Scriptural Aspect of Psychosomatic Medicine
FOLLOWING righteous principles can have a good effect upon our bodies, not as a direct reward from God, but because of the vital relationship between our minds and bodies. This relationship is termed psychosomatic (mind, psyché, and body, soma). It must be, then, that the converse is also true, following unrighteous principles can have a deleterious effect upon our bodies. We can function at our best only when in harmony with God’s righteous principles.
Before considering the Scriptural aspect of psychosomatic medicine let us note that recognizing such does not imply full acceptance of all that is claimed for the “psychosomatic tendency in medicine.” ‘Disease is not all in your mind,’ as a popular book by that title clearly shows; and the psychosomatic principle works both ways, for the body can and does affect the mind.
To speak of the Scriptural aspect of psychosomatic medicine may sound like heresy to many psychiatrists, but that the effect of the mind upon the body is essentially a question of morals, of conduct, of behavior, is implied by none other than Dr. Seguin, in his book Introduction to Psychosomatic Medicine. According to him this new tendency in medicine should be called “ergasiology,” which means “the science of behavior in a broad sense.” For the Christian, behavior is to be governed by Scriptural rules.
Psychiatrists, those concerned with the treatment of mental disorders (as distinguished from psychologists, who concern themselves with the study of the operations of the normal mind, and psychoanalysts, who seek to probe the unconscious or “subconscious” mind to get at the root of nervous disorders), classify emotions according to their effect upon the body. Thus Dr. O. S. English, of the Department of Psychiatry, at Temple University’s school of medicine, lists the eight most harmful emotions as being: (1) need for love, approval and recognition; (2) anxiety; (3) hostility; (4) inferior feelings; (5) ambivalence, or a combined feeling of love and hate; (6) guilt; (7) ambition and (8) envy.
THE NEED FOR LOVE
Why should the need for love, approval and recognition be first on the list as doing the most harm to most people? Because God has made us so that love is essential to our well-being. Regardless of our calendar years, regardless of our physical and mental growth and maturity, we are still falling far short unless we also reach maturity as regards our emotions, and especially love. In earliest infancy the importance of love cannot be overstressed; infants have died who had all they needed except sufficient mother love. As a child grows older, lack of parental love may cause it to have asthma or some form of skin ailment; ways in which a child feels insecure, because of a lack of love, may affect its physical health.
In infancy and early childhood it is the parents’ selfishness or thoughtlessness that causes the child to suffer from a lack of love; but as we grow older it is our own fault if we thus suffer from the need of it. It shows that we are not giving love, for to give love means also to receive it. Note the way the Scriptures point this out: “Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out they will measure out to you in return.” “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” “A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” “A man who is kind benefits himself.”—Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35, NW; Prov. 11:25, 17, RS.
The importance of love cannot be overstressed, and regardless of how insignificant our tasks may seem to be, if done out of love they are conducive to our physical well-being. By some it is termed “Eros” (love) or the creative instinct, and concerning it one Hutschnecker, in The Will to Live, says: “Love in its all embracing sense, as the Bible speaks of love, is the creative instinct.” So, if we are suffering from the most harmful of all emotions, the need of love, then it is because we are not following the Scriptural instructions regarding the showing of love to others. “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Matt. 22:39, NW.
ANXIETY—FEAR AND WORRY
The next most harmful emotion is anxiety, which includes fear and worry. That these can cause wrinkles and premature aging is well known, but not so well known is the fact that these make one more susceptible to disease. Thus two physicians, who made a protracted study of some 1,300 telephone operators in New York city, found that the women having the most illness were the ones who did the most worrying, being widows and divorcees with children to care for. Doctors have found also that anxiety slows down the heart beat as much as 27 beats a minute. The Bible shows that “men become faint out of fear” and the heart may stop.—Luke 21:26, NW; Isa. 13:7.
The Scriptural antidote is obvious, namely, faith. Note Jesus’ counsel in this regard: “Quit being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Who of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his life span? If, therefore, you cannot do the least thing, why be anxious about the remaining things? . . . you with little faith! So quit seeking what you might eat and what you might drink, and quit being in anxious suspense, for all these are the things the nations of the world are eagerly pursuing, but your Father knows you need these things.” “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” And note also Peter’s advice: “Cast all your anxiety upon [God], because he cares for you.”—Luke 12:22, 25-30; Matt. 11:28-30; 1 Pet. 5:7, NW.
Fear also exercises a vicious power in our bodies, harming heart and stomach and taxing the ductless glands. Surgeons know that fear may mean the difference between success and failure of an operation. Here again the remedy is faith. As Paul reminds us, Jehovah “has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’ So that we may be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” And some hundred times the Scriptures command, “Fear not.”—Heb. 13:5, 6, NW.
Fear indicates not only a lack of faith but also a lack of love. It betrays undue concern for our well-being. To the extent that we have love for God and our neighbor to that extent we shall be less concerned about ourselves. That is why John states that those who have love have freeness of speech, because “there is no fear in love.”—1 John 4:17, 18, NW.
Hostility or personal hatred, whether expressed violently or suppressed, does harm to the body. The former may cause fatal heart attacks, severe attacks of indigestion and even strokes. As regards the latter, we are told: “Anyone who has a large assortment of repressed emotions, especially of the hate and fear variety, is tying up large quantities of ordinarily available emotion,” and that they represent “a waste or dissipation of energy due to the faulty design of the personality.” Also that “internalized hates cause disease of the internal organs and represent partial suicide.”
The Bible refers to fits of anger as works of the flesh, which the Christian is to avoid. It reminds us that love does not get provoked and that greater is he that rules his disposition or temper, spirit, than he that takes a city.—Prov. 16:32; 1 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 5:20, NW.
God’s Word also counsels us not to cherish resentment, not to carry “internalized hatreds” around with us. It tells us that to ‘hate our brother is to be a murderer and that no murderer will gain eternal life.’ “You must not hate your brother in your heart.” “Let not the sun set with you in a provoked state.” (1 John 3:15; Lev. 19:17; Eph. 4:26, NW) Hostility or personal hatred is actually a form of rebellion. It represents a desire to punish another, to work injury. It is unwilling to wait upon Jehovah to make an accounting but wants to take the law into its own hands. Note how this is brought to our attention in Moses’ law, which, by the way, also shows us what the remedy is: “You must not take vengeance nor have a grudge against the sons of your people; and you must love your fellow as yourself.” Rather than returning kind for kind we are instructed, “Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you, to bless those cursing you.”—Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27, 28, NW.
In this connection, however, it must be observed that the Bible shows that there is such a thing as a proper hatred, a “perfect hatred,” the kind of hatred that David had for those who hated God. (Ps. 139:21, 22) But such hatred does not harm us, because it is not coupled with a desire to personally work injury upon those hated, but rather results in a loathing of them, causing us to avoid having anything to do with them.
INFERIORITY FEELINGS AND AMBIVALENCE
Feelings of inferiority act as a depressant upon the human organism and are caused by having the mind centered upon oneself. Youth, lack of education, poverty, personal appearance or lowly station in life may cause one to feel inferior, but only if one is concerned with what others may think of him.
Of course, the remedy for such feelings is to get God’s mind on the subject by recognizing that no one is perfect and that each one stands or falls to his own Master. Who has anything that he did not receive? None. The Christian, by reason of his knowledge of Jehovah and his purposes, and the privilege of serving as God’s minister, occupies a most honorable position, that of an ambassador. So “let the lowly brother exult over his exaltation, and the rich one over his humiliation.” Before God we are all on the same level.—Jas. 1:9, 10; Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor. 4:7; 2 Cor. 5:20, NW.
“Ambivalence” is defined as a combined feeling of love and hate. It seems strange that we should want to hurt the object of our affection, but such is often the case. Hate being the opposite of love, the term “ambivalence” seems to be a contradiction, unless we remember that even the Bible uses the term “love” in various senses, and that possessive, selfish, passionate desire are at times referred to as love. It harms us physically because of the anxiety and hostility that it engenders in us.
Adam’s regard for Eve seems to have been turned into ambivalence. On the one hand she seemed more important to him than everything else, and on the other hand he did not hesitate putting the blame upon her for his disobedience. True love makes one humble; selfish affection makes one proud. Jealousy is a form of ambivalence, and “jealousy is cruel as the grave.” And “he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” (Song of Sol. 8:6; Prov. 11:17, AS) No question about it, just as we make ourselves happy by making others happy, so we make ourselves miserable when we let ambivalence make others miserable.
GUILT, AMBITION AND ENVY
The feeling of guilt is the punishment that an outraged moral sense or conscience inflicts upon the body in the form of anxiety, worry and fear. At times this punishment becomes so severe that the guilty one seeks escape by self-destruction.
For this injurious emotion there is also a Scriptural remedy. To regain a good conscience requires repentance, confession to God and to the one wronged, with the request for forgiveness. It also requires the exercising of faith in Christ’s blood and making amends as far as lies within us. If we forgive others, we can trust that God will forgive us. At the same time humility is required, so as to accept the chastisement that comes upon us because of our sin. Having repented and set out on the right course, we must exercise faith that God has indeed forgiven us and not continually punish ourselves by going over past mistakes.—Matt. 6:4; 1 John 1:7; Phil. 3:13, NW.
Ambition or competition is a form of hostility, the desire to get ahead of the other fellow. It causes one to go to extremes and robs one of peace of mind. Thus the body’s internal balance is upset, tensions are created and one is made more susceptible to disease. As someone has expressed it: “It is better to be poor and alive than to die of dyspepsia.”
The Bible is filled with counsel against selfish ambition. “For what benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul [or life]? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Riches have wings; rust corrodes them and thieves steal them. We cannot serve both God and Riches at the same time. The desire for selfish gain is a root of all sorts of injurious things, but godliness with self-sufficiency is a great means of gain. So let our lives be free from selfish ambition, being content with the things we have.—Matt. 16:26; 6:24, 34; 1 Tim. 6:6, 10; Heb. 13:5, NW.
Envy is the begrudging of another’s blessings. King Ahab envied Naboth his vineyard, and those laborers who worked all day in the vineyard envied the generosity bestowed upon those who had worked only an hour. It harms the body because it robs one of peace of mind; it makes one miserable because of another’s happiness; and it is therefore a manifestation of hostility, blackening one’s outlook on life, even as Jesus indicated: ‘If your eye is sincere (that is, “simple,” all one way, in focus, generous), then your whole body will be bright; but if your eye is bad (that is, wicked or envious), then your whole body will be dark.’ (Matt. 6:22, 23, NW) The antidote for envy, then, is generosity, loving one’s fellow as oneself.
Clearly, with the help of the Scriptures we can counteract the injurious effect that these eight most harmful emotions might have upon our bodies by eliminating them from our minds and dispositions, thus putting away our old personality and putting on a new one. We must do so, however, not primarily because of the psychosomatic principle involved and the beneficial effect upon our bodies, which is as far as most psychologists and psychiatrists go; we must do so because it is right, and because we love Jehovah God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and because we love our neighbor as ourselves.—Eph. 4:22; Matt. 22:37-39, NW.
Giving Impetus to Theocratic Expansion in Chile, Bolivia and Paraguay
OUR previous report closed with Mr. N. H. Knorr, president of the Watch Tower Society, emplaning late Saturday night, December 5, at Lima, Peru, for Antofagasta, Chile. It was 5:15 the following morning when his plane came down at the airport in the desert, near the coastline close to Antofagasta, where he was met by four missionaries.
The ride from the airport to the city was pleasant, as the air was brisk and clear. After a little rest all went to the public hall located in the public library building. The attendance of 140 at the afternoon’s public talk delighted the witnesses, who had worked hard advertising this lecture. Later in the day other meetings were held. It was a pleasure for our traveler to be with the local witnesses and to hear their field experiences.
Two of the missionaries then accompanied Brother Knorr to the hotel where he was staying because of lack of room at the missionary home. While they were talking in the lobby the floor began to move underfoot, the pictures on the wall began to swing, and the doors began to open and close by themselves. Yes, it was a real earthquake. The next day it was learned that a small town in the Andes, some ninety miles away had been destroyed by the quake, resulting in much suffering and millions of pesos’ damage.
Monday, the following day, with its overcast skies, was one of apprehension for many Antofagastans as to whether there would be more earthquakes, and perhaps even a tidal wave, or not. There were four more quakes in the two days but the first was by far the worst. That Monday evening the witnesses gathered for another talk by Brother Knorr. Then on Tuesday afternoon, which day, incidentally, was a national holiday in honor of “The Immaculate Conception of Mary,” the president of the Society, together with six missionaries and two local witnesses, left by air for Santiago, where the Chilean national convention of Jehovah’s witnesses was to be held. More than a hundred brothers were on