The Doctors' Doctor

Updated: Jul 24

I received the following email from a colleague of mine who is a M.D. Psychiatrist, and a Clinical Assistant Professor at a very prestigious American University.  


Referring to an article I wrote entitled Cognitive Dissonance: the doctor responded:


I read your article and was quite embarrassed as a Jewish psychotherapist and as a psychiatrist that someone can still be so ignorant. If you believe that the point of psychotherapy is useless as "everything" comes from Hashem, then why do you do psychotherapy? Why did you pursue a doctorate in psychology? Next time I see a patient with Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major depression, eating disorder, etc, I will tell them there is nothing I can do, as "everything" comes from Hashem and talking to me just adds to the doubt. 

Have a great day!


* * *


Dear Esteemed Colleague,


Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to write to me as I am grateful for the opportunity to write back.


Psychotherapy can indeed be dangerous to the soul of a person when it is conducted by a therapist who doesn’t acknowledge that all healing comes from Hashem.  A psychotherapist with emuna (faith), on the other hand, can elevate and strengthen his patient’s awareness of Hashem and teach him about his true purpose in life – that therapist is not useless at all – he has an important role to play before the Messiah comes.

You wanted to know why I still bother to do psychotherapy since everything comes from Hashem anyway. The answer is: people in psychological pain are stuck -  they desperately need Hashem but have been unable to find Him. The world still needs mental health professionals – but only those who practice with emuna. A therapist who is connected to the the "Doctor of all souls" can be an agent through which Hashem can bring healing to a person.


Your second question was why I pursued a university education that led to my qualification to practice psychotherapy. The answer is that when I started college in 1972, I wasn’t yet religious. Hashem decreed that I spend 10 years preparing to be a psychotherapist and another 30 years wandering in the midbar (the wasteland) of psycho-therapeutic heresy - so that I might now expose the truth about it and lead those, who care about their souls, to something infinitely better.


Your last question, doctor, was in the form of a statement. You wrote: [The] next time I see a patient with Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major depression, eating disorder, etc, I will tell them there is nothing I can do, as "everything" comes from Hashem and talking to me just adds to the doubt.” Here you have listed some of the most severe mental conditions that psychiatrists treat. Honestly, Doc - do you really think that there is anything that you can do to cure these plagues? If the greatest most brilliant and righteous people of previous generations going back to our Patriarchs and Matriarchs have not had the merit to rectify this world and it’s ills – will you be offended if I suggest that your medical degree or even the medical profession as a whole will not be enough to end these plagues?


C’mon Doc - you can prescribe medicine for your patients and sometimes calm them for a while - but do you really know who they are and what they’ve gone through? How far can simple people like you and I actually see into the spiritual roots of our patient’s dilemma?


Have you ever wondered why great spiritual healers like the Chozeh of Lublin (The Seer from Lublin), the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, and the Baba Sali were able to cure the sick without ever once opening a medical textbook? They had eyes like spiritual MRI machines. They looked into a person’s eyes and in seconds saw the story of their soul passing through a chain of lifetimes – they could see the root cause of a person’s illness and rectify it.


Doctors whose faith is limited to what they learned in medical school will never be able to perform miracles - Hashem limits those doctors to healing within the confines of natural law.  Since Hashem is higher than nature, when a doctor turns to Hashem and puts his ultimate faith in Him, rather than in the medicines and treatments he administers, that doctor merits being a messenger of the Divine.  The Angel Raphael (from the Hebrew Refuah – to heal) stands beside such a doctor.


Why does the Talmud say that even the best doctors go to gehenim (hell). I think the Talmud is not referring to all doctors - just the ones without faith.


Doc, please have mercy on those you took an oath to treat. Human suffering is getting worse: suicide, murder, mental illness, divorce, abuse, rape, addiction. You can either continue putting your faith in your medical books and watch as mental illness continues to spiral out of control; or, you can summon up the courage to join us. Only once we’ve humbled ourselves before Hashem, will we have the joy, serenity and the personal power to channel goodness and health to our patients.


Paradoxically as you shed your need for professional degrees, titles and personal ambitions - Hashem will catapult you to the top of your profession and you’ll discover the special role that Hashem has given you there – something that you can do better than anyone else. May it be so. Amen. 

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© 2020 Zev Ballen, Psy.D, LCSW