No, Rick Warren, we’re not “all mentally ill”

Rick Warren, pastor of the infamous Saddleback Church, recently gave a sermon where he attempted to de-stigmatize mental illness…but did the opposite. Warren, whose son suffered from borderline personality disorder and recently committed suicide, said “We’re all mentally ill” and “You have fears, you have worries, you have doubts, you have compulsions, you have attractions…”

Greta Christina has a great response up at Salon:

Mental illness is many things. But there’s one thing it most emphatically is not — and that is everyday fears, worries, doubts, and attractions. (Of the items on Warren’s list, “compulsions” is the only one that belongs.) Seeing mental illness as ordinary emotions is a fundamentally flawed view,  one that harms people actually living with such illness.

It’s common for people with mental illness to have our illnesses treated as just life’s ups and downs. People with clinical depression are seen as just mopey or sad; people with clinical anxiety are seen as just worriers; people with obsessive compulsive disorder are seen as just neat freaks. But these attitudes trivialize mental illness. They frame it as something people should be able to handle on our own — and make any failure to do so seem like a character flaw, a weakness of will.

Read the whole piece here.


  1. says

    To be honest, given how these dipshits talk, this sounds like he’s directly and literally demonizing mental illness by using exactly the same language about it as his ilk are prone to using about ‘sin.’

  2. William R. Dickson says

    Ugh. I’ve been loving and living with someone diagnosed with bipolar II for nearly 13 years. Few things get me worked up as much as someone telling me, “I think I’m a little bipolar, actually!” No, sometimes being happy and sometimes being sad is not being “a little bipolar.”

  3. says

    It sounds like a particularly bad case of pastorsplaining. “I’ve been to bible college, so I’m qualified to talk about absolutely anything without much thought or research.” But I sincerely sympathise about his son.

    Off to read Greta.

  4. ericblair says

    It’s just as bad to go the other way. My father firmly believed that all psychology was a crock and that counseling was just a scam perpetrated on weak-minded people.

  5. naturalcynic says

    It appears that Warren is soaked in the christian paradigm of “Original Sin”. We’re all born sinners, we all keep sinning, some more than others. Then the cure has to be “Accept God/Jesus” for the only true cure.It may be easier for Warren to believe that his son simply didn’t try the right way.

    Either that or, he’s the Cheshire Cat: We’re all mad here, you know.

  6. says

    I respect Warren for his desire to de-stigmatize mental illness. And I respect that he’s willing to let his son’s tragic death be an inspiration to make the world better.

    I respect Greta for trying to be charitable, but Warren’s track record proves her wrong here. This guy is an ignorant con-artist trying to sell his religion as a cure-all. And the way he’s doing it makes me wonder if his bogus know-nothing religion might have been part of his son’s problems.

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