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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stressed People Make Bad Decisions

We live in a moment-by-moment news reporting world. I get updates on my phone for each "Breaking News" story. Many of these stories are upsetting.

A young man begins to shoot people, a young woman is shot while using her car like a weapon, another person sets himself on fire, a group of bikers violently beat a man- each of these stories flash across my phone. The news reports look for a reason why. Often they chalk it up to some sort of mental illness.

Shouldn't we be concerned why these people became ill rather than looking at the illness as if there is nothing that can be done? Nearly every case reveals that those who commit these acts have been under long term significant stress. They lost their jobs, were bullied, live in depression or somehow believe they have been denied something they deserve. This stress multiplied by time has caused them to become mentally ill if even for a moment. They are stressed and have no outlet for relieving that stress.

Think of Saul in the Old Testament. He didn't believe he should be chosen as king. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, the humblest of the tribes. He hid among the baggage when called out to be recognized by the people. Later, he would offered a sacrifice that was not his to offer because he was afraid that Samuel the priest wasn't going to get there before he lost to the Philistines. He kept the best spoil from a group of people whom God told to destroy with everything that belonged to them because he was afraid of the people. He opposed his best general when he wasn't given as much praise as that general. He lost his kingdom because he made bad decisions. He was a man under stress.

Each day I watch people burst into road rage. I believe that most of these people are normally good neighbors and good citizens. What causes them to explode over the insignificant slights of others? I believe they are under such stress that any added stress sends them over what they are able to take. It is like a balloon that can't take an ounce more air. It simply explodes.

This is so unnecessary. The Bible tells us to pray and turn it over to God. The Bible tells us that God loves us so much that He wants us to give Him our fears and anxieties. But I have observed that few Christians are having Quiet Times with God. They aren't turning those things over to Him and, therefore, are carrying their stress on top of everything else that stresses them. Eventually the balloon must pop.

So, I urge you to make a very needed decision today before you make a bad decision. You may not do something violent but the decision may be just as harmful. (You might continue to bite your husband's head off until you have added so much stress to him that he leaves- another bad decision!) Tell your stress to God. Put all of it in His hands. Trust that He will take care of it and you.

Then, laugh for He has healed you from your bad decision.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)
7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


Anonymous said...

Your suggestions for reducting stress are good ones, that's for sure. Turning to Jesus rather than to drugs, alcohol or violence for stress relief would make a huge difference in our country.

As bad as stress is, tho, it does not cause psychosis except under very extreme and rare circumstances such as severe and lengthy sleep deprivation.)

For the most part, medicos don't know what causes schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Some causes for psychotic features can be identified if they are resultant from brain injury or certain other conditions like severe post-partum depression, but why those conditions cause psychosis or how psychotic disorders, in general, appear is a mystery.

Here's the salient factor for increased violence by the mentally ill: The reason we're seeing more violence r/t mental illness is due to the mental health reforms that took place a few decades ago.

Two things happened: 1) The mentally ill had legislatively declared "rights". While some of the law was beneficial--like wives could no longer be hospitalized as depressed because they refused to make dinner and people who had seen a counselor couldn't be discriminated against for employment--the unintended consequence is that, by law--> people with serious mental illness have the right to refuse treatment.

2) That right to refuse treatment brings the second thing, and its sequelae. People can only be treated or hospitalized against their will if they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. Now get this--that danger threat is defined very specifically. When it comes to danger to others, they must make a specific threat AND demonstrate a plan and means to carry out that plan before action can be taken.

The sequelae to that? Well, people in full psychotic delusion are left to freely roam the streets. Law enforcement shrugs it off with a "there's nothing we can do." So do mental health professionals.

The Navy Yard shooter is a tragic example of that. This young man WENT TO THE POLICE with his delusions He was frantic for help. And he got none. NONE.

The police did contact the Navy to alert them to their employees condition, but that warning did not result in action. The Navy probably made a note to watch him.

NO hospitalization or MH intervention occurred that would have helped this man and prevented this tragedy. Before the MH law, the police would have taken him to the psych ward of their local hospital for observation. He'd have had an enforced commitment for several days while his condition was diagnosed and appropriate treatment developed. Not now. There are civil rights at stake, here.

He could not be hospitalized unless he made specific threat. He was asking for help, after all, to end the torment. It is unlikely he made a tangible threat that was know, because of all of those rights.

His torment ended not with mental health intervention, but with a bullet, and many other lives ended or were permanently changed in the process.

His psychosis resulted in stress. The stress then exacerbated the psychosis. And legislated rights prevented an intervention that would have stopped the cycle that ended in death.

That's probably more than you wanted to know about our ill-conceived mental health system which allows MH professionals to self-righteously refuse to get involved... Ack. So hard to get down from this soap box...

Anyway. You message regarding the need to turn to the Lord is spot on. And now you know how to pray for the system that is supposed to help, but doesn't.

By the way, the Bible indicates that psychosis is demonic in nature. (Which would explain why the delusional make-up is so similar from one person to another, despite background differences.)

We can only control psychosis with medication; Jesus alone is the healer and deliverer here.


Anonymous said...

There are several angles to the predicament if not madness that you have highlighted. Some may think what I am going to say, is an over simplistic assessment of a complicated malaise, but still I think it is worth considering: 

1. People not seeing prevention is always better than cure
2. People are not seeing starting over, is important
3. People are not wanting help

Prevention is better than cure - For example, how do we avoid getting a big bunch of adult illiterates? Or a big bunch of uneducated people?  In it, is the main answer.  When we do not do such thing as sending children to schools, teaching them steadfastly, perseveringly, ungiving-uply, and we not getting the children to see the importance of education, we will get lots of adult illiterates.  For these adults, many things they are unable to cope with, and it would be difficult for them to be in jobs requiring literacy. Some of these people would then end up, robbing or engaging in illegal activities, etc.  It is the same when it comes to many people breaking down under stress; the prevention (equipping) phase was skipped.

Just by becoming a Christian does not mean you will no longer be subjected to stresses, like you will be shielded or transferred out of this world. The problem with many, is that they view, all that they have to do, was done, and it was that saying, of the Sinner's Prayer, but they are wrong, and it does not help with all these overly grace teachings that stress that the Christian life is just to bask in grace; no need of efforting in anyway.  The world that we are in, is shaping us, into it's mold; if we compartmentalize the Christian education or equipping in the Word to a minor, optional hobby-like engagement, which can be completely separated from, or even considered irrelevant, in our daily living, much like a hobby is treated (not extending over to other activities of our life), we will end up coping with whatever the world throws at us, like a non-believer, even though we are a believer.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

There are just too many believers of that kind, of "in form only, but not in substance".   We know the Word has a lot to say about how believers are to live in the various contexts of priorities, righteousness, godliness, contentment, servanthood, love, etc; yet we are NOT learning them, and applying them in our lives.  It is our own fault, and the church too, she should see if she fails in anyway, to teach or enlighten. We cannot just throw away this prevention (equipping) phase, even if it means time, energy and sacrifices have to be made.  If we effort not, in these things, the consequence of breakdown under stress, inevitably comes; and then we lament about the malaise or be accepting the madness as inevitable.  

I want to say we can learn to avoid getting into situations of excessive stress as well as handling stresses, from the Word, if we take the trouble.  Also, it is not just the ways of the Kingdom are relevant to our living, it is we have to live out the ways of the Kingdom; it is God's directive if not commandment, to us.  There is no short-cut, you and I cannot avoid living out the ways of the Kingdom, and still think we do not need to face the consequences of our disobedience.

Starting over - now, if you do not do all the preventive measure of being equipped and applying the Word in your life, and you are in a limbo, what do you do?  While it is right to claim and hang onto the promises in Scripture, like the 2 texts Ps Prentis has given in the entry, we must understand that there maybe things we have to do, along with claiming and hanging onto the promises.  Have you ever thought that God does want us to learn what our problem is, before He steps in and takes care of things; can you understand that God does not want us to be getting into the same shit over and over again, and He coming in, over and over again, without us learning the errors of our ways? 

With God, there is starting over, for us. Our God allows for that.  But what does it mean?  The illiterate adult, in our example above, can he start over? How?  Well, no one can undo his past; neither can he goes back in time, to his childhood, for example for the illiterate adult above, and learn so that he will not be illiterate.  But the illiterate adult can still go back to study, difficult it maybe.  Difficult? If the illiterate adult does not go back to study, well, his illiteracy stays. If we don't start over, we too, cannot be set free from the predicament that we have come into.  Ok what is involved?


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

We have to know that we have been wrong, not learning and applying specific ways of the Kingdom in our lives.  We need to want change, repent, more specifically; confess our wrongdoing or sin, and ask God for forgiveness, so that we can be cleansed of our unrighteousness. We need to humble ourselves before God, and be contrite of heart.  We ask God to help us to settle the difficulties or mess we have created. We must do the right things, and then we need to know how we have gone wrong and promise not to repeat our  wrongdoing. If it is attitude or posture of ours that needs changing, we must want to change, to avoid getting in the same troubles again. Starting over, inevitably must mean that you are prepared to seek first, God's kingdom and His righteousness,  live righteous going forward, love NOT money, pursue godliness with contentment, love God, and so, love fellow neighbors, and wanting the will of God for your life be done.  Our posture must change from wanting to please self and men, to wanting to please God.  We need to spend time on learning the ways of the Kingdom, so that when we are confronted with choices in life, we know how and what to choose, so that we do not pierce ourselves with many griefs. 

People not wanting help - Of course, there is this difficulty, that there are those who would NOT go for the cure, because they do NOT think they are sick or have a problem! Sometimes, it is plain stubbornness, sometimes, pure laziness, and at other times, it is difficult to be "cured" or start over, due to demonic influence or possession. I do come across these in my ministry, and these are most difficult to help.

Does God not care for us?!  Of course, He does, but at the same time, what we have to learn, we are to learn, and what we have to do on our part, we are to do. The love of God can only foster or maintain righteousness in you; so, you cannot expect the love of God and so, His actions, to promote for you, irresponsibility and non-accountability or even laziness.

Can't I claim the promises in Phil 4:6-7? You can, but you must also be aware that your request is NOT really whatever, but is whatever that is consistent with God's will. And so, you and I still need to walk with the Lord to know Him and His ways.

Lastly, I want to say, keeping up with the Jones, is NOT the way to go.  Rather, be godly, be contented, and be thankful and grateful.  The world is a better place if more of us are so, for when we are so, the giving or generous spirit will find a place in our heart.  How many a hurting soul, have no one to comfort it, the hurt may fester, and may become a monster.  Will you be the generous spirit who will do the one stitch, in time to say nine?!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Created to Give God Glory said...

We do not know what causes chemical imbalances in the brain. We do know that there are many factors which will cause chemical imbalances. It is like knowing what causes cancer. We know that certain things are carcinogens which will cause cancer in some people. Others seem to be immune but we still put warnings on cigarette packages. Yet there are some people who have never smoked and get lung cancer. Stress over long term releases chemicals which cause many horrible things to happen in our bodies. Some people will not be affected. Some who have never been outwardly stressed develop psychoses anyway. Do mentally ill people know they are mentally ill? Do I know whether or not I am mentally ill? I don't think we will ever know all who have mental illness. I watched a documentary on why ships sink and found that ship captains have done bizarre things while their ships sank. I believe this is because of the stress. I don't think they were mentally ill.

Anonymous said...

I will add these, as food for thought: 

From time to time, we can be in the situation of inability to see the speck in our own eyes, or we cannot see our erroneous ways or even "sickness". This can be so, at times, despite our so-called self-examination.  For one thing, Scripture pointed to us that the heart of man is deceitful; we can be self-deluded. Pro 12:15 said this -  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (NASB). Precisely, it can be like that, we do need to have counsel around us.  There is a place in our faith living, to subscribe to mentorship and accountability.  We must be willing to subject ourselves to mentorship and accountability; and we, also should be prepared to provide mentorship and be counselor to others lesser in the faith.

Eph 4:25 -“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (NASB) Eph 4:15 - “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (NLT) 1 Th 5:11 - “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (NIV) Col 3:16 - “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (NIV) In John 21, Jesus repeatedly (3x) asked the Apostle Peter if he loved Him, and He also repeatedly (3x) told Peter to "feed my sheep". We, in leadership, do we feed the Lord's sheep or equip them?

James 5:16 -“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (NASB) James 5:19-20 -  My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. Gal 6:1-2 - Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Heb 10:24-25 - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I don't know if you realize it, Ps Prentis, your preceding two entries before this, are related to this one.  "Keeping the number at one" - is a reminder that, we cannot just look at masses, and not stop to look at a person, individually.  Your entry of "carefully choosing the words to bless" is again to remind us that we should NOT be going to church times after times, oblivious to the needs of brothers and sisters we are gathered with. I know I am speaking to myself too, even as I repeat the last lines of my previous comment against this entry - "How many a hurting soul, have no one to comfort it, the hurt may fester, and may become a monster.  Will you be the generous spirit who will do the one stitch, in time to say nine?!"

Anthony Chia, high.expressions
PS: specific to the bad observations in USA, I can only say this: too much of "rights" and freedom, for too long, have given rise to too much space being given to individualism at the expense of common good.  Unrestrained freedom is a recipe for disasters.

sirnorm1 said...

good word