Bipolar disorder – the inner conflicts arising from trying to reconcile the Old and New Testament writings


All Writings, Bipolar Disorder, Psychology / Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Bipolar disorder has become the accepted name given to the manifest inner conflicts of disturbed individuals.  While there are questions and concerns over the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) itself, there are special considerations that arise as a person’s beliefs are considered.  The source of those beliefs also invariably comes into question.  Aside from that, while it is seen that some manifest their inner conflicts, others hide them from public view but have them nonetheless.  Over time, those conflicts arising from beliefs, desires, and ideas still do manifest themselves in the lives of individuals.  It affects health, conversations, aspirations, ambitions, goals, and actions.  Needless to say, what starts out as a very simple label, only serves to hide matters of near infinite complexity.

There are many different ways this writing can be started.  It can be started by confirming that a discussion of the writings in the Bible is not a sign of irreverence.  Rather, it is an exercise of the natural, God-given ability to reason on a set of information.  It is the exercise of an individual’s power to think.  To take the writings of the Bible and look upon them in terms of the possible psychological impact is not wrong of itself.  It cannot be presupposed that each individual will be affected the same way.  Of course, people differ even within a given society.  Even before the time when such open access to information was available, some were more inclined to think over a matter than others.  While some were accepting of all that they were taught, others considered it their duty to examine what they were told and demand evidence for it.  In other words, it is an individual choice to respond to information as one sees fit.

Views about the books and their study – the Bible and the DSM

The very first objection a person is likely to have is about attempting to conflict of pitting the human pseudo-science of psychology against what has been considered by many to be the inerrant, revealed word of God, the Bible.  To such a person, a decision has already been made.  When the Bible has been given a status that is beyond question, then it is a book that is outside of human power to examine.  Yes, it can be investigated, but whatever seeming errors or inconsistencies would thus be found would be interpreted as a lack on the part of the human being, not on the part of the holy book.  This is what happens when any book has been given a special status.  It stands beyond question.  All the answers must be found from within it, and no outside sources are considered of equal worth to this book.  Moreover, the credibility of the whole world can be questioned, but no questions are permissible of the credibility of this holy book.  It is understandable, why such a position is not palatable for those human beings who value personal freedom of will and thought.

Putting such views aside, if one were to read the Bible all the way through with seriousness and with the intention of understanding its message, there is a fairness to the undertaking.  By doing so, a person has not taken a position for or against the Bible (or any religious writing, for that matter), but simply seeks to recognize the message of the book.  At this point, it would also be fair to use this same method of study for a book like the DSM – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – considered to be a holy book of reference by mental-health professionals.  Based on the writings in the DSM, which unlike the Bible has gone through periodic revisions and is now in its Fifth version as the DSM-V, specific diagnoses are considered final from a professional.  Both books, the Bible and the DSM, have a general, overall message.  It is of significance that a prospective reader should have access to the overall message before delving into the details of either book.

The general message of the Bible and its connection to Bipolar disorder

The general message of the Bible can be divided into the following progression – the creation of mankind and all the creatures; the fall of mankind due to sin; the human attempts to build systems of government and civilizations; the special case of the Jewish system; the rejection of the Jewish system at the coming of the Christ, Jesus; the atonement of mankind through Jesus’ sacrificial death; the spread of Christianity; and the final judgment of the world of mankind through Christ.  It is already visible that there is a combined effect from the concepts of good and evil, the inherent deficiency of human beings due to sin, and awaiting the fulfillment of hope entirely dependent upon God’s own initiative.

The general message of the DSM and its connection to Bipolar disorder

The general message of the DSM can be discerned through the following – human beings are the evolved apes; human behavior, thoughts, and emotions can be understood as stemming from the same instincts as when humans were closer to the lower animals; scientific examination of the human brain as the center of all thought, emotion, and behavior but with the particular intent of finding out what it wrong; seeking to find ways to address those faults in the human mind and brain through psychological and psychiatric intervention.  This brief look at the fundamental concepts shows how a conflict arises between a human being’s natural desire for freedom and the taking away of that freedom through institutionalized fault-finding.

Two different messages, and two different destinations

It is a particular gift of our time through the free availability of information that we can take a vantage point and see into the distance.  We can understand that the Bible presents a totally different worldview from the one presented by the DSM.  As one compares the two from a philosophical standpoint, one might not find himself or herself being able to be fully committed to one or the other.  Philosophy is not a method to build commitment to an idea or develop faith in it; rather, it seeks to explore, understand, and predict on the basis of the information that is available.  In this regard, philosophy and its practice are very different from being a believer, being a follower.

Individual examination and stance regarding either belief-system and worldview

In an ideal situation, we would have each individual capable of access to either information – the Bible and its associated literature, and the DSM and its associated literature.  Each individual would also need to have sufficient literacy and comprehension ability to understand either writing independently and then compare the two without undue influence from external sources.  By a certain age and maturity, a person should have the freedom and the time to make an intelligent examination.  Thereupon, he or she can make choices that can truly be considered informed, free, and conscious.  This would be the ideal situation on an individual level.  The rest would depend upon personal aptitude inclination.

The background information provides a necessary way of understanding one significant factor.  If there is a peaceful, moderate environment, there is less of a chance for such extremism to develop.  Where extremism does not develop, it is also possible to prevent the rise of inner-conflicts as well as conflicts in society.

Bipolar disorder and conflicts need time to be understood and to resolve
Bipolar disorder and conflicts need time to be understood and to resolve

Creation of inner conflict as one simultaneously handles information from two distinct situations and time periods – the Old and the New Testament

Now focusing only on the Bible, the most basic fact to remember is that the complete document contains information written over a period of nearly 1,600 years.  Besides, the writers of the information, at least in the Bible accepted by Protestant denominations, came from 3 different continents.  In all, there were 40 different men of diverse backgrounds involved. 1  It would be absolutely fair to say that the situations mentioned in the Bible – the days of Noah, the time of the patriarchs, Israel’s slavery and freedom from Egypt, and all the way down to the coming of the Messiah who was rejected by the Jews as a nation – continued to change, continue to develop.  However, the writings of one time-period were preserved and continued to be studied during later periods.

By the time Jesus came along in the Bible’s timeline, a very significant shift can be seen, creating a bipolar rift in thought.  Jesus cannot be likened to any of the other characters from Israel’s history in how he understood the law.  He presented a humanistic way of looking at the law, an elevated view of human beings especially of the women and children, a resistance to the abuse of power when it got systematically concentrated in the hands of the religious leaders, and an emphasis on the message of the law rather than the letter of the law.  While he was careful to make clear that he stood faithful to the letter of the law, he also showed flexibility in how he understood and applied it.  The truth is, his personality does not come forth as simply as many are inclined to characterize him.  If one looks carefully, one is bound to see a more complex person.  What happens though is, that because we are using a book as the means of reference to know a person, we focus on only a part that somehow fits our concerns at a given time.  This, in itself, should tell us something.

We should ask a question: Can human behavior be derived from, understood on the basis of, and controlled on the basis of any one book?  This is a very significant question because the freeness and spontaneity of human thought go contrary to such a notion.

Why the conflict arises that can manifest itself as bipolar disorder?

The answer to this question rests on the assumption that a person is fully convinced and committed to the teachings he or she believes in. 2  Aside from that, the belief has to be proof of real faith and not merely an academic examination of texts.

The conflict arises out of sincerity, and it is an endless burden upon the mind.  It is so because a person is always divided, even confused, over what might be the wiser, divinely acceptable decision in any given circumstance.  In real life, people do not act and situations do not arise according to some written script.  There are unforeseen matters.  Even in situations where a person may feel fully convinced over what to do and what not to do, there can be questions and nuances that can arise which have a deep impact on a judgment.  The absolute certainty and clarity of thought we so like can be lost upon re-examination.  At a given time and in a given situation, real life does not give us the opportunity to re-examine.  This is simply a fact!

When those conflicts go beyond the individual mind and come over into the realm of relationships, there is simply no end to the possibilities of uncertainty.  And then, one begins to find that the human mind and the beliefs it can hold can have several layers.  The system of belief must then have the necessary flexibility, complexity, and also the incentive to allow the real people involved to withstand everything that life can throw at them.  There we step away from legalism and technicalities, and we step into the realm of human virtues of loyalty, faithfulness, of integrity, and of fidelity.  Those, too, are matters addressed in a belief-system, such as is presented by the Bible.  But think of how these matters are dealt with by Jesus, and then by Paul. 3

Maybe, Bipolar is not a disorder but if manifested with intent, it is a reality of human behavior over time

Earlier on, it was mentioned that the writing of the Bible happened over nearly 1,600 years.  The development of Christianity itself happened primarily in a much shorter period of some 40 years, between 30 CE (abbreviation for Common Era) and 70 CE.  The development of Christianity happened within a period of one generation, and the result was seen by its followers and opposers alike!  Similarly, within the lifetime of a person, one can expect to see so many changes that what was normal and appropriate for one stage of life is seen as unsuitable for another stage of life.  This is what we see as the development of a person from being a child to being an adult. 4  Differences between the two are normal.

The message from this lengthy write-up is this: As we start to move away from judging texts and the beliefs derived from them, and also avoiding the hasty judgment of individuals we start to lean toward understanding.  The inconsistencies of the Bible – seeming or actual – developed over a long time, while the reading of it straight through obviously much less time.  Those ideas cannot be hastily followed and certainly not applied without consideration in a hurry.  Even the absorbing of those ideas should not happen very quickly.  The absorbing of and the consideration of those ideas, as with all ideas affecting the way a person lives and thinks ought to be given sufficient time.

A person could base his beliefs and actions on some very simple ideas.  They don’t even need to be numerous.  A few, strong, resilient ideas are enough in the form of principles.  From those principles, specific applications dependent on time and personality can be found by each person in accord with his or her own heart.

Footnotes

  1. How Old Is the Bible?How long did it take to write the Bible?How Many People Wrote the Bible?
  2. In this case, though, we consider the two distinct parts of the Bible – the Old and the New Testament – similar dichotomies exist elsewhere, for instance, when a religion talks of the destiny of heaven or hell.  That heaven and hell should emerge from the mind of the same God are difficult, but not impossible, for people to understand.
  3. What does the Bible say about family?
  4. 1 Corinthians 13:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB) When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

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