong.
I have written about all of this in a lot more detail in my book “Hold that thought: Reappraising the work of Dr Caroline Leaf” (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/466848) if you want to look more into the details.
As to the balance of the Word of God vs medicine/science, well, it’s not for me to say how much of each we need, but both are very important.
Thanks for your comment. If you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to ask.
All the best.