If a person has problems with rage and he wants to calm down, should he take pills?
“We don’t need to go to any shiurim then – we should just give out pills to everyone! Taking pills in order to calm down – it depends. Some pills are made from natural herbs which are meant to aid the body’s health, and that’s different [it’s okay]. But if they are pills that calm a person’s emotional state, one must carefully consider whether he should go down that road or not. Usually when people take pills in order to ease their emotional issues, they have basically decided to work only with their body and not from within themselves. It is living like an animal; animals also get angry [and they can also be calmed with tranquilizing drugs…]. There are a considerable amount of people in our generation today who aren’t interested in working on themselves through the path of avodah (inner work) and therefore they work on themselves entirely through the body; they attempt to change their inner character by working directly with the body. Can we say that this doesn’t work? Of course it can work – it is possible to cause changes in the soul by working with the body, because the body and the soul are interconnected. There is a definitely a part of our avodah to work with our body, but we also have to work directly with our middos (internal character traits) themselves. Now, if a person has such bad middos that he can’t function properly unless he takes pills, then he may do so on a temporary basis and take pills to calm his body.”
[In response to a similar question asked later:] When a person wants to be an oived Hashem (one who serves the Creator), but he wants do so through working with the body alone, this is contradictory behavior. He is searching to build his spiritual state but he is trying to do so through his physical body alone. This is a way that comes from the gentiles and it is only meant to be used by gentiles, and for the most part, it can only work for gentiles. In certain extreme situations, it may be used by a Jew who has fallen very low that for the time being, his life right now resembles a level that is very close to a gentile’s way of living.”