Professional Christian Counseling
The Cause and Cure of Human Struggle
The Root of Spiritual Pathology
Activation of The Left Amygdala Causes Spiritual Problems
One of the biggest problems that people face today, is something due to the prevalence of absentee fathers and family fragmentation. That problem comes from a loss of emotional self-regulation. When fathers are absent, they are not available to counteract the effects that maternal protoconversation has on children. Briefly, protoconversation is something that mothers do, whereby they seek to anticipate the needs of their children, and to meet those needs before the child becomes too distressed.
In other words, they seek to regulate their child's feelings for them. When dads aren't present, that parental imbalance goes unchecked which causes children to become ill-equipped as adults in facing and navigating emotionally charged circumstances and situations. Medicines like anxiolytics, sedatives, hypnotics and antidepressants, along with street drugs like ecstasy, meth, cocaine and heroin are all designed to help someone regulate their distressed feelings and loss of internal peace. All of the things mentioned thus far are mechanisms for reducing the fallout from Adam and Eve’s fateful fruit, and dare I say that coping also includes all of the world’s religions. Each have made similar attempts to remedy man’s universal problem of loss of psychological peace caused by a distortion in values. Dr. Jack Cottrell in his book God the Redeemer writes that salvation from these undesirable conditions is one aspect of every worldview, philosophy and religion.
For example, the Hindu doctrine of Karma attempts to restore internal peace by restraining human sin (harm to others) through rearranging the values of its followers, by teaching them that all of one’s actions earn consequences, good or bad, and that one must be subjected to a cycle of transmigrations called samsara until all of those personal deficiencies have been resolved through various reincarnations. When that happens Moksha is reached which denotes deliverance from bondage to the world (represented by release from psychological distress). Of course the goal is to appeal to the left amygdala (fear control center part of the brain) in order to get followers to restrain themselves in order to avoid the negative consequences of multiple reincarnations. As the younger child of Hinduism, Buddhism attempts to solidify these goals (things to value) even further.
In the second of the four noble truths of Buddhism, it says that craving pleasure (appealing to the right amygdala - the pleasure control center of the brain) is the basis of all human suffering. This belief is of course, only half of the truth. The truth of the matter is that human striving does create problems for those around the person with greed in their eyes. It is half of the truth because the fear of being harmed also causes suffering, along with guilt associated with having harmed. In the third noble truth we find Buddhism’s “gospel” or “good news,” which states that it is possible for one to extinguish selfish desire. This of course is completely untrue unless one’s right amygdala is totally removed. Implanting the belief that selfishness can be completely controlled, sets Nirvana as the goal for what followers should desire and value. As that goal is attained, as Fox puts it―comes the follower’s reward―which is an end of vulnerability to the world (represented by a release from the psychological distress that comes from being able to see harm - the left amygdala). As you can see, Hinduism and Buddhism simply make attempts to change the attitudes of followers for a more disciplined and less self-centered society which results in less harm and sin among everyone. While Islam also promotes these mindsets in its followers, radical sects of Islam like Isis, have attempted to manage the world the way they like it.
Following the assassination of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the now defunct Isis terrorist group have demonstrated their desire for psychological peace by enforcing the demands of Sharia law, through Jihad, in attempts to eliminate any ideology that does not fit its own. Thus its goal was to impose what it valued onto the world. If it were able to accomplish those goals, psychological harm for the Muslim would be eliminated, which would result in the peace-of-mind that it so highly values.
Indeed, all of the world’s systems including Communism, Capitalism, Feminism, Fascism and Marxism (just to name a few), have sprouted from the values that these groups hold where they call some things good while deeming others as bad. All of these systems value one thing more highly over some other aspect. Take Marxism for example. Working from a basic assumption that personal ownership of property is the root of all evil, Marxists condemn Capitalism as promoting greed, whereas the Capitalist values the idea that gaining property is the reward for hard work and innovation which they deem as good for society. Marxism inadvertently stymies creativity, ingenuity and a strong work ethic while Capitalism undervalues those who are unable to work at exceptionally high standards.
Perhaps recognizing that there are potential pitfalls, advantages and disadvantages to everything that is valued or devalued, the Skeptics, Stoics, Hellenists and Gnostics came to value knowledge as supreme. They were men seeking personal peace (represented by the absence of psychological distress) by attempting to find that internal peace through intellectual means. They were correct in understanding that what looks good may not always be, and that the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom was the only hope they had in coming up with the best solutions possible. In reality their pursuit of knowledge was simply an attempt to gain God-like omniscience. In fact, every decision man makes, which comes from his/her framework of good versus bad, means that every decision is incomplete and based on faulty information, which of course, can result in disastrous consequences. Seekers of knowledge are simply trying to avoid those consequences and the cognitive dissonance associated with it.
As mankind attempts to resolve its psychological distress, which comes from a bipolar view of the world where it categorizes every experience and idea as either good or bad, it creates world systems that result in spiritual dysfunction and pathology. These systems guide men away from their true Creator. Because these systems are man made inventions, they are set up with inherent distortions that overvalue what seems good to them, while undervaluing what seems important to 0thers. These distortions exclude others from participation, which devalue the whole of humanity in the process. This of course would not lead mankind to a godly or righteous outcome where one group eventually pits itself against another. Scenarios such as these are what lead the world to various sects, factions, controversies and wars. When a person sees things different than the group they find themselves in, peace is not what they experience but rather stress.
For those of you who have been privileged to experience the Healthy Pathway conference module, you will understand how even the slightest amount of stress that either; we cause, or fail to alleviate in another human being, diminishes their life. That causes us, in the strictest sense of the law to be murderers. And, while the fruit has indeed made us like God in one way; able to see the difference between good and evil, it has not given us the God-like ability to restore a life that we have taken. Because of our humanity instead, it becomes impossible for us to make things right again; to replace that eye for eye or tooth for tooth. Only God can do that. Therefore, when we harm another person, our only option is to throw ourselves upon the mercy of the court. This is what the Apostle meant in his letter to the Romans chapter 8, when he identified the Law of Sin and Death. When we cause, or fail to alleviate stress for others, we are convicted and sentenced to the death penalty. Therefore, the biological problem of activating the left amygdala, that results in stress, then creates a spiritual problem for humanity that only God can fix. This is why Jesus had to endure the Cross. It was God's way of offering mankind perfect free-will, while simultaneously taking full responsibility for what the creation He made, does to harm itself. Since the smallest amount stress creates death, death is what is required to make it right and to satisfy justice.
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 The Doctrine of God, Vol. 3, What the Bible Says About: God the Redeemer, Jack Cottrell, Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000. (p. 46).
 Ibid. (pp. 50-52).
 Ibid. (pp. 58-59).
 Buddhism, Christianity and the Future of Man, Douglas A. Fox, (p. 88). In Jack Cottrell (Ed.) The Doctrine of God, Vol. 3, What the Bible Says About: God the Redeemer, Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000. (p. 60).
 Does God Exist? An Answer for Today, Hans Küng, tr. Edward Quinn, Garden City: Doubleday, 1980. (p.241). In Jack Cottrell, (ED) The Doctrine of God, Vol. 3, What the Bible Says About: God the Redeemer, Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000. (p. 81).
 Hellenistic Ways of Deliverance and the Making of the Christian Synthesis, John Herman Randall, Jr., New York: Columbia University Press, 1970. (p. 12). In Jack Cottrell, (ED) The Doctrine of God, Vol. 3, What the Bible Says About: God the Redeemer, Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000. (p. 73).
The Root of Spiritual Pathology Page
Mikel Kelly, MA, LMHC
The Vortex Model
Of Human Growth &
“Whether we call them challenges, crises, or conflicts, the trek to adulthood is difficult because the path is strewn with obstacles.” And, “Each life takes on a myriad of twists and turns.”
— Developmental Psychologists Robert
Kail & John Cavanaugh
Vortex Model of Development
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 Human Development: A Lifespan View, 2nd edition, Robert V. Kail & John C. Cavanaugh, 2000, United States, Wadsworth. (p. 18).