Have you heard the one about the psychotic and the neurotic? The psychotic knows that two plus two equals five. The neurotic knows that two plus two equals four, but he worries about it. There’s an education is this bit of humor!
All people come into the world with the assigned conscience to assist them in recognizing what is good and what is bad, according to God’s design, and to help them to make the appropriate choice about the action they should take in any circumstance.
In addition to the abuse of conscience described in part one of this essay- ignoring and refuting it in an effort to keep it quiet, there is a misuse of one’s God-given conscience, and that is to overload it with falsehoods.
There are some who enter life genetically wired for excessive anxiety. Often, particularly in these people, the conscience is additionally burdened by unnecessary or excessive shame and guilt, produced by what is (in raw form) dishonesty. Those who are consistently mistreated in this life also tend toward this phenomena.
How does one overload or misuse his or her conscience? One does so by exchanging the Truth of these three things for lies:
1. The Genuine Existence of God
2. The Authentic Character of God
3. The Justice System of God
Yes, by refusing to adhere to the Truth of the same three things brought out in part one of this essay, a person can misuse and overload his or her conscience.
In effect, the person who has been seriously misused, injured, traumatized- whether once or continually, is subject to doing the same to his or her own conscience by neglecting to nurture the Truth.
This disregard is different than that brought out in part one, because it is rooted in fear rather than arrogance. The owner of the conscience is too often persuaded by his or her learned and habitual inner conversation, by his or her natural self (humanity, sin nature, or flesh), or (probably rarely) by a direct demonic influence to ignore the Truth about God in favor of lies produced by fear.
The extraordinary events of abuse that many experience are certainly enough to cause even the very strongest to doubt, to worry, and eventually to engage in the fear-driven practice of trading the Truth for a lie. In these instances, however, much of the exchange is the result of unnecessary or excessive shame and guilt and the destructive force is aimed inward toward the self rather than outward toward others, though the emotional chaos produced in such circumstances causes these people many personality problems (dilemmas in their style of inter-relating, relating with other people), often wreaking havoc in their relationships.
This type of consistent abiding practice of exchanging the Truth for a lie results in something known in the medical and mental health community as a neurotic-a neurotically disturbed or disordered personality. The lies the neurotic often subscribes to are those associated with doubting God’s existence and His Sovereignty, doubting God’s goodness, doubting God’s justice. For example: “If God existed he would never allow this,” “God is not big enough to fix this,” “Because this happened God is not fair,” “God can’t help me,” “God is against me,” “God is paying me back,” “I’m so horrible God can’t even see me,” “God could never forgive me,” “Surely God couldn’t love me.” These are all lies from the pit of hell.
The neurotic is often functional but some become dysfunctional if there is little to no awareness of the issue and no appropriate available behavioral educational help. (Pharmaceutical aid is not offered to treat a personality disturbance or disorder at this time, but the symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany the situation are treatable with specific drugs.)
Interestingly, a person with a certain type of disturbed or disordered personality will sometimes cross into the territory belonging to those with a disturbed or disordered character, in other words- the genuinely psychotic.
I theorize that this can happen to a neurotic as a natural result of receiving little to no assistance with the personality disturbance or disorder; therefore creating greater and more persistent problems for himself or herself (particularly in human to human relationship), and eventually being rendered less and less capable of living productively, as well as being encouraged by the worsening situation to develop further asocial traits and methods of dealing with others, the person, consumed with anger and frustration may find stifling the conscience preferable to mis-using it.
The neurotic possesses a wounded conscience. The psychotic is the owner of a stone-cold dead conscience and a disturbed or a disordered character, even the little that he or she had has been taken away. This means that the psychotic’s style of inner-relating (relating to the self) is irrational and unrealistic at best and evil at worst. This person is the ultimate character disturbed, anti-social type; some becoming what is referred to in the mental health community as a sociopath or a psychpath. The terms are basically interchangable as the first is used by those who believe nurture to be the primary force in shaping the character and the latter is used by those believing that nature and nurture play a nearly equally important role in the foundation of the character. (It should be noted here that one may experience temporary psychosis as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain brought on by illness or illicit drug use, etc, and this does not make him or her a psychotic character. In addition, many chemical imbalances in the brain, producing illness and psychosis are treatable.)
It is obvious then, that for one to enjoy optimal mental health, one must recognize, accept, and encourage Truth. The conscience must be awakened, educated, and inspired to grow correctly. This is the beginning to becoming an individually redeemed soul. The Truth shall set you free!
The one who never experiences this revelation of conscience will never reach that place where God will make plain not only the Truth of His existence, character, and justice system, but the Truth of His Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior in the face of these realities!*
Notably, George K. Simon, Jr., Ph.D., has done a beautiful job of further explanation and giving socially acceptable and academically responsible language to the subject matter found here and in our Bibles (particularly in the book of Romans) in the book he authored: Character Disturbance, The Phenomenon of Our Age.
Again, I admonish us to take God seriously, and to begin by applying to our ordinary daily lives the basic realities of our existence, those put forth in The Holy Word of God.
*The sensible reader will comprehend that there are most probably exceptions in the cases of those who never reach an age of accountability or who are rendered mentally incompetent by some force or circumstance of nature completely beyond their control.
Copyright 2017. L.L. Shelton