We live in a societal environment where people are faced with problems of all kinds and no one pays attention because everyone is encapsulated in similar situation. Meanwhile this paper discusses the situation surrounding Annemarie who suffers from neurosis of anxiety. The situation appears gloomy and Annemarie is left hopeless because the mental health facility in which she was admitted could not solve her problems as the result of underlying conditions that were not being be taken care of at the time. It discusses the main and sub-problems centering on her case, the approach of secular psychology to alleviate her problem of chronic anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. In the approach to solve her problems, various terminologies are introduced by the students that could be used in the process if secular psychology would have been used. The paper gives biblical path which could be used to counsel Annemarie. The biblical injections introduced regarding scriptural passages that the Christian counselor could use to give a remedial approach to the situation. It concludes with the summary or the restatement of the problem with applicable solution.
MAIN AND SUB-PROBLEMS
The developmental domains of a child are significant to the various growths of such child. These domains are interrelated to the emotionality of the child. These domains such as the physical, cognitive, social, and emotion set stage to the well-being of a child in a realistic physical and spiritual environment during early years of growths. The manner in which a child is brought up plays a vary important role in the life of a child coupled with the environment and its influences. The kind of things a child experiences during early years of life plays on the decision the child makes as the result of traumatic event the child experienced when he or she was growing up. Children are absorbed learners; therefore, everything they experience in lives can negatively or positively affect their lives contingently. The model of personality of a child develops consciously on various levels of conscious experience, the pre-conscious experience, and the unconscious experience. The unconscious experiences are those experiences that are unresolved conflicts from the childhood. These experiences play on the decision the child makes in life. These models of personality assumption are philosophical based on human experience at early years. Jones and Batman state, “The generic assumption asserts that current behavior and experience are the products of past events.” Annemarie childhood experience to have no connection with the biological family, but adopted during her childhood year is a main root of the present problem she experiences. Having three children from different men and without these men contributing anything to the lively hood of these children is a burden placed on her. The second main problem is disconnection from her adopted relatives as she was abandoned at a boarding school during her elementary year by her adopted parents. She did not experience love from the biological and adopted parents. She felt abandoned in the state of hopelessness. Due to these traumatic events, her ability to make sound decision became difficult. She was looking for someone that could give her emotional love; as the result, she got infected relationally and cohabited with three men who gave her a child proportionally totaling to three children. Her inability to take care of these children made her to be restless and gradually developed into emotional illness of anxiety. Every lovely Mother wants to feed her children as the day goes by. If the Mother is unable to feed her children, it becomes a burden on her. If the children eat and are sheltered, this makes the Mother happy. Once these needs were at critical stand to be met, her worry became intense the most. The root cause of her problem started from her childhood when she had no biological or adopted parents to take care of her. She lived in the state of abandonment. Despite her admittance into the mental health facility, she could not recover from the mental psychosis because the problem was not physical, but emotional. Because the physical needs were not met to take care of her children, she receded into the same condition she was treated for. The mental health facility only concentrated on her mental health needs, but it did not look at the physical or necessity for her survival. Abraham Maslow states, “For the most part, physiological needs are obvious. They are the literal requirements for human survival. If these requirements are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function. Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements.” The above needs mentioned are physiological and must be met for humans to survive. Annemarie was being treated mentally at the mental health facility; unfortunately, the facility or the responsible party for her illness did not take into account these things. She should have been treated holistically.
SECULAR PSYCHOLOGY’S APPROACH
We live in a dogmatic and ideological humanistic society wherein the psychologists and philosophers of our time tend to rationalize human behaviors based on various factors such as the external and internal factors; for this reason, therapies have been developed for intervention; however the divorcement of biblical injection is a mistake made by secular psychologists. I do not want to divorce the fact that there exists mental psychosis, but relying on human efforts and ideologies and thereby divorcing what God can do in the healing process is liberal and mistaking. In this light in discussing the involvement of secular psychology in Annemarie’s case, it is necessary to see how psychologists handle such issue. There are various therapies psychologists use in approaching human’s problem. Such therapies include behavioral, rational emotive, cognitive-behavioral, and adlerian and reality therapies. With respect to Annemarie’s case study, Cognitive-behavioral and Rational Emotive therapies are necessary in approaching her case. Annemarie has experienced traumatic events since she was born in this world. She has dramatic stories of letdown or betrayal by biological and adopted parents. Can you imagine the episode she faced in life? During these events of episodic, her thinking (cognition) and emotion (feeling) were negatively affected. She felt abandoned; therefore, the subject of loving her was in utopia. Why a dreadful experience she sustained in life! I can visualize her situation at the time of toddler hood. The situations she faced in life altered her thinking and behavior. People behave the manner they think; as such, behavioral is prompted by cognition. If you want to change people’s behavior, you can change it by removing on their mind which affects them positively or negatively and thereby replacing the thing removed through teaching them new things. This is the approach of psychological intervention. They gather information based on interviews conducted on the potential patients and use the interview outcome to recommend therapies based on the individual’s responses. Since Annemarie is having chronic worry about taking care of her children, secular psychologist will attempt to change her thinking through counseling. Psychologist will administer to her cognitive-behavioral therapy to change her perspective about life situation. Her present thinking will have to be replaced by another thinking which will help her improve her mental status if that was possible. The therapy administered to her is an approach to psychotherapy based on learning theory which aims to treat psychopathology.
Coon writes,” The primary focus of this treatment approach is to suggest changes in thinking that will lead to changes in behavior, thereby alleviating or improving symptoms. The therapy emphasizes changing irrational thinking patterns that cause emotional distress into thoughts that are more reasonable and rational. This therapy can be used to treat people affected from disorders such as anxiety, depression, and stress.”
The changing of someone’s thought from irrational to reasonable thought takes God’s involvement to produce a fruitful result. God will use a Christian counselor to do so via the utilization of the God’s word. No other techniques can be applied without using the Bible to produce a good and lasting result. It takes God to do so. Changing men’s behavior will need God to do that. Counselor will fail if God is not involved in the process. Annemarie thinks that she will not make it in life as the result of her present condition. This has been the reason she developed mental psychosis which led her to be admitted into the mental health facility. This has greatly misaligned her emotion and produced acute anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Another approach psychologist could use is rational emotive therapy which proposes that people become unhappy and develop self-defeating habits because of unrealistic or faulty beliefs. Based on Annemarie’s experience the episode of unrealistic and faulty beliefs were present. Ellis writes, “People become unhappy and develop self-defeating habits because of unrealistic or faulty beliefs.” Annemarie might have developed the unrealistic or faulty beliefs as the result of unresolved conflicts from her childhood. According to behavioral psychology, most behavior is assumed to have largely unconscious determinants. The thing she experienced from childhood contributes to the present condition she faces in life. People who face unprecedented traumatic events tend to produce sustainable vulnerable imageries of those events and consequently become traumatic incidental and environmental as occurrences are birthed. I lived in exile for 12 consecutive years during the Liberian Civil insurrection. I heard, smelled, touched, saw, and felt the sound of gun everyday in internally and externally displaced refugee environments. I saw mutilated dead bodies of adults, children, and youths of all ages, sizes, and weighs. This became a nightmare to me and psychologically and emotionally caused damage to me. When I arrived in the United States of America in 2005, I was still living as if I were in the refugee camp. The imageries created during these traumatic events were still photographed into the code of my psychology. It took me two years for these nightmares to go away. The subject of environmentalism also plays an important role in the life of the traumatic individual. The environment people live has impact on their upbringing and wellbeing. Secondly, the change in someone condition would also improve the wellbeing of such individual. Secular psychologists might suggest changing the environment and the present condition of Annemarie’s livelihood. If these conditions are changed, it might help; however, there is an underlying disease which has not been created as the result of her childhood experience. Only God can change this condition without human involvement or through the use of human instruments.
Based on the history of Annemarie relationship, she did not experience a lovely relationship from the biological and adopted parents coupled with the relationship she had with the three men who gave her a child each. This kind of occurrences can cause damage to someone happiness and interpersonal relationship with people. Annemarie did not experience happiness and interpersonal relationship with peers and other distant people. Secular psychologists could also adopt Adlerian and Reality Therapy to help Annemarie. This theory is a choice one which states that we need quality relationship to be happy because we are social creatures. Psychological problems are the result of our resisting controlling others. It is an explanation of the human nature and how to best achieve satisfying interpersonal relationships.
BIBLICAL PATH TO GENUINE CHANGE
Annemarie’s chronic worry is the result of her failure to feed the children. She remembers in her childhood that she was never shown love; as the result, she wants her children to be free from what she experienced. She is doing everything to make sure that her children are fed; unfortunately, the resources are inadequate to meet these needs. What path should a Christian counselor take to bring a remedy to her present problems? The Bible should be used in the process. The discourse by Jesus on the mountain could be the best resource to counsel Annemarie regarding daily needs of food, clothes and others. God loves and cares for her; so, are the children as well. Jones, Francis, and Jackson write, “In the sermon of the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus teaches his followers that faith displaces anxiety. Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on … look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Annemarie should know that God will provide her needs because God cares and loves her. She should depend on God and stop the worry because worrying is a sin. Worrying will create doubt and therefore undermines God’s giving faith for her to depend on God for provision. The God who has brought her and her children thus far can do the rest. She must stop the worry and depend on God. In the process of counseling her, the Christian counselor should search for resources to supplement some of the needs she has now. She needs foods and shelter for her and the children. These things should be provided by the church group or any philanthropic organizations the counselor refers or recommends for the client to pursue. Jesus did not only preach the gospel, but he also fed the five thousand who were hungry. God did not only call us into the didactic ministry, but he also calls us into the holistic ministry. It can be recorded that Annemarie was admitted into the mental health facility. After a period of treatment, she was discharged. When she arrived home, the needs which caused her to worry were not met; as the result, she fell back into the same condition she had. If the lack of necessities for her children is causing her to fall back into the same condition; then, those necessities should be provided to treat Annemarie holistically. You cannot treat the symptoms to have a lasting remedial result if you have not treated the underlying disease that is causing the problem.
Mattes write, “Those who deal with anxiety often deal with depression. Brokering is no exception, and he candidly describes his own clinical depression (44). In this, he discovered the power of lamentation, so important in the Psalms to help externalize feeling. In God’s grace, we are not failure (61). More than anything, the secret to life is to give.” Meeting the necessities for Annemarie and her children physically will indirectly deal with the anxiety. The anxiety is coming from the failure to provide for her children. Providing these needs will help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression and schizophrenia. One cannot divorce the needs of these necessities if the problems of Annemarie be adequately addressed to solve it.
Walsh states, “Nevertheless, Teresa conceives her writing about fear as an invitation to her sisters to overcome their instinctive fears (fears that could inhibit the soul from imagining other forms of spiritual experience) and to yield their minds and wills to a divine offer of grace and freedom, which by definition can never be fully comprehended by finite mind.” Counseling Annemarie regarding anxiety and what it does to the human soul and replacing it with the grace of God will help her overcome the fear which troubles her mind presently. Taking reality into spiritual experience which exists in utopia for an unspiritual individual who might not be mature spiritually to handle situation like this, will be creating another situation for such individual. I am giving a supposition regarding Annemarie. I do not know the spiritual status of Annemarie; rather, do I consider this quotation to commensurate to her condition regarding how she could relate to her situation. Suffering chronic anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, how can an individual overlook such conditions which are causing her pain? Pain associated with the nervous system is very dangerous in that it appears that the individual lives in another world. The ability to comprehend reality sometimes becomes a fantasy in the eyes of such individual. I can imagine the status of Annemarie. Pain associated with the brain is very dangerous; consequently, people who face such condition ended committing suicide. No one wants to live in this world to the degree that the person is unable to make decision on his or her own accord as the result of mental incapability.
Biblical passages applicable to Annemarie’s case could include the following. God encourages us not to worry (Matt. 6:25-34). God feeds the ravens; therefore, he is able to feed Annemarie and her children (Luke 12:24-34). He is the one who heals the weary (Matt. 11:28-30). He gives peace that the world does not give (John 14:24, Col. 3:15, II Thess. 3:16). He cares (Psalm 55:22). In the process of counseling her, prayer should always be offered as the catalyst.
Despite of Annemarie’s situation, biblical approach is the best approach to heal her; unlikely, the secular psychology cannot be the best path to do so; though, it may help in the process humanly speaking since human being is a social creature. The use of psychology is questioned especially by conservative Christians of our time.
Cherry, Kendra. Humanistic Psychology: The Third Force In Psychology, 1965.
Coon, D. Essentials of Psychology. 7th ed. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1997.
Francis, Leslie J, Jackson, Christ J, Jones, Susan H. The Relationship between Religion and Anxiety: A study Among Anglican Clergymen and Clergywomen, Journal of Psychology and Theology, 32 no 2 Sum 2004.
Jones, Stanton L, Butman, Richard E. Modern Psychotherapies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1991.
Mattes, Mark C. Looking Anxiety in the Face: Wisdom for All Who Worry, Current in Theology and Mission, 37 no 50, 2010.
Walsh, Terrace G. Anxiety in Teresa’s Interior Castle: Theological Studies, 56 no 2 Je 1995.
Stanton L. Jones. Richaerd E. Butman, Modern Psychotherapies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1991, 65.
Kendra Cherry, Humanistic Psychology: The Third Force In Psychology, 1965. 89.
D Coon, Essentials of Psychology. 7th ed. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1997, p 45.
Susan H Jones, Leslie J Francis, and Christ J Jackson, The Relationship between Religion and Anxiety: A study Among Anglican Clergymen and Clergywomen, Journal of Psychology and Theology, 32 no 2 Sum 2004, p 137-142.
Mark C. Mattes, Looking Anxiety in the Face: Wisdom for All Who Worry, Current in Theology and Mission, 37 no 50, 2010, p 417-417.
Terrace G. Walsh, Writing Anxiety in Teresa’s Interior Castle: Theological Studies, 56 no 2 Je 1995, p 251-275.
John 14:24, Col. 3:15, II Thess. 3:16.