Reflections on the Meaning of Mental Integrity



Wipf & Stock Publishers, Resource Publications, Published December 7, 2021

Reflections on the Meaning of Mental Integrity: Recovery from Serious Mental Illness

by Marcia A. Murphy            Purchase Here


In the midst of devastating mental illness, the author hears from God. Her resulting faith points her towards recovery. She tells us what steps she took, and that others must take, to achieve mental health. Hers is a unique and powerful voice. Patients and doctors both should listen.

—Russell Noyes Jr., MD, Emeritus Professor, Psychiatry Department, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa 

In an impactful narrative, Marcia Murphy writes with the raw, first-person discernment of someone recovering from serious mental illness. Her prose highlights the interacting forces influencing mental health -– physical, psychological, social, and faith-based. Her courage in describing her own recovery and the importance of human interaction, community, prayer, and the arts can provide examples for health care workers and religious communities looking to serve alongside those striving to recover from mental illness.

Cecilia M. Redmond Norris, MD

Competing titles

How does it compare to similar books already available on the market?

Amen, Daniel G., The End of Mental Illness: How Neuroscience Is Transforming Psychiatry and Helping Prevent or Reverse Mood and Anxiety Disorders, ADHD, Addictions, PTSD, Psychosis, Personality Disorders, and More. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum. 3/03/2020. $23.39.

If you wanted to find a book that is the ultimate contrast to Murphy’s own work, Daniel Amen’s The End of Mental Illness[1] is a case in point. His subtitle says it all: How Neuroscience Is Transforming Psychiatry and Helping Prevent or Reverse Mood and Anxiety Disorders, ADHD, Addictions, PTSD, Psychosis, Personality Disorders, and More.[2] Not only does Amen attribute mental health and illness solely to a physical material substance (the brain) without the spiritual attributes of the mind; he neglects the essence of being mentally healthy which is derived from the soul. He makes false claims such as there being no progress in psychiatry for the past seven decades (not true); and casting aside any humility, wants to remake something on a grand scale that he is only proposing from a limited, outside perspective (the objective observance of a professional), and, furthermore, from which he is drawing inaccurate conclusions. It is common knowledge that in any field, the ambitious often try to make a name for themselves and with this ambition will go to extremes. This is an extreme book. Even though Tyndale claims to publish from a “Christian perspective,” Amen’s book discredits that. Amen’s book has no substantial biblical background and lacks anything that Christians hold in the highest regard: the life of the spirit, the soul, the spiritual world (beings), human’s utter dependence on God’s sovereignty, grace and protection, including Christ’s role as healer by his witness through spoken testimony and acts recorded in the Bible.

Murphy develops an understanding of mental illness using a biblical foundation as background, along with the lessons learned from the wisdom (and failures) of not only Western psychiatry both currently and things gleaned over the past 300 years, but with the added depth of insights from the field of psychology and the vital contributions of religion. This will provide a holistic frame of reference and support a broader healing paradigm than one solely focused on a simple neurology of the physical brain. In addition, social milieus regarding familial and civic environments influence the myriad of mental troubles and my project addresses the micro aspect of one-on-one human interactions as well as macro connections within large communities. When trying to decipher causes of mental breakdown and what promotes healing, Murphy acknowledges the importance of good nutrition for the human body and brain, and hopeful thinking, but takes the reader further, through the complex picture of what moral, ethical, and value-based character looks like when speaking about a stable mental integrity. Mental integrity, a healthy mind, is what she is concerned about, and this can only be formed by adopting the God-given resources undergirding the Christian faith built upon biblical truths. A prudent psychiatry will recognize this and partner with those who are seeking to help patients develop a healthy character in tandem with logical and rational abilities. Right thinking, cognitive health, can dispel recurrent anxieties and other emotional problems because right thinking can promote a healthy lifestyle. Habits, patterns of healthy thinking, based on good values, will create a healthy life trajectory, leaving an unhealthy one behind; and it all starts with acknowledging God as the redeemer, protector, and sustainer of a healthy life.

So, wrong diagnosis, wrong cure. Neurologists in isolation and taking human beings out of context, will not end mental illness because mental health and illness encompasses so much more than the mere neurological processes of the brain.


[1] Amen, End of Mental Illness.

[2] Amen, End of Mental Illness.

How is mental integrity (state of being complete, whole) achieved in light of serious mental illness? The author’s intent is that this work will be a source of insight and healing for many and that it will equip the church, conjoined with the medical/scientific field of psychiatry, to do a better job of enabling people living with mental illness to access the resources they need for becoming whole. The author shares some of her personal story of experience with serious mental illness, i.e., it’s genesis and subsequent recovery process which includes finding a relationship with God, involvement in a Christian community, and her ministry work as an advocate for the mentally ill.
For one section of the book, the process of gathering information from a limited amount of sources on an international level included responses from former and current missionaries, professors, and medical mission workers. Certain culturally indigenous interpretations of psychiatric phenomena are considered, as well as how these cultures tackle the problem within familial and societal contexts. It is beyond the scope of this work to explore every culture on the planet.
The author points to the need to integrate spiritual and medical/scientific modalities to increase recovery outcomes and to improve the quality of life for the ill. A great challenge in the international settings of developing countries is not only the socioeconomic difficulties including lack of resources which hinder access to psychiatric care and treatments; but the complex systemic corruptions in structures of government that intercept and/or block desperately needed aid intended for the populace.
This written work is to encourage a multifaceted approach to serious mental illness and health definitions through an integration of diverse perspectives which include the fields of Western psychiatry/science, psychology, religion, and other cultural views from outside of the United States. All can make valid contributions given their various accomplishments and traditions. I believe there is much we can learn from one another. Through narrative and subsequent interpretation this book will enable those involved with the mentally ill to reconsider the resources they need to support the ill, hopefully leading to better holistic treatments and successful outcomes. And for those who struggle with mental health issues, perhaps this work can be a healing influence and support, encouraging hope for recovery.