Tag Archives: counseling

Intermittent Explosions

Study says millions have ‘rage’ disorder

There comes a point when even _I_ think psychology and science end up just looking plain, down-right ridiculous. If you explode in a rage at seemingly random intervals, don’t look to your own attitude for a fix. Look to your physiology. Or at least that’s what a recent scientific study is saying. According to this study, an imbalance in the neurotransmitters in your brain can cause periodic explosive bouts of rage and anger, exhibited in such instances as road rage and spousal abuse.

Here’s what really grinds me – every single time we notice a particular trend in our culture, a phenomenon that hits the national radar, scientists want to find a cause for this behavior. They set up studies, they record observations, and they issue reports. And time and again we hear the same thing – it’s not your fault that you’re fat or angry or depressed, etc. It’s an imbalance in the chemicals in your brain throwing off your psychosocial equilibrium.

This is all well and good, I suppose – there _are_ legitimate cases of chemical imbalances that cause antisocial behavior. But what these studies fail to mention is that just because an imbalance has been observed does not necessarily mean a cause-effect relationship. Typically, the relationship is merely correlational – when antisocial behavior occurs, there is an imbalance in neurological chemicals, but it is exceptionally difficult to determine which caused which. Did the imbalance cause the behavior? Or did the behavior cause the imbalance? The human brain is so complex that we still don’t really know how it works. Here’s a bit of trivia for you – we dispense many different kinds of drugs for various psychological disorders, yet we still don’t really know _how_ they work. We just know that they do.

Here’s something else for you to chew on – many antisocial behaviors can be corrected through the use of counseling, through mentoring and coaching an individual and urging them toward a general chance in attitude. Change the heart and mind of a man and you change his behavior. (There’s a reason why Christianity applied correctly has the power to drastically alter a person for the better.)

I suppose I’m simply tired of scientists – men and women who are educated and knowledgeable – trying to constantly justify poor human behavior by finding some genetic or physiological cause. I believe in accountability and personal responsibility, and I also believe that, by and large, the primary reason why we have seen an increase in anger, rage, and a whole host of other negative behaviors is because we no longer hold people accountable. There is no longer any desire to urge one another a higher standard of living because to do so would be ‘intolerant’ and unacceptable. It would be rude and inconsiderate to expect anyone to live their lives other than the way they want to, even if that way is self-destructive and even dangerous (or simply rude) to others.

We live in a time of ridiculous behaviors and even more ridiculous philosophies, a time when all people are simply children and juveniles because no one actually has to grow up, be mature, or take responsibility. Anything goes, and apparently most of us are alright with that because we don’t say anything to change the status quo.

Simply ridiculous.

Using Statistics in Christian Ministry

Interesting factoid: Statistics are better and more accurate predictors of human behavior than estimations of human behavior based on ‘known’ facts. For instance, I can say that so-and-so will do such-and-such a thing because I have seen examples of people doing such things. I’m basing my judgment on anectodal evidence. The problem with anectodal evidence is that it is just that — anecdotal. My own observations are very, very limited and generally do not reflect true trends.

There are all kinds of organizations, companies, and agencies in the world at large that do nothing but collect statistics on human behavior. One such area where research of this kind is extremely useful is in the social sciences, specifically psychology and counseling. Counselors are beginning to rely more and more on statistics in predicting patient/treatment outcome because it has been shown that these numbers are better at prediction than are our own estimations. An example of this is predicting that a patient is going to relapse into former unhealthy behaviors, even though current treatment is going very well, because the numbers indicate that the vast majority of patients similar to this one have themselves relapsed. Such knowledge gives the counselor a heads-up and gives them the opportunity to head the problem off and try a different tack to avoid the relapse itself.

Many Christians I know cringe when they see statistics used in this way. The general notion as I perceive it is that these statistics tend to remove or negate man’s free will, placing him into a box and taking away his ability to control his own actions. The fear here, I think, is that the use of statistics in the helping professions will prove our methods useless and redundant, that they will prove that man has no choice but to act in such ways, that all our work and effort
is, ultimately, in vain. The fundamental misunderstanding here is, however, that while statistics predict accurate future behavior, they in no way influence behavior itself. Statistics are simply
descriptive and serve certain purposes in the helping professions.

This all leads me to wonder how much of a role statistics plays in Christian ministries. I am sure that there are organizations out there that gather such data, analyze it, organize it, and deliver it to churches, ministries, and various similar Christian agencies, but I am personally unaware of such groups. Organizations like Focus on the Family and Crisis Pregnancy Centers undoubtedly collect data to some extent, but I wonder how much of that is used to write and publish reports and journals that would be useful to the Christian community at large. Since my Master’s degree is in psychology and my background and area of interest is in research, data collection, and analysis, I have a vested interest in finding or establishing an organization that conducts surveys, tests, and the like and uses the resultant data in a meaningful way to aid the Christian community in outreach. So, if anyone has heard of such organizations (or has
money to throw toward funding research grants), I would love to hear about it. It would be very cool to put my particular skills and interests to work for the furtherance of the work of God.

Postscript: 2 Peter has a lot of good stuff! I may write a bit about it in the near future…

Too Much ‘Reminiscence’?

A recent set of questions
has caused me to reflect again on an issue I faced and dealt with in my social group in college. From a psychological, spiritual, and counseling point of view, it’s something that does arise periodically and should be handled with care and wisdom. The issue is this — finding a balance between spending too much time thinking about mistakes made in the past, and moving on with life. I’ve met a few people who just find it so very difficult to get over feelings of guilt and shame regarding things they have done or said somewhere in their past. For them, it’s a great stumbling block, a hurdle that they just can’t seem to get over. A lot of depression cases are
based on this sort of thing. They just wish they could go back and fix it, that doing so would make their present lives so much better. (The trouble is that it probably wouldn’t actually fix
things as much as they expect.)

There is a distinct difference between being stuck in the past and beating oneself up over past mistakes and learning from those same mistakes. Granted, it is sometimes VERY easy to get hung up on those things, but doing so really serves no practical purpose and leads nowhere good. Instead, and this takes a great amount of work and not a little bit of pain, effort must be made to pick up the pieces, face the consequences squarely, and use the situation, however
unpleasant, to learn wisdom, endurance, and patience. The interesting part of this is that, if you allow it, these situations can be some of the best learning periods and spiritual development times you will ever face. The moments when I felt closest to God, when I matured most as a Christian, were probably in some of the darkest times of my life. It was hard to get through, and I did feel guilt and shame and even a little bit of depression, and I didn’t always like the consequences, but that was okay because when I relied on God I found it all that much easier to deal with and I learned greater wisdom than if I had fixated on the unpleasantness of my circumstances and shunned God.

Bias

Yeah, so I’ve been really prolific with the thoughts today…..

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— original author wrote:
> Accepting an Idea
>
> 1. It’s impossible.
> 2. Maybe it’s possible, but it’s weak and uninteresting.
> 3. It is true and I told you so.
> 4. I thought of it first.
> 5. How could it be otherwise.
>
> from http://www.possibility.com/Cpp/CppCodingStandard.html#intro
>
> … well, i got a kick out of it, anyway. back to work, then..
>

**chuckle**

Ok, that ties in really well with some memory issues we’ve talked about in class recently. People basically have selective memory that they modify unconsciously and at will (typically). Basically, using the steps above as an example, you can start at point 1 and progress to point 6, and by the time you are at point 6, you can have completely forgotten that you were at point 1, asserting all the time that the idea was original to you, that you were the one who suggested it in the first place, when in reality, you may have violently objected to the idea!

And then we wonder why we need counselors……

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Oh, and counselors, keep a sharp out for THIS client.