Fortress Press

Dutiful Love: Empowering Individuals and Families Affected by Mental Illness

Dutiful Love

Empowering Individuals and Families Affected by Mental Illness

Elizabeth L. Hinson-Hasty (Author), Bill Gaventa (Foreword by)


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Elizabeth L. Hinson-Hasty pursues places where care for people with serious mental illness and their families is unraveled in the United States. She picks up threads of empowerment from the Christian tradition to address the distinctive circumstances of individuals and families affected by mental illness, and draws upon her own experiences as the sibling of someone with serious mental illness (SMI). As a scholar of theology and Christian ethics, the author challenges the traditional theological explanations of disability and madness and the public policies that try to fit people with SMI into boxes and checklists made for those with minds and bodies society values as ideal.

Dutiful Love explores the distinctive relationship between self-sacrificial love and caregiving when that duty to care extends over the course of an entire lifetime because of social limitations placed upon people with mental illness. Hinson-Hasty investigates how the Christian theological tradition shapes our Western understanding of normal and abnormal minds and bodies. This approach to mental and physical impairment associates healing with curing but neglects the empowerment thread that is part of the gospel narrative. The author encourages caregivers (whether professionals, friends, or families) to think about the concept of self-giving as an alternative to self-sacrifice. In the context of families impacted by mental illness or degenerative disease, healing is more synonymous with presence. Intentional presence involves self-giving, listening, contemplation, prophetic truth-telling, and walking with another so that isolation, stigma, and shame no longer define the social realities of people with mental illness, their siblings, or their larger families.

The book includes discussion questions, making it an ideal resource for individual reflection, church study groups, and college, seminary, and university classrooms.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506464886
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464893
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 209
  • Publication Date August 17, 2021


"Every so often a scholar writes a book that has the potential to reshape an academic discipline or at least establish an important new research area or subfield. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty has done that with this breakthrough Christian ethical engagement with the neglected issue of mental illness. This work . . . tackles a serious human problem involving profound suffering and injustice, attends to the voices of those most affected, diagnoses societal shortfalls that worsen the problem unnecessarily, brings serious biblical and theological reflection to bear in order to change our moral vision, and offers examples of a path forward for Christian communities."

David P. Gushee, Mercer University

"Hinson-Hasty gifts us with a groundbreaking liberation theology for mental health disabilities that speaks the unspeakable: how serious mental illness impacts all of us, including those living with serious mental illness and their loved ones. This book empowers us to create communities of belonging and to advocate for social change for disabilities and mental health justice."

Sarah Lund, MSW, author of Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and the Church.

"Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty has written a book that is a superb example of theology that is theoretically and pastorally grounded. She has given us a blueprint of practices for Christians to adopt in order to give such persons their due, nothing less than their being integral members of their churches and communities."

Ramon Luzarraga, St. Martin's University

"In this perceptive study, Professor Hinson-Hasty recounts the sobering, often sordid, history of social and religious responses to persons with physical and mental disabilities. She then moves beyond that to give voice to individuals and families who confront those realities every day, and concludes by calling all of us to nurture and participate in 'communities of caring,' offering creative, insightful ways to do just that."

Candyce C. Leonard, Professor Emerita, and Bill J. Leonard, Professor of Divinity Emeritus, Wake Forest University

"Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty has done something truly remarkable for the field of Christian ethics in this book. Not only has she conducted rigorous research and provided thoughtful analysis, she also offers a variety of resources to move her intellectual work into the lived experiences of faith communities. This work fills a gap, one known all too well by those of us like her who have siblings with serious mental health conditions."

Trace Haythorn, ACPE Executive Director