A Little-Known Country, Part 32 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #83)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #83.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Revelation 21:4 which reads, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Dan Fisher. He said, “Hope, hope, hope. It has to be there. Rob the person of hope, and there won’t be any recovery.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 32):

25 August 1921

Dear Fred:

Your letter of August 20 is received. I have read it through carefully and I appreciate very much your frank presentation of the situation as it looks to you. Your letter reminds me of a remark you once made when President Wilson had just fired a man from the Cabinet. You said that letter was so beautifully written that you would be willing to be fired yourself just to receive such a letter.

From your standpoint, then, the situation in which I now find myself is anything but roseate. When analyzed, that situation is this: Periods of abnormality are likely to recur. They might recur while I was in the midst of an important piece of work or while you as custodian were away from home. You question, therefore, whether you could honestly assume the responsibility involved in such an office. You suggest, therefore, that I should accustom myself to the idea of remaining as an inmate here at Westboro. You feel that I could probably be more useful here, and therefore happier than I could be outside. But you say it all so beautifully and in such a genuinely friendly spirit that it is impossible for me to be hurt or offended. And, besides, I am always glad to have the truth, for that constitutes the only possible solution of any difficult problem. I shall therefore try to answer the questions you raise, even though in so doing I may go over ground already covered.

It would be foolish to deny the possibility of the recurrence of abnormality. Every such recurrence leaves its impress in the nervous system and makes it easier for another one to recur. This must be frankly recognized, even though I would dispute the physiological explanations held by most psychiatrists. At the same time it is easy to exaggerate the danger. In the seminar on mysticism which we had with Professor Coe at Union he was constantly referring to Delacroix’s Études d’Histoire et de Psychologie du Mysticisme. It was, he said, by all odds the ablest study of the psychology and history of mysticism which had yet be made. This book I worked through very carefully, as you may possibly remember. It was a careful analysis of the experiences of Sainte Teresa, Madame Guyon and Heinrich Suso, whom he had selected because of their recognized standing and because of the sources of information available in their cases. As I remember it, he showed that in each of these three there were alternating periods of exaltation and depression, the periods of exaltation being marked by voices and visions and inspirations and automatisms of all kinds. Nonetheless they had an organizing function. Their origin was to be found in inner conflict and struggle. Their end was the unification of the personality. And as this end was attained the abnormal elements tended to disappear. But along with the constructive experiences were elements which could not be assimilated. These elements were rejected as suspicious, and taken together they formed what he called the demonic current.

Delacroix seems thus in line with Freud in his functional explanation of insanity. He too finds the origin of abnormal mental conditions in a conflict between certain subconscious forces, and he finds the remedy in the removal of the conflict. Where the conflict has to do with the sex drive, Freud would probably find the solution in a letting down of the bars and the removal of the inhibitions, at least to a certain extent.

I have tried to sum up these views of Delacroix because they fortify me in my own conviction that in my case the abnormal mental conditions are not to be regarded as chronic. If thirteen years ago I had been sent to a mental hospital, the doctors would have had reason to give me a gloomy prognosis. I was at that time in bad condition, morbid, bewildered, overwhelmed by a deep sense of failure. But now for eleven years there has been no recurrence, and this experience seems to me a problem-solving one. There has been throughout these years gradual progress in the direction of the unification of the personality–not in that of disintegration and degeneration. I do not believe there needs to be any recurrence.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 33 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, my friend, God bless!

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