If you hang around Christians long enough, you will eventually hear about demons and evil spirits. Many Christians believe in spiritual warfare - that there are demons trying to lead us astray from God and angels who are fighting on our side. But in psychology you don't hear much about that. How can many people perceive demonic activity while psychology makes no mention of it?
I believe that sometimes people can call the same thing different names. This happens when people have different experiences, different languages, and different worldviews. So Christians often say that they are tempted by the devil while psychologists might say that we are tempted because people enjoy breaking the rules. The devil is external, the delight in breaking rules is internal.
But sometimes I wonder if we are not describing the same thing. How does a demon tempt us except through making our neurons fire in a certain pattern in our brain? Otherwise we would not even be thinking tempting thoughts. We now know that our experiences of the world occur through our body, so any demonic work would need to impose on our body to change our experiences. Hence why I think we may be calling the same phenomenon by different names.
A further similarity arises in how we effectively combat such problems. Those who believe in spiritual warfare pray to God for help in the midst of the challenge. Those who believe that it is only psychological learn to change their thinking patterns. In both, the solution is to focus on doing something (praying or thinking about something else) instead of focusing on the temptation.
I believe that we need to find solutions that allow us to stay in the presence of God. But for those who believe that demons are an artifact of ancient superstitions, therapists can help them find relief in other ways. Christian therapists ought to integrate faith into their counseling regardless of whether their clients believe in demons or maladaptive thoughts or anything else. Therapists can use the client's framework to help the client change because they are just using different words for the same experiences.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
For the next ten days I will be on vacation in Oregon and San Francisco. I'm looking forward to time with family and time to relax. You may have noticed that my rate of posting has slowed and I'm hoping that I will soon become refilled with the passion to write more consistently again. Adios!
Friday, August 03, 2007
I wanted to share a link to an article I just read on pornography by Naomi Wolf. She argues that pornography has made our culture less truly sexual. By exposing men and women to further extremes of beauty and "eroticism," pornography has only made men less connected to women and women less happy with their bodies. Not only are men objectifying women more, but the higher standards are causing men to check out from reality more. Check it out, it's a good read.