Imago Dei: Losing My Mind


During my darkest depressions — when I sought to take my own life — I had no care about whether or not I was losing my mind. It was already gone and I didn’t possess the capacity to care even if I could. Learning about how being made in the image of God has traditionally meant the capacity for reason and self-awareness, my heart sinks into my stomach recalling the oceans of times I have not had either. Clearly, there were times I was not created in God’s image. I…lost it?

Yet even as I formulate these words on a blog, even as I exercise this odd capacity to not only receive this learning but articulate my response to it, I begin to understand how some ancient theologians, like Augustine, believed that the Imago Dei rested in the mind. God is immaterial as is the mind, thus the mind must be the most like God we are.

Yet for the mind to remain alive as the mind, it requires breath. It requires body. Pope Benedict suggested that everyone possesses the breath of God. From the beginning, we read of a Being who breathes into the nostrils of a pile of dirt and brings it life. As the body is returned into this concept of Imago Dei, the mind seems more proportionately relevant, neither greater than or less than the body. Powered by the breath of God rather than apart from it, my mind resonates within me like my heart beats — with proper time and rhythm, broken and fractured, but reflective wholly of God.


  One thought on “Imago Dei: Losing My Mind

  1. Dr. Kayko
    September 14, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you, Erin, both for sharing theology so poetically, and also sharing your journey of depression. Your honesty will be a valuable, even life-saving, inspiration for people in the church.

  2. Katrina
    September 15, 2017 at 2:21 am


    I know suicide. I know that metal trap that springs shut and cold, cold, when you think you are walking into peace. I know the set delusion that you are delivering your loved ones from contamination, from your infected presence.

    I have been so depressed I have hullucinated, the earth splitting underfoot, voices, one memorable summer black widows spiders stalked my every vulnerable moment.

    I cherish the sanity that is a gift of spirit. Knowledge, power, sound mind. I look to Tulmud, to desert fathers, to the calm and clear bounty of reasoned thought that I crave. There is no thing I fear more for myself than losing my mind.

    But is John of mad island visions not in the image of God? Prophets lay on their sides for months, stare at bones until they knit together. There is a reverence in scripture for the ecstacies of grief, of brokeness, of joy, and I cannot accept that they are outside of the image of God. Even if we isolate the mind from body and breath, isthere anyone sane enough, intelligent enough, perfect enough for the image of God, then? I think… I think this is a good place to begin. Broken, and yet wholly of the image.

    Thank you.

    • September 15, 2017 at 3:48 am

      You’re welcome.

      And yes, we are all indeed a little mad around here. Wholly Imago Dei.

  3. September 15, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Beautifully, poetically stated union of mind, breath/spirit (ruach), and body.

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