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Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation

Dichotomy or Trichotomy? How the Doctrine of Man Shapes the Treatment of Depression

Author: Date: January 01, 2000

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Most Christian counselors take a three-fold view of human nature, seeing spirit, soul, and body as three constituents that need to be addressed by spiritual, psychological, and medical means respectively. But trichotomy roots more in Greek philosophy than biblical exegesis. The Bible emphasized the fundamental unity of human nature in a “duplex” of inner and outer man. This “provides a more unified view of man, more psychologically accurate, and truer to human experience.” Uses Happiness is a Choice by Minirth and Meier as a case study in the negative implications of the trichotomist view. “A clear understanding of sin and its cure in Christ’s grace is missing [because] a functional commitment to psychology as a ‘deeper’ understanding of people blinds them to the true nature of sin and the comprehensiveness of the spiritual.”

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