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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

I first of all wanted to thank you for your excellent website. It is of great use to those suffering from psychological disorders and indeed for the rest of us. You have done the Church and Catholic doctors a great service. One thing I did notice was that the tone of certain articles, e.g. “sending yourself to hell”, could be perhaps over severe for many patients suffering from low self-esteem to the point of exacerbating the condition, since they are unable to approach the article in a neutral way. Just a thought. But, overall, thank you for your website. The Lord will reward you and may your good work continue!

Outline of the Answer
• Cowering in Fear
• Denying the Truth
• Wanting to be Loved
• The Real Hell

Ihe greatest problem with the Church today is that people avoid speaking the truth about the faith because they fear offending someone. Christ was killed because He spoke the truth and offended the Pharisees, but do we see a lesson in this for us? Well, if we did, we wouldn’t have so many individuals, from popes, bishops, and priests to religious education teachers to parents, all cowering in fear of the Cross itself.

So, what is the truth about low self-esteem?

Denying the Truth

Low self-esteem results when children who are raised in dysfunctional families deny the truth about their parents. Wounded and traumatized by abuse or neglect, emotional dishonesty, hypocrisy, manipulation, and family game-playing, children have a clear idea of the truth but are too terrified to admit it to themselves. They circle around it like a moth around a flame, but the terror is overwhelming. “My parents don’t love me.” Those words are terrible. To say the words seems like death itself.

To hide the truth, children deny their emotional pain, make excuses for their parents, and then blame themselves. “There must be something wrong with me. That’s why everyone treats me so miserably. It’s all my fault.”


A deep fear that often lurks behind the fear of admitting that “my parents don’t love me” is the fear that if you admit the truth about the lack of your parents’ love you will condemn your parents to hell. But no one can condemn someone to hell; when souls end up in hell it’s only because they have sent themselves there of their own free will in refusing to admit their own sins, repent them, and turn to God for mercy.


Wanting to be Loved

Deep in their hearts they want to be loved, but they don’t have a teacher or mentor explaining what is happening to them. So they take up an impossible task: to make their parents love them. “Maybe if I can tell my parents how miserable I am, then maybe they will love me.” But because their parents never taught them how to talk honestly about themselves, they act out their pain, rather than speak it, hoping that someone will notice their wretched behavior and in turn notice how miserable they are feeling.

So the children act out. Some throw themselves into study to hide their pain, but for many others, their grades in school drop. Some smoke cigarettes. Some drink alcohol. Some use marijuana. Some become overweight. Some dress immodestly. Some defile their bodies with tattoos and piercings. Some defile their souls with sexual perversions. Some allow their physical and mental health to degenerate. Some reject the Church. They all scoff at authority. They’re all lost in pain, lost in confusion, and lost in an empty desperation for love. They will do anything it takes to make someone notice them. They will even send themselves to hell if only then their parents would say, “I’m sorry. I failed you. Come back to me, and I will do anything it takes to learn how to love.”

But rarely do parents say they are sorry—at least from the heart as an expression of true sorrow for their sins.

The Real Hell

So what happens to the children? Well, if no one tells them the truth about their behavior, their imprudent attempts to send themselves to hell will actually send them to hell—the real hell. And then they will be really lost. Their life-long success at failing will be supremely manifest.

Low self-esteem, therefore, isn’t something that should cause us to walk on egg shells for fear of exacerbating it. It’s something—like sin itself—that we should speak the truth about, in the hope of healing it, before it’s too late.


Related pages:

Anxiety about sending yourself to hell

Unconscious sin

Blind to your own anger

What is “anger without sin”?


Recommended Reading
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips in book form.


Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility, children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.

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