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An Integrative Perspective of Mental Health in Light of Eternity

February 8, 2013 1 comment
Redemption drawing nigh

Redemption

For those who have a relationship with Christ, we look forward to redemption, both in body and spirit. The introduction of sin into a perfect and spotless world tainted everything, from the land to the health and longevity of the human body. What was once a flawless frame, complete with perfected organs, sickness, disease, and death resulted from the Fall. Most amazingly, the Author of life didn’t give up. Though His plan was eternal, physical fellowship with man, man chose separation. God still had a purposeful contingency, a second chance found through Christ’s blood. We are told in the bible, that for those who accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we have an abiding hope of return to the glorified, original state God intended from the beginning. As Scripture states,

We will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, NIV)

From the kidneys to the heart, our skin and eyes, every part of our being will be made new and perfected. This includes the brain.

Dr. Jenkins (2013) eloquently stated, “My brain is in need of redemption, just like the rest of my physical body. One day, my brain will be in its glorified state.” Time, toxic elements, chemicals, and stress all have tremendous impact in the decay of our fragile bodies. This includes the physical make up of the brain. Most often, when people think of physical health, the brain is not the first thought (No pun intended.). Negative factors, such as those listed above, greatly influence the health of brain material. Combined with genetic predispositions to disease, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, the state of the brain can be precarious, indeed. While evolutionists claim that homeostasis was a natural process that all life forms adapted to ensure the biological maintenance, creationists believe that an all-knowing God planned our bodies with purpose and design (Hart & Ksir, 2011).

Our environment and our personal choices all contribute to the state of our brain. While many issues arise that are not within our control, it is important to consider how we can better care for our health. Unfortunately, many of us do not realize or begin to get serious about these matters until damage is done or the unexpected news is delivered. With our physical mental abilities, come our volition and will.  These, too, will be redeemed and properly focused soley on the Lord.  The mind is an integration of a physical and spiritual state.  There is great hope in our redemption! One day our physical form, every part, will be perfected. We will be changed in an instant and will forever live in the presence of our loving Creator.

References

Hart, C. & Ksir, C. (2011). Drugs, society, and human behavior (14th ed.). Boston, MA:

McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-338090-2.

Jenkins, D. (2013). Models of addiction. Audio Visual Presentation: Liberty University

The Prospect of 2013

December 29, 2012 1 comment

The Year 2013: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Following the Christmas holidays, its natural for people to get sentimental, reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.  The media always has their “wrap-up” citing the headlines that most impacted the nation and the world.  There are wishes for a “Happy New Year,” promises, conjectured in the form of “New Year’s resolutions” (lose weight, spend more time with family, etc.).So, as I sit here and ponder the events of 2012, I must admit, my outlook is….bittersweet.  By nature, I consider myself neither an optimist, nor a pessimist.  A realist.  I know, I know, most people like to overuse that label for themselves, but truly, when asked if I see a cup half full or half empty, I will always respond, “BOTH!”Perhaps, it’s not my outlook, so much as my bull-headed determination.

I’ll stick with the previous assertion, thanks.  (Its my blog. Well, for now.)

This year has obviously been interesting with the election.  For my part, I was absolutely unclear about who was going to win, though, I certainly thought I saw tremendous support for Mitt.  However, in light of the direction the world was turning, reading the tea leaves also gave strong indications that Obama would pull through, in spite of no record, nothing what-so-ever to recommend him, and a continuing treasonous scandal.  I advocated for Romney, as much as I could, grew tense, like the rest of the country, fervently prayed, and waited.  Like many of you, that night, though I wasn’t shocked, but I was shocked.  I had been on my face, begging for God’s mercy on this country.  However, I also prayed for His will to be done.  The Lord spoke, the fate of America was solidified.

I went, immediately, to a somber state of acceptance.

Like most of you, the prospect of 2013 is dismal, in light of the political arena.  I have lost all faith in politicians, even in those I thought were truly fighting for truth and justice.  Time and time again, we have seen them bow to the will of those who grow in worldly power.

NATIONALISM VS. PATRIOTISM

I have recognized, through this process, that there is a clear distinction in “nationalism vs. patriotism.”  Nationalism retains that sense of arrogance, even in the face of God that we are better, bigger, and stronger.  That nothing will stop or hold us down.  Contrarily, patriotism is vastly different.  The patriot humbly clings to the principles that make one’s country great.  He recognizes the blessings, even undeservedly, that have been bestowed upon his nation, contingent upon obedience to the Lord and the principles for foundation.  A patriot doesn’t put faith in any man, but looks to the Lord for his sense of national direction.  He bows his knee to the Great I AM, accepting His plans, knowing that the protection of the nation is directly hinged upon what is done with the blessings and how well we uphold Biblical precepts.

As I stated before, I am an eternal realist.  My worldly outlook for the nation ,as far as the state of this planet, is grave.  Evil has been unleashed.  All too common these days, we hear of rampages of brutal murder.  People immediately want an answer,

“WHY?” 

What could possibly be the reason for such senseless violence? Now we see a spectrum of blame, polarities that want to crackdown on this heinous barbarianism.  On one side, governmental leaders are grasping, white-knuckled, to the claim that the problem is GUNS.  “We MUST eliminate firearms!” Another argument from the other side is that “We MUST revisit mental illness!”

As you might expect, I do not subscribe to either.

The problem is that all sense of morality, more specific, humility before the Almighty, has been cast out.  Society, as a whole, has spit in God’s face and pushed out any shade of godliness.  People have been hypnotized by the Dark Angel, masquerading in light.  They don’t believe in evil, unless it suits their purposes.  They don’t believe in the antithesis of evil, that being salvation only through Christ’s blood.  Instead they exchange one lie for another, until all sense of rationality and reason is subjective and without basis.

So you see, we could talk about the continued, growing scandals that have growing tentacles over the White House.  We could talk about the wildfire of Radical Islamization.  We could talk about the fiscal cliff that looms, in mere hours.  We could talk about genocidal dictators racing toward mass-extermination.

But, the crux of the matter is not as complex as it seems.  People are hung up on the thousands of symptoms of a simple, albeit, eternal crisis.The world has cocooned itself in a cozy bed of Godlessness.  They have set up their own altars, whereby they sit on their own throne.  Rather than serving the God of the universe, humans, regardless of culture, ethnicity or nation (a true testament to color blindness), embrace and worship the god “within.”

This cannot last.

Just as God is grace, He is the perfect balance of Justice and Judge, as well.  He does not force His will on man, yet retains the control in decision-making.  He can allow us to make the ridiculous choices that will cause self-destruction, both individually, corporately, as a society, and internationally.

Though He allows us our own way, don’t think for a second that He isn’t angered by it.  We cannot be so pompously deluded to think that we were created by a limp-wristed pushover.

He is YAHWEH!

THE GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY, BUT IT IS ALSO HALF-FULL.

In God’s never-ending kindness, the removal of protection can serve as a wake-up call.  When we are stripped of comforts, whether in leadership, or in security, we have the opportunity to turn to the only lasting truth in YESHUA, Jesus Christ.

For the few of us, who are truly watching, wide-eyed at the plans unfolding around the world, faith is strengthened.  I’ve heard it said, “The national and international headlines are now catching up to the Bible.”  The cards are on the table.  We are coming to that fork in the road, whereby we can choose to move toward God, or turn our backs on God.  Sadly, the Bible tells me that many will fall away from the faith. (Matthew 7:14, 2Timothy 4) Further, Christ tells us, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3:15-17)

My hope is in the Lord.  I do not know the specifics of what 2013 will bring, but I trust that He is JEHOVAH.  I take great hope in His mighty power.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) My outlook for this world, in the direction it is hurtling toward, is bleak.  People have chosen the path of Baal.  The Lord is rousing from His Holy Hill and He will come with absolute Authority and Justice.

Though, I am desperate to see His glory and His might, at the same time, I tremble at the prospect of an angry, JUST God.  I fear living in a land that has chosen to shove the Lord’s hand of protection away for the false notion of self-preservation and governmental rule.

If this nation refuses to humble herself in fear of the Lord, it is doomed to destruction. 

Nationalism is idolatry.  It is an ideology that dominates both parties, both sides of the aisle. 

With all of this bleakness, comes great hope, when one seeks and clings to the ONLY hope we have!  We have access to TRUE LIBERTY!  We can be unfettered and freed from bondage in the hope that comes from faith in the Lord, through YESHUA.  When we recognize that He IS the source of life; we are liberated, REGARDLESS of worldly powers.

These days, I treasure God’s Word.  I recognize the NECESSITY OF IT.  It is easy to get enthralled and overly distracted with the events unfolding.  Though Christ commanded us to, “WATCH!” (Matt.24:4, 42 read all of chapter 24) I must keep my FOCUS upon HIM.  We must SATURATE ourselves in the WORD.  I am constantly amazed and deeply grateful for the Bible.  Without it, faith and hope would be very burdensome.  But again, God in His grace and mercy, gave us the Cliff Notes version.

In summary: I know how the story ends;

He wins.

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SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON:

1 Samuel 12:24-25

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

Exodus Ministries: The Great Debate

Specifically, the concern of many liberals is that Chick-fil-a donates to an organization called Exodus Ministries (also known as Exodus International).  This is a faith-based ministry to homosexuals, families of homosexuals and leadership within the church.  Exodus, above almost all organizations in my opinion, is one of the most speculated, hated (by both sides), and misinterpreted.   Exodus statements are twisted, manipulated, and flat out lied about.  The rumor mill never stops.

Exodus was founded in the late 1970’s by several men whose desire was to leave the homosexual lifestyle and help others overcome homosexuality.  It was brought to my attention the story of a man by the name of Michael Bussee, one of the founders of Exodus now advocates against the organization based upon its practices at the onset.  To be clear, I don’t know specifics of the beginning of Exodus. What I do know is that homosexuals in that period of time (and now!) needed care.  They needed love.  The church kicked them out without trying to support and walk along-side of them.  The gay community was terrified in with what became known as AIDS and there was a profound need.  There were no other organizations or ministries in existence.

I have no doubt they made mistakes.  We all do!  But, their passion, their motives, their heart for the gay community and for those who struggle with same-sex attraction was ignited.  They took a leap of faith, a shot in the darkness, and launched not knowing the specifics of how Exodus would take shape.  What I can say is that the church is often criticized and hated for mistakes.  Let me be clear.  In many ways the church as a whole has stumbled and failed to address issues properly – and we still do.  But, the fact is the church is made of fallible, imperfect sinners.  We don’t have a magic wand.  We don’t carry a get out of jail free card or some dry erase board of our personalities or our tendencies.  We still fumble.  There are very well-intentioned people who genuinely believe they are doing good when they are actually setting back the ministry and message of the Bible.

Consider this: every institution has flaws. 

Education

We have education boards and PTA to evaluate and reevaluate the methods that are most effective for learning and knowledge retention.  But, it is a fact that each individual responds differently.  Each child and even into adulthood, we learn in different ways.  Our personalities, our disabilities, and our passions each contribute to how we ingest information and process it.  The teachers we employ, how much do we pay them?  What about tenure?  How about the curriculum that is used?  The education process is constantly revamping its methods (or should be, I suppose.).

Medicine

We have laboratories and grant-funded medical research teams that are specified in trying to find cures for diseases such as AIDS, autism, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.  These are debilitating and heart wrenching diseases that scientists are feverishly trying to find effective treatments and cures.  They can only find such developments by trials, tests, and continued research.  They’ve tried and failed in avenues that at one point seemed to have hope, only to be forced to go back to the drawing board.  When it comes to certain illness, hundreds of years ago the medical practices seemed effective but now that science has continued and pressed on for more information, we no longer practice.  Bloodletting, lobotomies, etc.

Government

Don’t even get me started….Seriously….

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The issue of Exodus, it’s practices and beliefs is of importance to me for a few reasons.  I am clinical counselor who retains a Biblical worldview.  And I also have a heart for the gay community.

It is vital to understand a baseline for this discussion: there is a difference between a homosexual lifestyle and homosexual orientation.  Homosexual lifestyle is the acting upon desires, thoughts, impulses, and attractions.  A homosexual orientation is the desire for, thoughts, impulses, and attractions themselves.  This is a necessary distinction to determine what is actually “sinful” according to the Bible.

As far as the view of homosexuality and changing, I would posit that there are people in three “camps”:  1. Those who believe it can be “cured.” 2. Those who believe that homosexuality is an unchangeable, biological fact, and that to attempt to change is harmful and 3. Those who believe that a homosexual can, with proper support, change his lifestyle. (strong emphasis on “lifestyle”.)

It must be understood is that there are people who believe that homosexuality can be cured.  To use the word “cure” has multiple interpretations.  There are people who genuinely believe that through therapy (faith-based or clinical) one can wipe out homosexual orientation.  At this point I must confess, I don’t know much about reparative therapy.  It is a small orientation of thought that I have not been educated in, therefore to make strong comments about it would be inappropriate.  However, I can say this, there are many schools of thought in psychology that I do not ascribe to.  As any theoretical adaptation, man has put forth ideas to observe behavior, modify behavior, and assist clients in their pursuit and navigation through life.  Some techniques are effective, some are not, and many are debated for their effectiveness.

Throughout the history of social sciences, people have modified their opinions and ideas based upon ethics (such as electroshock therapy) and upon new interventions (such as twelve step programs).  As individuals in life, we all go through a cycle of research (limited or extensive), thought, and action.  We all learn lessons, are rewarded, and punished.  When we step back and reflect upon a transaction in life that has not been beneficial and reassess where we can improve, make necessary changes and then move another direction, progress occurs.

My approach to change in the homosexual is a little different from a “curist”.  My belief is that Christ can change any heart.  However, that does not mean that our propensities vanish (although sometimes they do).  A sex addict who accepts Christ may never have temptation again.  An alcoholic who has tried everything, may never desire a drink after an encounter with Jesus.  But for most of us, life is a series of difficult pursuits to avoid what we carnally desire, yet what is harmful and condemned in Scripture.  Most of us battle anger and tempers, food addictions and smoking, though we depend upon the Lord’s strength.

And that is the point!

We need the Lord’s strength to overcome our temptations.  As difficult as it is, our failures of heart, our weaknesses can either defeat us and we surrender back to the lifestyle or can cause us to draw nearer to Christ for strength.

You will find that Alan Chambers states he is thankful for his same-sex attractions.  A controversial statement that many people misunderstand, but the point is that as a result of his weakness, he found God.  And it is God who can help us everyday overcome our failures and temptations, if we allow Him.  This is in His timing.  So often people who are trying to change habits get so frustrated wondering when it will just “happen already!”

But, the process and journey looks different for every individual.

That point cannot be underscored enough.

I believe Exodus is in another phase of evaluation.  A natural one.  As a matter of the therapies that Exodus has endorsed, though not personally practiced, they reevaluate the methods of support that is offered to individuals.  It is important to reemphasize the fact that every method of support is not effective for every individual, just as education is not straightforward across the board.  The intent of this organization has never been to hurt people, denigrate individuals or make strong political statements. I have been to Exodus events and have many of their publications.  The term “ex-gay,” while initially accepted has been vehemently rejected in the last decade by Exodus.

I truly believe that it is the goal of this organization is to love others and to equip the church to balance truth within the absolute scope of compassion.

They mean to assist people in their struggles, to walk alongside them as they navigate through life.  Alan Chamber’s recently spoke a fabulous message in which he states that for far too long people have made this one issue center.  The fact is that we all struggle and move through life.  I have a propensity to worry, to become anxious for which the Bible tells me not to!  Jesus is my comfort, yet I forsake Him when I worry or become anxious.  He died so that I would not be in bondage to that sin.  Another man or woman may have a propensity to homosexual orientation.  And when those desires are acted upon, they forsake Christ.  One statement that Alan makes struck me.  In essence he said, “Christ did not hang longer on the cross for homosexuals.”  How true!  Christ didn’t detail every moment, “Now this minute is for the adulterers.  This minute of pain is for the gossips.  That nail is for the swindlers.”  No!  Rather he bled and died on that tree for the freedom from ALL sin for ALL of mankind.  The unfortunate fact is now we want to divvy out whose penalty was greater.  That is missing the mark and desecrating the whole purpose in the sacrifice.  The point is that we accept his punishment.  Period.  You need salvation, I need salvation.  When we bicker about who is more sinful, we waste precious time and energy.  We all must accept the forgiveness for our sins.  None of us are forgiven unless we allow the Lord to forgive us.  This is an incredibly simple concept with tremendous incredulity.  How amazing is it that God grants us forgiveness for every wrong simply by taking the step of faith to trust and accept it!  Yet, how complex we make it!  How cumbersome it is for many to actually make that step!

Finally, I have learned this:  there are some individuals who will continue to intentionally misrepresent Exodus no matter the facts.  No matter how often mission statements and messages pledge allegiance and uncompromising commitment to loving and supporting.  No matter how often people deliberately overlook the daily, humble action of quietly loving and walking alongside people who genuinely struggle.  There will be people who are malicious and hateful.  What I have to remember is this:

Christ died for them too.

We continue to love in action.  We continue to stand for truth as it is given to us in the Word of God. And we continue to serve.

I leave you with two important bits of information:  One is the quotation from Exodus about its mission.  And the second is the message Alan Chambers made at this year’s conference Alan Chambers:  Made for More.

I’m always curious to see what people are saying about Exodus and as the PR person, I’m pretty sure there’s something in my job description about that too. I’ve heard some winners in the years I’ve spent working on and around this subject. Hmm . let’s see. According to some, Exodus believes in inhumane psychiatry that harkens back to the Dark Ages. Others say we peddle nonsensical, mind-altering remedies to unsuspecting prey that erases any and all attractions. Still others’ seem to think we hold mysterious camps with all the security measures of the FBI training facility in Quantico – just in case anyone would think of escaping. Of course, none of that is remotely true and all of it is wholly laughable, but it is amazing how hearsay begats rumors and rumors begat hard news. So, here’s the 411 on the top myths about Exodus International to set the record straight (no pun intended):

U.S.S. PRAY THE GAY AWAY:

Prayer is certainly an important part of a Christian’s life, but it’s not a magic formula. If you find one let us know. J This mantra ignorantly dismisses the complicated issues that often underlie attractions and deeper still – identity. As I said before, we don’t think many, if any, wake up one morning, down their coffee and decide to be gay. Sexual attractions develop for many known and unknown reasons and no one chooses those. As complex individuals, we must also take into account the way others hurt us and the way we hurt ourselves. For many who contact Exodus, hurt has become a familiar, but unwelcome fixture in life. Talking to God about these things is part of a dynamic relationship with Him, but it doesn’t always change the fact that dealing with it is just plain hard work.

CAMP GAYBEGONE:

As for those mysterious gay-to-straight “boot camps,” they don’t exist. And neither do any other Exodus camps – mosquito infested or otherwise. We do have an annual conference and some local ones too – held at churches, conference centers and Christian college campuses -just like other Christian conferences, though I’ll freely admit that the content is eye-poppingly unlike most other Christian conferences. We aren’t interested in bludgeoning others with our big black Bibles or our views. Truth be told, we can barely keep up with the 300,000 calls and e-mails we get every year from those who do want our input.

Exodus International doesn’t exist to make gay people straight, promote a formula for “success,” to make money or even to pass legislation. We exist to help others live a life that reflects the Christian faith. We’ve found that the opposite of homosexuality is most certainly not heterosexuality. It is holiness. It is loving God and being loved by Him. It is accepting His identity for us, instead of everyone else’s. But those things don’t often make headlines and I suspect that, unfortunately, we’ll continue to see more crazy things out there churning around in the rumor mill.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

November 14, 2011 1 comment

Courtesy National Geographic

Abstract

 September 11, 2001 was a day of tremendous loss and trauma.  Both people who were directly exposed and those who were indirectly exposed through media and second-hand accounts were shocked by what they heard and saw.  The effects of this tragedy rippled across the globe and have perpetuated an onslaught of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses based upon the stress that witnesses endured.  In this paper, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, will be discussed as it relates to the events of 9/11.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AND THE 9/11 TERRORIST ATTACKS

Key Words

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Direct exposure

Indirect exposure

September 11th, 9/11

Ground Zero

Introduction

            The events that occurred on September 11, 2001 will be forever apart of history as one of the most traumatic and horrific days.  For those who directly survived the attacks, most are permanently altered, perhaps not physically, but emotionally.  And for those of us watched in horror as thousands of innocent lives were taken, we will forever have the images burned into our memories.  Many of us can not forget where we were that awful day.  For many people, this event was the first realization that this world is not the place they once thought it to be.  Rocked straight out of their comfortable self-portrait of harmony, suddenly everything was tainted with the possibility of violence and evil.  This event was one of the largest and most visible acts of violence ever carried out.  Because of the accessibility of technology and media, the world watched as violent, raw evil converged upon New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.  As a result of the worldwide spread of images through television and internet, thousands of people suffered trauma.  For first responders, survivors, firefighters, police, and scores of innocent bystanders, their ability to easily move beyond their first-hand witness of the events became difficult in the extreme.  Amidst the physical injuries and the respiratory issues that plague many who were there at Ground Zero, there are wounds that are unseen.  Scars that have wounded the mind, dampened the spirit, and cast a shadow on the heart are common for those who were there.  When life as it once was, even in a new light, is unable to continue, the American Psychiatric Association (2000) calls this post-traumatic stress disorder.

Definitions

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV(2000) defines post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as:

the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death injury or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate. (APA, 2000 p. 463)

Some events that are considered traumatic include:  military combat, violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, robbery, etc.), being kidnapped, being taken hostage, terrorist attack, torture, incarceration as a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp, natural or manmade disasters, and others. (APA, 2000) Criteria for a PTSD diagnosis include:

  • The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:  the person experienced, witness, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others or the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
  • The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced, or re-lived, in one (or more) of the following ways:  Recurrent, distressing recollections of the event, through images, thoughts or perceptions.
  • Recurrent distressing dreams of the traumatic event
  • Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated)
  • Intense psychological distress at exposure cues that symbolize or resemble some aspect of the traumatic event.
  • Physiological reactivity when exposed to cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
  • Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three or more of the following:

Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma, efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma, or the inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.

  • Marked diminished interest or participation in significant activities
  • A feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
  • Restricted range of affect or emotional responses
  • Sense of a foreshortened future or feelings of doom
  • Persistent symptoms of increased arousal as indicated by two or more

Difficulty falling or staying asleep

Irritability or outbursts of anger

Difficulty concentrating

Hypervigiliance

Exaggerated startle response, jumpiness

  • Duration of the disturbance is more than one month (APA, 2000)

To be diagnosed with PTSD, the disturbance must cause “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” (APA, 2000)

Direct Exposure

Direct exposure is defined as someone who “experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events involved actual or threatened death or serious injury” (APA, 2000, p. 467).

Indirect Exposure

Indirect traumatic exposure is defined as “knowledge of an event through a first person account of actual or threatened death or serious injury (irrespective of the relationship to the survivor)” (Zimering et al, 2006).   Relief workers responding after the towers fell, received direct exposure to traumas at the disaster site and indirect exposure to trauma via survivor accounts of the terrorist attacks. (2006)

September 11th (9/11)

September 11, 2001 also referred to as 9/11 is the day that a terrorist attack upon the United States of America resulted in the death of nearly 3,000 people.  New York City was attacked by two commercial jetliners that crashed into the Twin Towers, causing the fall of both buildings.  Two more airplanes were used as massive bombs, one hitting the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and one diverted by brave passengers, crashing into a field in Pennsylvania.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero is the common reference to the location of where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood and ultimately fell, resulting in a massive loss of life and an enormous pile of rubble and steel.

Statistics

PTSD is a serious and debilitating disorder.  It is estimated that the prevalence of PTSD in the United States is approximately 8%. (Kazi, Freund, Ironson, 2008) Though this disorder was once thought to occur only in veterans, we now know that it also civilians of all ages and walks of life.  It has no limits to culture or socioeconomic groups and can arise from many different traumas.  September 11th, was not exempt from these traumatic events.  Many of those who were directly and indirectly exposed to the tragic happenings of that day were traumatized, some resulting in classifiable PTSD.  In a speech given at Ground Zero, the speaker said, “Here we stand today as the Trade Center casts a shadow over all of us. (Kanarian, 2007, p. 121) An observer wondered what the speaker was talking about, noting that the World Trade Center was gone.

The speaker continued, “The World Trade Center will always cast a shadow over our minds for the rest of our lives; there is no getting over this one.” The observer then remarked, “His words were the truest I have heard relating to the World Trade Center attack and post-traumatic stress.” (p. 121)

Direct Exposure

            When talking about direct exposure as it relates to the 9/11 events, exposure characteristics such as:  injury, exposure to the dust cloud resulting from tower collapses, proximity to the World Trade Center or WTC site, personally witnessing specific horrific events, experiencing panic attacks during the attacks would qualify.  (Neria, DiGrande, & Adams, 2011Among retired firefighters, 22% were found to have symptoms of PTSD four to six years after the attacks (2011).  For those respondents who were at the WTC at the time of the attack, PTSD was almost twice as common compared with those who witnessed the attacks in person from outside the WTC (Bonanno et. al., 2006).  Individuals who were directly exposed to the terrorist attacks exhibited signs of PTSD at a rate of 20% (Zimering et al, 2006).

Indirect Exposure

PTSD was documented in individuals who were indirectly exposed to trauma that did not directly involve a family member or other close person. 4% of individuals living outside of the attack sites who were indirectly exposed to the tragedies via television were found to have symptoms of PTSD (Zimering et al, 2006).  These findings implore us to understand that health care providers should be sensitive to and aware of the enormous variability in response following a major national trauma. (Silver et al, 2004)  It is not only those who are directly exposed to traumatic events who suffer, though, obviously they are most gravely affected.  As Kazi, Freund, and Ironson (2008) state:

 Terrorist attacks may differ from the other traumas that are known to elicit PTSD, as in the case of 9/11, where survivors not only had to manage their own escape but had to witness a national disaster, fellow workers’ deaths, victims jumping out of high windows, physical ramifications of inhaling smoke and dust from the fire, and the demise of the entire buildings. This terrorist attack resulted in the American society’s questioning its fundamental belief of the world as a predictable, safe, and meaningful place to live. (p. 101)

In a national telephone survey of 560 adults three to five days following 9/11, 90 percent had one or more symptom of posttraumatic stress, with 44 percent to a substantial degree (Meisenhelder & Marcum, 2004).  Further, in another study, none of participants in a positive PTSD group reported a 9/11-related death or injury to a family member or close friend (Silver et al, 2004).  This finding supports the notion that PTSD from PTSD from indirect exposure can occur even in the absence of a personal connection a victim (2004).  The researchers state,

We have found significant psychological reactions across the U.S. after the September 11th attacks; our findings strongly suggest that the effects of these terror attacks were not limited to communities directly affected.  Instead, our data show that substantial effects of the events of September 11th rippled throughout the country. Importantly, the degree of psychological response to the September 11th attacks was not explained simply by degree of exposure or proximity to the trauma. Many individuals who lived hundreds of miles from the attacks or had low levels of exposure (i.e., individuals who watched the attacks live on TV and those who reported no direct exposure at all) reported high levels of symptomatology. (pp. 138-139)

Immediately following the attacks, three national studies found posttraumatic stress symptoms throughout the U.S. population (Neria, DiGrande & Adams, 2011). In a national telephone survey conducted within the first week following 9/11 44% of participants reported substantial stress reactions (2011). In a similar internet survey study, with a nationally representative sample of 2,273 adults, 4.3% reported a prevalence of PTSD that was significantly associated with the number of hours of television coverage of 9/11 (Neria, DiGrande & Adams, 2011).

It is clear that the events of September 11th had a tremendous, traumatic impact upon those who were directly exposed and those who were indirectly exposed. Until 9/11, little regarding indirect exposure to trauma has been studied, but is now, clear that there is a prevalent need of further study and examination.  Though it is certain that, naturally, those who were directly impacted by the events of that day were most traumatized, people who were indirectly exposed were also at great risk for tremendous stress and trauma.

Symptoms

            The symptoms of PTSD can be severely impairing to even normal daily activities for the sufferer.  Some symptoms are recalling or recollection, avoidant and numbing, severe, lasting emotional and affect change, hyper arousal or startle response, functional limitation, nightmares and intrusive thoughts, and survivor’s guilt.  (APA, 2000)  Many of these stress reactions are frequently caused by “triggers” that remind the sufferer of the events that were found to be traumatic (Kanarian, 2007).  Kanarian (2007) defines triggers as, “emotional trip wires that evoke memories of traumatic incidents.  They can be sights, sounds, smells, and feelings and are timeless, capable of making memories years later feel as if they occurred yesterday (Kanarian, 2007, p. 122).  When we are able to recognize what situations, sights, smells, or sounds trigger a stressful reaction within us, we are, thus, able to deal with them.  By learning the signs and symptoms of PTSD and strategies for dealing with the triggers, it is possible to become aware of a reaction within ourselves.  The severe affect change within people suffering from PTSD can manifest in edginess, irritability, nervousness, and easily startled (2007).  PTSD can also cause short-term memory loss that may result in repeating questions and trouble concentrating or focusing (2007).

Re-experiencing

Seeing the images that accompany that horrendous day in September can burn the memory into one’s mind, replaying over and over.  For those who were there at the site, stuffing the memories and pictures away is difficult.  As Kanarian (2007), “Even after you have forgotten an incident, one sight, smell, sound, or thought can bring you back to the moment and stimulate a vivid memory of a traumatic incident.” (p. 127)

In an online article about 9/11 survivors,

For about a year afterward [survivor, David Donovan] had nightmares and little appetite. The company hired psychiatrists, but he said he felt more comfortable talking with his colleagues who had been through the same experience. For a year and a half, he couldn’t fly and found being in a subway difficult. He said he still looks for the emergency exit when he’s in a large crowd.  (Ochs, 2011)

Another survivor reported feeling in a state of shock for weeks or months after 9/11 (Kazi, Freund, Ironson, 2008). She related feeling “dull,” had difficulty concentrating, and experienced visual hallucinations of objects falling. She was clinically depressed, crying daily, and felt “paralyzed,” after 8 months.

This survivor’s experience of re-experiencing was discussed,

Judy reported having post-traumatic stress disorder following this event. She admitted to having panic attacks when sitting in traffic on a bridge, overhearing stories about the tragedy, and at the thought of traveling by air. There was a time when the fire alarm was set off while she was in therapy, and she recalled having an overwhelming flashback of being on the 78th floor at the time of impact. She said that she thought that she might be thrown across the room. So she left therapy, walked 13 blocks until she found the subway, and then felt safe. She had difficulty watching the news or reading the newspaper for some time thereafter.  ‘There was all of this awful news coming out at me, so I had to focus only on healing myself and not to get caught up in it,’ she stated.(Squillace, 2003, p. 25)

Numbing

            In trying to cope with the traumatic events that one has witnessed, many times it is natural for a person suffering from PTSD to push the memories, emotions, fears, and feelings away.  Shutting down seems easier than continuing to relive the horror, thus they become numb and avoidant.  Because there are triggers that can continue to evoke a response in the traumatized, many times he or she will simply avoid any place, person, or situation that might bring about a stress-related response.  In the Newsday (Ochs, 2011) article mentioned prior, one survivor states that he simply could not function.  He began avoiding, even simple, daily activities, such as shaving.  He recalls staying in his bathrobe all day.  “I went into a total funk,” he had said (2011).  A first responder related his experience,

At first, it was discouraging to constantly pick up only parts, and after a while it stopped upsetting me. I realized that I was becoming numb to what would have been horrible to others. That is when I knew that I had to stop working and it was time to go home. (Squillace, 2003)

Survivor’s guilt

One survivor of the attacks of September 11th, said that he learned to handle triggers that might prompt a panic attack, such as a car making certain noises, but “the hardest,” he said, “was the survivor’s guilt.” (Ochs, 2011)  Survivor’s guilt can lead a person to ponder why they were spared when others were not.  Guilt colors the elation that might be naturally felt for surviving a traumatic event.  Questions about what more could have been done, why they made it, if they should have done something different, even if it meant their demise, are common.  As one survivor related,

‘There’s always this nagging guilt,’ he said. ‘Should I have stayed to help? What could I have done? The rational part of me knows I did the right thing. I’m not trained to rescue . . . but there’s always going to be a piece in the back of my mind: Could I have done something?’ (2011)

Finding Faith in 9/11

            The days that followed September 11th, 2001 were unique.  Many people, who ordinarily would not, flocked to churches across the nation.  Pews and benches were fuller than usual.  People were looking for reasons, safety, and solidarity.  This seemed to be a temporary comfort for many, but there are some whose faith was strengthened, who changed priorities and re-examined who they were, what life was about, and what purpose it had.  Genelle Guzman-McMillan (2011) is one who took her second chance at life and chose to make changes.  The last survivor pulled from the smoldering pile of Ground Zero, Guzman-McMillan (2011) was pinned under concrete and steel for over 24 hours.  During this time, she relates in her book that she drew near to the Lord, as her only source of survival.  She states,

I haven’t had any marked emotional ‘issues’ over the years as a result of being buried alive.  I mean it when I say that God was my psychiatrist, and still is today.  I have been blessed by never having a single nightmare about my experience.”  (p. 165)

Mental health professionals often remark about the tremendous benefits of “religious coping” with post-traumatic stress.  In particular noted are the feelings of comfort, collaboration, and connectedness evoked by faith and communities of faith (Meisenhelder & Marcum, 2004).

God may be a source of comfort and meaning in the midst of a senseless act. Seeking guidance and support through God decreases the sense of loneliness and isolation. Turning to religious faith brings an omnipotent and ever-present Partner into one’s life, lending a greater sense of control, which is a critical element to decreasing posttraumatic stress.  Lastly, connecting with a faith community entails a support system, a promotion of personal identity, and enhanced intimacy with others.  The combined benefits of positive religious coping result in lower perceived vulnerability, isolation, confusion, and, therefore, lower posttraumatic stress response (p. 157).

Witnessing a traumatic event often causes people to pause and reflect about the purpose of life and mortality.  Some people find tremendous comfort in their faith.  They have an assurance of control, even if they are not the ones who have that control, they know who does.  There are still others who are angry.  Rather than drawing toward their faith, they distance from it and some abandon it altogether.  They simply cannot process and find meaning in senseless tragedy.  But for those who remain faithful, they proclaim that they do not understand either.  That is faith, believing in what is unseen.  The bible gives great hope for those who have walked through a traumatic event.  Jesus said in John 14:27 (NIV),

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There is great hope that in Christ we have assurance of peace.

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Guzman-McMillan, G. & Croyle, W. (2011). Angel in the rubble:  the miraculous rescue

of 9/11’s last survivor. New York, NY:  Howard Books.

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Antisocial Personality Disorder – Psychos welcome.

Casey Anthony: Textbook Sociopath.

Evaluation of Anti-Social Personality Disorder 

Abstract

 Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most intriguing, yet controversial forms of mental illness.  It is also one of most widely used themes in media and literature.  With the ability to now view criminal trials live, fictional television depictions, and weekly news documentaries, western culture has obsessed over sociopaths and psychopaths.  The purpose of this paper is to examine antisocial personality disorder.  While there are many complex facets to this mental illness, an overview of symptoms will be discussed.  As well as the general overview, an in depth look will be taken into the following topics:  biological components, treatments, aspects of criminality, and spiritual implications. 

 Keywords: psychopathy, sociopathy

EVALUATION OF ANTI-SOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER

Introduction

            Antisocial personality disorder, also understood as psychopathy or sociopathy,  is a classifiable mental illness that has strong ties to criminal behavior, obsessive media attention, and questions of demonic influence.  While antisocial personality disorder, or ASPD, is widely understood to be firmly rooted in environmental influences, there are biological and genetic considerations.  High profile cases of violent criminals such as Ted Bundy and Casey Anthony have all dazzled the media and played upon the worst nightmares of society. 

Historical Terminology

            Over hundreds of years, there have been many terms for mental illness.  In the advent of behavior science and psychotherapy, antisocial personality disorder has been narrowed and specified from previous terms.  Psychopathy and sociopathy are still terms associated with ASPD.  In years prior, other labels for the psychopathic condition were used.  (Ogloff, 2006) Some of these are manie sans délire, moral insanity, moral imbecility, degenerate constitution, congenital delinquency, constitutional inferiority, psychopathic taint, psychopathic personality, psychopathy, and, of course, Antisocial PD and Dissocial PD. (2006)

Psychopathy   

The term “psychopathy”or “psychopath”, which will also be interchangeable in this article, has been described as,

a constellation of affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics including egocentricity, impulsivity, irresponsibility, shallow emotions, lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse, pathological lying, manipulativeness, and the persistent violation of social norms and expectations’’ (Gunter, Vaughn, and Philibert, 2010, p. 151)

 “Psychopathy” was actually the first personality disorder recognized in psychiatry.  (Ogloff, 2006) Thus, this concept has had historic clinical tradition in its understanding.  To use this termed disorder meant that the individual displayed an extreme form of abnormal personality.  Psychopathy is a concept with overt negativity.  (2006)  Even used by the media, “psychopath” implies an impression of danger and unmistakable evil. (Lykken, 1996) This is the longest standing term and a subject of considerable research and scholarly writing.  (2006)  In comparison to ASPD, however, psychopathy is more defined and based more upon traditional personality characteristics.  (2006) The first to use this term was the German systematist, Robert Koch.  (Lykken, 1996) Koch coined the phrase in 1891 for what we now refer to as personality disorders.  Later Emil Kraepelin, used the term “psychopathic personality” to describe amoral or immoral criminals. (1996)

Sociopathy

            The term “sociopathy,” was the next in line of specified, maladaptive personality terms.  In 1930, an American psychiatrist by the name of Partridge pointed out that these people had a common disposition to violate social norms of behavior and introduced the term “sociopath.” (Lykken, 1996)  Lykken made the distinction between psychopathy and sociopathy using the term, “sociopathy” interchangeably to antisocial personalities whose “behavior is a consequence of social or familial dysfunction.” (p. 29) Lykken (1996) further went on to state that he used the term, “psychopath” to refer to “people whose antisocial behavior appears to result from a defect or aberration within themselves rather than in their rearing. (p. 29) However, most current psychiatrists believe that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of psychopathy. (Furnham & Swami, 2009)

Antisocial Personality Disorder

            The criteria for ASPD, according to the DSM-IV-TR (2000) is as follows:

A.       A pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others since the age of 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:

1.         Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;

2.         Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;

3.         Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;

4.         Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;

5.         Reckless disregard for safety of self or others;

6.         Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations; and

7.         Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent

to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

  1. The individual is at least age 18 years.
  2. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with the onset before the age 15 years.
  3. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode. (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, pp. 649-650)

Ogloff (2006) points out that the need for evidence of Conduct Disorder before age 15 reflects research that demonstrates that personality disorders are of long duration and have an onset that can be traced back at least to adolescence. 

Overview

            According to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) manual, a diagnosis of ASPD requires at least three of the following: 

  • A failure to conform to social norms
  • Consistent deceitfulness
  • Impulsiveness and failure to plan ahead
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Consistent disregard for work and family obligations
  • Consistent disregard for the safety of oneself and others
  • A lack of regret or remorse (Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000, p. 1)

The Model Sociopath

The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2000) further highlights the typical traits of one with ASPD.  The disorder is at least three times more common in males than females and, by and large, more serious in men than women. (2000) He is neither autistic nor displays any psychotic behavior, but his is indifferent to the concerns and feelings of others.  However, he is cognitively aware that others have wishes and concerns, but this information does not affect him, thus his behavior is not thwarted as a result.  (2000)  His narcissistic attitude leads him to do anything and everything that he wishes, often requiring elaborate manipulation by deception or intimidation.  Because he feels that he is a narcissist, he seeks to exploit the weakness in others and believes any harm that may come to them is deserved and easily justifiable.  Further, he may feel only contempt or indifference toward his victims. (2000) Generally, he is highly irresponsible and unreliable in any commitment that does not reflect his personal desires. He seems incapable of loyalty, shame, or guilt.  Though he can be quick to anger and rage, a sustained feeling of hatred is rare.  (2000) In speaking of love, he may mean sexual attraction, a desire for flattery, or physical and material support. When he expresses sadness, it is likely due to a failed scheme, getting caught, or a missed opportunity.  Due to this shallowness, even his sense of suffering and remorse is nearly non-existent.  However, he may display paranoia and sadism.  The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2000) states that the “model sociopath is likely to be hotheaded, as well as, coldhearted.”  (p. 2)

Some authorities maintain that there are two types of sociopaths.  In the first group, traits such as: glibness, selfishness, callousness, and deceit are prevalent.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000) The second group includes: thrill seeking, irresponsibility, self-defeating impulsiveness, and lawbreaking.  Those in the first group are capable of long-range planning, contrarily to the impulsive nature of the second group.  They are more intelligent, less reckless, and are able to achieve a degree of social success, all the while, creating havoc in public and personal lives.  (2000)

As previously stated, one requirement by the DSM-IV-TR (2000) is evidence of Conduct Disorder in childhood and/or adolescence.  Some behaviors associated with CD are:  lying, truancy, bullying, fighting, cruelty to animals, arson, burglary, vandalism, malicious mischief, running away from home, consistent precocious aggression, deceit, impulsiveness, and rule violations.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000) There is a possible comorbidity with learning disabilities, particularly Attention Deficit Disorder.  (2000)

            Another common trait of those with ASPD is addiction or addictive behaviors.  Chemical addiction, substance abuse, and sexual addictions are all common in sociopaths.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000) It is important to note, however, that a person who typifies antisocial traits will change completely upon recovery from an addiction.  (2000) It is possible that the antisocial tendencies may be the cause or the consequence of addiction.  It is also possible that addictive behaviors and sociopathy may be the result of a common predisposition.  (2000)

Biological Components

            Clearly, the traits of those diagnosed with ASPD reflect an abnormality in behavior.  However, little is known about variances in genetic inheritability.  What is known and documented is the presence of antisocial tendencies in individuals who have damage to the frontal lobe area of the brain.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) One infamous example is that of a man named Phineas Gage, a 19th century railroad worker, who was seriously injured in an accident.  An iron spike penetrated Gage’s frontal lobe, which amazingly did not reflect obvious permanent damage.  Although he recovered, others reported that his personality changed severely.  The once reliable, sober worker became an alcoholic, profane, unreliable drifter.  (2001)

The same social reasoning deficiencies that sociopaths demonstrate are often similarly indicative in patients with frontal lobe damage.  (2000) However, Gunter, Vaughn, and Philibert (2010) report that, “examinations of brain tissue are the facts that exact regions of the brain involved in antisocial spectrum disorders and psychopathy have not been identified and neurons only constitute 10% of the cells in the brain.” (p.153) Interestingly, however,  there have been several neuropsychological tests that seem to indicate biological abnormalities in those with ASPD.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001)  One such finding is a “feeble stress” response in the autonomic nervous system, which is indicated by low heart rate and sweating of the palms, measured by electrodes attached to the hand.  (2001) In measurements of the skin conductance, when told that they are about to receive an electric shock or observe someone else who is to receive an electric shock, sociopaths do not show the typical surge of anxiety. (2001) In another psychological study, results of the experiment demonstrated that sociopaths have difficulty recognizing facial expressions of anger, fright, and disgust. (2001)

It is important to note that, thus far, there has been no “antisocial gene” pinpointed.  According to The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001), this also means that  biological abnormalities in the brain region alone will determine if someone will be irresponsible, deceitful, or violent. There is the possible of vulnerability, which combined with an unhealthy family and/or social environment can lead to ASPD.  It is also possible that there is a biological component of an extreme temperament or subtle variation in the prefrontal cortex.  (2001)

Treatment

            Attempting to cure or, at the very least, treat ASPD can be an extremely difficult and overwhelming task.  Due to the prevalent deceit, manipulation, and abuse, the job of a physician or psychotherapist is highly complex.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001)  A lack of responsibility for actions, blaming everyone else for failures, and possible anger are common threads.  The therapist must maintain a proper emotional distance, without being drawn into attacks.  (2001)  Overcoming feelings of repulsion and setting aside feelings of disapproval can be very difficult, but necessary.  On the other hand, the therapist must remember the strong abilities of the sociopath.  “Actions are louder than words” would be a highly appropriate saying.  The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001) has this to say about working with sociopathy, “It is almost impossible to avoid being deceived at times, and the effort to uncover every lie is rarely worthwhile.  But even habitual liars sometimes tell the truth…” (p. 2)

Yet, it is often argued that there is no cure for adult sociopathy. ((Lykken, 1996) The most useful option according to Lykken (1996) is prevention.  Training high-risk parents to properly socialize children, revamping the adoption system, and providing healthy, successful rearing environments are all necessary preventative tactics.  Unfortunately, these tasks are overwhelming, highly expensive, and time consuming.  (1996) However, it is important to note that it is estimated that sociopathy will cost about $3 million in an average lifetime in society.   Lykken (1996) states,

That means that each million potential sociopaths now out there on the production line of our American crime factory will end up costing us $3 trillion by the middle of the next century. (p. 38)

Controversially, Lykken (1996) goes on to propose state licensure requirements for those wishing to procreate or adopt, positing

Such a licensure requirement would offend those who believe that people have an inalienable right to produce as many babies as they wish, no matter how incompetent, immature, abusive, or depraved they may be. Because I am more concerned about the rights of those helpless babies than I am about the alleged procreative rights of their feckless parents—and about the lives of crime, violence, and social dependency that most of these babies are doomed to lead when they grow up…” (p. 38)

Diagnosis

            There are several tools used to assist in diagnosing ASPD.  Some of which are:

Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire—4 (PDQ-4), Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory—III (MCMI-III), Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), Self-Report Psychopathy Scale II (SRP-II), Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP), Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI), Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) (2005), and The Hare Psychopathy Checklist. (Ullrich & Coid, 2010) However, there are strong concerns from some in the psychiatric community of over and misdiagnosis. (Ogloff, 2006)  Ogloff has this to say,

As currently construed, the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder grossly over-identifies people, particularly those with offence histories, as meeting the criteria for the diagnosis. (Ogloff, 2006, p. 519) Far more people (particularly prisoners) meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Antisocial PD, than is warranted. (Ogloff, 2006, p. 521)

According to Ullrich & Coid (2010), ASPD disorder affects approximately l%-4% of the adult general population in westernized countries.  According to the authors, ASPD is more strongly associated with violence towards other persons at the population level than other psychiatric disorders. It is important to note, however, not all persons with ASPD are violent, “with approximately half in a community sample reporting no violent behavior towards other persons over a five year period.” (Ullrich & Coid, 2010, p. 172)

Ogloff posits that while it is true that people may possess psychopathy characteristics, very few people possess enough of the traits to be considered ‘psychopathic’, citing that approximately 15% of North American male prisoners, 7.5% of North American female prisoners, 10% of male forensic psychiatric patients, fewer than 3% of psychiatric patients and an estimated 1% or less of the general community display antisocial traits. (Ogloff, 2006, p. 522) The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001), concurs with this estimate stating that many antisocial personalities are found in prison, estimating 15% – 20% of prisoners meet diagnosis requirements.

Therapy

            As previously discussed, psychotherapy with a sociopath can be very intense.  Behavior therapists have used token economies as a reward system, rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior.  (The Mental Health Letter, 2001)  Cognitive therapists try to change maladaptive thinking habits, hoping that feelings and actions with follow.  (2001) Overall, the goal of the therapist is to teach ASPD patients new ways to express needs, solve problems, anticipate consequences of actions, develop self-control, and resist false assumptions and expectations of hostility from others.  (2001) Often, sociopaths are encouraged to journal about situations that provoke anger and then compare these events to the immediate rewards with the long-term negative affects of impulsive acts.  (2001)

            One important note about therapeutic intervention in sociopaths is that the prospect of success is much greater with people who can be persuaded to change.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) “The model sociopath would never volunteer for psychiatric treatment.” (p. 2) Typically, he is coerced or required to attend therapy.  (2001) He may attempt to dominate a therapy group with fascination or intimidation.  The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001) describes the possible scenario,

He can turn psychotherapy into a power struggle in which he alternates charm and flattery with intimidation – trying to enlist the therapist as an ally against his family, the law, the prison system, or society, and going on the attack if he is thwarted.  If he is intelligent enough, he can wield a psychiatric vocabulary to deceive therapists and parole boards. (p. 3)

Psychotropic medication

            Caution, when prescribing a sociopath medication, should always be used, due to possible comorbidity with substance abuse.  However, drugs that reduce irritability, aggressiveness, and impulsiveness may be useful.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) Serotonin enhancing anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro, anti-psychotic drugs, anti-consultants, and Lithium are all common pharmacological drugs used to treat sociopathy.  (2001) However, it is important to note that a sociopath cannot be relied upon to consistently and voluntarily take medication that does not provide immediate, pleasurable results.  (2001)  Furthermore, as stated before, it is necessary to use strong discretion when prescribing medication due to abuse and combining medications with other substances.  (2001)

Effectiveness

            Although, treatment is a process fraught with a negative outlook, little is really known about the true prospective outlook for the sociopath.  It is encouraging to note that there is evidence to suggest that sociopathy begins to “fizzle out” around age forty. (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) Impulsive aggression and criminality seem to dissipate by this time. 

Criminality

            One of the most fascinating, albeit tragic aspects of ASPD is the link to criminal activity.  Due to the aggressive nature and impulsivity, combined with narcissism and a disregard for others, crime is extremely common among sociopaths, as discussed prior, however, not all sociopaths are violent criminals. With the advent of instant media, in court cameras, and a vast societal interest, obsession with violent, extreme sociopathy has captivated the Western world. Hollywoodnever ceases to produce fictional tales of horror or documentaries based upon real life events.  Television shows, such as CSI, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds all play upon the fascination with sociopaths.  

High Profile Cases

 Ted Bundy.  There is, perhaps, no sociopath as famous as Ted Bundy.  He eventually confessed to thirty murders, though many speculate that the victims were many more.  (wikipedia, 2011) Until the final given interview with James Dobson, the day before he was executed, he placed blame with many others, including

“his abusive grandfather, the absence of his biological father, and the concealment of his true parentage, alcohol, the media, the police (whom he accused of planting evidence), “society” in general, violence on television, and ultimately, pornography.  On at least one occasion he even tried to blame his victims: “I have known people who…radiate vulnerability. Their facial expressions say ‘I am afraid of you.’ These people invite abuse…By expecting to be hurt, do they subtly encourage it?” (wikipedia, 2011)

His crimes were all against women, all brutally violent, and equally appalling.  In the televised interview he gave he described the feelings he had when committing his crimes.  He used phrases such as, “some kind of horrible trance” and “possession by something alien.”  He stated that after a “brutal urge to act, then after he becomes himself again….basically a normal person.”  What is unbelievable is Bundy’s affect and countenance the day before he was set to die.  He seemed genuinely remorseful.  He seemed to fully accept responsibility for his actions and was very hesitant to relive the gruesome details of his victims.  These traits were not always described in observing Bundy, as alluded to previously.  So what could account for the change?  Either two things:  1.) Bundy was a very skilled, extremely charming, and highly intelligent individual who was manipulating any viewer.  This is quite possible.  These are the hallmark traits of the “model sociopath.”  Or 2.) There was a profound, life-altering change in his life that could only be supernatural. 

            In his final interview, Bundy specifically as for James Dobson of Focus on the Family.  He began to tell the story of what would end in horrific violence, stating, “People in towns around the country, just like me with dangerous impulses.”  He explained his profound addiction to pornography.  He went on to say that 100% of men in prison have a rooted addiction to pornography.  He claimed to be “half-drunk” at the time when he committed most of his crimes.  He discussed the desensitization affect in the addiction that lead to hard-core violence in feeding his impulses.  In that seeming humility and remorse, he expressed that he deserved “the most extreme punishment allowed by society.”  Finally, he told Dr. Dobson that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, but was also scared about “being in the valley of the shadow of death.”  Most people believe that he was simply manipulating his audience in an attempt at sympathy. 

Truly, only God knows.

            Outside of the interview that took place within, what were his final hours, the scene was described like this,

On the morning Bundy went to the electric chair, hundreds (from photographs of the event, the crowd seemed to be composed largely of men) gathered across the street from the prison. Many wore specially designed costumes, waved banners proclaiming a “Bundy BBQ,” or “I like my Ted well done,” and chanted songs such as “He bludgeoned the poor girls, all over the head. Now we’re all ecstatic, Ted Bundy is dead.” The most common journalistic metaphors for the overall scene were that of a carnival, circus, or tailgate party before a big game. (Journal of American Culture, 1990, p. 4)

What doesn’t make sense is the bloodlust for Ted Bundy, but millions flock to theatres paying millions of dollars to see “horror” films, such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Silence of the Lambs, Saw, and Friday the 13th.

Casey Anthony.  Not since the O.J. Simpson trial, has there been such fanatic attention to a criminal trial as the Casey Anthony case.  From the flamboyance of the defense attorneys to the family drama that is noted in court, daily, worldwide attention began at the first glimpse of that angel-faced, Caylee Anthony.  Her mother, Casey Anthony is on trial for murder.  Habitual lying is the pervading undercurrent for the entire trial.  Accusations of sexual abuse, conflicting stories of accidental death, and shocking behavior have all crossed the lips of the defendant. 

In watching these amazing hearings, the utter narcissism and complete disregard for the feelings of others is immediately apparent of Ms. Anthony.  For thirty-one days, her child’s whereabouts remained unknown before Caylee’s grandmother, and, arguably, co-caretaker, demanded to know where the child was.  It was at this point that Casey admitted that she had been “missing.”  Cynthia Anthony called authorities immediately, when her mother, possibly never would. 

During the month that the defendant claims that her daughter was taken from her, shocking pictures were released, depicting her hard-core, party lifestyle.  Clubbing nearly every night, shopping nearly every day, grief and concern are completely absent from a mother, who claimed to be wild with worry for two-year-old daughter.  After being arrested and convicted on check fraud and theft, and then finally charged with the murder of her child, Anthony changed her story, being caught in a slew of lies, to the accidental drowning of little Caylee.  Her father was now the target of the defense council, asserting that he sexually abused his daughter, giving justification for the habitual lying. 

Ms. Anthony’s affect and demeanor in court are, often, wildly unpredictable.  From proclaimed anxiety and nausea, to intense, brief rage, Casey’s emotions seem to fluctuate, depending upon the presence of the jury and the position of cameras.  She is seen often, unbelievably laughing at moments and at other times, completely stoic and stone-faced.  She often seems completely in control of her council team, passing out files and papers, setting up computers and answering questions from the judge in calm disposition.  However, towards the end of the defense’s presentation, they submit a motion, declaring Casey Anthony of “incompetence.”  The judge denied the request, following a battery of tests by court-appointed psychologists. 

Dr. Keith Ablow (2011) recently penned the article, Why We Can’t Stop Watching the Casey Anthony Trial.  He asserts three reasons that the public is enthralled with this trail:  First Casey represents a “brainteaser.”  He describes her as a “psychological Rubik’s Cube,” She has no criminal history, prior to 2008.  She comes from a middle-class family.  Her parents are still married and despite recent allegations of abuse, there is no documentation or witness to attest to this. (2011)

Secondly, Ms. Anthony’s conduct, whether a killer or a simply a mother who did not report her child missing, is a “conduit for buried, forgotten terrors still inside all of us.” (Ablow, 2011) Dr. Ablow (2011) explains that during childhood, our physical and emotional vulnerabilities are entirely dependent upon that of our guardians.  At that time, the thought that a mother or father dislike us, wished that we didn’t exist, and may be able to act upon those feelings, are fears that we suppress.  These childhood nightmares are, simply, unthinkable, and, in adulthood, still locked deep inside us. (2011) He states,

Casey Anthony, the pretty, smiling, mother who may well have murdered her daughter is, in fact, every adult’s worst, long-denied childhood nightmare. The chance to see such a woman in captivity, and to ponder what she is accused of, is like going to the zoo to see the rarest, deadliest monster you can imagine, the one resurrected from the deepest recesses of your mind in its most fragile moments. And, what’s more, even if she is that monster, she may or may not be freed. (2011)

Finally, the third reason that the public is so enthralled with this murder trial is that many people who have experienced the joy of starting a family, still have moments of wistfully recalling what it was like to be unencumbered with a child. (Ablow, 2011)  Parenthood is not easy.  There are times when it is downright hard.  With the many moments of blessing, also bring moments of challenge, emotion and frustration.

Spiritual Elements

Demon Possession

Mark 5:1-13

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. (New International Version, 1984)

The passage of Scripture cited is one demonstrating demonic possession.  There are a few key elements relating to mental illness.  The first, is the fact that this man was isolated, due to the fact that he could no longer be physically restrained.  This could be likened to extreme aggressive behavior and possible mania.  His strength and ferocity required segregation from society.  The second key, is that he would “cry out” and “cut himself with stones.” Today this would be described as inappropriate outburst of emotion, indicative of possible psychosis, Bipolarity, Delusional Disorder, Schizophrenia, or a personality disorder.  Finally, the final relation to current mental illness is the response by the man to Jesus’ question about his name.  The response, “Legion, for we are many,” is clearly attributable to Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.              Based upon this passage, and assuming a biblical worldview, this is solid evidence that mental illness is, at least in some cases, directly caused by demonic possession.  Symptoms that are commonly classified in modern times as mental disturbance have clear, direct correlations to cases that occurring thousands of years ago. 

            Neil T. Anderson (2000) is a proponent for the theory that most, if not all mental illness is derivative of possession.  What many term mental illness, psychosis, and poor habits, the author redefines as living in bondage to demonic influence. The author points out that these are merely symptoms, but one should appropriately ask:  Who or what is causing the symptoms? (2000) 

            There are six common misconceptions: 

  1. Demons were active when Christ was on earth, but their activity has subsided.
  2. What the early church called demonic activity we now understand to be mental illness.
  3. Some problems are psychological and some are spiritual.
  4. Christians cannot be affected by demons.
  5. Demonic influence is only evident in extreme or violent behavior and gross sin.
  6. Freedom from spiritual bondage is the result of a power encounter with demonic forces.  (Anderson, 2000, pp.19-26)

However, In Tennant’s (2001) article, Altar of Possession, the author highlights the relation of dissociative patients to satanic ritual abuse or SRA.  “And once most started talking about SRA, there was a bias on part of the therapists to look for this phenomenon,” Kelley says. “If genuine SRA wasn’t there, the doctors would help them find it.”  (p. 51) This is one concern of most secular psychotherapists.  Hypnosis is a similarly controversial technique in which there is great speculation of “memory planting” and within the Biblical Counseling field, an invitation of demonic activity.  

Discussion

Antisocial Personality Disorder, psychopathy, sociopathy are labels that strike fear into the hearts of, both, lay persons and professionals.  It is important to note that not all those who display ASPD behaviors are violent.  Further, this diagnosis presents several concerns of misdiagnosis.  Are some people, simply demon possessed?  Is an exorcism necessary?  Or, less dramatic, are antisocial tendencies merely the result of sinful behavior, thinking, and action?  It is very possible that there are degrees and cases of each scenario.  Only by viewing this “illness” from the scope of a biblical worldview, is it possible to truly discern the true foundations for ASPD.
References

Ablow, K. (2011, June 25) Why we can’t stop watching the Casey Anthony trial.

Retrieved June 25, 2011 fromhttp://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/06/25/why-cant-stop-watching-casey-anthony-trial/

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental

disorders (Revised 4th ed.).Washington,DC: Author.

Anderson, N. T. (2000).  The bondage breaker.Eugene,OR:  Harvest House.

Antisocial Personality Disorder- Part One. (2000, December). Harvard Mental Health

Letter, 17(6), 1-4.

Antisocial Personality Disorder- Part Two. (2001, January). Harvard Mental Health Letter,

17(7), 1-4.

Furnham, A., Daoud, Y., & Swami, V. (2009). “How to spot a psychopath”. lay theories

of psychopathy. social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 44(6), 464-472.

Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Gunter, T. D., Vaughn, M. G., & Philibert, R. A. (2010). Behavioral genetics in antisocial

spectrum disorders and psychopathy: A review of the recent literature. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 28(2), 148-173. doi:10.1002/bsl.923

Lykken, D. T. (1996). Psychopathy, sociopathy, and crime. Society, 34(1), 29-38.

Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ogloff, J. P. (2006). Psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder conundrum. Australian

& New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40(6/7), 519-528. doi:10.1111/j.1440

1614.2006.01834.x

Ted Bundy (n.d.) Retrieved June 30, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_bundy

Ted Bundy Interview [Video file]. Retrieved from

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJeremyKyIeShow#g/c/FDF64AD8FE64B10E

 Tennant, A. (2001). Alter possession: some “demons” are better left unexorcised.

Christianity Today, 45(11), 51. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

The Holy Bible. (1984). New International Version.Grand Rapids,MI:  Zondervan

Publishing House.

The New Founding Fathers: The lore and lure of the serial killer in contemporary

culture. (1990). Journal of American Culture (01911813), 13(3), 1-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ullrich, S., & Coid, J. (2010). Antisocial personality disorder — stable and unstable

subtypes. Journal of Personality Disorders, 24(2), 171-187. doi:10.1521/pedi.2010.24.2.171

Feelin’ a Little Snarky

After a week that began annoying and ended in physical pain, I have chosen to begin this one a little…hmmm…snarky.  I’m in full jaded wit mode. 

**Sarcasm alert**

So, I guess I’ll just take this time as an outlet for my whiplash wit.  After my little rant, you may wonder if I have schizophrenic tendencies – I’m just gonna flow. (watch out, Eminem….)

I chose to take at least a week of of Facebook.  Several of my fb posse, some of my dearest friends (cyber friends and the real ones, too), went into shock mode.  They may have been tempted to call authorities to check if I:

A. had been held against my will at Area 51

B. was roaming the city, mumbling about Cheerio liferafts,

C. was abducted by aliens (like Randy Quaid) or

D. placed in a rubber room to the tune of Lady Gaga. 

After last week, I think any of these scenarios would be a welcome vacation

Thankfully, I haven’t lost my sense of humor. 

Aren’t you glad?…Don’t answer that.

Though I faced a few personal attacks, my true friends, people I consider my family, immediately lined up  to bless, encourage, and support me.  These last two years, I have had to modify my methods of communication.  You see I am a die hard advocate for communication.  But, I have had some intense times of learning how to effectively communicate.  Yet, in spite of it, there are people who still don’t agree with my passion (in more than one venue, I assure you).  What’s particularly sad, is that those who know me best, know that regardless of how zealous I am, my deepest desire is to convey that I love, in spite of any disagreement.  This is especially true after learning that my brand of wit, even in debate, could sometimes be tinged with a little too much “bite”.  It takes alot to get that “bite” from me, especially in face-to-face conversation, but when writing, I have a tendency to utilize the full arsenal of my gift for edgy wit and arguement.  I am proud to say that I think much harder before introducing “bite” to my “bark.”  These are lessons that have been tremendously beneficial, though heartwrenching. 

I proclaim my right to be a “lump of clay.” 

However, don’ t you hate the few days after a disagreement when you go over and over what you should have said, what you shouldn’t have said, and what you would like to have said, but know that it would be wrong???  I wish I had some precognition to an upcoming discussion.  I could be prepared, rather than, “Beday-beday,bu..bhsjdsllds..”

Think Porky Pig on psychotropic medication.

What frustrates me, though, is when others in conversation, don’t even try to be kind.  Accusatory, vicious, and downright mean, are attitudes that NEVER promote healthy dialogue.  Insinuations, condescention, and inhumility are the icing to the poison laced cake that is disingenuity. 

One of the most ironic aspects of this particular rant is that most of the time, those who are unkind, uncaring, or simply neglectful tend to be my family. 

Ouch….Ouch…..OUCH!!

Does anyone else feel like this?  Am I the only one? 

Yeah, I’ve heard the arguement that this is due to the fact that family “will always be there.”  That these are the people that you are most likely to take for granted that they are “always there”.  How is that a good reason?  When did it become “ok” to be rude, based on the fact that “blood is thicker than water?”

And just because the annoyances from last week continue – I just published this post without realizing it.  Okaaaayyy. Guess I was done. Subconciously, maybe?

Of Garden Gnomes and Compost….

Garden Gnomes

It’s almost June.  And I’m getting ready to start my garden. 

By “getting ready,” I mean that I really like the idea of a garden and I have a complete book that I need to read before I clear the area in the yard, build the platform, get the seeds, dirt, and grow a green thumb. 

Most avid gardeners got ready in early April with their lettuce’s and plans, but not here.  I’d rather, like most things, procrastinate until I get to the point where it’s hotter than hades outside to get the shovel out. 

Getting “ready” to garden, got me thinking about what it takes to grow vitamin rich vegetables and fruits.  I have managed to skim my “Square Foot Gardening” book and looked at the section about making your own compost. 

Wow. 

That seems like a project I could do. 

Just throw your trash in the yard?  Seriously??  I am so there. 

The neighbors a few houses down must be about to grow a friggin’ co-op!! 

With the general cloud that hung over last week in my world, I realized that gardening is so representative of the relationship between us and the Lord.  Literally and metaphorically, speaking. 

God made the seeds.  God made the sun.  God made the water.  But, when we stick the seeds in the soil (provided that we plant in appropriate soil), it all comes together and grows! 

So about that soil…Gnomeo, the square-foot, garden guy (not really, I don’t remember his name.  I can barely remember to take my psychotropic medicine.) recommends that you select only the best soils. 

Translation: Don’t use the suburban crap loaded with chunks of cement that the housing developers sell you, mislabeling it, a “lawn.”

  He suggests using a trio combination, I only remember one: vermiculite. 

(I only remember because its fun to say, “vermiculite.” Seriously, try it, “verMIculite.”).  So you take the verMIculite, soil 2, and soil3 and

VOILA! 

Insta’ cozy bed for the precious, widdle, veggie-weggies. 

This wasn’t the part that fascinated me. 

That may be the reason I haven’t done it, yet.  I’m sort of like a two-year old, in terms of attention span, you know….wait…what???

Oh, right…

So, what was sort of interesting to me was the fact that you can take your compostable garbage (I’m guessing styrofoam, 6-pack plastic rings, and diapers aren’t the target.) like leftover corn stalks, I don’t know pork-rinds, and uneaten beanie weenies.  Plus, any unused horse manure you have lying around . 

What other uses are there for horse manure???

Does dog dirt count? I’ve got a yard, chocked full of unused dog droppings.  It’s about time the resident mutt make a useable contribution around here….

(See, 2-year old attention span…sorry)

Yeah, this post is getting a little messy, time to interject the point!

The Bible even talks about gardening.  Jesus told gave this parable:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  (Matt. 13:3-9)

Soil is important!  Even Jesus talked about it!  He explained the reason for his metaphor, saying,

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Soil is vital to the health of the crop.  Without good soil, any seed scattered will not take root and flourish. 

The foundation for a garden is a prelude to the outcome of the crop. 

Back to the compost – (see?)

I got to thinking. 

What is compost? 

Waste.  The leftover junk that smells, may be moldy, and really is unusable for any other reason. 

(Well, except the horse manure…)

In life, we can take our junk to God’s garden.  We can unload our leftovers: our personality quirks, our pasts, our addictions, our smelly, moldy stuff. We allow it to hit the rich soil of God’s grace and watch him water and grow vitamin-rich, nourishment in our lives.  But this requires effort on our part!  We must be sure we are planting in the rich soil that is a balance of biblical truth, the love and forgiveness of Christ, and the infiltration of the Holy Spirit’s leading. 

The Soil, the Son, and Living Water.

VerMIculite.

Once we have seed within a good soil, compost it, water it and allow the Son to take over, we have to be vigilant.  We weed, pulling out any thing that enters the garden that doesn’t benefit the garden:

Again, weeds.

Pesty insects.

Pesty animals. (rabbits, squirrels, birds, dumb mutts….)

We have to take precautions, knowing that these things are bound to threaten the thrival (is that a word?) of the garden.  We watch the garden.  Prune out the threats.  Set boundaries and barriers to inhibit the pests from threatening the crop.  Cultivate the soil, continuing to take advantage of the richness in the foundation (the Word of God, accountability from mature brothers and sisters in Christ, prayer). 

Such careful work will yield a successful crop. 

One more time….

VerMIculite

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