As Mental Health Awareness Month concludes, Father Dave welcomes back Catholic speaker and author Dr. Ian Murphy to discuss his new book, “The Road to Self-Awareness: A Therapy Book for Christians.”
Dr. Murphy details his personal experience of losing a large amount of weight. “The original title of this book was going to be ‘How Thomas Aquinas Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds.’ Then [I] realized quickly that this wasn’t just a book about weight loss. It’s a book about healing, period,” he explains. “The driving narrative of the book is my own busted halo. The journey in which I lost 100 pounds after one failed diet after the next in the wide world of secular therapy, in the self-help industry. I found real power to save [myself] in Christ and his Church.”
In the book, Dr. Murphy stresses he is not a dietician or therapist but shares what lacked from other “self-help” programs he tried. “It was all about getting rid of the negative…it was about the treatment of a symptom, or the reduction or avoidance of suffering, or the solving of a problem. But what I found in the Church was that I have not fundamentally a problem to be solved. I’m fundamentally a reflection of God,” he says. “I’m not a problem. I have a problem, but that’s different from being one…It’s not just about getting rid of something bad, it’s about the presence of a positive. It’s not just what I’m saved from, it’s what I was saved for.”
He shares how focusing on virtue helped him find healing through obedience, self-control, and treating his body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Murphy also was surprised by how much he learned from prominent figures in the Church, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, and St. John Paul II.
“Up until I encountered real healing, I had been trying to feel my way into a new way of doing something. if I didn’t feel like doing it, I’d never do it. I was waiting to feel like getting on the treadmill, feel like eating right,” Dr. Murphy says. “I was trying to feel my way into a new way of doing; What Aquinas showed me is that it’s the reverse. We do our way into a new way of feeling. Doing comes first and through repetition, by getting on the treadmill over and over again by making good food choices over and over again, the repetition internalizes as a virtuous habit, a charitable habit, which comes to transform a charitable character.”
Father Dave notes one common problem many have when seeking to improve oneself and says, “There might be some temptation within Christianity, certainly within the Catholic Church, to say, ‘Well, I don’t need a therapist, or I don’t need a gym coach, I don’t need a psychologist because God will do the healing, God is my ultimate healer.’”
Dr. Murphy responds, “He also made us to need each other. I think a lot of people can vouch for this, that I think God’s favorite way to show me his image and show me his love for me is through my neighbor, who was created in that image and likeness…As I found the loving relationships in my life, primarily with my heavenly Father and secondarily with my neighbor, those loving relationships in my life turned out to be the platform for all personal transformation. I couldn’t do it on my own.”