6/25 The Roots of Emotional Mental Illness

We are designed as a complex being. We have an eternal spirit, using a soul and living in a physical body.  All these parts are designed to work together as a whole, influencing and inter-related in function.

2.  There are two groupings of All mental and emotional illness

a)  Genetic and Biological causes – inherited defects, chemical or hormonal imbalances and the results of physical abuses, such as drugs or alcohol.

b)  Or environmental causes – childhood abuse and trauma, family of origin dysfunctions, faulty social skills, poor coping methods, poor role models, and so on.

3. Jesus’ view of psychology

If we eliminate genetic causes, people have emotional problems because they have learned unhealthy methods for dealing with their basic drives and needs, emotions and thinking patterns.

a)  Since we are made in His image, we have certain basic, God-given needs, wants and deep longings, such as the need for self-preservation, belonging, security, for significance and genuine, unconditional love.  These needs are built into our nature.

b)  The degree that these inner needs and deep longings have been met, especially during childhood, the more stable our personality will be.   When we do not incorporate God-given needs in God’s way, we will develop problems.  By denying our God-given needs, mental and emotional pain result.

4.  So where does Pain comes from?

As we feel the pain of other people’s flaws and imperfection, we replace trust in others with the illusion of our own ability to protect ourselves.

a)  We develop faulty strategies to protect our own sense of helplessness and fragility.  These ‘coping methods’ may include: withdrawal from others, over-compensation, denial, and so.

b)  As we continue with these coping methods, we develop self-protection and self-gratification thinking patterns.  This is what produces dysfunctional behaviour.

c)  It is continuing to practice these paths of faulty thinking with unhealthy defence mechanisms which block healthy emotional release where further pain develops.

d)  Emotional illness is but one of the results of what we do, one of the end products of the way we choose to live.  Self-deception means problems.  Handling emotions God’s way develops a true wholeness.

5.  Pain is the signal that something is wrong

Painful, uncomfortable emotions show up as signals that something is wrong.  Most people fail to see painful emotions as warning signs of faulty goal selection.  However, beyond the painful emotions are faulty thinking patterns that also fuel the drive toward deceived goals.

The emotional pain is a signal that our goals that are unrealistic, or unachievable.  By denying our God-given needs, mental and emotional pain result.

a)  When these goals are blocked or threatened, mental tortures such as anger, resentment, bitterness, etc. result.

b)  When these goals are unclear or hidden, anxiety, fear, worry, etc result.

c)  Failure to reach the goals results in real and/or false guilt, shame, self-pity, self-contempt, etc.

6.  Our choice of behaviour is influenced by our faulty belief system.

Having free will, we base our behaviour on what we believe will be the best for us. as a conscious or unconscious decision.  However, humans have a remarkable capacity for self-deception because of this self-gratification aspect.

7.  Jesus believed in our ability to make choices.

Jesus’ model of psychology emphasises our ability to change our life by taking in God’s principles and acting on His directions.  He believed that people were capable of making choices and that we have the power to change – and He left the choices up to them.  Again this is a different frame of reference to the world.

8.  We have three choices when faced with blocked goals:

a)  We can strive harder to reach the unattainable goals we have set for ourselves,  We ‘Do it’.

b)  Or, we can attempt to deal with the resulting emotions by faulty methods, or ‘defence mechanisms’ such as repression, denial, blame, and so on.  We ‘fight it’.

c)  Or, we can choose to change our goals and find God’s goals.

9.  Mental and emotional dysfunctions are progressive. 

As a person moves through a series of unresolved conflicts without healthy, mature coping skills, faulty personality issues develop.

10.  So again, We are in need of a re-birth

We need a re-education of the inward heart attitudes before the outward can change.  Like the precious child that we are, we must learn we cannot do it alone.  Jesus knew the roots of dysfunction are in living outside Creator God’s principles.

We become neurotic and psychotic whenever we live outside our God-given design.  Much of emotional and mental disease is caused by the faulty or ‘mal-adaptive’ ways we have learned to handle our thinking and our emotions.  We gain health by returning to Creator God’s patterns for us.

In the psychology of Jesus, the real heart issue for mankind is ‘idolatry’ – replacing Creator God’s place as the centre of our being with our own ideas of reality.  Since we are born with certain God-given needs, the question becomes: are we using our own resources to build, create and restore our own world – or are we allowing, depending and working with a loving God?

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author




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