PSYCH: Psychological Disorders and Mental Illness

Mental illness is a difficult issue to deal with when people suffer from co many disorders every day. The impact psychological disorders have on daily functioning is depressing in itself. Personally, just last week my grandmother’s mental state declined rapidly to a minimal point. She doesn’t understand what year it is, doesn’t recognize her grandchildren, and cannot carry on a conversation in any decent fashion. My grandmother went from being a loving, mostly happy individual to one who can barely function at all. After a test to determine whether hydrocephalus may be the problem, no change occurred, leaving us still in the dark as to what exactly has happened.

The power that the brain has on us and our usual functioning, and the power that psychological disorders have to disrupt that, is an astounding thought. From somatoform disorders to anxiety and mood disorders, the range of predicaments one can enter into involving psychological disorders is discouraging and makes studying the causes and developing treatments for them is extremely challenging. There are many perspectives that one can view a problem from, and each one has benefits and disadvantages.

Overall, I believe that there are truths to each perspective on abnormality which, if combined in a proper way, can produce the best perspective for all individuals to take, including the church. The medical perspective has evidence to support its perspective, and many times the source of psychological disorders are medically identifiable. Hydrocephalus, for example, involves a build-up of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain, creating a multitude of possible symptoms, including memory loss. This can be treated with the drainage of that fluid, creating an almost instantaneous improvement in brain functioning. This perspective helps identify and treat many types of psychological disorders, however, there are some which are not medical in nature. This requires a different perspective to be introduced.

In a way, the psychoanalytic perspective has some truth in focusing on the conflicts of childhood, but I do not believe the focus solely and primarily on sex and aggression. Because of this, I tend to disregard this perspective and move onto behavioral perspectives. This can also be a helpful perspective in identifying and treating disorders in addition to the medical perspective. After adding the cognitive perspective as well, you get a full view of how the human body works in regards to the brain. I would assume that most disorders can be identified and treated using these perspectives. The medical perspective covers the more physical nature of the human body, while the behavioral perspective covers the actions that result from the cognitive perspective’s view on the thoughts and feelings occurring inside the person. However, there could be more pieces to the puzzle, which is why considering two more perspectives is also a wise action to take. The humanistic perspective takes into account the responsibility people have over their actions and how that can affect a person’s psychological state. The environment around the person also has an impact on the psychological state of a person, which is where the sociocultural perspective comes into play.

With the combination of these five perspectives, and a slight influence of the psychoanalytic perspective, every possible psychological situation is explored. Not one of these perspectives can identify the source of and treat every psychological disorder by itself. The combination of all of them, though, gets the job done and gets it done correctly.

The church needs to have this combined perspective in all of its dealings with people, not just psychologically impaired individuals. Approaching individuals with a single perspective can cause problems when witnessing or just loving a person. Just like when diagnosing psychological disorders, making sure you have a fuller picture of the situation before stepping in to try and produce a result can be a disaster. Taking a step back for a moment and absorbing the factors of a situation is a wise habit to develop.

This truth can be applied to many different situations in life, including mental illness. The power that these illnesses have over us can be terrifying, especially when a loved one is affected by them. I pray that the doctors who are working with my grandmother can take this combined perspective and use it to identify the true problem behind her rapid decline in mental state. But, I also pray that God will use whatever happens for his glory. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

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CAUTION! Intelligence at Work! CAUTION!

Intelligence, thinking, and reasoning are all difficult and complex concepts that impact our lives every day. As humans, we are constantly gauging our abilities. Intelligence is the most measured ability of all in our Western culture. Intelligence, as defined by psychologists, is the capacity to understand the world, think rationally, and use resources effectively when faced with challenges. With different theories of intelligence available, each giving a specific definition of what intelligence can be, there is clearly a lot of ambiguity in this area of study.

Divergent thinking versus convergent thinking, practical intelligence and emotional intelligence, and fluid and crystallized intelligence are all examples of the many theories and types of intelligences. How do we sort through these many different types of intelligences? Personally, I prefer Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences which includes eight different forms of intelligence, each holding a distinct area of expertise. The eight categories which Gardner defined show the assortment of talents and intelligences that God has given us as individuals. Though I may not be an intelligent linguist, musically I hold much talent from God. This intelligence theory appeals to me because of the great ease with which it sorts out all kinds of intelligence.

Other theories limit the definition of intelligence and restrict what can or cannot be intelligent. The information-processing approach of intelligence degrades so many aspects of intelligence which can be exhibited by people, which results in the degrading of those people. Our education system currently is set up in a fashion which models this diminishing attitude toward multiple kinds of intelligence. Standardized tests are the means by which we assess a student’s intelligence. These tests often undermine the greatest abilities of the student. Creativity is discouraged through our education evaluation. Creativity, which can be associated with divergent thinking, is a vital part in our intelligence, yet it is not considered on any standardized intelligence test or encouraged and developed in our schooling. Our very nature craves success, which is reinforced by test scores, compliments, and accomplishments in our skills and talents. A degrading test score deflates the self-esteem of an individual. The importance of supporting all sorts of intelligence is certainly commanding.

Having established that importance, the evaluation of intelligence tests is noteworthy. These tests, which are designed to quantify a person’s level of intelligence, need to take into consideration what intelligence is and how it then can compare with other types of intelligence. Is the test reliable and valid? Approaching the results of current intelligence tests should be approached with caution because of the possible reactions one can have. Intellectual disabilities or giftedness, as well as diversity in culture and ethnicity, may be reason for test scores to be interpreted in such a way as to diminish the individual who was scored. The many different kinds of intelligence that can be exhibited may not be tested or emphasized, making a person or race look unintelligent. Employers, educators, policy makers, politicians, and other authoritative figures may create discriminatory attitudes towards these people. This result needs to be avoided at all cost.

In America, race is a large issue, which gives rise to the concern for evaluating intelligence between these different races and cultures. Environment, and thus culture, is more of a factor when it comes to intelligence than genetics, however, race is still a stumbling block when assessing intelligence. In my life, I am surrounded by mostly white folks, but I have lots of experience with African American people as well. I have a number of friends who are African American, and I serve at His Place, an urban outreach project of the Pittsburgh area Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. As I work with the children in His Place, who are mostly African American, and as I associate with my friends, I need to be conscious of my views of intelligence. Being wary of the different types of intelligence one can exhibit is vital to my encouragement of these people and love of them. Jesus talks of this in Luke 10:25-37 with the parable of the Good Samaritan. We should not be like the priest or Levite, but the Samaritan who had mercy on the broken man. The second greatest commandment is love your neighbor as yourself. Approaching intelligence with caution, mercy, and an open mind is key in loving others and promoting Christ.

The complexity and diversity intelligence carries with it makes it a difficult load to carry, but with the support of all kinds of intelligence so as to encourage and love others, we can make the load a lot easier.

Creativity

Creativity, or the ability to bring about an original thought, expression, idea, and the like, is a gift from God to his children. This creativeness was a result of the Creator creating man and woman in His image, almost a reflection of Himself. Humans are naturally creative, as Sir Ken Robinson explained at a TED talk filmed in February, 20061. Robinson supported his thesis that creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status. He reasoned that we are born with creativity as a part of ourselves and then we beat it out of our kids in the education system. A very illustrative story from his speech introduced a girl who would not pay attention in school until one class they had a drawing lesson. Robinson continues, “The teacher was fascinated and she went over to her and said, “What are you drawing?” And the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” And the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And the girl said, “They will in a minute.” That creative imagination is ingrained into human beings’ heads. There are multiple creative aspects that reflect God wired in humans, including two specific examples—originality and intelligent design.

First, originality is commonly associated with creativity, but it was originally given to us from God when He used His creativity to create Adam and Eve. Humans and the world we live in, as well as the redemption story, are His great original work of art. When God created us, we were created in his image with creativity. That creativity allows each of us to formulate unique thoughts, art, projects, and ideas. Psalm 139:14a says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We each have good works that we are able to do because of our uniqueness as a result of God’s creativity. As humans, we have that ability to create original works of art. Just look at the many artists that are spread throughout time. From Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, to Claude Monet with his impressionist Water Lilies, to the pop art of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, the originality of artists is revealed through their works. Though, originality is not restricted to just art. Frank Lloyd Wright was a fantastic architect who created the intriguing home famously named Falling Water, which is located on top of a water fall. Even those who own businesses, lay out neighborhoods and cities, or design cars must have some level of creative originality in order to separate themselves from others who have similar skills. Originality was used when we were created, and we inherited that gift and should use it to serve the one who gave it to us. John Stuart Mill, a British philosopher from the 1800s, once said, “All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.”2

Secondly, intelligent design is a unique aspect that humans have that was inherited from God. We are constantly looking to the future and visualizing our lives as we want them, then making adjustments accordingly. As a high school student, I am creating what my future will look like with the choices I make. Such as my choice of college, major, friends, classes, even food sometimes. I have a design for my future that I am creating as the days pass by, and that design reveals me as a person. God had a plan when he created us. This plan would reveal God to us. A plan to show His love, compassion, and mercy, and He chose us to be a part of that plan. Jeremiah 29:11 illustrates this when God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We make plans for our lives all the time, but ultimately, God’s will shall prevail. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes His steps.” As a result we should, as Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” As we arrange our lives, we must realize we are working for our Creator, not ourselves. Intelligent design must be used in order to figure out what God’s will is for us and then act on that so that we may please Him.

In conclusion, we have many attributes of God involving creativity, including originality and intelligent design. We must use these attributes to serve our Creator according to His will. Personally, as I go further into deciding and arranging what I want to do with my life, I must find the originality that I carry and use it through my work for the Lord.

 

 

  1. “Transcript of “How Schools Kill Creativity”” Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity. TED Talks, Feb. 2006. Web. 29 Aug. 2014. <http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity/transcript?language=en#t-221000&gt;.

 

  1. John Stuart Mill. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_stuart_mill.html
    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/citation/quotes/authors/j/john_stuart_mill.html#HxEdYbvH1fjfvDrr.99

Fly Fly Away My Beauty

Have you ever experienced the annoying sensation of knowing a fly is buzzing around you or your food? When you are aware of a fly buzzing around you or the objects that you originally thought you were going to throw into your stomach, a terrible hatred is brought up within us. If you have not experienced this hatred then you must be extremely lucky, or you live in Antarctica. Either way, the fly, whether it be a regular house fly, a deer fly, a fruit fly, a horse fly, or any other kind of fly, they all tend to be mindbogglingly annoying. Why is this? Well the simple and obvious answer is that they buzz around us and are rather disgusting when analyzed. They never seem to leave.

This weekend I realized something. I went camping this weekend and of course we had food. This food was mighty delicious, as was evident by the flies gathering around it and the plates that were sitting around this food. I immediately felt a hatred towards these flies. How could they go around thinking they had the authority to steal and dirty our food? These worthless little annoyances needed to just scram so we could enjoy our fire and canned apple pie filling in peace. In this moment of hatred is when I had my moment of realization: What if that hatred towards the flies is a sin? I was hating God’s creation! God did create those flies and he said that his creation was good every time he created something (Book of Genesis). I was condemning God’s creation to death. How cruel is that? Yes they were bothering us, but what if that is Satan? What if the devil is using God’s creation to fuel our sinful nature by presenting it in an annoying way? Romans 1:20 says some pretty crazy stuff when Paul says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

As I thought about this, I sat and observed these flies sitting on our paper plates. They were so cool. They were so disgusting but in a cool way. God was there showing himself through those tiny little beings! Magnificent! All I had to do was slow down and just see the flies as what they were–God’s creation. But, please take a moment and slow down right now as you read this. If I saw God through some little annoying flies that could possibly be used by Satan, what could God do with us? We have the opportunity to accept and share Jesus’ sacrifice and the gift of the Holy Spirit that comes with it. That is powerful.

Now I am not saying that these thoughts are all completely true and we should stop hating flies. No, I am just making a point to focus your attention on where God is. He is everywhere! He is in those little flies, the wheat in the fields, the flowers in your garden, the water flowing from your sink, and the brain in your head. God can reveal himself to you through so many things. We just need to look for Him. Also, Satan can use many different things to bring us away from God and we need to be careful of these things.

So next time you see a fly, or something else that may annoy you often, try to look for a glimpse of God in that subject and realize how much God can do with our lives if we surrender them to Him.

Complexity

I have recently been marveling at how much we have learned about ourselves throughout our history. The human race is an extremely complicated being, as it was intended to be. Humans are complex creations because of our physical complexity, psychological complexity, and our spiritual complexity. All of these complexities have been studied over the course of our history and many unique and stunning pieces of information have been found.

First off, physically we are a puzzle that has been put together perfectly so that we can live without complications.  Our bodies are full of little “machines” that, in general, work perfectly. Even when something does go wrong, there are many ways that the body can fix those emergencies. In a post on buzzfeed.com, a list of 23 amazing facts about the human body are revealed in some short little pictures. Pictures #13 and #14 state that every minute, three hundred million cells die in our bodies but that three hundred billion are created each day. What could create something that works out so perfectly? Also, cells themselves are amazing pieces of work. A site on the University of Utah’s Health and Science page, http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cells/scale/, shows just how small some of the cells in our body are. Those cells, though, carry the DNA, RNA, lysosomes, Nuclei, ribosomes, and so much more and all of these parts of a cell do special jobs that help you and I live every day! On listverse.com, Jamie Frater shows us fifteen facst about the body in an article titled, “Top 15 Amazing Facts About the Human Body”. The first fact states that the “Stomach’s digestive acids are strong enough to dissolve zinc. Fortunately for us the cells in the stomach lining renew so quickly that the acids don’t have time to dissolve it.” That is some astonishing information! Another fact: “A single human blood cell takes only 60 seconds to make a complete circuit of the body.” The human body is a clear sign that there is a God that created us with a purpose to glorify Him. Only He could create our complex bodies!

The second complex aspect to our human race that I have marveled at lately is our psychological complexity. We are constantly thinking and “feeling” feelings. In an article in the Huffington Post, Bruce Davis, Ph. D., talks about trying to talk to our significant other when we have all these thoughts running through our minds. He explains that we have somewhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts flying around in our minds per day and with all those thoughts, how do we make time for expressing those thoughts, especially to our life partners? This article sheds a little light on how complex we are psychologically. The fact that we are always wanting a significant other is a curious aspect of humans, and the rest of creation. Some weird facts about our psychology are presented in a list on mindclockwork.com. One of these facts state that, on average, your mind wanders 30% of the time. Little things like dreams, love, depression, and anxiety are mysteries that are created because of thoughts, chemicals, or other unknown pieces of our minds.

It is also interesting to note that nations even have a certain amount of psychology based on the people that live in them. For example, America, as explained by Alexis de Tocqueville, has a very individualistic nature. Also, Tocqueville says, “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?” These sorts of things represent a nation and are all created by the people that live and rule in the country.

The final general complexity of humans is their spiritual complexity. The truth is that we are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and we were the only creation of God’s that He “breathed life” into (Gen. 2:7). We were created to give God glory. In many places in the New Testament it gives the glory to God, such as 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Philippians 2:11. God chose us to be his children. Isn’t that amazing? Yet, we let sin creep into our lives and now do not deserve God’s gift of eternal life, but He still gives it to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s love for us is astounding and makes us his prize possession. In all of the things in his beautiful, complex creation, he chose us. So what must we do in response to that?

We have to choose Him.