Saturday, September 04, 2004

Severe emotional problems & the human spirit - part 2

I have said that severe emotional problems often have at their base a problem with the core of our emotional life - the human spirit. My understanding of the human spirit provides me with important insight in to problems that baffle many individuals and their pastors:

  1. Why some people have problems attaining to Christian maturity;
  2. Why some habits and sin problems are so hard to break;
  3. Why some people do not maintain deliverance from darkness.

Some further characteristics of one whose human spirit has not grown to maturity:

  1. Inability to foresee the consequences of behaviour in the future and thereby make wise decisions or avoid sin;
  2. Weakened ability to draw upon the good experiences of life to help one over the bad times - the good of the past seems to be forgotten;
  3. Inability to receive love or register a sense of being loved or to remember being loved so that one lives with emptiness from love or the belief that they have not been loved;
  4. Difficulty in benefiting from insight type counselling - understanding does not help change or control behaviour. It seems that it impossible to think our way in to goodness or love.
  5. Difficulty in learning from the past (mistakes, bad decisions, punishments and scoldings) so as to correct one's behaviour. Given that one's mind and intelligence are intact if not superior, it seems that love and goodness involve more than learning from the past. Good thinking is not enough to produce good moral character.
  6. Conscience or value decisions are not based on empathy with how others feel or how one's actions will effect them. Conscience (value decisions), instead, are based on laws and rules of what is right and what is wrong - life is black or white.
  7. We are talking about lack of strength, life and maturity in the Human spirit resulting in emotional immaturity. Without an adult human spirit we handle situations with the emotional intelligence and strength of a child. At the core we are still in a child state.
  8. One meaning of this is that we are not emotionally ready for adult intimacy and sexuality. We will approach intimacy and sexuality with the emotional capacities of a child. We may, in fact, feel more comfortable in relationships with children than adults because they match our emotional maturity and play interests.

Descriptions of the state of the inner core will make use of pictures and language. When counselling someone I prefer to discover the language and pictures that their heart and mind uses to describe their inner state.

John and Paula Sandford use the picture language of sleep - the slumbering spirit - or of imprisonment - the captive spirit.

The Bible uses similar language to describe a person's spiritual or emotional state. Biblical imagery speaks in terms of life - a tree planted by water - of being in a pit or prison - and also calls for us to wake up referring to sleep.

  1. Prison: Luke 4:18 "He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,"
  2. Blindness: Luke 4:18 "recovery of sight to the blind,"
  3. Pits and prisons: Isaiah 42: 22 "But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons."
  4. Pits: See the following Psalms: 88:1-8,15,18; 28:1; 30:2,3; 40:1-3; all of 142 and 143. In particular notice the complete description of Psalm 142 and 143 and the mention of "my spirit."
  5. Psalm 143 uses the language of "my spirit being overwhelmed and fainting within me" - verse 4; my soul thirsting after Yahweh like a thirsty land - verse 6; as well as the imagery of going down into the pit.

In general the root cause or causes of human spirit being trapped, hidden away, fainting within, etc. so that one does not attain emotional maturity go back to very early life.

  • Events prenatal, at birth or in the early years may be involved - usually something that blocked normal boding between mother and child.
  • Severe trauma that brings about dissociation may be involved at various stages of childhood. In such a case there may be a distinct difference when working with memories before as compared with after this event. The child a later stages may find it hard to get in touch with his or her feelings.
  • It is also possible that the family did not provide affection, love and personal acknowledgement to the child and encouraged a phony self - the 'pretty girl' or 'nice boy.' When such dynamics are strong enough one's spirit can fall asleep and one can get quite out of touch with the real inner person.

Jesus can deal with such depth issues but it helps if you understand what it happening so that you can guide the healing process. I would like you to learn to discern "core issues." Contact me by way of the comments if you are the team of by phone if you are not (in Canada or USA: 1 877 854-3990 or 416 234-1850.) Ask questions as you try to understand and apply this.


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