PODCAST: A Little-Known Country, Part 21 (Ordained Chaplains: Out of the Depths #72 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III. I am the president of Gospel Light Society University. We are going through the book “Out of the Depths: An Autobiographical Study Of Mental Disorder And Religious Experience” by one of the pioneers of chaplaincy, Dr. Anton T. Boisen. This is episode #72.

Our Scripture Verse for today is 1 John 4:4 which reads, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Our Ordained Chaplains quote for today is from Vincent van Gogh. He said, “I knew well enough that one could fracture one’s legs and arms and recover afterward, but I did not know that you could fracture the brain in your head and recover from that too.”

In this podcast, we will continue discussing the book “Out of the Depths” by Anton T. Boisen. We continue today with “Chapter 4: A Little-Known Country” (Part 21):

The reference to my believing that I had not suffered from any mental illness refers, of course, to my attempt to distinguish between cerebral disease and mental disorder, and my assertion that I had no cerebral disease.

In fairness to the doctor it should be said that in talking with him, talking as I did under unfavorable conditions and vexed by his attitude, I probably got somewhat excited. It was this which probably explained his answer.

The chief developments during the month of January were the completion, through Fred Eastman’s unremitting efforts, of the negotiations for my transfer to the Bloomingdale Hospital in New York and my own growing conviction that my vocational future was to be found in the mental hospital. But the way was by no means easy, and when it came time to have the necessary papers signed, serious obstacles were encountered. It was a trying time for all of us, especially for my mother. My own state of mind is reflected in the following letter to here.

1 February 1921

My beloved mother:

I have been pondering this morning over the next step which lies before me. I have already written you of what I have in mind, but I feel that there is a little more that needs to be said.

It is for one thing clear to me that I cannot go back into the pastorate. The prolonged stay here has already made that inadvisable. In this Fred Eastman agrees with me. In fact both of us arrived at this conclusion independently. It is inadvisable because it would be necessary to account for these four months, and questions would be raised in the minds of many people, even though I were far more competent than I have ever been before. It is also inadvisable to think further of the pastorate because, if this experience which I have passed through has any meaning, that meaning would point clearly in another direction.

Two courses then remain. I can go into survey work, or other work which I have done before. Such a step I should regard as a backward one and I should always feel myself a failure. The other course is to take as my problem the one with which I am now concerned. That seems to me the clear course. It would give meaning and unity to the experiences of the past and provide something for me to live for and work for. This is truly an interesting and important problem, one which is just beginning to be understood and one in which religion and medicine meet. In many of its forms, insanity, as I see it, is a religious rather than a medical problem, and any treatment which fails to recognize that fact can hardly be effective. But as yet the church has given little attention to this problem.

In our next podcast, we will continue with Part 22 of Chapter 4, “A Little Known Country”.


Now, if you have come across this podcast, and do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, God bless!