The case of "Potato" (Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal)

Casebook of Biblical Psychiatry © Version 7

Based upon:
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Real Cases
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Casebook of Biblical Psychiatry© brings the principles of Biblical Psychiatry to life based upon real-world cases and familiarizes Christians with different types of situations. This practical companion volume to Biblical Psychiatry© includes not only diagnosis, but also in-depth discussions by experienced Christians for Biblical approaches to treatment. This meticulously detailed volume of dynamic real-life case studies is simply a "must read" for all clinical Psychiatrists, mental health care professionals and Christians interested in expert opinion on today's treatment approaches. Psychiatric students, educators, and practitionersóas well as social workers, nurses, medical physicians, and interested laypersonsówill find this unique volume of inestimable value in their day-to-day work.




The case of


(Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal)

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The case of "Potato"


Biopsychiatric labels DSM-5

Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal


Checklist Behaviours DSM-7

Anxiety, Deception, selfishness, not content with what you have after a loss


Insights MMPI-7



Quick Pick EDS-7.1

Sources of personal trauma: I experienced Destitution, (financial loss)


Self-disablement EDS-7.2

Yes. He had chosen to sit at a desk for 12 hours a day rather than take real action.


Chemical imbalance EDS-7.3

No. He was never prescribed psychiatric drugs.


Benefits EDS-7.4

Attention seeking, Pride, Praise, Honour, Fame: EDS-7.4.3

Escape duty or life situation: EDS-7.4.4

Sympathy: EDS-7.4.5

Alibi for impending failure as an adult or failure at school or work: EDS-7.4.7

Self-punishment for personal failures or to ease a guilty conscience: EDS-7.4.12


Monetary EDS-7.5



Annoyance Scale EDS-7.6



Diagnostic Laws EDS-7.7

Law of Narcissistic Behaviour Choice (NBC) EDS-7.7.1.NBC

Law of Derivative Personal Benefit (DPB) EDS-7.7.2.DPB

Law of Anticipatory Warthog Psychosis (AWP) EDS-7.7.13.AWP


Determine the Problem

Financial destitution, expectation of shame, rebuke, scorn


Ask a Child

I would be sad and not want to face my mother if I lost the new toy my mother bought me. EDS-7.7.12.PMO


5 years later EDS-7.7.LPT

Accepted downgrade in living standards, repented, restored




The case of "Potato"

Adam was very active in his local church that he grew up in. He often filled in for preachers in the area when they were away. He was also engaged in several public debates on doctrinal matters with false teachers. He was viewed as a pillar member of the local church. He was also a well-paid executive for a large auto parts manufacturing company. But the company was bought out and his job became redundant and he was laid off with a handsome severance package. But after 4 years of looking for work, he could find nothing and nobody wanted to hire him.

So with his manufacturing experience, he decided to start his own company. Then he noticed an add in a commercial real estate listing booklet for a "turn-key" potato chip manufacturing plant that promised big returns. However upon further investigation Adam learned that he was buying the machinery from an existing potato chip plant that was closing down and he would have to move it all into a new location and start from scratch. Adam jumped on this "opportunity of the lifetime" in desperation and proceeded to liquidate his life savings as well as heavily mortgage his home to raise the 600,000 dollars needed to buy the equipment. The new income from his new company would start coming in just in time!

His three children were just about to enter university! His wife was a nurse with 25 years' experience and their three children (twin boys and a girl) were top of their classes in school. One of the twin boys had just been accepted into law and the other into med school. The daughter was in her last year of high school and wanted to go into teachers college.

For nine solid months and 16 hour days, Adam kept himself busy signing a three year commercial lease on a 6000 square foot building, setting up equipment and getting the assembly line set up. But nothing seemed to fit the way he took it apart and he was unable to get the assembly line to run. He was also losing close to $5000 per month in interest and lease costs.

One Saturday afternoon, a fellow member of the church named James came by without prior notice and dropped in to see Adam. He seemed to be sitting at his desk doing paper work. Adam told James that he had been unable to get two machines connected together for the assembly line, to work in synchronization with each other. The first machine filled the bag with chips and the second machine heat sealed the bag and affixed a "best before" imprint. However, the fill level of potato chips in the bags was inconsistent. Sometimes they would be half full, other times the machine spit the bag out with chips overflowing onto the conveyer belt.

James asked if he could try to get the machines working properly. Adam agreed. Within two hours, James got both machines filling bags of potato chips properly. Adam was very happy and now he only needed to get the that the potato peeling and slicing machines working together properly and he could start production. Adam was very happy about this and went home with new hope. At the beginning of the day, there was no hope of ever producing anything for sale.

What James did not know, was that the very day he randomly dropped in to see Adam at the plant, that Adam had determined that was the very day he was going to commit suicide by hanging. In hind sight, James was God's providential angel to save Adam from such a tragic end. James had no idea at the time and for many months that followed how God had used him to help another troubled soul.

Although James' unexpected visit gave Adam new hope and determination to make the company profitable, Adam knew the company was going to fail even after it went into production. He came to realize that his cost of production was much higher than the wholesale price distributors paid for potato chips. He suddenly realized why the company he bought the equipment from went out of business. He also realized that he had not bought a business, but a bunch of used, second hand machines that were sitting in a 6000 square foot storage area that cost him $3500 per month. He realized he could not afford his children's university education AND he was going to have to sell the house.

Adam kept this disastrous information to himself but it deeply bothered his soul. He felt he was a failure as a father and a husband who couldn't support his family. For the next three months Adam would get on his suit, drive to the "factory" and sit alone for 12 hours a day at the desk in a debilitated stupor. Suddenly Adam started acting psychotic talking like a mad man and threatening to commit suicide to his family. The family was very alarmed at this most unusual behaviour.

James was called over to the family home where 10 members of his family had gathered to find a solution. They looked to Adam for a solution to what was otherwise an impasse. James explained that Adam would have to come to grips with the situation and accept financial disaster. James told Adam that his feelings of being a failure to his family were real and justified. James told Adam that he failed to realize that the love his family had for him was more important than financial success and a university education. James reminded Adam that suicide was not a solution, but a cowardly and selfish escape from the consequences of his actions that would deeply hurt his family. James gave Adam his cell phone number and make him promise that if at any time in the future he was thinking about suicide, that Adam could call immediately even if it was 4 am! Adam made this promise but never called.

Adam then stunned his family (and James) that if James had not dropped in for his random visit three months earlier, he would have hung himself before the day was through. This tragic story exactly parallels "It's a Wonderful Life" where financial disaster triggers a suicide attempt that was thwarted by Clarence the angel. The truth is that God will never allow us to be tempted beyond that which we are able. God loves us all so very dearly and is a very real help in a time of trouble.


The course of this true story is self-evident in proving that Adam's depression was not a medical problem, but a moral choice as an escape from the consequences of financial loss.

There is a long historical trail of individuals who were depressed and wanted to kill themselves because of financial disaster. Hospital records of Philippe Pinel at the Bicetre asylum from the 1791 AD, list two cases of men who ended up on the asylum because of "loss of property". The first case was a 36 year old tailor who was manic (mania) and delusional. The second case in 1792 AD, was a 46 year old shopkeeper whose response to financial loss was depression (melancholia). Although Pinel does not mention either were suicidal, this is otherwise precisely identical to what happened to Adam.



Benefits from behaviour: This illustrates the Law of Narcissistic Behaviour Choice (NBC) EDS-7.7.1.NBC

  1. Attention seeking, Pride, Praise, Honour, Fame: EDS-7.4.3. The depression, psychotic behaviour and threat of suicide were all attention seeking cries for help.
  2. Escape duty or life situation: EDS-7.4.4. Adam was wanting to escape his own financial disaster.
  3. Sympathy: EDS-7.4.5. Clearly his psychotic behaviour and treat of suicide were calls for much needed sympathy.
  4. Alibi for impending failure as an adult or failure at school or work: EDS-7.4.7. Psychotic behaviour becomes the cause of failure instead of the person. It's like a drunk blaming the alcohol instead of himself. The drunk feels that he will be cut slack when he says, "Had I been sober, I never would have done that." Likewise Adam was saying, "Had I not been mentally ill, I would not have failed."
  5. Self-punishment for personal failures or to ease a guilty conscience: EDS-7.4.12. The suicide could be viewed as self-administered punishment for failing the family.


Diagnostic laws that are seen illustrated in the case of "Potato":

  1. Adam had calculated that the cost of depression, even suicide was less than the cost of facing his family as a failure. This illustrates the Law of Derivative Personal Benefit (DPB) EDS-7.7.2.DPB
  2. Adam believed that when he told his family they were financially destitute, that he would experience great shame, scorn, rebuke and anger from his family. The depression and suicidal thoughts were an escape from the "punishment" he was about to receive. "Psychotic behaviour and thinking is how the mind rationalizes the irrational." When traveling a "life road" that leads no place you want to go, the solution is create your own fantasy road to travel. This illustrates the Law of Anticipatory Warthog Psychosis (AWP) EDS-7.7.13.AWP


Suicide is a cowardly, selfish solution that hurts and harms those who survive him. However, when you encounter anyone who is thinking of suicide, remember what James wisely did: "James gave Adam his cell phone number and make him promise that if at any time in the future he was thinking about suicide, that Adam could call immediately even if it was 4 am! Adam made this promise but never called." Just imagine the months of tears and sadness that his family would have felt if they found their father and husband hanging from an electrical cord from the rafters of the factory ceiling. Suicide never solves anything. Suicide is a cry of desperation for help. Make the call!


More on suicide

Note: Although these are based upon real case stories, the names and details have been changed to hide the identities of the people. This practice follows the standards of medical case history publication.


By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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