Starting With Your Own Answers to The Big Questions Leads to Reducing Stigma In Others

Alexander Ostuzhev as Quasimodo, 1925.

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Question:  How do you see the paradigm of spirituality intersecting with the paradigm of biology?

As a psychiatrist who blogs that behaviors come from the brain and not a theater script we voluntarily revise to perform, this is a good question.  As readers, and perhaps subscribers to this same belief, this is a good question.

In church, Bible study, or circle of any kind, there are fewer things that goad me more than listening to descriptions of the moral value in emotions and behaviors.  I have found myself visiting the lady’s room more often, carousing the fellowship hall-kitchen and fridge, or thrusting myself on a poor unsuspecting soul loitering by the door with my fervent uncomplimentary words.  I do this before I stand up and pull rank on the speaker.

(I know.  The words “pull rank” sound just as arrogant, and probably are, but they were said in the heat of the moment.  Please understand that the emotion behind them and including the words came from my brain.)

It wasn’t so long ago that suicides were thought to be the ultimate separation from God.  Oh wait.  That’s still happening isn’t it?  It wasn’t so long ago that anger and sadness were thought to be from separation from God.  Oh wait, they still are.  Ok.  I’ll stop.  This is childish.

The hunched figure of Notre Dame comes to me now, ringing his bell, gazing at Esmerelda – pure heaven in flesh.  He offers up his humble life force, begging to be near her despite his biology.  He is ugly.  He is different.  He is separated by his own beliefs that he is forgotten by God.  His answer to our question is his own isolation.

This pithy topic has no boundaries across the world but yet I reduce it down to Me, one apparently arrogant psychiatrist, kicking up dirt where I stand.  I realize that the best way to protect us from stigma, to help you (again arrogant me swaggers in), is to start with my answer to this marvelous question.  I have to answer it for myself.  I have to start with self-care, spiritual care, relationship care, physical care – I have to start right here with Me.

These kinds of imposed opinions have never been reduced quickly.  We can’t take care of everyone before we take care of ourselves.  We must be patient.  We have the privilege to answer thoughtfully.  It is our freedom.  It is our right.

Self-Care Tip #193 – Answer the big questions in life for yourself, deliberately, and see that a secondary benefit is that it will protect you from the prejudice of others as well as reduce their prejudice.

13 thoughts on “Starting With Your Own Answers to The Big Questions Leads to Reducing Stigma In Others

  1. You are grappling with the Big questions…

    1) What is the basis of morality? Is it objective or subjective?

    2) Does our biological make-up give rise to our understanding of spirituality?

    3) And of course this is all about the fate and free will issue…. Fated to suffer vs free will in self-care?

    4) Purpose of life?

    There are heavy questions on your mind! Not easy to figure out, for any of us on this life journey. Keep at it!

  2. Sana, I get the arrogance. I think it’s healthy. It’s certainly more healthy than the utter depression and desire to be isolated that the kind of stigma you’re writing about caused in my case. Church had always been a safe haven for me; my spiritual life was where I could go physically or emotionally to get away from the things that scared me or hurt me. And then I got sick, and my safe havens became places of hurt and lovelessness and shame. Your example of the hunchback is perfect – the ugliness of mental illness pushing us back farther and farther into the darkness of our life (and even where we live) as we long for, and can see but not touch, the light that God offers but humans dim out of their fear.

    Arrogance is good. Expressing it maybe even better. Enlightening those who would attack rather than understand – fear rather than love – exactly what is needed…and, I’ve found, almost impossible to accomplish.

    The good thing is that those of us who suffer in whatever part of the darkness we inhabit still care enough to ask about your father. Does mental illness perhaps bring with it a sensitivity that those who think they are healthy are not fortunate enough to feel?

  3. There are so many factors that are relevant to one’s emotional; physical; spiritual;and moral conditioning. Yes, it does all interplay into our individual concepts; health; abilities; and lifestyle. With each element that is presented into one’s living; it connects; becoming a part; interwoven into the living fibers of their existence. There are different chemical reactions within each brain. The messages are generated uniquely; with a separate conclusion to its individualized reaction. Our brain impulses and thoughts do carry our formulation to our body; vitality; emotional stabilities and overall living. Also, our inner heart expresses the truthfulness within our character. It is such a vital organ to our physical & spiritual being. In the wholeness agreement to one’s life…Every Element Is Essential To One’s Health!! The importance in our living conditions are vital (physical exercise; good nutrition; healthy surroundings(physically & mental) Spirituality is one of the most important ingredient; fullfilling our overrall purpose to GOD & to humanity & to ourself!!! To be this part; in agreement with The LORD.

    • katherin hello! thank u so much for reading and commenting. believe it or not, i had just been thinking about u this AM and wondered when we’d hear from u again. what a treat to come back to this expressive positive response. keep on.

  4. Pingback: Insert a Trite Metaphor for a Corral #86 | Pax Nortona - A Blog by Joel Sax

  5. “How do you see the paradigm of spirituality intersecting with the paradigm of biology?” The question is flawed because the two don’t intersect. They can’t.The debate on this has been distorted and futile because the two are not part of the same reality. They are of dimensions exclusive of each other. Just as is the debate between determinism and free will. One is in the realm of biology and the other is in the realm of philosophy and also do not intersect for consideration. The idea of free will from philosophical free will and theological free will are also on different planes and cannot intersect as a cause for debate or discussion. Philosophical free will is based on the ability to choose good or evil or from this or that. But in Christian theology there is no choice. We are free when there is no choice enabled by the Holy Spirit to choose only good. Converted to choosing only good is the liberation of humankind from choice. And that is a will subordinated to the will of God through covenant as we become the vessels of that will..

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