March 4, 2008, on this blog: Tony Perkins in ‘Psycho’
Part of Perkins’ problem here — or at least part of the problem he’s pandering to — is the popular evangelical notion that there’s really no such thing as mental illness, only sin. (The secular parallel to this in conservative ideology is that there’s no such thing as mental illness, only irresponsible personal choices.) In many evangelical circles, the word “therapeutic” is used only as a sneering pejorative. This arises from several of the more troublesome aspects of the American evangelical subculture: from its instinctive anti-intellectual/anti-science bias; from its neo-Neo-platonic belief in a body/mind, flesh/soul duality; from its illiteralist misreading of scripture (“they’re not mentally ill, they’re demon possessed“).
What that all adds up to, in many branches of American evangelicalism, is an attitude toward mental illness that is indistinguishable from that of the Christian Scientists.