25 Kislev 5778 / Wednesday, December 13, 2017 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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The Very Best Treatment    

The Very Best Treatment

Norman, an ex-Marine from Alabama, had a psychotic breakdown eight years ago while on a tour of duty. Loads of therapy and therapist until now haven't helped…


The other day, I received a call from an ex-Marine all the way from Alabama, who had a psychotic breakdown about eight years ago while on a tour of duty. I’ll call him Norman.


Since then, life for Norman has been very challenging, to say the least. He has been going from one psychiatrist and therapist to the next and still, after eight years, has been unable to come back to himself again.


Living with his mother and not yet married, Norman feels really stuck and unable to progress despite all the therapy and pills that he takes. Maybe that’s why Norman didn’t want to discuss his problems with me. He wasn’t interested in digging into the dark side of his mental illness with yet another therapist.


So what did he want to talk about?


Norman called because he has been listening to my lectures for a long time on YouTube. In fact, he said that he has listened to every lecture that I’ve made. The sight of a mental health professional dressed like a Chassidic Jew lecturing on faith and spirituality caught his interest and he wanted to meet me.


What Norman was really wondering was whether I could help him have a closer relationship with G-d. You see, Norman really wants to feel G-d in his life because he wants to get married and he feels that without G-d in his life he won’t have the strength and the belief in himself to pull himself out of the deep emotional slump that he’s fallen into and start a relationship with a girl.


Norman wanted to know if I would be willing to speak to him about living with more faith on a regular basis, but he wanted my assurance that he didn’t have to become Jewish in order for me to want to speak with him.


I told him that not only did he not have to become Jewish, but that it would be better for him if he didn’t become Jewish. I told him that our backgrounds are not important because we both serve the same Creator and that he could grow closer to G-d in his own unique way by just staying who he is. I told him that the Creator had good reasons for creating him just as he is and that we all have our own unique mission to fulfill in life.


There was something very pure and innocent about Norman. As I looked at him, on my computer screen, he was a handsome, well-built, clean cut young man with good posture.  His manner was very polite and deferential. He even wore a tie for the occasion. He was obviously an excellent candidate for emuna therapy. I saw that he was very open to learning more about what the Creator wanted from him and how he could fulfill his purpose in life. I wondered if Norman’s military background had anything to do with it. I’ve often noticed that people who have served in the military, since they have already learned how to subordinate themselves to human authority, are naturally able to submit themselves to G-d, the ultimate authority.


In any case, Norman had a lot of questions:


“Why did G-d create me with these problems to begin with?”


“Who is going to want to marry someone like me who has a psychiatric history and who is taking psychiatric medication?”


“Have I ever helped someone like him before?”


I told Norman some stories about people that I’ve worked with and how they were able to overcome challenges just like his by learning books such as the Universal Garden of Emuna, The Garden of Gratitude, The Garden of Peace (for men) and Women’s Wisdom (for women) and discussing them with me. I suggested to Norman that we start by learning the Universal Garden of Emuna together, which he was very excited to do.


It was a very good first conversation. As it ended, the therapist part of me reflected on my clinical impressions of Norman. I had witnessed his psychotic thought process and some of his delusional mixed up beliefs.  Suddenly The Evil Inclination found an opening in my consciousness and protested: “C’mon Zev, do you really think that you’re going to be able to cure this guy with emuna? He’s crazy. He needs real therapy. He needs real treatment!”


The moment that I realized that those negative thoughts had come from the dark side, I smiled and thought to myself: “Yes, he will now have the chance for the best treatment that exists, because everything that he will learn will be what the Creator wants him to know and to do. This will not only be the very best “treatment” for Norman but it will be the “treatment” that will bring peace, joy and happiness to all of humanity in this world and in the next world.



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We invite you to visit Dr. Zev Ballen's popular daily web journal Spiritual Coaching.

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