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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

On Mental Health and Reality

Father Ripperger, being a great Thomist, knows that mental health is related to a strong grounding in reality. A few points gleaned from his book emphasize this point.

1) The natural law, and the nature of a human being, that is, the reality of the soul, demand that mental health includes the spiritual life. Moral and spiritual principles cannot be ignored. Therefore, it is important for the therapist to also be a person who believes in and respects the soul, as well as natural law.

2) Sin contradicts what it means to be human. When the realities of good and evil become confused through habitual sin, a person becomes detached not only from themselves, but from the reality around that person, both other persons and objects.

3) A preoccupation with apparitions, both true and false, may lead to a loss of mental health and real mental illness.

I want to comment on this last point. When I read this, I exclaimed out loud to a friend, "Yes!" I have seen this happen in the lives of some good people, the apparition chasers, who become so enamored with the latest so-called revelation of Mary or Christ, that they leave behind the reality of the world in which they live. Some people I know refuse to accept the Church's judgment on some false revelations and fall into a state of unreality, insisting on following lies.

When one chooses to both be disobedient and to believe in something deceitful, one chooses to live in a fantasy world. Such are the followers of Bayside, Vassula Ryden and the Warning.

But, even those who follow approved apparitions may lose touch with reality. This next section is my extrapolation from Fr. Ripperger's point.

To become consumed with messages reveals an unwillingness to face reality, to face the demands of daily life, to believe in the normal ways to perfection.

Apparitions do not make us perfect. Honesty and humility do. I know too many people who spend an inordinate amount of time apparition chasing. An old person told me a few weeks ago that he finally "woke up" and realized that his spiritual life was actually being stifled by his over-attention to even approved Marian apparitions. He was neglecting the hard work of facing his faults, his sins.

Some people fall into great fear and forget their daily duties by being absorbed by apparitions.

Again, mental health is rooted in habitual goodness, the virtues, honesty about where one is actually in relation to God and others. Being besotted with apparitions takes one's attention off one's own spiritual journey, off the way of perfection.

Father Ripperger is not only wise but brave to cover areas which other writers miss or ignore. But, then, this priest is not only a psychologist, but an exorcist.

I am actually traveling today, but will try and do one more post, which is merely made up of a few gleanings from this priest's book.