MAKING IT BETTER: ‘The Root Cause Of Mental Illness Is Sin’…..REALLY?

Oh boy! ….this one was tough for me. I hardly knew where to begin or how to make a measured response. I tried quite a few times to write something in response, but every time I started I had to stop and rip it up because it wasn’t quite printable. Then I decided it was such a ridiculous and asinine statement it wasn’t worthy of dignifying it with a response. Then I concluded it would be remiss of me as a Mental Health practitioner, a Psychotherapist and a Minister not to comment. So I will struggle to refrain from expletives in my article in response to Pastor Sam Adeyemi’s unfortunate statement above.

There are so many things wrong and dangerous about that statement which I will address a little further down the line. What I found particularly disingenuous about it is the fact that however you look at the statement, it puts the blame of mental health problems at the feet of those affected. So not only do they have to suffer from the symptoms and the ostracisation that goes with it, thanks to the ‘good’ pastor they also have to carry the burden of guilt over something they have no control over. Then in the same breath after blaming the vulnerable he flippantly says they should seek medical attention for it, completely mixed messages!

I don’t mind saying when I first heard Mr Adeyemi speak years ago at the genesis of his career, his pre pastor days, he sounded and appeared to be quite enlightened, genteel and a seeker of truth. There seems to be something profoundly arrogant about casting aspersions on people who suffer from illnesses and in particular Mental Illness.

You can find and quote any passage from any Holy book to support any view you want to, regardless of how warped or untrue it is. Similarly if you look hard enough you can find something to counter the same view in the same Holy book.

You don’t have to be MAD to suffer from mental illness and it is quite a common condition. As a people we have to get away from misinformation in the form of cultural hysteria especially when it comes to our physical and mental well being; this attitude is literarily killing us! Those who have been given a platform, status, positions of authority, etc have the absolute responsibility to debunk backward, harmful utterances such as the one spoken by Pastor Adeyemi.

It is time we come into the 21st century and address the issue of mental illness with some intelligence, knowledge and awareness rather than continuing with views that do not help in any way, but rather cause further pain and confusion to an already complex and misunderstood condition.

As a Psychotherapist I was always very conscious and humbled when  I was working with clients who were very distressed, many (men and women) who had been psychologically traumatised due to war related wounds, and sexual violence, loss and bereavement. I always had in the back of my mind that…. there go I for the Grace of God, and I knew these people had just been at the wrong place at the wrong time; none of us are immune to this. We all see how unstable many parts of the world are and we have our own living experiences that are impacting on physical and mental health.

If we look at the struggles many Nigerians are experiencing now, it is not rocket science to see many people are finding their mental health being extremely challenged at times. For many of us thankfully we recover because we have the right support systems or the problems we encounter may not be sufficiently chronic and are more situational. For others their stress levels may take them to a point where their mental health is threatened and it is important to be able to identify those moments so it can be addressed.

Above Whispers in the short time it has been in existence regularly raises awareness of ways to identify stress, ways to promote healthy minds and bodies and how to address the problems when they arrive. These are responsible, helpful, non judgemental approaches offered to reach out to people who may be suffering in silence, or feeling devalued and afraid of what they may be experiencing. In comparison to hyperbole, mumbo jumbo that only helps the people who spew them out and whatever their personal agendas are.

Sometimes we need to be very careful in how we use words as these very words may come back to bite us in sensitive areas! Would the pastor blame his own relatives for being sinful if they were afflicted in the same way?….Maybe he would!


Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister

Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

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14 Responses to MAKING IT BETTER: ‘The Root Cause Of Mental Illness Is Sin’…..REALLY?

  1. MARIA November 17, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I have always been following your articles here and i must confess that, they have been great. This platform is unique. I was compelled to comment, i just couldn’t read and go anymore

    Mental illness is a sickness of depth. The talk of this pastor just shows how myopic our thinking is in Nigeria. Everything has a root, a spiritual root. If you are sick for too long it is because you sinned. I think awareness is key and understanding is also expedient.

    some people are mentally ill and they don’t know about it, or how would you describe those who trade children for money, rapist, or somepeople who just want to bring their neighbours down?

    We should be well-informed most especially if we have a public sight every time. Thanks

  2. Nancy November 17, 2016 at 11:57 am

    This is a good article that sheds light into mental illness. I know that sam Adeyemi is an intellectual so perhaps there’s something in between that statement

    but all the same, we need great awareness for people, and we need to understand that when something is just beyond the human reach psycologyically, it triggers a reaction.

  3. Olakunle Olajide November 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you for this enlightenment.. God bless you ma.

  4. Maveedah November 17, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Indeed words are powerful and people should please make necessary research before coming out strong about a discuss. Understanding is key.

  5. Opeyemi November 17, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for this article. We need to be understanding and be careful of words.

  6. Monica November 17, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Everything has a spiritual link in Nigeria,

    Everything. Basic understanding lacks and this wouldn’t help us grow. I hope people will learn and understand.

  7. L'Oreal November 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Knowledge is indeed power…… I’m dumbfounded right now.
    it’s really nice knowing this.


  8. bernard November 17, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Wow….. Abovewhispers nailed it again. So vast – touching everything pertaining to human lives.
    I just got enlightened.

    God Bless Abovewhispers

  9. Timi November 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    So TRUE!!!

    It is what we all know – that whenever we do what is wrong or bad – either ways, there is conscious judgement within us. And when we do what is right or good – we are so FREE – in expressions.

    Likewise is sin.
    In my own case (and from what I’ve seen and noticed around) . Sin besets one, it brings self condemnation, it rips us of our confidence…

    For the remorseful ones, they shed tears when they go back to the throne of Mercy, and then gain their confidence back, in Christ..

    I really love this article, God bless the writer.
    May the Lord increase your knowledge.

    God Bless Abovewhispers.

  10. Olufemi November 17, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    The reward of sin is death, no more no less. All of us will go through trials and life challenges, mental illness for some but these are as a result of how the world is not whatever sin we are committing at the moment. Some pastors will make one bit want to he a Christian anymore. Nice write up ma’am

  11. Femi Diipo November 17, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    A neighbor lost her daughter to malaria and her pastor blamed her for her daughter’s death. “She should have brought her daughter to him and not the hospital.” A lot of people are religiously brainwashed in this part if the world and its pathetic.

  12. Olowolafe Olanrewaju November 17, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    This is a rightful information been able to digest in a rightful manner. Thanks to Above whispers.

  13. DSEED November 17, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    We can’t under rate the cause of mental illness through spiritual effect. Like wise we should not be ignorance of other causes of mental illness. Not only to that effect but to so many. For example a woman that is labouring about to put to bed that is suppose to be carry to the hospital for proper attention and insisted to be carry to church, is their equipment for her there to cater for her child delivery?

  14. precious November 18, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Really happy to see this topic. learning new things everyday


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