My last post on Catholic Forums..psychological/spiritual and apologetics


#1

I’ve been reading some threads dealing with
persons having psychological difficulties within
the faith.

How about this analogy?

150 years ago, a physical disease was overtaking
one village and town after another. The leading
lights of the day came up with the theory of
"phlogiston", a substance that they postulated
caused the disease. Their solution?
The city fathers set out smudge-pots around the
city to try to ward off this physical threat.

Years later, when the microbic theory of disease
was formulated, genuine progress was made.

The parallel? Researchers today are looking into
brain structure, chemical messengers called
neurotransmitters and a host of other factors
that may generate psychological difficulties…independent
of a person’s religious beliefs or lack thereof.

The “phlogiston” theory of our own day, I believe,
is to treat some psychological difficulties as if
these are generated by spiritual difficulties.

It’s as if Fulton Sheen were still on TV,
and severe scrupulosity was considered a pastoral problem.
It’s not 1955. It’s 2005. Treat the medical problem
first…or even concurrently…with spiritual solutions.

To do anything less, to me, is a form of blaming
the victim, based on, I’m sorry to say, sheer
ignorance of medical realities. *

There’s a ready made religion for those who think
prayer alone and trust in God is the solution. It
was founded by Mary Baker Eddy and is called
Christian Science. Surely Catholicism is not
Christian Science.

This will be my last post on Catholic Forums.
I’ve tried my best to convey a reality that I’m
all too familiar with, and suggest lines of approach
that represent, to me, a *genuine *spiritual response
to people who are suffering…I think to little or no
avail. I give up.

reen12*


#2

Goodbye and God bless. You will be in my prayers.

I understand your position. As a Psy.D., I find it rather frustrating that some, maybe many, are so preoccupied with only the spiritual side of illness – especially psychological disorders – that they forget that there are very real medical, even biological, reasons for some of the things that people suffer. I have to say that I find this attitude contrary to the Catholic Faith, as laid out in the CCC and certainly less than charitable.

There are ramifications that are definitely associated with each person(s) illness, some of them as hard – if not harder – as the illness itself. By no means do I suggest we dismiss these things, however we must never loose sight on the very real medical causes of them either.

It usually seems that people are on polar extremes of these issues and can not see that sometimes the answer is both/and instead of either/or. It can be very frustrating indeed.


#3

reen12,

The “phlogiston” theory of our own day, I believe,
is to treat some psychological difficulties as if
these are generated by spiritual difficulties.<<

…as if? Spiritual difficulties can indeed effect one’s psychology.
Being positive, or upbeat compared to depressed and negative can lead to hormonal imbalances. Depression can lead to suicide or crime.

Faith can avail much to someone who is in poor health. (Notice that ill health did not stop Pope John Paul until the very end.)

But health, while precious, does little for those in spiritual chaos.

Both are important, but one’s faith is superior. Good health lasts less than a single lifetime, good spirituality lasts forever.

Thal59


#4

Dear Thal59,

Thanks for proving my point,

reen12


#5

Dear Thal59,

Thanks for proving my point.:cool:

reen12


#6

I don’t understand. Please clarify this for me. Reen12, are you saying that medical should come first? I agree. What’s the problem? Most people would agree with that. That doesn’t seem to contradict Catholic belief to the best of my knowledge.

Are you saying that people are blaming depression and other maladies on the spiritual world?

Sometimes that is true. I wouldn’t start there necessarily.

Do you believe that our thoughts and beliefs affect our health?

If you want to quit the forums over this issue, ok but I don’t get it. Doesn’t seem big enough unless, of course, I’m missing the point. (Wouldn’t be the first time. :wink: ).


#7

Hi, SusanL,

Ok, I’ll give it a try and offer some thoughts on your questions.

First, there are people on these forums with great
spiritual insight and much to offer.

Health [mental or physical] is also part of the spiritual
life. I have* no* problem with that reality.


Secondly, there are types of illness that are physically
caused [schizophrenia, bipolar, major depressive illness].
I find that people often speak as if the subjects of
these disorders can somehow be blamed for the
manifestations of the disorder. As if something were
awry with them spiritually. The key word here is awry.

These people then carry a double burden…the
illness itself and the critical stance of those who seem
to view themselves themselves as God’s regents to
"set these people straight."

Think positive, it’ll do wonders for your
physical system. Probably true. But for one who
suffers mental illness, it’s like saying: "A brisk
walk around the block and you’ll see the improvement,"
when the person may be hearing voices, or having
thoughts racing 100 miles an hour, or barely able
to drag themselves to the kitchen table to write
out a grocery list. [severe depression]

Why would I stop posting to the forums over this
issue? Because it is the only thing of value I
had to offer…I tried to find meaning in dreadful
mental suffering by describing same and hoping
that some others might gain insight into the reality
of those similarly afflicted.

Prayer is fine, SusanL. If there exists a
dichotomy, it is in the mind and experience of
some who suffer certain *types *of mental illness,
who often feel bereft of hope, joy, meaning…
To have it implied, as I have seen in some posts
on the forums, that those who suffer in this
way are lacking faith or trust is, to me, to totally
misunderstand the reality of mental illness in
many cases.

I feel like the little drummer boy, who only had
a drumbeat to offer, and has been told, indirectly, that
not only is this gift insufficient, but worthy of
censure.

I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said: “Most people
wouldn’t want to be the God they have created in
their minds.” They would be more compassionate.

Since I was gifted with the ability to articulate, I
thought that I could use this gift to reach out.
It has not been a succesful endeavor.

Thanks for your reply, Susan,
reen12


#8

A postscript,

Someone who loves and cares about me cautioned
me to consider not posting to these forums, for fear
that it would cause me hurt. That person was right.

reen


#9

I suffer from Bi-Polar disorder. If it wasn’t for medications I would not be here today. I still get depressed but not to the extent that I was when I didn’t take these meds. I think the BVM and Jesus guided me to Dr.s with the knowledge to treat me. I think the CCC addresses this. I live with this illness and I don’t think God gave it to me as a punishment. I don’t think it is a matter of lack of faith, I love the Lord and know he can heal me of this affliction. Maybe I have it to teach me something, humility, the suffering Christ went through. This is the only thing I can imagine. The times I am really depressed can be called despair which I know is a sin. It is at these times I pray more, I pray for God to just take me and make it all go away. Each time I do go through these episodes I learn a little more. I go see a psych. each week, she is religious I don’t know which denom but she encourges me to pursue my new found faith. I am growing so I do know that there is a spiritual side to it as well. I just want people to know that it isn’t punishment it isn’t lack of faith, it is a chemical imbalance. I wish I could articulate as well as reen and I hate to see her go because of some misinformed people on this board. reen you will be missed and you made contributions here that were needed. Thank you and may God bless you!


#10

Oh, Mike, what a dear heart you are.

As to the sense of despair, I see that, too, as
a manifestation of an illness, not a sin. Please
ask the doctor about this, will you?

Maybe what you’re talking about is akin to Jesus
crying out: My God, My God, why have You abandoned
Me?"

Don’t you see? You are given an opportunity to join
this sense of despair with Christ’s plaintive cry, to experience
this sense as something to offer to God as redemptive
suffering. It can be a great gift, albeit a heavy one.
He felt abandonment; sometimes you feel a sense of despair.
It is a golden opportunity, Mike, not a sin. It is
created by a chemical disorder, unrelated to your
worth, which is infinite in God’s sight.

thanks for your reply, Mike,
reen12


#11

Reen,

How have these forums hurt you?

This place is called “Catholic Answers.” It is a forum to discuss the Catholic Faith.

Regarding mental illness… I find the Catholic Church to be VERY sensitive and compassionate regarding this. The Catechism clearly states the Church’s position.

I have listened to EWTN radio over and over… and there is a show called “the doctor is in” (I think that is the name)… well… they talk about mental illness all the time. I have NEVER heard them mentioned that a person who suffers from these illnesses have “gone awry” spiritually. I have never ever heard this.

This topic is VERY DEAR to me. You see… I am a survivor of suicide. My greatest friend in the world took his own life. I went through a tough time… he lived with me… I had to clean out his room… call his family… it goes on…

My faith in our Lord… and my Catholic faith are the ONLY things that have kept me together.

I am posting this because I am wondering what “hurt” you are finding… for I have found nothing but Love, help, compassion, and the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ.


#12

Hi Reen, please don’t go! Maybe you could just take a break for awhile instead–I know that’s what has helped me, and perhaps it could help you, too. Never mind what others on here say–none of them are God or saints or anything even close! I think my first two months on here were the most difficult for me, as I took everything everyone wrote on here very, very seriously, even if they didn’t, and I was pretty frustrated all the time, and even angry sometimes. I have ended up avoiding certain types of threads and issues so I don’t get too emotional about them or too caught up in them, ya know? I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I tend to react to things on here, and those are valuable lessons. So hang in there, ok? Take a wee break and get grounded again and pray. And then do whatever’s best for you, never mind the forums!

God bless you, friend!

Geraldine


#13

You know, Geraldine, that’s a *very *good idea.

Today I’ve been experiencing what’s called
"spontaneous regression" plus low blood sugar,
which tends to make me feel “what’s the use.”

Spontaneous regression means that I suddenly
"feel" very, very young and defenseless. It’s
like looking at the world and the people in it
through the eyes of a six year old. It’s pretty
disruptive, and is the result of psychological
injury, not biology.

Oh, Geraldine, thanks. I keep bouncing back
and forth between Judaism and Catholicism,
like a yo-yo, all due to both psychological injury and
biological deficits.

My husband’s spirits picked up when I told him
of your post, because he knows how interesting
I’ve found the forums, and he felt that I was
leaving a positive experience.

God bless you, dear NightRider,
Maureen [reen12]


#14

God bless you, my dear Maureen! and thank you for your kind words.

I think I do that regressive thing you mentioned from time to time, too, and it does leave me feeling very vulnerable. I was repeatedly traumatized as a child and suffer from a couple of disorders related to the trauma, i.e. clinical depression, ptsd, mild ocd and panic/anxiety. Yikes! Medication and prayer help a whole lot, and as I grow older I am tending to be calmer about it all. Haha! Not all the time, of course, that would be too boring!! But truly, the recovery I’ve experienced in the last seventeen years gives me much hope and I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me, especially the Lord and His Mother! Whew! Without them I probably would have self-destructed many years ago, truly. So–thanks be to God! (and time passing…!)

Many blessings, my new friend!

Geraldine


#15

Reen, I forgot to mention that about twenty years ago I almost converted to Orthodox Judaism! I studied Torah and commentary with an Ashkenazi Orthodox Rabbi for two years, kept a kosher household and went to shul every Shabbat. That’s back when I was an active alcoholic. It took me a long time and getting sober to finally come back home to Rome. In fact, I had been sober for nine years before I came back to the Church. So I understand your attraction to Judaism. It is very rich spiritually but the only thing is–there’s no Jesus in it! and He kept calling me back home, and well, I finally listened!

Many blessings, it’s time for my bedtime!

Geraldine


#16

Dear Vinko,

I’m sorry about your loss of your friend and I’m glad
that you’ve found comfort and support in the faith.
I can’t even imagine what you endured.

Thanks for telling me about the EWTN program.
I’ll look it up.

reen12


#17

Me, too, Geraldine…off to bed. I can’t believe

that you, too, were so drawn to Judaism and
even kept kosher. Yeah, me too. post-traumatic
stress, dissociation, high anxiety, depression,
the whole nine yards. I’ll be 59 this month and
I still have a great deal of difficulty.

Yes, you are my new friend,

Maureen


#18

I knew I was forgetting something–my dissociation! Yup, I got that one going on, too! I’m 49, going on 50 this year, and all I can say is things sure are getting, well, *different!! *

Have a great night’s rest, Maureen! with many blessings,

Geraldine


#19

[quote=reen12]You know, Geraldine, that’s a *very *good idea.

Today I’ve been experiencing what’s called
"spontaneous regression" plus low blood sugar,
which tends to make me feel “what’s the use.”

Spontaneous regression means that I suddenly
"feel" very, very young and defenseless. It’s
like looking at the world and the people in it
through the eyes of a six year old. It’s pretty
disruptive, and is the result of psychological
injury, not biology.

Oh, Geraldine, thanks. I keep bouncing back
and forth between Judaism and Catholicism,
like a yo-yo, all due to both psychological injury and
biological deficits.

My husband’s spirits picked up when I told him
of your post, because he knows how interesting
I’ve found the forums, and he felt that I was
leaving a positive experience.

God bless you, dear NightRider,
Maureen [reen12]
[/quote]


#20

I just have to put my 2 cents in.

I am considered clinically depressed. My serotonin levels are too low. My doctors have put me on Prozac, Zanac, and many other types of antidepressants, but the never worked. It was after I prayed one night, “God, I give up, I feel like dying, but I leave it all to you to do with me as you want” Since then, I no longer feel depressed, even though the chemical levels have not changed. I feel sublime peace, and as long as I keep God as the center of my life through prayer, and spiritual meditation, I do just fine and dandy. If I forget about God and start worrying about my life, then I can start to feel depressed.

Yes human medicine is good, but it is but sugar water compared to the healing power of God. It’s too bad too many people have such little faith in God. After all didn’t He say “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-30)

There is peace in the Lord, you just have to let him in.


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