The Christian attitude of faith
Like Andrawis A, (2018). The term “Christian attitude of faith” is used to describe any form of spirituality that focuses on the personal relationship to religion. Religion is bound to religious practices. These include personal piety, mysticism and asceticism. People have sought higher meaning in their lives from all peoples (Andrawis A, 2018).
“Christian Science relies more on the power of prayer than on modern medicine to treat diseases, whether it be a cold, abdominal pain or…He does not claim personal healing powers, but sees himself as a mediator who asks God for help and guidance. The patients do not have to know the healing personally”, … (ibid.) Hamer’s assumption suggests that the Christian attitude of faith is “under suspicion” to contribute to the recovery. http://www.kardinalkoenig-haus.at7 (02.03.2018 at 23h).
In this I see the necessity of an investigation of the relevance of faith in mental illnesses.
In this chapter I refer to some points from Matthias Beck’s “Soul and Disease – Psychosomatic Medicine and Theological Anthropology” (ibid.).
10.1 Soul and Body-Soul-Spirit-Unity
“While psychosomatic anthropology has for a long time been concerned with the body and soul problem and the interaction between mental and physical processes has been at the centre of its considerations, today the view has prevailed that illness and health are to be considered in a comprehensive bio-psycho-social model. According to this model, the interplay between body and soul, in turn, is in an interrelationship with the environment, which shapes man and is shaped by him” (Ermann M, 2004, p.17).
Thomas von Aquinas distinguished between an “Anima vegetativa”, the vegetable soul of an “Anima Sensitiva”, the animal soul and an “Anima Intellectiva”. These three are connected in man as a unity. The anima intellectiva is the unity principle of the human being for the whole life. The spirit, the soul, is the highest priority of man, in acting and leading before God. This spirit created by God, which guides man through reason, does not want to judge or condemn man. In interpersonal relationships, it is important to recognize the meaning of life. The prerequisite for human beings is to be able to hear the Word of God carried by the Spirit.
The Anima Intellectiva enables man to recognize, speak and act responsibly and “stand before God” (Beck M, 2003).
Furthermore, Thomas describes the soul as the principle of human form, which is deeply connected to God. The soul is an inherent unity as a transcendent spirit, i.e. beyond or outside subjective experience. In contrast to this is the immanent, the explainable even without transcendence and existing in the finite things. Thomas Aquinas also coined the concept of the forma corporis, the soul as the forming power of the body, and the forma in its substance, the form of the material basis of life (ibid.).
10.2 Christian Faith and Psychic Hygiene
As Andrawis A, (2018) has described: “If one regards one’s attitude of faith under the premise of charity, human dignity, appreciation for interpersonal relationships and the exhaustion of one’s talents as the meaning of life, then this is a great strengthening of one’s own soul. The aspect of faith, in whatever form, is an essential part of mental hygiene (Andrawis A, 2018).
10.3 God’s Message
In Andrawis A, (2018): “If the question of the meaning of life is always in the room, even if we cannot concentrate on it. One must discover in oneself the infinite love, gift and talents given by God which one receives as a gift and pass them on to others. We question the meaning of life, especially in times of change and the breaking off of interpersonal relationships, or social relationships, such as death within the family or in old age. This is how some call for God’s presence. In those people who feel at the mercy of their fate, this phenomenon does not occur as strongly as in those who have found trust in God’s Word.
People are tormented by the question of why a God of love can also accept the suffering of people. A Christian does not find a clear answer to this question and instead tries, to the best of his knowledge and conscience, to eliminate war or injustice by means of active cooperation. But because it is an illusion to be able to completely eliminate illness, suffering and death, Christians also have to deal with the basic problem of life. They trust that where there are shadows there will also be light, and that even darkness can make sense in some way because we trust in God’s love (ibid.).
Nocebo is the antagonist of placebo. Unfortunately, faith can cause not only healing but also harm to health. The effect of Nocebo can even be fatal, or at least cause disaster. We find an example of this in the Voodoo belief of the natives of the Dobu on the island of Papua New Guinea. Every time a Dobu islander suspects that one of his family members has been made ill or even killed, he drinks salt water to dehydrate his throat, chews ginger to raise his body temperature, and waits for his victim hidden in a tree. He then hurls himself screaming and with a magical object, threatening his opponent, who in response to the attack goes on a hunger strike and soon dies powerless. This only happens because of the Nocebo effect (ibid.).
Modern medicine provides many less dramatic but well-documented examples of the effects of Nocebo: people with non-specific chest pain were participants in a study The first half of patients were diagnosed with no heart problems. The second half of the patients received no test results. The test subjects who, according to the doctors, were supposedly healthy felt much better than the patients without a diagnosis. Even the presumption of heart disease worsened the subjective well-being of the patients (ibid.).
Pargament K. and his colleagues at Bowling Green University found a direct link between mortality and religious fear. They observed about 600 people of advanced age over five years in a hospital. Those who felt abandoned by God died rather than those who did not believe in God. The question is whether there is a spiritual gene or a God gene. A study of Parkinson’s patients showed a change in neurochemistry and thus an increased release of dopamine due to the placebo effect. The belief in an improvement of the motor abilities influenced the brain, and the belief in the placebo through the pill as well as the belief in God can cause healing (Hamer D, 2006).
10.5 Christian Faith and Psychological Hygiene
Andrawis A, (2018), poses the question what consequences Christian-theological faith has for action. The topic and method of working correspond excellently to the current state of research of general scientific basic research, which is based on professional border crossing and specific networking, instead of former isolation. This leads to creative farsightedness and the resulting fruitful symbioses between theology, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, medicine and other scientific disciplines (Andrawis A, 2018). 10.6 The Message of God
People are tormented by the question why a God of love can also accept people’s suffering. A Christian does not find a clear answer to this question and tries instead to the best of his knowledge and conscience to eliminate war or injustice by means of active cooperation. But because it is an illusion to be able to completely eliminate illness, suffering and death, Christians also have to deal with the basic problem of life. They trust that where there are shadows there will also be light, and that even darkness can make sense in some way because we trust in God’s love (Mühlen H, 1991).
Nocebo in Andrawis A, (2018); is the antagonist of placebo. Unfortunately, faith can cause not only healing but also harm to health. The effect of Nocebo can even be fatal, or at least cause disaster. An example of this is the Voodoo belief of the indigenous Dobu on the island of Papua New Guinea. Every time a Dobu islander suspects that one of his family members has been made ill or even killed, he drinks salt water to dehydrate his throat, chews ginger to raise his body temperature, and waits for his victim hidden in a tree. He then hurls himself screaming and with a magical object, threatening his opponent, who in response to the attack goes on a hunger strike and soon dies powerless.
This only happens because of the Nocebo effect (Andrawis A, 2018).
Modern medicine provides many less dramatic but well-documented examples of the effects of nocebo: people with non-specific chest pain were participants in a study The first half of patients were diagnosed with no heart problems. The second half of the patients received no test results. The test subjects who, according to the doctors, were supposedly healthy felt much better than the patients without a diagnosis. Even the presumption of heart disease worsened the subjective well-being of the patients (ibid.).
Pargament K. and his colleagues at Bowling Green University found a direct link between mortality and religious fear. They observed about 600 people of advanced age over five years in a hospital. Those who felt abandoned by God died rather than those who did not believe in God. The question is whether there is a spiritual gene or a God gene. A study of Parkinson’s patients showed a change in neurochemistry and thus an increased release of dopamine due to the placebo effect. The belief in an improvement of the motor abilities influenced the brain, and the belief in the placebo through the pill as well as the belief in God can cause healing (ibid.).
10.8 The Christian Faith Attitude
The question arises which consequences arise from (Christian-theological) faith for action. The topic and method of working correspond excellently to the current state of research of general scientific basic research, which is based on professional border crossing and specific networking, instead of former isolation. This leads to creative farsightedness and the resulting fruitful symbioses between theology, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, medicine and other scientific disciplines (ibid.). 10.9 The vocation of man through God
Matthias Beck’s publication deals with the “destiny of man” and his calling through God. In the following chapters, unless otherwise stated, I refer to Beck M, 2003, (p. 291ff). As a Christian he is convinced that bodily existence is not confronted with an “empty horizon of being”, but with a personal God who addresses each person in different ways. God is therefore tangible for the individual as a personal counterpart. The facts of this specific vocation refer not only in the psychological sense to the concept of body and soul, but beyond that to the spirit in the theological sense. “When God speaks, this speaking must be heard and understood by man. The previous metaphysical explanations could only show that man stands inescapably before God. Now it is a matter of showing that God really calls upon man and how he makes himself understood to man” (ibid.).
When man recognizes and accepts the call of God and his grace, he feels the power that gives him joy, healthy and happy life. What is important is the discernment of the spirits, the commitment between inner being and God, that man hears his voice and lets God’s holy will work without confusion.
10.10 The call is audible – experience in the body
“Ignatius assumes that man is more or less constantly moved by the divine spirit.”
This “being addressed” by God and the “wanting and being able to hear” of man should lead to the free decision of man to follow God’s call. These calls of God arise worldwide and at all times to all estates and earthly vocations and mean a way to the desired perfection or a greater capacity for love than a moral commandment. With regard to the course of the vocation, reference is made to gradual differences, as well as to external circumstances, promoting or inhibiting factors, but especially to the will of the Spirit with the help of the divine, the forces of faith and the grace of God (ibid.).
10.11 Rejection of the call
As Andrawis A, (2018); has described it in the vocation, there are sometimes obstacles or detours. According to Ignatius, these detours are to be seen as either successful or unsuccessful, through the discernment of the spirits. He also described the divine will as the only goal to which all things of life should be subordinated. One should not lose oneself in the search for health, wealth and happiness; the highest goal should be God. All men are called by God’s grace to become holy and to stand with men in the perfection of love.
The scientific studies of Rahner and Balthasar were used here:
In the positive “observance” of the vocation, the unity of body and soul brings about an “inner coherence”, whereby the experience of agreement between the human will and the divine is experienced, in the sense of Ignatius, Balthasar, Rahner. A theme of this work is that through rejection of a vocation, bodily disagreements and ultimately also diseases manifest themselves.
Consistency and dissonance between human and divine will can find expression in the form of health and illness. The separation of occupation and vocation is often problematic; according to Balthasar, rejection of the call means a violation of God’s will. A substitute for this is one’s own ego and one’s own will in various forms, from egoism to fear, which are based on unbelief and sin. Whether correction and the will to repentance can lead to solutions remains open. From a Christian point of view, both the particular vocation and the general vocation lead to a goal of perfection.
Balthasar rated the priestly vocation higher than marriage. Rahner held the opinion that all vocations are of equal value, each of them to be judged positively. According to Rahner, all human beings have divine participation in them and are also called to become holy. Andrawis takes up Rahner’s goal that human vocation amounts to perfection in love. People should find all the means in their power to recognize and realize their vocation so that they may attain this perfection. “This is for some the religious state, for others marriage, for others celibacy” (Andrawis A, 2018).
Andrawis asks how the different emotions of souls can be distinguished: The answer can be found in Ignatius of Loyola. For him it is a matter of discerning the spirits in order to discover the inner emotions of the soul. God moves man’s will to know the true Spirit. Ignatius calls these inner soul emotions soul qualities, which in turn are Failure brings discord, fear and disagreement. Thus man experiences in his body whether he has recognized the call of God or has followed the false spirits.
Rahner emphasizes that all these vocations are dependent on the grace of God. Nothing is possible without this love. All people have the same value before God. The mission must be affirmed by man. The call can sometimes be direct or indirect. There is external influence on the vocation, e.g. the influence of strangers or egos. But through God’s grace, reason and human talents, this call can be internalized and interpreted. Rahner and Balthasar agree that God’s invitation to people to love others and obey them leads to grace and perfection. Sensuality plays a great role in recognizing the call, so the mind uses this ability to gain clarity. The inner and outer call of man should be interpreted.
God’s call is sometimes conveyed through direct messages and sometimes through indirect messages. Case studies include Abraham and Moses. Indirect messages would be messages through His prophets, angels, creation and Jesus Christ. Finally also through my own inner voice or illness. Although we have the capacity for sensuality, we do not always see God or hear Him directly. Why? Because my own will is directed against the will of God. Rahner suggests, for example, that a worldly task is also a kind of calling. By perceiving oneself, one realizes the call of God. It becomes recognizable through inner enlightenment (ibid.).
10.12 Psychosomatic medicine and theological anthropology
If psychosomatic illnesses of humans are attributed to their disturbed relationship in the interpersonal area, another aspect is mentioned which is of central importance for the response to health and illness. In addition to the reference to possibilities of illness, special emphasis is placed on the disturbed relationship between man and God through the refusal of his personal calling. . Rahner and Balthasar believe that a conscious rejection of the call can be described as sin, because this attitude can also be described as a rejection of divine love (ibid.).
10.13 Illness as absence of being
There is an overview of the “defects of being at the level of the mind” with regard to illness as an element of theological anthropology. This requires the “complementary coexistence of philosophy/theology and scientific as well as psychosomatic medicine” (including their contemporary alternative methods). In addition, the material physical-chemical and biological basic research will be used. Beck is committed to a Christian-theological interpretation of disease phenomena. He demands from the physicians a deeper understanding of the course of the disease and from the patient a change of life in the participation to recovery. Beck is dominated by the concept of the freedom of the individual in the individual processing of disease carriers and disease control with regard to causes and effects. Psychosomatic medicine provides a level of consideration by including physical symptoms as an expression of mental factors in the analysis of the development of the disease.
The different manifestations are based on the individual characteristics of their wearers. Their inner mental condition as well as their basic mental attitude and orientation are also decisive. For there is no human reality that is not through soul.
“Psychosomatics can therefore work out that mental discrepancies can express themselves in physical phenomena, and theology can adopt these findings and transcend them to its deepened understanding of the soul as a spiritual soul. (). The author convinces with the statement that Thomas Aquinas’ teachings on the soul can be a bridge between proven traditional knowledge and current medical practice, as well as between the philosophies of Rahner and Balthasar. The pros and cons of the ways of thinking give rise to coexistence in contemporary science, whereby new forms of therapy can emerge. The theological concept of the body and soul merges with the limits of knowledge in the natural sciences. Thus comes the theoretical concept of a “bio-psycho-social circle” (ibid.). The development of a disease is in agreement with philosophy and theology. Empirical studies in humans and even in the animal kingdom provide positive results on mental influences in physical diseases. With such interlocking of the inner and outer, the mind is given the necessary priority. The conclusion from this is that these results of psychological influences on genetic processes could be transferred from philosophy and theology to those of the mind (ibid.).
But human science reaches its limits at a certain point, which is why it is necessary to consider the phenomena of the causes of illness in terms of the holistic image of man. Therefore the subjective view in the area of the soul must be redefined by psychological-psychosomatic, theological-philosophical aspects.
The cause of the development of disease is a disturbed balance of the immune system’s defences by its attackers (bacteria, viruses, cancer cells). External stress influences have different effects, depending on the internal disposition of the affected person. For example, an increased acid pH value in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to a weakened immune system or psychological and mental states. The author has compiled the most important manifestations of deficiencies at the level of the mind. The further levels beside the areas of natural science, psychosomatics and theology remain excluded for this topic. All the more detailed is the overview in Beck’s work in the chapter on “Illness as Being’s Deficiency of the Spiritual Soul” (ibid.). For the time being, however, the positive orientations of the soul are emphasized in order to clarify the mutual demarcation. Above all, this includes the determination of man to engage in a dialogue with a personal God, the environment and himself, which is made possible by the human capacity for cognition. The resulting way of acting should be directed towards truth and the accomplishment of good deeds and should ultimately be carried out in love (ibid.). “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control; the law does not contradict everything” (Galatians 5:22-23).
These positive aspects, caused by the call of God, are counterbalanced by deficits when the human capacity for knowledge is left behind in relation to itself, neighbour and God. They are spirit deficiencies which can be expressed in the body. Beck examines the ambiguity of these symptoms of illness, arises in the subjective being of the spirit, and objectively grasps the opposition to the good, the true and the beautiful, as well as the result of negative external influences. Man can resist these in his freedom given by God.
Beck examines the variety and diversity of the deficiencies and failures that lead to illness in some areas that lead to a whole, for lack of love, understood as a lack of beauty. Their composition is introduced by “being ill for lack of knowledge and being with oneself”, which manifests itself primarily in a lack of knowledge of the world, in disrespect for the laws of nature, even in a rebellion against them. It is about a missing or also conscious moderation with nutrition, alcohol consumption and resistance to drugs, as well as immoderation in the practice of sport. The basis of the cognitive faculty also includes natural requirements to which humans are subject, such as genetic defects of body and mind in relation to physical disability and lack of intelligence. In addition, there are prepersonal social imprints (ibid.).
10.14 Illness and Lack of Knowledge
According to the theories of Weizsäcker and Uexküll about psychosomatic disorders, there are causes for diseases which are due to biological, social and psychological components and also to the spiritual mind. In psychosomatics, the disharmony of the soul finds its expression in a physical phenomenon. Theology adopts these findings and adds a deeper understanding of the soul as a spiritual soul. It is the innermost unity and life principle of the body.
According to Beck, there is not only a psychosomatic conception of the soul, but the human being is also a spiritual soul in the relationship between man and God. It is connected both with the inner being and with the life principle of the body. The body soul forms the material sensuality, as well as the psychosomatic medicine describes soul phenomena.
The ontological principle states that the spirit soul cannot consist of matter because it forms the human body. This force of form is the smallest of all matter, even smaller than an atom. And it is formed by the spirit. This cannot be regarded as a microphysical process, but as the beginning of the formation of gene matter. Genetics plays a major role in this process and yet one cannot compare the spirit with matter because the spirit fills and shapes it so that man can be called the spirit-soul. From a scientific point of view there is no correlation between spirit and matter, but from the point of view of psychosomatic medicine soul and body are mutually influenced. According to Rahner, thanks to his mind, which is described as the ability to know, man must also know how to make use of this process as the first determination (Beck M, 2004).
In psychosomatics a disharmony of the soul finds its expression in a physical phenomenon. Theology adopts this knowledge and adds a deeper understanding of the soul as a spiritual soul. It is the innermost unity and life principle of the body. According to Beck, there is not only the psychosomatic conception of the soul, but also the human being as a spiritual soul, which stands in the relationship between man and God. It is connected both with the inner self and with the life principle of the body. Behind the soul the spirit soul can be found. Beck thinks that spirit-soul is not only psychosomatic, but also spirit-soul in the extended sense, spirit-soul can be influenced on the spiritual level.
If the results of empirical data from natural science, psychosomatic medicine, anthropology, philosophy and theology are counted together and supplemented, the answer to the question of what is now the mind-soul principle would arise. In addition there is the required distinction between the different levels of knowledge of one’s own self, of one’s neighbour and culminating in that God. Just as different are the resulting possibilities of illness. For example, resistance against the world and its laws of nature can lead to disturbances of the physiological processes in the human organism.
A lack of moderation in sports and eating behaviour as well as in the consumption of drugs and alcohol can also contribute to such disorders, as can natural physical and mental damage. Not least prepersonal, social, and even religious influences and a conflict-laden environment, whereby overlaps of psychosomatic medicine and theology arise in disease assessment. Possibilities of self-help for the individual to escape his confusions and aberrations are given. Beck does not require the affected person to remain on the psychological level, because this can lead to disintegration, despair and loss of freedom. Only the orientation towards the “you of God” (and of the fellow human being) can lead him out of his “self-attachment” and lead him to clarity about himself, in order to recognize his faultiness and guilt and to be able to hope for goodness and mercy if there is a healthy relationship with God.
So Balthasar wrote that with this help man can work to return to himself and to distance himself from the factors that make him ill, and to regain his God-given freedom so that he can again follow his divine calling and not harm himself and others. A return to the self is of great importance, even for people who are not in their midst and are therefore increasingly at risk of harmful environmental influences for Beck. They easily get into interpersonal and inner-mental conflicts, which in turn can trigger or promote illness. According to Beck, a mental deficit of “being with oneself.” Here, a “return to oneself” is an obligatory task, since man is always in danger of “falling out of his midst”, i.e. out of the midst of inside and outside. Thus the psychological structures and behavior patterns, as well as imprints of religious side, can reduce the human cognitive faculty. Beck thus underlines the role of a mutual fertilization of psychosomatic medicine and theology. Beck thus emphasizes the role of a mutual fertilization of psychosomatic medicine and theology in order to synthesize self-knowledge and God-knowledge and therefore the spiritual tool with regard to the good, true and beautiful in world knowledge.
In Andrawis A, (2018); the presentation of self-knowledge as a necessary extension of “being with oneself” to the capacity of neighbour-knowledge and neighbourly love culminates in the love of God and God-knowledge. The obstructions of this process by faultiness, shadow-existence and guilt behaviour lead fear-conditionally to disunity, disintegration, despair and bondage, as the sum of a flight from knowledge, which in turn leads to physical and mental illnesses. Beck points out that even therapies can fail if the affected person is not free and independent in his ego to follow the path of God. Preventing this causes harm to him and others (Andrawis A, 2018).
10.15 Illness as self-inflicted deficiency
In contrast to some other scientists (e.g. Caruso), who consider such an attitude as a possible self-inflicted cause for neuroses arising from it, Andrawis attributes this to a lack in the level of being of the mind, which can manifest itself as disease. “A world-absolute view will solve problems differently than a view of the world that relativizes problems in view of an empire that is not of this world” (ibid.). Nevertheless, one must also warn against the resulting indifference towards earthly tasks. Man should solve them, because they are also given by God and make a non-observance sick. False knowledge of God or distorted images of God also arise from an attitude of mind that was shaped by contradiction and appears in the spiritual soul as an inner power of form in the body. What remains, however, is the God-given freedom of man to turn away or turn away (ibid.).
10.16 Illness through “not hearing” the vocation
For Beck, the divine calling is not just following or turning away from norms. He speaks of a “unique, unmistakable vocation”. (Beck, M, 2003, p. 336) It is capable of “leading man both into his own (…), or into the other of himself, into his own destiny where he does not want to, into his destiny, which runs contrary to his natural specifications. (Beck, M, 2003, p. 336) It includes the whole life up to death and beyond: the call to truth and goodness, with its basic conditions, love, faith, which arises from hope, to a certain state, for example within the church or marriage. This vocation is recognized by the human conscience, which Freud calls instincts. Freud saw interpersonal or inner-mental conflicts as the first and only cause of the development of a disease. For Beck it is a conflict on the level of the “drive”, which originates from the spirit and therefore stands in connection with God (Beck, M, 2003).
“Although there is also a potential for conflict between It, I and Super-I and an instinct has to be overcome (…), the mediation between the divine and human impulses, as well as those of the “bad spirit”, is unequally existential struggle. In a positive case, man can follow the will of God and give up his own, but without having to give up his identity, in the sense of spiritual obedience that creates inner balance. If man does not follow the call of God, but that of other people or his own self, if fears for the future, worries about loss of happiness, being abandoned, persecuted and misunderstood, even if a distrust of God towards man frightens him that he does not mean well with him (Kierkegaard S, 1986). These aberrations can also particularly affect religious people and make them sick because this kind of love is a false, lying one. All the more disbelief can lead to fear of life and death and make people ill.
Hopelessness is a consequence of disbelief and self-love to self-hatred and self-destruction. But also the exaggeration of all good deeds can turn into the opposite and thus be transferred from the spiritual to the physical, just as diseases show themselves as an expression of a disagreement between God and man in the loss of love (Kierkegaard S, 1986).
Univ. Prof. Dr. Andrawis