School and Psychology of Adjustment

This term I’m taking Psychology of Adjustment. I really didn’t know what to expect when the course started. There were a couple psych classes available this summer with instructors who had good ratings on ratemyprofessors.com and that was my qualifier. LOL! My first semester in school I registered for classes without checking out the professors on ratemyprofessors.com. I learned the hard way why that was a bad idea. 😉 Anyway, my understanding was that the class was about adjusting to the changes and challenges of life.

Well, I am loving this class. It is personally challenging rather than just an exercise in accumulating knowledge. If you really want to dig around in why you do the things you do and learn how to change your own choices, I recommend getting the book, I Never Knew I Had a Choice, by Gerald and Marianne Schneider Corey.

The chapter we’re working on this week talks about “injunctions” – the internal “do’s” and “don’ts” that we are taught, either actively or passively, from the time we are very young. These injunctions program the way we act and the choices we make, and unless we deliberately choose to stop and challenge them we will never be able the change our lives.

See which of these may be determining your actions:

Don’t be yourself.
Don’t think for yourself.
Don’t feel.
Don’t be close.
Don’t trust.
Don’t fail.
Don’t be foolish (or silly or have fun).
Don’t be important.
Don’t brag.
Don’t let us down.
Don’t be sexy or sensual (even within your marriage).
Don’t focus on your appearance (at all).
Don’t change.
Don’t talk back (or question authority).
Do – be perfect.
Do – say only nice things.
Do – be more than you are (you are not good enough the way you are).
Do – be obedient.
Do – work up to your potential.
Do – be submissive.
Do – be practical at all times.
Do – listen to authority figures.
Do – always put your best foot forward.
Do – put others before yourself.
Do – be seen but not heard.

I included a couple extras that weren’t in the book. Even the ones that “seem” like they are good are not necessarily, especially the way they are interpreted within an abusive environment.

Another question that I thought was very thought provoking was, “What messages have you received concerning:

  • your self-worth
  • your ability to succeed
  • your gender role
  • your intelligence
  • your trust in yourself
  • trusting others
  • making yourself vulnerable
  • your security
  • your aliveness as a person
  • your creativity
  • your ability to be loved
  • your capacity to give love

Think about it and see if you learn anything interesting about yourself. We can only change what we can first identify as a problem. Personally, I think this is a process that will never end. If we’re not growing, we’re stagnating or going backwards – neither is something positive.

Reference:

Corey, G. & M. (2006). I Never Knew I Had a Choice. 85, 86

Daniel and Psychology

In the process of my own thinking regarding the pursuit of a career in psychology it was a “light bulb” moment when I remembered Daniel.  God had Daniel trained in all the “wisdom” of his day – the equivalent of today’s psychology in our culture.  Not only was Daniel trained in the pagan wisdom of his time but he excelled and was a leader in his field.  He accomplished this without compromising his beliefs and his relationship with God.  He also was used by God to influence several kings and the culture of his day.  There is no indication at all in the Word that Daniel served his own people; he served the pagan king from within the framework of that culture’s wisdom.

So often we want to put God in a little box.  Psychology is “evil” and therefore no “real” Christian will have anything to do with it.  But God is bigger than our boxes and we do Him an injustice when we put limitations on what He can and can’t do using which tools.

Why Christians Can Benefit from Psychology

This is an excerpt from my article of the same name.

~~~~~

The state of the modern church has made psychology a field of value to Christians. Unfortunately, the church has abandoned its understanding of practical living, issues of human behavior, and how the Bible applies to real, day-to-day life. That is a broad generalization and over-simplification but basically true. The church does attempt to apply the Bible to daily life, but tends to stick to simplistic and easy issues. When Christians face issues deeper than whether or not to homeschool and why, how to be a good Christian wife, and how to manage personal finances the church suddenly draws a blank, or worse yet, attempts to bring inadequate information and misapplied Scripture to bear…

…Christians dealing with Tourette Syndrome, Aspergers, borderline personality disorder, etc. will find no help in the church because the church either wants to vilify what it does not understand or leaders lacks the professional training to address these situations since they are medical, developmental and/or psychological conditions beyond the church’s grasp. Christians dealing with incest, sexual abuse in marriage, pedophilia, covert abuse, etc. will find little or no help in the church because the church either clings to naivety and would prefer to turn a blind eye, or because they want to apply tiny Biblical bandaids to gushing severed arteries.

At the same time, more and more Christians are turning outside the church for help because they have been wounded by the church when they sought answers… just as most Christians do not spurn medical doctors (who are trained in the same oppositional world views [as psychologists]) when they need help for a broken leg or an appendectomy, Christians need not spurn the help of psychologists when they need concrete help with issues relating to the function of the human brain, human development, and human behavior…

Christians and Psychology

I found an excellent blog post at Counseling Notes by Bowden McElroy regarding Christians and psychology. I am excerpting part of the post below. I’ve been thinking about writing something along these lines, and here someone has already done it. 😉 As a devout Christian who is also pursuing a career in the field of psychology, the dichotomy between the two is an issue of which I am extremely aware. This post describes, in part, how I see psychology and why I find value in it as well.

~~~~

Psychology is a mixture of science and philosophy. One function of psychology is theory construction. Psychology attempts to formulate theory to explain man’s behavior, his nature, and how he lives, changes, and develops disorder. This is an area of psychology that clearly overlaps the field of theology. It is in this area that psychology most displays its inadequacy. Traditional psychology is a science that is desperately looking for a world view, while actively rejecting the Christian world view. Psychology attempts to construct a secular religion defining the nature of man.

It is our view that only the bible holds the answers to the true essence of who man is, his needs, what is truth, what is moral, and what is right. It is the bible alone that holds the answers to man’s deepest needs. It is only in the bible that we find that the nature of man is sinful and that man has a God-shaped vacuum within. It is only in the bible that we learn of man’s need for God, and that abundant and eternal life can only be achieved through reconciliation with God. It is only in the bible that it is revealed that Jesus Christ is the answer to man’s sin problem, and that his sins can be forgiven only through the acceptance of Jesus Christ’s provision of salvation and eternal life. Following the acceptance of Jesus Christ, grace transforms the Christian into a new creature. Day by day throughout the rest of the believer’s life, God gradually transforms that person into the image of Jesus Christ. It is the scripture alone that offers answers to problems such as guilt, our need to be forgiven and our need to forgive others, and it is only the bible that gives us guidance about our priorities, and what is a healthy lifestyle.

Psychology at the end of the twentieth century has endorsed the philosophy of post-modernism. The post-modernist perspective suggests that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Everything is relative. What is true and right can only be determined in a particular context and circumstance. The field of psychology has also embraced pluralism, holding that society is a mixture of distinct ethnic religious and cultural groups, and that we are to live in harmony and give up notions that would separate us. Both pluralism and post-modernism hold that no single philosophical system or world view holds the answers to the complex questions and nature of our social and physical world. We believe that post-modernism is in direct conflict with a biblical Christian world view. Psychology alone does not hold the answers to men’s purpose and is not the answer to mans moral dilemmas. Post-modern psychology is a dangerous philosophy on a collision course with Biblical Christianity.

The science of psychology is the more useful part of psychology for Christians. The scientific study and systematic observation of human behavior has produced vast knowledge about man’s problems, what factors contribute to such problems, and strategies for helping individuals overcome them. It is this aspect of psychology that we embrace. In all cases, we filter psychological information through the grid of scriptural truth. What fits consistently with the scripture is useful, and anything that conflicts in any way is discarded. Psychology has given us great insight into such subjects as the nature, causes, and treatment of depression. Psychology and psychiatry have also assisted us greatly in distinguishing which disorders may have a more psychological root and which may have a more biological root cause.