Truth and Freedom Therapy – A Therapy or An Apostolate?


‘Therapy’: ‘Treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.’ (Oxford Dictionary)

This website and the service provided is dedicated to helping people to relieve or heal their disorders. This is partly achieved by pointing out the flaws and errors in other therapies, particularly those provided by psychologists and psychiatrists today. It highlights how psychological and psychiatric theories are built on sand and shows how their disciplines and the vast majority of these professionals are detached from reality. These professionals can not relieve or heal disorders as they do not understand what order is. In essence, they cannot give what they do not have. Various blogs on this website have attempted to show this.

Truth and freedom therapy offers an alternative therapy to these flawed and dangerous approaches. It is a therapy that is grounded in reality. Yet, the more I have reflected on the work I do and the blogs I post the more I realise ‘therapy’ does not quite capture what this service offers nor does it capture the focus or end goal of this service.  

This service is based on the reality that we have immortal souls that are destined for either eternal happiness or eternal damnation. This reality cannot be ignored or minimised. Truth and freedom therapy tries to offer people information that will help them to save their souls and attain eternal happiness.  It tries to draw people away from the errors of the world which attempt to deceive people into believing that this life is all we have. It points out the delusions of those who believe that a loving relationship with God is not essential for true happiness. It guides people toward God, His Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and His Blessed Mother.  It attempts to point out how sanctity and sanity are intimately intertwined. It highlights how happiness and holiness cannot be separated. It tries to give some guidance on how to sanctify ourselves.  Essentially, it is pointing to the practice of the one true faith, i.e. the Catholic faith, as the means to sanctify ourselves. This is the means of maintaining peace of soul and mind as we traverse through this valley of tears. And, more importantly, it is the only means of attaining eternal happiness for eternity. So, while this service may qualify as a therapy given the definition above, at its core it really is an apostolate. Its end goal is to bring people closer to the truth so that by accepting and following Truth Himself one can be truly free.

Given the emphasis and focus of this service it appears insincere and slightly deceptive in calling this service a therapy when really, at its core, it is an apostolate. I have engaged in an attempt over the last two years to draw people away from the errors of psychology and psychiatry toward the truth of the Catholic Faith. It has been designed in a way to draw people to Truth Himself. In this process, He has drawn myself closer to Him and He has helped me to realise that the solution to the difficulties of this life is much simpler and more straightforward than some of my long-winded blogs have made them out to me.  It is essentially loving Him who is Love Himself.  This is the royal path to true liberty.  Yet, this liberty is not the freedom that the world understands or promotes.  This path is rejected by the world as the world knows that this path involves captivity.  As Fr Faber explains in his excellent book on the interior life, ‘Growth in Holiness’: ‘Grace is the opposite of nature; nature everywhere cries liberty, grace cries captivity.’ God calls us gently to this captivity by revealing to us how much He loves us. He leaves it in our hands whether to accept His invitation to love Him in return. ‘It is true that love may lead to surrender of its freedom, indeed this is usually the goal of great love, nevertheless it is a free surrender, or it is of no worth.’– Archbishop Goodier (‘An Introduction to the Study of Ascetical and Mystical Theology’).  In our world today, especially with the draconian measures being used against us in this manufactured ‘pandemic’, many people are crying for ‘liberty’.  On this website, I have continuously emphasised the spirit of liberty. I have realised that on this website and, most certainly, in the world the graceful cry for captivity is rarely heard. Those who do cry for captivity go against the world’s maxims. They are the ones who are swimming against the current of false ‘liberty’, i.e. licence to do what you want.  These souls are given the graces and strength to keep swimming by their submissive and obedient adherence to Truth and Love Himself. Yet, in all this effort, these are the ones who are really free – ‘Liberty of spirit consists in exemption from cares, from remorse, from attachments; and captivity is the only road to this royal liberty.’ – Fr Faber (‘Growth in Holiness’) (See footnote).

To know and serve God is the only freedom’ – Don Sarda y Salvany (‘Liberalism Is A Sin’)

So, the end goal of truth and freedom therapy (or really this Catholic apostolate) is helping people to become captive to the good God so that they can be truly free.  There is no other route to true liberty. While tyrannical governments restrict natural liberties more and more today, they can never stop us from knowing, loving and serving God.  God gives everyone sufficient grace so that they can choose to serve Him. It is a voluntary choice to do otherwise. How sad for those who choose worldly illusions of ‘freedom’ over true freedom! ‘[Sinners] prefer to be ‘free’; that is, they prefer not to be obliged to free themselves from some slavery.’ – Archbishop Goodier.  How sad it is for those who abuse the gifts God has given them! – ‘How can one be free who is separated from the Most High? What harder or more miserable captivity is there than for the soul to have escaped from the hand of its Creator? How happy are they who find themselves laden with the strong fetters and chains of the gifts of God’s mercy, so that they are unable to gain the power to set themselves free…O free will, thou are the slave of thine own freedom, unless thou be pierced through with the fear and love of Him who created thee!’ (St. Teresa of Avila). 

Sin has produced the disordered times we find ourselves in. The enemies of Christ hold the reigns of worldly power and the conciliar church led by pope Francis are aiding the devil. Yet, the Catholic Faith still remains the shining light of faith, hope, and charity, in a world where these virtues are forgotten about or distorted. These complicated times call for a return to simplicity and Tradition if we are to remain captive to Our Lord and free. The Latin Mass, the Sacraments, Our Lady and the Rosary are key here. The anxiety, the depression, the fear that many of us are experiencing in these dark times can only be lifted by the light of faith and a more childlike trust in the goodness and love of our Heavenly Father who knows our needs before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8).  No therapies can do what a deep, sincere, devoted, and voluntary captivity to Love Himself can do. And the vast majority of therapies today only confuse people more or wrap them further in chains.

So, with this in mind, I am changing the focus of this service/website. It will be focused on apostolate work rather than therapeutic work. I will not be providing counselling or therapy sessions. Rather, I will write occasional blogs, focused on guiding people toward Catholic books, literature, and devotions that will help them develop their spiritual life. I will encourage people to get to the Sacraments wherever they can and find good traditional Catholic priests for guidance and spiritual direction. I, as a layman, might be able to provide some good reading material and some general advice but I cannot provide what good priests can and neither can any other psychological professional. We cannot fill the void left by Catholic priests, bishops and popes abandoning the flock to the wolves of the world since the Vatican II council. I have given my critique of modern psychology, psychiatry, and other therapeutic approaches over the last two years to show that these professionals are doing far more damage than any good in their attempts to fill this void. I invite readers to assess these claims for themselves. Instead of looking for answers to the problems of life from deluded and disordered psychological professionals it is far safer and surer to return to the truth and the simplicity, beauty and majesty of the Catholic Faith. Hopefully, you will see through the illusionary promises of happiness that the world and its slaves offer and by doing so, you will then become captive to the truth.

‘No man can serve two masters’ – Matthew 6:24

The great English martyr, St. Thomas More, served the right Master. He was captivated by Our Lord and His religion. St. Thomas described this life as a prison and we who traverse it as prisoners. He composed a prayer longing to be released from this prison and to attain Heaven where he would be free to love God for all eternity: ‘Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with Thee, not for the avoiding of the calamities of this wretched world; nor so much for the avoiding of the pains of purgatory, nor of the pains of hell neither, nor so much for the attaining of the joys of heaven in respect of mine own commodity, as even for a very love of Thee.’ (‘Sir Thomas More (The Blessed Thomas More)’ by Henri Bremond – p. 146). In his glorious martyrdom, in which he loyally remained captive to Our Lord, his prayer was fulfilled and he was released from this prison. We now have recourse to him so we too may have strength and faith like his to remain loyal captives to Our Lord.

Finally, I will leave you with three quotes from three books I highly recommend, ‘Self Abandonment to Divine Providence’ by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, ‘The Imitation of Christ’, ‘How to Be Happy, How to Be Holy’ by Fr Paul O’Sullivan (available through TAN books) which emphasise the way to true freedom and give advice on how to conduct ourselves in this life to attain this freedom.  May they inspire you to a holier and happier life. 

St. Thomas More, pray for us

‘Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence’ by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

‘God assures to the souls who are faithful to him a glorious victory over the powers of the world and of hell’:

All these monsters [Lucifer and his slaves] come into the world only to exercise the courage of the children of God, and when these have learned enough, God rewards them with the pleasure of killing the monster, and calls new athletes to the arena.  And so this life is a continual spectacle which is the joy of heaven, the training of the saints on earth and the confusion of hell.

Thus, all that is opposed to God’s order does but result in making it more adorable.  All who freely serve iniquity become the slaves of justice, and the divine action builds the Heaven Jerusalem with the ruins of Babylon.’ – p. 160

‘The Imitation’: Book 3, Chapter 38:

On How to Govern Ourselves and on Having Recourse to God in Danger:

Christ: My child, strive diligently for perfect interior freedom and self-mastery in every place, in every action and occupation, so that you be not the slave of anything, but that all things be under your control.

          You must be lord and ruler over your actions, never a bondsman or a mercenary. You must be a free person – similar to a righteous Hebrew – one who is transferred to the rank and the liberty of the children of God. Children of God stand above present things; they contemplate those that are eternal.

           They look upon transient things with the left eye; with the right eye they look at heavenly things. They do not allow temporal things to attract them, nor do they cling to them; instead they make those earthly things serve the end and purpose for which God made and ordained them. For the Divine Artist did not leave anything in all His creatures but what is orderly and governed by laws.

‘How to Be Happy, How to Be Holy’ – Fr Paul O’Sullivan

If we only thought of Heaven, it would console us in our bitterest sorrows. This is what St. Paul means when he says: ‘What are the sorrows and tribulations of this life in comparison with the glory that awaits us?’

            We act like prisoners and slaves content with their miserable lot, who do not long for and sigh for their freedom. We are content with this vale of tears, this poor life with all its miseries, pains, and sorrows.

            The happiness of Heaven should be our aim. It is perfect, complete, absolute. There we shall have no pains, no sorrow, nothing but infinite, immense, complete and perfect happiness. There all our desires shall be satisfied. Our joy will be full.

            Mother of God, help us to understand what Heaven is.’ – p. 167

Footnote:

Extended passage from Fr Faber on this ‘spirit of captivity’ which he describes as one of the weapons to combat the rebellious human spirit found in all of us:

The first [weapon] must be what ascetical writers often call the spirit of captivity. Grace is the opposite of nature; nature everywhere cries liberty, grace cries captivity; and without a resolute good will to take ourselves captive, we shall never beat down the human spirit. The spirit of captivity consists, as an eminent mystical writer tells us, sometimes in submission to a written rule, parcelling out our daily actions so far as our state of life will allow, sometimes in subjection to our director, even against our own judgment, and without feints or wiles, sometimes in conformity to the law of Providence, especially where it thwarts and mortifies our natural liveliness and inclinations, and sometimes also in submission to that attraction of the Holy Spirit which is to many of us like a special revelation. There is also a captivity to frequently recurring, though not daily or obligatory, practices of devotion, a captivity to interior recollection with all its difficulties, trials, and repressions of natural activity; and all mortification is itself but a shape of captivity.’ – p. 190-1

Shakespeare and The Madness of Sin

‘Oh that way madness lies; let me shun that’ – King Lear

William Shakespeare was undoubtedly a literary genius. His plays are full of beauty, profundity, and charm. He can also be described as a genius in psychology. He understood people and he had great insights into the workings of the human mind.  His plays have lasted the test of time not just due to the eloquence and beauty of his writing, but mainly due to how they describe the realities of life, especially the sorrows, tragedies, and moral dilemmas inherent in it.  They shine a spotlight on the inner workings of the human mind, with Shakespeare skilfully showing his central characters grappling with their conscience in many of his plays.  Modern audiences today are still fascinated and entertained by the fantastic artistry and sheer depth of Shakespeare’s plays. However, it appears that the lessons that Shakespeare tries to teach us through his plays are often missed by modern men. This is particularly true when it comes to the intimate relationship between madness and sin.

                     Take, for example, one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, ‘MacBeth’, and particularly act five, scene three.  Here, Shakespeare provides a vivid image of the relationship between madness and sin. Previous to this scene, MacBeth and Lady MacBeth have been installed as King and Queen of Scotland after they have plotted and committed the murder of the previous king, Duncan. They have also murdered a nobleman of Scotland who suspected their crime and the wife and child of another nobleman they suspect of disloyalty. Lady MacBeth has been observed by a doctor sleepwalking. While sleepwalking she has been trying to wash her hands of blood that she imagines is on them.  The doctor is giving MacBeth his assessment of his wife:

DOCTOR

Not so sick, my lord,

As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies

That keep her from her rest.

MACBETH

Cure her of that.

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,

Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,

Raze out the written troubles of the brain

And with some sweet oblivious antidote

Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff

Which weighs upon the heart?

DOCTOR

Therein the patient

Must minister to himself.

                      MacBeth goes on to ask the doctor to try to cure his country of the disease that has come upon it, which has culminated in the English, led by Duncan’s son, Malcolm, invading Scotland:

MACBETH

Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it…

If thou couldst, doctor, cast

The water of my land, find her disease,

And purge it to a sound and pristine health,

I would applaud thee to the very echo,

That should applaud again…

What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug,

Would scour these English hence? Hear’st thou of them?

                      Like MacBeth we are often desperately searching for a solution to the madness and disorder that besets our minds or that of family members or that of our country. The doctor makes MacBeth aware that there is no medical cure for Lady MacBeth’s madness as he suspects that it is caused by a guilty conscience. Like those today who want an easy fix and a ‘pill for every ill’ MacBeth is annoyed by the doctor’s response when he provides no medical solution (‘Throw physic, i.e. medicine, to the dogs’). In an earlier scene the doctor acknowledges that Lady MacBeth’s condition needs to be treated by a priest, i.e. ‘a divine’, not a doctor.  ‘Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician.’ This is exactly what we do not want to hear today. Yet, there is a deep sense within us that the cleansing of one’s conscience through divine means is the only cure. For example, it does not shock the audience that Lady MacBeth is experiencing distress as we know she has encouraged and collaborated in murders. This reaction resonates with and makes sense to us. We also see it as madness and vicious folly on MacBeth’s part not to acknowledge and take responsibility for bringing the English invasion to Scotland. We know that actions have consequences. Shakespeare masterfully outlines the madness of trying to run from one’s conscience and justice. Amidst the entertainment of Shakespeare’s plays, these lessons are there for all to see.

                       In another of Shakespeare’s plays, ‘King Lear’, we find another example of this relationship between sin and madness. It is found in Edgar, who fleeing for his life, has disguised himself as a homeless mad man.  This is his answer to King Lear’s question to Edgar, ‘what hast thou been?’:

EDGAR:

A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that curled my hair,

wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of my mistress’ heart

and did the act of darkness with her,

swore as many oaths as I spake words

and broke them in the sweet face of heaven

—one that slept in the contriving of lust

and waked to do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly,

and in woman outparamoured the Turk.

False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand

—hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness,

dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of shoes

nor the rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to woman.

Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets,

thy pen from lenders’ books, and defy the foul fiend.

Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind, says, “Suum, mun, nonny.”

Dauphin my boy, my boy, cessez. Let him trot by.’

                            Edgar says that he used to be an honourable man (‘a servingman, proud in heart and mind’) but he went mad after committing all sorts of sins. For example, he was slothful (‘hog in sloth’), sneaky (‘fox in stealth’), lecherous (‘in woman outparamoured the Turk’), and was hooked on wine and gambling (‘wine loved I deeply, dice dearly’).  Eventually he says that he went mad and he now ends up pretending to talk to an imaginary horse! – ‘Suum, mun, nonny.’  King Lear and others believe Edgar’s story as it is logical. King Lear is aware that rash and foolish behaviour has bad effects, which he tragically learns more deeply as the play progresses. The audience, whether in Shakespeare’s time or our own, also know that actions must have consequences, e.g. if the passions are let loose madness ensues, one cannot run from a guilty conscience, etc. Shakespeare’s plays are masterpieces displaying one of the fundamental rules of life, i.e. actions have consequences. It is the skilful, rich and brilliant imagery and stories built around this simple and fundamental truth that makes Shakespeare so satisfying and ageless.   

                              Shakespeare clearly understood the consequences of leading a life of sin or committing grievously sinful acts.  This intimate relationship between madness and sin was also clear to his audience. This understanding still resonates with us today. Anyone with a half sensitive conscience understands why the doctor cannot treat Lady MacBeth and how letting one’s passions get the upper hand on you, like Edgar’s story, can lead to madness and lunacy.  It only appears just to us that guilty blood cannot be washed so easily from one’s hands and that a life of lust and treachery leads to one’s demise.  Yet, it appears that, for the vast majority of us, these vivid and powerful representations are mere light entertainment.  We do not think on them deeply or apply them to our own lives. While the words may resonate with us for a few brief moments the lesson Shakespeare is trying to portray passes quickly from our mind.  This is clear when one looks at the current treatments we reach out for when we experience distress. 

‘Some sweet oblivious antidote…’

                               Take a look at the poor souls who go to medical doctors to ‘pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the brain and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon the heart’.  Some of these people are trying to run from a restless conscience while others genuinely believe that their problems are caused by a supposed chemical imbalance. Unlike the wise doctor in Shakespeare’s play who clearly recognises the limitations of medicine and understands that problems of conscience are not within his field of expertise, many doctors today, particularly psychiatrists, believe that their drugs can treat almost all problems of the mind.

                                 It is also clear that most psychological professionals today do not heed Edgar’s advice to ‘defy the foul fiend’, i.e. resist the devil, but rather encourage their clients to embrace the devil and his evil temptations, e.g. homosexuality, abortion, as I have written about elsewhere (see here and here). Many even mistake the cure, i.e. the Truth/Catholic Faith, as the disease and would try to purge it from Ireland’s shores so as to bring it back to what they imagine would be ‘clean and pristine health’.  Like MacBeth who ignores his own guilty conscience in searching for a disease and the cure for it outside of himself, the vast majority of psychological professionals today ignore the root cause of all disease, i.e. Original Sin and their own actual sins, and precede to launch war on the cure itself.  What mad and tragic folly these ‘professionals’ persist in!

‘The patient must minister to himself’

                                Thankfully, to cure ourselves of madness or to avoid madness in the first place, much of the work is down to ourselves. Many professionals claim to be able to fix your problems, but they are often the ones diseased themselves. They have failed to remove the beams from their own eyes before trying to fix the eyesight of others. As the doctor says in Lady MacBeth’s case, ‘the patient must minister to himself’. This involves looking in the mirror so that we see ourselves clearly. In addition to this, it involves finding the right physician. In the vast majority of cases of psychological disease these physicians are physicians of the soul, i.e. ‘divines’/priests, who can administer the necessary remedy, i.e. absolution after a contrite Confession (See footnote). Good and holy priests can also give the guidance needed and they can encourage us to maintain a strong sacramental and prayer life to help us ‘defy the foul fiend’. These remedies are also what our lands need if we are ‘to purge [them] to a sound and pristine health’.

                                 So, let us learn from that genius who was William Shakespeare. Let us not look for medical solutions when it is obviously not a medical issue but a matter of one’s conscience. Let us not search for answers from those who are more blind than ourselves and would advise us to befriend the devil. Let us not look for solutions to our country’s ills that ignore or attack the truth. Instead, let us humbly pray to God to cure us and our lands of the madness of sin and direct us toward the wise experts and curative remedies we need.

God bless

Footnote: It is important to find a priest who knows the faith, loves virtue, detests sin, and understands the dangers of psychiatry and modern psychology.  These are hard to find today as the vast majority of priests have gotten with the world or ‘with the times’ and many have lost the Faith or, at the very least, have lost confidence in the importance of their vocation and do not understand its significance. Reliable priests are generally found amongst those who only offer the Traditional Latin Mass. I have touched on this previously, see here.

Coronavirus: The Reality We Need to Face

There is a lot of panic about the coronavirus as it spreads its way across the world.  Some of this fear is understandable and rational.  One’s bodily health and one’s life are goods that one is naturally attached to.  There is a natural desire to preserve one’s life and health.  Adopting some precautions is reasonable.  

Now, the coronavirus has made people more aware of the prospect of death. But has it made people aware of the reality of death?  We all know that if we do not die of the coronavirus, eventually we will die of something else.  We understand that death is inevitable. Yet, it appears that this crisis is leading few to a better understanding what death actually is, and what it means for us.

It is not death itself that is so feared. If it were, as it is meant to be for us, but a mere modification of the conditions of our actual existence, it would carry no terrors with it.  But if a man knows perfectly well that his mode of living here and now, his thoughts, his ideals, aspirations, affections, pursuits, tastes, have nothing in common with what must be the tastes, ideals, aspirations – in a word – with the mental outlook characteristic of the blissful world beyond the tomb, then he is naturally filled with fear.’  – Fr Edward Leen, ‘Why the Cross?’

One’s existence does not end with death.  We have an immortal soul which lives on into eternity. This is not just a Catholic belief.  One can come to this realisation by purely using reason as philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato did.  Most people have some vague sense of this reality. As Fr Leen points out, it is this fear of what happens after death that really terrifies us. The greatest result of the coronavirus would be to wake people up to the reality of eternal life so that they would really examine their current way of living. 

‘Death Comes to the Banquet Table’ by Giovanni Martellini (circa 1630)

In these modern times, we try our hardest to distract ourselves from the thought of death. We try to find numerous ways to fend it off.  Yet, it is still there, and it won’t go away.  We may leave a legacy and people may have memories of us but sooner or later, we must leave this life and enter the next.  At some stage, in our lives, perhaps during some festivities it will make itself known to us. We are obliged to acknowledge it no matter how much it may shock or irritate us, and we should do what is reasonable to hang on to respond to its presence. But, as we were but pilgrims in this short existence, is it not more reasonable to prepare for the most important occasion in our lives, i.e. the time our soul leaves our body?  This is the approach that any reasonable person should take.  It is in direct contrast to the spirit of the world that tells us to focus on the here and now and forget about death.  As Bishop Fulton Sheen points out, ‘The pagan tries to ignore death, but each tick of the clock brings him nearer to it through fear and anxiety.  The Christian begins his life by contemplating his death; knowing that he will die, he plans his life accordingly, in order to enjoy eternal life…The Christian principle for conquering death is twofold: (1) Think about death. (2) Rehearse for it by mortification now.’ Many people in Ireland today act like the pagan throughout most of their lives.  Death is ignored or brushed aside.  Then, something like the coronavirus comes along and suddenly the potential of death springs into their awareness.  Yet, this awareness is so superficial, and, for the majority, it does not lead to a contemplation of the reality of death or a preparation for eternal life.  In our clamour to avoid death, we ignore what death actually is. 

What Would The Saints Do?

St Francis of Assisi

Death and ill-health and accident and grief cannot be banished by any human formula, and the weaknesses attendant on human nature, sloth and self-indulgence, envy and hatred, can be eradicated only be each man taking up his cross and conquering himself.’ – Fr M C D’Arcy, ‘Mirage and Truth’

St Catherine of Siena

I have written in other places how the saints are great examples to us of how to live our lives. Now, many famous saints are depicted with skulls in their portraits.  This includes St Jerome, St Aloysius, St Catherine of Siena and St Francis of Assisi.  They kept these skulls as a vivid reminder of death. It was part of the Catholic practice of ‘memento mori’, a Latin term, meaning ‘remembrance of death’. The thought of death was ever before them so they could plan their earthly lives accordingly.  It reminded them of the need to take up their cross and conquer themselves. The coronavirus is a stark reminder of death. It challenges us, especially Catholics, to respond. 

But how should we respond? By following the example of the pagans around us and trying to avoid death while ignoring what it means? Or do we do what we reasonably can to mind our health while making sure most of our effort is focused on contemplating death and preparing for its inevitable arrival (whenever that might be)?  How often do we think about our own death and all that will mean? How often do we pray for the grace of a holy death?  How often do we think about the judgement that awaits us?  If any good can come out of the coronavirus it will involve the sparking of these questions in people’s minds.  The lockdowns that are happening all over the world give time for people to stop and think as they are not caught up in work or not able to get to the pub or social events.  Hopefully, there is only so much 24/7 coronavirus news that people can stand before they switch it off and really think about the significance of all that is happening around them.  Perhaps then, there may be a little light that gets in and instead of thinking about the various ways they will make sure they stay alive, they will start thinking about how prepared they are to meet their Creator.

‘To live to God we must die to sin, and this death to sin cannot be achieved without its own passion. It was through the Cross that the world was redeemed – it remains that by the Cross and the Cross only, personally borne and endured, each individual enters fully into the redemption and is sanctified.  Self must die in order that God may reign in undisputed sway in us.  In that lies the whole explanation of suffering in life. It is only over the hilltop of Calvary that we make our way into the brightness and splendour and glowing life of the Garden of the Resurrection.’ – Fr Edward Leen, ‘In the Likeness of Christ’ 

The Real Virus:

The real virus is the one that zaps the truth about life and death from our mind. It is the virus that makes us forget about the universal realities and our last end. It is one that encourages us on the path to self-destruction and blinds us.  It is a virus that causes untold misery and unhappiness. It has its toxic allurements, its hedonistic distractions and its tempting false gods.  This virus hates the truth and those that speak and live it.  It has become so prevalent that the vast majority of people are infected by it. It has caused amnesia and the forgetting of the purpose of life.  It is a virus of error, falsehoods and lies.  It is more corruptive and destructive than the coronavirus or any other virus as it is a virus that affects our soul, not just our body.  If we are cleansed of this virus before our death, we will truly live. If we are not cleansed, we would be better off if we had never existed.

Sin is un-love, and it is therefore dead and death-dealing like a corpse.  The least sin is a more devastating agent of dissolution and corruption to the soul of man than ever plague in history has been to his body.  The Church does not use exaggeration when she says that no material disaster can be compared in magnitude of evil to the effect of one deliberate venial sin.’ – Fr R. H. J. Steurt, ‘The World Intangible’

While the coronavirus is getting 24/7 coverage across the world, this virus, sin, which is far more deadly and more contagious than any plague, is barely heard about as it goes about infecting more and more people.  There are no warnings about it from those who should be speaking about it, e.g. the pope, and the government is not closing businesses that promote it to protect us from it, e.g. many abortion facilities have stayed open.  Neither are they implementing new laws to protect people from it or sending out guidelines telling us how to operate around those who have it.  Yet, it is the most dangerous and contagious disease known to man.  Over the last number of years the Irish government have given this virus free rein and promoted it so it will infect as many people as possible.  God, have mercy on those that have encouraged so many on the road to perdition! It is this virus that will truly define our lives and it is this one that we should be constantly trying our hardest to avoid. 

 ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.’ (Ezechiel 33:11)

Now, there is a cure to this virus. It is one that is freely and lovingly given to those who desire it. Part of it involves becoming familiar, like the saints, with the true understanding of death.  It involves reflecting on this regularly. So, let us do this and try to put things in their proper order. As Fr Boylan, in his excellent book, ‘This Tremendous Lover’, says, ‘Once the supernatural is admitted to be the one thing necessary, the natural must cede to it.  Natural standards, ideals or purposes must be laid aside, and things must be judged and arranged from the supernatural point of view.’ Let us make sure that we do not die contaminated with the virus of sin.  Remember that the health of your soul is far more important than the health of your body. So, in all of this madness, do what you reasonably can to take care of your health but make sure you do all you can to prepare yourself for death. 

God bless

False Shepherds


“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be among you lying teachers, who shall bring in sects of perdition, and deny the Lord who bought them: bringing upon themselves swift destruction.’  (2 Peter 2:1)

We need truth to be able to operate successfully in the world.  This applies most especially to the spiritual side of life, but it also applies to the material and practical sides of life, e.g. in one’s occupation. One needs to know the fundamental truths of one’s profession in order to be successful at it.  For example, the engineer needs to have a basic grasp of mathematics, e.g. he needs to know ‘2+2=4’, before he takes on any job.  The doctor needs to know that having no pulse is not a sign of well-being.  If an engineer said he didn’t know that ‘2+2=4’, you would ask him which construction he had recently helped build and then avoid it like the plague! If a doctor thought a patient having no pulse was a sign of health, you would be wondering whether he really was a doctor! In these examples, it is clear that when a professional doesn’t have a firm grounding in the truth, he is a danger to the physical safety and health of his patients, those around him and himself.  Ultimately, what is more important than our physical well-being is our psychological/spiritual well-being.  Sometimes we may need professional support or advice in relation to our psychological/spiritual well-being.  For this, it is necessary to have psychological professionals who have a clear grasp of the fundamental truths about human beings.  Sadly, in our current times, this is rarely the case.

‘Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ’ (Colossians 2:8)

The field of psychology is populated by professionals who have flawed and dangerous understandings about the human condition. Studies show that professors of psychology are the most likely to be atheists with only 39 per cent believing in God (Gross & Simmons, 2009).  With these types of professors, it is no wonder that many of psychology’s most highly educated members spend years in academia and come out with less understanding of what man essentially is.  A fundamental truth about human beings is that we are created by God and have two essential parts – a material body and a spiritual soul, with the rational soul being per se the essential form of the body. It is also a fundamental truth that all human beings are affected by Original Sin and this has a major impact on our psychological state (See: ‘Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma’ by Ludwig Ott).  As Catholics, we assent to these truths about human beings. We can accept them as more true than ‘2+2=4’ as they are defined doctrines/dogmas. Unfortunately, many psychological professionals do not accept these fundamental truths.  In these times of diabolical disorientation, many psychological professionals, who have the incredibly important task of helping people in their mental distress, do not have a grasp of the fundamental truths of the human condition. 

For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.’ (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The fundamental truths of human nature are rejected by many psychologists as if they were irrelevant to their practice. These errors are close to the engineering equivalent of rejecting the fact that ‘2+2=4’ or the medical equivalent of rejecting the fact that having no pulse is a serious problem! Yet, these psychological errors have more serious implications. In our current times, these professionals with erroneous beliefs play a leading role in diagnosing and treating people who are experiencing psychological distress. Many of us will accept their false teachings with ‘itching ears’ but some will see the errors and dangers in the ‘fables’ they tell us. In the above examples (engineer and doctor), many of us might complain to their respective associations.  But what happens when the very body responsible for making sure their respective professionals are competent is the one promoting dangerous falsehoods?

‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’ (Matthew 7:15)

The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) has approximately 3’000 members across Ireland.  This society is responsible for the accreditation of psychologists in Ireland. The PSI has a significant impact on public opinion with its President or CEO regularly given slots on national media to give the ‘expert’ psychological opinion.  Last year, the PSI publicly gave its support for the killing of babies.  Its policies on homosexual behaviour tells its members to affirm this atrocious sin: ‘PSI Guidelines for Good Practice with LGB clients’ – ‘5.4. Challenge anti-gay bias and take a gay-affirmative approach’ and ‘It is important to avoid any of the following when providing a psychology service to LGB patients/clients:  Failing to appreciate any non-heterosexual form of behaviour, identity, relationship, family or community’. The policy states that, ‘These guidelines are set within the Code of Ethics of the PSI. Membership of the Society is contingent on adherence to the Code of Ethics’.  No psychologist who truly understands the human condition and what we were created for can accept these guidelines!  

‘Every theory which discredits the true nature of man or denies the need of a Divine Remedy is only intensifying the disease which it attempts to cure’ – Bishop Fulton Sheen (‘Peace of Soul’)

The PSI is attempting to distort reality.  The society and its members are a particular threat to children and teenagers who are more likely to believe what an authority figure is telling them, especially one that seems professional, kind and nice.  These professionals have failed to pay heed to Our Lord’s words: ‘But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.’ (Matthew 18:6). Woe to them if they continue in these errors! They are so far removed from the truth about the human condition that they are a serious threat to their own souls as well as the souls of their clients.  Rather than being an association which corrects the errors of its members, it is encouraging its members to accept and promote these toxic falsehoods.  Our Lord said that ‘you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32).  The PSI, in its policies and practice, offers lies, falsehoods and more chains to sin and the devil.  Using ‘cunning craftiness’ (Ephesians 4:14) they distort ‘science’ and use words like ‘liberty’, ‘compassion’ and ‘acceptance’ to push their diabolical agenda.  Affirmation and acceptance of sinful behaviour is not compassionate, and it certainly does not lead to liberty.  As Fr Edward Leen points out in his excellent book, ‘Why the Cross?’, when speaking about Christ: ‘He is very tender towards the imperfect, but relentless towards imperfection.’ (p. 48).  This is compassion grounded in the truth.  

Conclusion:

When the soul strays from Thee, she looks for things apart from Thee, but she finds all things impure and useless until she returns to Thee.’ – St Augustine (‘Confessions’)                               

Instead of going to see people who are disconnected from the truth, visit those who are grounded in reality and know that your soul, its purity and its health are the most precious gifts you have.  Consult a knowledgeable traditional priest who hasn’t bought into the modern psychological nonsense.  Spend time with a good friend who has the Faith (Old, wise and pious widows who are steeped in the Faith are often the best ‘psychologists’ out there.  Their accreditation is confirmed by life experience and the crosses that they have carried with humility, patience and perseverance. They also don’t tend to charge much per hour!).  If you really believe you need professional help with psychological issues, make sure that the professional knows the fundamental truths about human nature.   And let us pray that the PSI and its members stop straying from the truth and recognise and embrace the Light that ‘shineth in darkness’ (John 1:5).

References:

Gross, M. & Simmons, S. (2009) ‘The Religiosity of American College and University Professors’, Sociology of Religion, 70(2), pgs. 101-129.  Available at: https://academic.oup.com/socrel/article-abstract/70/2/101/1637811?redirectedFrom=fulltext [Accessed 20/08/2019]

Spiritual ‘Zombieness’

In St Catherine of Siena’s biography by Blessed Raymond of Capua, Blessed Raymond outlines how St Catherine was gifted with the grace of being able to see the health of people’s souls.  He explains how St Catherine was able to see past exterior appearances and obtain vivid insights into the interior life of the people she met.  This was an extraordinary grace that God had given to St Catherine due to her extraordinary sanctity.  Other saints, such as St John Vianney, were also blessed with this grace as shown by his ability to see what sins were lingering in people’s soul before they disclosed them to him.  These two saints, who were fountains of charity and who existed in far more Christian times than our own, were well aware of the darkness of people’s souls due to sin and they dedicated their lives to saving souls from this darkness.

About two weeks ago, a priest gave a graphic and hard hitting description of the state of people’s souls in Ireland today.  He explained how ‘many of those around us are physically alive but spiritually dead, morally rotten or at least infected’ going on to use the analogy of zombies to describe some of the behaviour he is seeing.  He went on to propose solutions, which some of the congregation found offensive. For trying to wake people up from this spiritual ‘zombieness’, he was shut down and his bishop and his Order apologised for his remarks.  These apologies were given as the remarks that Fr Forde made may have ‘hurt the feelings’ of some people.  Now, it can be argued that some of what he said may have been imprudent but the real questions are: How accurate was Fr Forde’s description? and was he charitable in saying what he said?

Was he accurate?

If St Catherine or St John Vianney were meeting individuals who are committing all types of sinful behavior in our modern society , what would they see?  In all probability they would see what Fr Forde referred to, i.e. people going around like zombies.  When looking at the souls of people today, they would probably see even darker and more disturbing images than this. They would be able to penetrate exterior facades and see the walking dead who have lost the light of God’s grace as they grope about in the darkness and misery of their lives.  They would be able to see how much damage these people are doing to their souls.  Due to their love of God, they would probably weep bitterly over this as St John Vianney did in his time, confiding to a friend -‘When one thinks of the ingratitude of man towards the good God, one is tempted to escape to the other side of the world so as not to see it any more. It is dreadful! And would be dreadful in any case, even if the good God were not so good! But He is so good!’ And whilst speaking thus, his face was bathed in tears.’ (From ‘Blessed John Vianney’ by Joseph Vianney)

Fr Forde seemed to want to wake his congregation up to this reality but a vocal minority in the congregation could not bear to hear how corrupt, blind and zombie-like people in Ireland had become or they could not bear to look at their own reflection. Instead of reflecting on and considering the words he spoke, they decided to shoot the messenger.  The bishop and his Order, by apologizing, added more bullets.  The messenger was shot and his message was discarded.   

It is rare that people are given the grace to be able to see spiritual realities. We can not normally see the spiritual warfare that is happening around us.  Fr Forde had a certain glimpse of this and he decided to share this with his congregation.  For warning souls of the peril they are in he was silenced and lambasted.  For speaking the truth and explaining the current situation in Ireland accurately, Fr Forde was given a taste of what it means to be hated by the world.  Hopefully he will take solace in St John’s advice, ‘Marvel, not brethren, if the world hate you.’ (1 John 3:13)

Was he charitable?

There are people like Fr Forde who are trying to wake people up to the truth and the reality of life.  For this, they are being silenced, persecuted and ridiculed.  (Israel Folau’s experience with Rugby Australia is just another recent example of this). In Fr Forde’s case, this silencing was done by the very people who are meant to defend the Truth, i.e. Catholic bishops.  Due to bishops and priests abandoning the divine mission they have been given by Christ, people are not hearing the message about how toxic sin is and how damaging it is. In his masterpiece, Summa Theologica, St Thomas Aquinas outlines how sin leads to loss of human dignity and liberty: ‘1) that by sinning, man departs from the order of right reason and thereby falls away from his human dignity; and that 2) he thus loses his right to a certain liberty’ or as Pope Leo XIII explains in his encyclical, Immortale Dei, If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native fullness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of corruption.

In our current age, individuals are slipping more and more into sinful behavior and rotting their souls. This is leading to increased cases of psychological distress, anguish and despair as sin has a devastating impact on people’s psychological health.  Sin is an enemy of mental well being and it leads to zombie like behavior. As Fr Ripperger states, ‘No psychological theory which condones sin can ever be one that contributes to the mental health of individuals or a society.’ (‘Introduction to the Science of Mental Health’).  One of the most serious consequences of sin is its ability to blind people to their behavior and bind them to the urging of their passions rather than reason.  As Professor Charles A. Dubray outlines, ‘[Passions] race towards their goal so furiously that they are exclusively led by lust and pleasure without seeking the advice of reason.’ (‘Introductory Philosophy’).  Once engaged in mortal sin and once you have removed yourself from the grace of God, a person’s intellect becomes darkened, his will becomes weak and his passions and lusts take control.  One is unable to see clearly.  One is unable to control one’s actions as easily as one can do when living a life of grace.  Like zombies, one stumbles around as one’s mind is darkened and damaged. If one only chases after carnal pleasures, e.g. fornication, homosexual acts, one will die spiritually, as St Paul tells us, ‘For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.’ (Romans 9:13).

Sinful behavior also carries a threat of contamination.  Just as the alcoholic needs to avoid certain places or people to avoid relapsing, if one is truly determined to avoid sinning one must avoid certain places or people who are committing grave sins.  St Paul warns us about the need to be careful and to separate ourselves out from those who persist in immorality: ‘Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness?…  Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.’ (2 Cor 6: 14-17).  In many ways, Fr Forde was only repeating the words of St Paul and attempting to give an example to a modern-day audience who are familiar with the concept of zombies.   The advice he gives is not only essential for one’s salvation but has a direct impact on one’s mental health as well.

Fr Forde’s remarks about ‘shooting or stabbing zombies in the brain’ seems to have caused most of the uproar and accusations of hate speech.  However, even the Irish Independent, atheist journalist, Ian O’Doherty, (who is no fan of the Catholic Church) recognized that it is ridiculous to interpret these words literally.  Fr Forde went on to assert that the only cure for spiritual death and zombie-like behavior was to be obedient to Christ.  This remains the only cure when one is hooked on sin, i.e. obedience to Christ and His Church.  Highlighting the problem accurately and offering effective solutions is an excellent form of charity. It is one that psychologists and any other mental health professionals should be giving when one sees zombie-like behavior in people as a result of sinful behavior.  

May those who are groping around irrationally in the dark be led by the grace of God into the light and may God bless Fr Forde in his charitable efforts to save people’s souls!

The City/Country Divide

‘Take me away from the city, and leave me to where I can be on my own’ – Opening line, ‘Summer in Dublin’ – Bagatelle

Across the world, people regularly speak about a city/country or urban/rural divide.  This is often spoke about in Ireland with much jovial and fun filled banter about the ‘Jackeens’ up in Dublin and the ‘culchies’ or ‘boggers’ down the country.  There are many stereotypes thrown at one group to another but often the differences we speak about are exaggerated rather than grounded in reality. (Go to any Gaelic football or hurling match and you will see how banter between the counties is all part of a good day out and this exaggeration is all part of the craic). However, in saying the above, it must be noted that there are differences in attitudes between those living in city and rural areas. These differences were clearly shown in the different levels of support for the last three Referenda in Ireland.

The last three Referenda in Ireland have shown a clear division between city areas and rural areas. For example, in the homosexual ‘marriage’ Referendum, the five areas that reported the highest support for this homosexual ‘marriage’ were all in the Dublin region. The five areas that were least in support of this unnatural ‘union’ were all rural areas, i.e. Roscommon-South Leitrim, Donegal South West, Cavan/Monaghan, Mayo and Donegal North East.  In the abortion Referenda, the five areas that had the highest support for abortion were all in the Dublin region. The five areas that were least in support of this atrocity were all rural areas, i.e. Donegal, Cavan-Monaghan, Mayo, Roscommon-Galway and Offaly.  Again in the most recent blasphemy Referendum, the five areas most in support of removing the Second Commandment from Irish law were in all in the Dublin region while the five areas least in support of it were rural areas, i.e. Donegal, Roscommon-Galway, Sligo-Leitrim, Cavan-Monaghan and Mayo.  So what is causing this city/rural divide?  Why is it that city dwellers are so much more likely to support legislation that promotes immorality and destroys natural laws? While not getting into the historical reasons for this division, this blog takes a brief look at some of the psychological/social reasons why this is the case.

Don’t forget the bog’:

Before I explore these questions, I must admit that I was once a city dweller who believed that he was hip and ‘progressive’ in his attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. I supported feminist causes, supported homosexual ‘rights’ and I was disgusted to see pro-life protestors outside of hospitals that provided a service that I believed women needed.  During this period, I would be a frequent customer of ‘hip’ coffee joints and trendy bars.  At one stage, in the space of about one month, I went to the theatre twice and the opera once.  I used to like telling people about how cultured and progressive I was and how backward they were if they didn’t agree with me. Some people were more impressed than others with my attitude. I told my father, who is from a farming background in rural Ireland, about these trips to the theatre and opera. I clearly remember him looking at me with some disdain and then saying, ‘Now, don’t forget the bog’. I did not quite understand what he meant and I was too proud to really give it much thought at the time but the phrase stuck with me. Now that I have thankfully seen through many of the errors of my ways, I believe that I finally understand what he meant.  At a psychological level, ‘forgetting the bog’ is what is causing much of the craziness we are seeing in the voting patterns across Ireland, especially in our cities.

So, what does it mean ‘don’t forget the bog’?  It means ‘don’t forget your roots’ and ‘don’t be getting carried away with yourself’ or ‘don’t be getting notions of yourself’ as we say in Ireland, i.e. thinking you or your generation are more enlightened than anyone who has ever come before you.  This forgetting of one’s roots and getting carried away with yourself is one of the main reasons we see the disparity in voting patterns between city and rural constituencies. In the city, one is exposed to all sorts of distractions and temptations.  This can stop people from thinking clearly as their intellect and will are weakened and darkened by the temptations they give into. Their minds often have no time to analyse things in a deep and consistent manner. There is a constant stirring up of the passions in the cities, whether it be through advertising or other messages or images that are designed to entice our sensual appetites. This makes it hard to see things clearly as Fr Ripperger notes in his book, ‘Introduction to the Science of Mental Health’, Passions affect the intellect’s ability to judge the truth of the matter due to loss of tranquility of mind which is necessary to judge truth.’  For those who wish to think deeper about moral issues (or at least look like they are doing so), they are often attracted to the arts world where shows, plays or movies are packed full of subtle and not so subtle ‘progressive’ messages.  For example, I remember going to a play, ‘The Risen People’ at the Abbey Theatre, which, on reflection, was a form of Marxist propaganda. After this play, the transgender activist, Panti Bliss, was given an opportunity to spread his message of transgender ‘acceptance’.  He received a standing ovation at the time. I was one of the first up to applaud him as, at that stage, I was truly beginning to forget the bog. 

Environments can make sin repulsive or attractive to us, for our surroundings affect us all.  But we can choose the environment we wish and can ruthlessly reject the one that leads to trouble. – Fulton Sheen

The modern city is a place which is noisy, busy, distracting, full of temptations and packed full of toxic messages promoting unnatural behavior. In this environment, it is more difficult to see the truth of things clearly.  Some people manage to keep focused on the truth but, voting patterns show that many more people in the cities, compared to those in the countryside, have lost touch with reality.  Across Ireland, but especially in the cities, there are clever ploys to distort reality and pull people’s minds in nefarious directions. People, especially young people, are exposed to much error and to many lies that are often dressed up as ‘progressive’, ‘tolerant’ and ‘compassionate’.  One’s passions are stirred, one’s will is weakened and one’s intellect is disturbed by the confused messages and images it is exposed to.  If exposed to this environment for a long enough time, memories of a different way of seeing the world can fade into the background and one may eventually start thinking that homosexual ‘marriage’, abortion and insulting God are ‘progressive’ and ‘rights’ that people need.  People in rural areas do get exposed to toxic images and messages, especially through the media and advertisements, but it is not on the same scale or at the same frequency as people in the city. It is easier to ‘not forget the bog’ in the countryside and store images and memories of a healthier and more sane society.  All of the above contributes to the heightened madness we are seeing in the cities.  As city dweller’s intellects become more darkened and confused, as false and immoral ways of viewing the world and human behavior become the social norm, and as city dweller’s wills become weaker, these patterns only increase and the toxic ideas, attitudes and behaviours only spread further. However, we still have a choice…

So I’m leaving on Wednesday morning,   trying to find a place where I can hear, the wind and the birds and the sea on the rocks, and where open roads always are near’ – Start of second verse, ‘Summer In Dublin’ – Bagatelle

So if you are someone who is living in the city and your mind is confused or you feel bewildered and are leaning towards ‘progressive’ ideas, I highly recommend that you take a break from the city and connect with the countryside and your roots once more.  Detox your mind from the toxic messages you are receiving daily.  Take time out to analyse whether the way you are thinking is grounded in the truth.  Stop thinking that people in rural Ireland are ‘behind the times’ and are only following what their forefathers believed.  Those in rural Ireland are closer to the truth than you realise. City folk have more to learn from ‘boggers’ and ‘culchies’ than any lessons they can provide us boggers. Rather than seeing country people as mindless followers, it might be worth checking if the ‘progressive’ thoughts that you maintain are really the truth or just a product of the environment you find yourself in.  Countryside breaks may help to give you a brief return to sanity. These breaks can give you a glimpse of what peace of mind is really like but they won’t solve all your problems. It makes me think of the show on BBC called ‘Escape to the Country’.  It sells commercial dreams of getting away from the city madness.  This appeals to people as many people are looking to escape and experience freedom. In general, it is good advice to try to escape toxic environments but this show never addresses the fundamental problem of the toxic ideas that may have built up in people’s minds due to the influence of modern city living.  One must also overcome one’s darkened and false way of seeing the world if one is to truly escape. Changing one’s environment is a start; changing one’s mind, heart and behavior, so they conform with the truth and reality, is the solution.

‘2+2=4’?

“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
George Orwell, ‘1984’

A sketch of modern psychological services (particularly those provided by the Psychological Society of Ireland):

Psychologist: Nice to meet, please take a seat

Person: Thanks, nice to meet you too

Psych: Well, I see you’ve filled out the assessment form and signed the short information acknowledging you understand the service. My job is to help you to find peace of mind and to help you to understand why you are thinking in certain ways. I am trained in many different types of psychotherapy. I will try to be as gentle as possible but I may challenge you where it seems appropriate.  This is only done to help you so you can increase your happiness.  I’m also going to write a few notes on my pad here so I can get a clear picture of what’s going on for you. Is this OK by you?

Person: Yeah, that’s grand.

Psych: I see you are based here in Dublin now but are from Longford originally? How are you finding it up here?

Person: Ah yeah, it’s alright, I’m up here about a year now, bit busier than back home, miss the peace of the countryside but I’m meeting new people up here and work is going alright so it’s grand.  

Psych: Yeah, I can imagine it’s a bit different up here than down in Longford. So let us see where to begin (scanning through the assessment form). I see that you mention that you are very anxious at times. Let’s begin there.  Please explain a bit about that to me. 

Person: Well, ya know, I’m just feeling on edge a lot of the time.  I’m trying to make sense of the world we are living in. My head seems a bit fried. I’ve tried all sorts of ways of coping but they ain’t working so I decided to come along here as, ya know, I’ve heard it’s good to talk and all that.

Psych: OK, OK, sounds like you are struggling at the moment and you are trying to make sense of it all.  And yeah, it’s always good to talk. That’s what this service is here for.  So how long have you had this anxiety?

Person: Well, it’s started fairly recently. I just feel like either I’m going mad or the world has gone mad over the last year.  I’m trying to keep in tune with reality and keep myself grounded but I just can’t seem to cope at times.

Psych: OK, yeah the world is a crazy place at times and it’s hard to cope with the pace of life, especially if you are used to a quieter pace. Now, when you say, ‘reality’, what do you mean by that?

Person: Well, umm…you know like just trying to keep focused on the everyday stuff, not getting caught up in all the misinformation and fake news out there in the world

Psych: Yeah, it’s a tricky environment at times to operate it in. It’s hard to find ways to cope with the constant news coming our way and figure things out.

Person: Yeah, that’s it, like I’m trying to live my life in accordance with the truth, ya know, and sometimes I just feel that no one is telling the truth and that what we are seeing and hearing is just lies and manipulation.  Like I don’t know anymore, sometimes I think I’m being paranoid and some people have told me that I’m paranoid so maybe it’s me. Like sometimes I’m just like ‘I give up’ and can’t be bothered even trying to figure it out

Psych: OK, sounds like you are trying to filter out what is fact from fiction, that’s good. It is better to live a life in accordance with the reality we find ourselves in. Sounds like it is all a bit much for you at times and you are trying to stay in tune with reality but that’s not always easy to do so.

Person: Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel. Like, I’ve tried the whole drink thing to escape reality and that didn’t really work. I then tried distracting myself with gambling, then porn but I knew I still had to face reality at some stage. It’s just hard at the moment as I’ve no one to talk to about how I’m feeling so I decided to come along here to try to sort out my head

Psych: OK, that’s good. It sounds like you are trying to reconnect with reality and the present moment rather than constantly distracting yourself with drink or quick fixes.  That’s what this service is here for, trying to help you live peacefully and serenely in our current crazy environment. So how are you finding life without these distractions?

Person: Well, ya know, difficult at times. Like one minute I’m thinking, the world has gone crazy and is getting crazier.  Like just there yesterday I heard a news report saying that a lot of people are saying 2+2 doesn’t equal 4.  But then the next day, I’m like, maybe I’m not seeing something and maybe I’m the one cracking up.  Like even some of my friends are now saying 2+2 may not equal 4 and they are saying that I’m not with the times and all this sort of thing. It’s just fierce confusing and my head is melted by it all.

Psych: Oh, that’s interesting.  Tell me who do you think these people are that are pushing this 2+2 may not equal 4 idea?

Person:  Well, ya know, I’ve been trying to make sense of it all and now, I don’t want to sound paranoid or like some crazy conspiracy theorist but it really seems like there are like, there are people in high places, pushing this ‘2+2 may not equal 4’ agenda. Like I don’t know why people can’t just see that ‘2+2=4’.

Psych: That’s interesting (writing on notepad: ‘paranoid?’). So look I’m not going to take a position on this ‘2+2=4’ issue as it is a contentious one at the moment but I’ll act as a screen that you can bounce your thoughts off and I’ll pose some challenging questions here and there. Kind of like the devil’s advocate. This will help you to come to an understanding about your own thought processes. Sound good?

Person: Yeah, I suppose, if that’s what you think would help.

Psych: Yeah I’m sure it will. So first off, how do you know that 2+2 equals 4?

Person: Isn’t it just common sense? It’s just obvious, like.

Psych: Maybe it’s not so obvious to all and we can’t always rely on what is deemed common sense. Wasn’t it the great philosopher, Voltaire, who said, ‘Common sense is not so common’. Now, when you say it is obvious do you mean that most people believe 2+2=4?

Person: Well, no, it seems that the majority of people say they don’t know if 2+2 equals 4

Psych: So the common opinion is we don’t know if 2+2=4 but you believe that you have more insight than the majority of people?

Person: Well, yeah I think so but yeah know, as I said, I’m just confused by it as there are so many people saying 2+2 may not equal 4. 

Psych: (Writing ‘narcissist?’ on notepad) How do you know you are right on this issue? Have you had many discussions with people about this issue?

Person: Well, sometimes, but it is hard to talk about. I’m not so good at explaining things to people so I end getting angry sometimes as I just can’t see why people can’t see what seems so obvious to me

Psych: Do you get angry often?

Person: Well, more so lately.  There are times like when I’m sure 2+2=4. I just want to wake people up to it.  Like I just want to shake people sometimes. 

Psych: (Writing on notepad: ‘anti-social’?) Sounds like this is a very emotive issue for you?

Person: Yeah, that’s what some of my new friends are saying to me.  They are just telling me to relax about it as it’s not a big deal whether 2+2=4 or not.  Eventually they got sick of talking to me about it so I don’t mention it anymore so I ended up coming here to try to sort this all out.

Psych: Well, it’s good that you came here. So let’s try to break this down.

Person: OK

Psych: So I can see this 2+2=4 issue is a big issue for you so let’s see why that is so.  First off, let’s look at it objectively and rationally. So you believe that 2+2=4.  Can you be absolutely certain 2+2=4?

Person: Well, like, I was certain at one stage but I’m not 100 per cent sure about it now. I’ve tried to question myself on this. I know everyone else seems to believe that 2+2 may not equal 4 so I was initially thinking that I was the one with the problem, that it was my mind that wasn’t working right. But I spoke to my mam and dad and they still believe 2+2=4 and they have helped me to see that I’m thinking straight. 

Psych: How old are your mam and dad?

Person: Both are around 70

Psych: You have a good relationship with them?

Person: It’s not bad

Psych: So your parents, they would have grown up in an era when everyone thought 2+2=4 and they are reassuring you that 2+2 still equals 4 despite the majority now telling you that this may not be true?

Person: Well, yeah I think that they are trying to help me to keep in touch with reality. They can see that I’m struggling. 

Psych: Sounds like your parents are really trying to help you and no doubt with the best intentions as well. But I’m just wondering, did your parents often tell you that 2+2=4 when you were young?

Person: Well, not really, I remember saying that 2+2 may not equal 4 to them one time when I was a teenager after I watched a talk by a distinguished professor on YouTube and they corrected me on it.   

Psych: Corrected you? What do you mean by that?

Person: Well, like my father told me to cop on and not to be foolish

Psych: And how did that feel when he said that to you?

Person: Well, I felt a bit annoyed but like… I think he was right

Psych: (writing on notepad: ‘verbal abuse in childhood’?) You had a lot of respect for your father?  You looked up to him?

Person: Yeah, he was a decent man, bit reserved and not always around as he was busy working but yeah I respected him

Psych: (Writing on notepad: ‘neglect?’) But he wanted you to think like him or have the same beliefs as you?

Person: Well, yeah sort of, I suppose

Psych: You mentioned that he called you foolish and this left you feeling upset and annoyed when you said that ‘2+2 may not equal 4’. Did he ever get angry with you when you challenged him?

Person: Well, not so much on the 2+2= 4 thing as that was a once off thing but sometimes he would threaten me with the wooden spoon if I did or said something wrong. Think I got a smack of it maybe, once. Didn’t do me any harm, like.

Psych: (Writing on notepad: ‘physical abuse but passing it off as ‘normal’). Still it sounds tough. It seems like he struggled to accept your individuality and your questioning of conventional thinking at times. It seems like he was trying to control you in many ways and he didn’t accept your different way of thinking about the world. Were you ever afraid of your father?

Person: Well, sometimes, as a kid, I’d be a bit fearful of his reaction, especially if I was in trouble in school or something like that or if I said a bad word or if I annoyed my mother

Psych: So he was pretty controlling at times?  Tried to make you see the world his way?

Person: Yeah, I suppose, sometimes he would be hard on me and he did have some beliefs that I couldn’t get onboard with it but look, I don’t think he was that bad

Psych: (Writing on notepad: ‘defensive about father/father as God complex’?) Your father probably did the best he could considering the circumstances. It is not about blaming anyone here but do you mind if I throw out a hypothesis on what I think could be the root of the problems you are experiencing?

Person: Yeah, sure, go ahead.

Psych: Well, see, I’ve been doing this job for 25 years.  I’ve met people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. I often have people coming into my office with certain worldviews, or what we in the psychotherapeutic field call ‘schemas’.  One thing that I try to do is to help people understand how they have come to think in certain ways and why they hold on to certain beliefs.  Often, people come from tough family backgrounds where they experience physical and verbal abuse and where they are forced to comply with the belief their parents, especially their father, has.  Often, in these families, people grow up under, what we call in psychological research, an authoritarian father figure, who is emotionally distant and who doesn’t know how to communicate with them. These types of fathers use their position of power to force their traditional beliefs on their children.  As I said, I’m not looking to blame anyone here as these types of fathers often pick up this type of behavior from their own fathers. Do you follow so far?

Person: Yeah, I see what you’re saying.

Psych: Now, it seems to me you experienced some of this in your childhood and I’m guessing that this helps to explain why you believe so strongly that ‘2+2=4’. It is born out of a fear of the authoritarian father figure you experienced as you grew up and it is probably reinforced by the small country town that you grew up in, which reemphasized this restrictive ‘2+2=4’ mentality.  I think that this explains much of the anxiety you are experiencing currently as you have moved away from the small town and the ‘2+2=4’ mentality. You are now meeting new friends and are beginning to see that you don’t need to think in that narrow way anymore but are free to finally think for yourself rather than have traditional views imposed on you.  But it’s tricky for you as this 2+2=4 mentality has been beaten into you. Now, when you come up against people who challenge you on this 2+2=4 mentality, you unconsciously follow the example of your father who pushed back forcibly so as to protect these traditional ideas.  Does this make sense to you?

Person: Well, that makes some sense but I still can’t shake off the feeling that 2+2 does really equal 4.  Like I’m not the only one thinks like this and I know other people that think like me.

Psych: Who are these other people?

Person: Well, some friends, my parents, as I said. 

Psych: Have any of them done any research into whether ‘2+2=4’?

Person: Well, no, that’s just the way they’ve always thought…, they just think… It’s common sense that 2+2=4

Psych: Well, it may have been the common view years ago but as we begin to know more about the world and the human mind sometimes what was once seen as dogmas are no longer seen as such. Now, look, I’m not saying 2+2 does not equal 4 but I think that it is worth analyzing why you hold on to this opinion so strongly. See, believing 2+2=4 may have given your parents some stability or assurance about life as they struggled along in it. They lived in harder time and needed more stability. It’s not easy to change one’s thinking especially when it is something someone really believes in, has grown up believing and has emotional investment in.  Look, there is some new research coming out suggesting that 2+2 may not equal 4. Would you consider checking it out?

Person: Yeah, I suppose I can do, I don’t want to be narrow minded. But look, I’m a bit confused now. It seems like my head is more mixed up now than it was when I came into the office

Psych: Well, that’s actually OK, you are grappling with new information. It is a sign of what we in the psychological field call, ‘cognitive dissonance’. It is just a process where the mind is grappling with information that is contrary to old information. It is a good sign really as it shows that you are open to this new information and that your mind is willing to open up and assimilate this information.  That’s what I’m here for, to give you this space to wrestle with this new information and ease the anxiety you are experiencing. This will eventually lead to peace of mind.    

Person: Well, look I don’t really know what to believe anymore. I just want some answers. What you said seems to make sense when I reflect on it. I mean I suppose it’s good to talk out these issues anyway, maybe I should look at my childhood experiences a bit more.

Psych: Yeah, it’s always good to talk and I hope I can provide a listening ear for you.  I can see that you are really trying to overcome your anxiety.  I believe that your childhood experiences, where you weren’t allowed to think for yourself, are influencing some of your anxiety and this is still playing out today in your life.  We can explore that further at the next session. How about we meet again in two weeks time? 

Person: Yeah, I think I do have some childhood stuff to work through and maybe I’m a bit obsessed with this whole 2+2=4 business due to it.  Yeah, two weeks sound good, let’s do that.

Psych: In the meantime, just try to find some practical strategies so you can relax about the whole 2+2=4 thing. Look, it’s really not that important in the grand scheme of things. Just try to enjoy each moment, be present and practice deep breathing. That will help with the anxiety.  Also try to avoid arguments with people over this issue. Just count to ten if you feel anger or anxiety rising in you when someone says that 2+2 does not equal four or just change the subject to something lighter or more entertaining when the conversation does come up.

Person: Alright, thanks, I’ll try that, sounds good.

Psych: Yeah, no problem, glad I could help, see you in two weeks.

END

Note: Replace ‘2+2=4’ with any number of scientific or Catholic truths, e.g. on ‘gender’, abortion or homosexuality, and you will see how dangerous psychological services are for those struggling to make sense of it all in our current times.