a TV program the other day where a group of religious and non-religious people
were discussing faith and mental health. A psychologist mentioned the harmful
effect it can have on some adolescents and in some cases it can be linked
to OCD. This I believe is what happened to me although only recently have
I become aware of this. When I read the information on your website I felt
compelled to comment. Please know that anything I say is said with respect
and with a desire to be constructive. My experience was unlike what you
brought up a Catholic and at the age of eleven was an ardent and literal
believer of all I had been taught and learned from the New Testament and
Catholic Truth Society pamphlets. We had yearly retreats at school, usually
from Jesuit priests and I found them marvellous experiences where I felt
close to God and absorbed the experience.
a year or two I became much stricter in my observance of Christian morals,
and as I approached puberty I was determined to lead a pure life.
I began to realise that I thought God wanted me to become a priest. I attended
mass every day and visited a chapel in my free time to pray.
at the same time I began to feel that I was not obeying God's laws closely
enough and found this feeling was invading every actionif I was eating,
Id believe I needed to fast or that Id eaten more than I needed
to, or if I prayed I hadnt prayed enough. I would be washing and think
Id touched my nipple and therefore had sinned. Going to the toilet
was a nightmare because I couldnt carry out hygiene appropriately without
thinking Id sinned.
consequence of all this was that I became utterly miserable and friendless;
even my family thought I had gone crazy. I had no feelings of anger towards
my parents. I was lucky to have a very caring family, and I felt no reason
to be angry with them. My behaviour arose from a desire to please
passed the behaviours gradually ceased, and I decided that I really
couldnt live according to Christian principles because it affected
me so negatively. People speak of being freed by Jesus wordsI
feel they imprison me; I become paralysed and lose my joie de
be very interested in your comments or thoughts if you have time. Ive
never really discussed this with anyone before, but now in my late fifties
I am beginning to see it as unfinished business.
ou may not feel any
anger towards your parents, and you may not be
able to see a reason to be angry at them, but, contrary to what most
persons tend to believe, anger is not felt as an
emotion; instead, it manifests
very subtly in your actions. Moreover, anger is often
unconscious, and for that reason you can be blind
to it. In fact, you can be so spiritually
blind to it that you cannot even interpret your own actions that evince
Now, in your comment, you reveal
your anger quite plainly, even though you donít see it. When you say that
Jesusí words imprison you, you are taking your redemption
and throwing it back in His face. With the price of His own Blood Christ freed
humanity from slavery to sin, and you claim that He imprisoned you. The truth
is, you have imprisoned yourself in your own false beliefs. You have imprisoned
yourself in your anger at God.
So what did God do to deserve
your anger? Well, nothing. Absolutely nothing. But He has done everything
to demonstrate His love for you.
So why are you angry at God?
Well, you are really transferring your anger onto God from someone else.
And who might that be? The answer should be no surprise to a real
psychologist, rather than a TV psychologist: your father.
Here we get to the truth of your
life. If your father had shown you how to love God with a vibrant, living
trust, you would not be in your current mess. If your father had taught you
the truth about sexuality at the beginning of your
adolescence, you would not have feared it. If your fathers entire being
had been based in true love, you would have seen that
love demonstrated, and you would have learned its purity by
example. But you didnt. Instead, you had to learn it
intellectually, from pamphlets. For you, love is
just an idea in your head, not a vibrant warmth in your heart.
When love is all in your head and
not in your heart, you will fall into legalism. Legalism, after all, is just a
politically safe place to do battle with your father. A strict, literal approach
to things allows you to overpower authorityósymbolically, your fatherówith logic
and reason. You act out your anger through intellectual triumph, and all the
while you push out of awareness the inadequacy you feel about yourself because
of your fatherís failures.
But no one who loves God from the
depths of his heart, and no one who values holiness more than any satisfaction
of the world will fall into dry, intellectual legalism. This sort of obsessive
behavior is nothing but an attempt to cover up a profound fear of love.
Faith, then, is not harmful to
adolescents. Parental hypocrisy is harmful to
fatherswhose real trust is not in God but
in the satisfactions of the world (sports, politics,
fundamentally anti-Christian entertainment, and addictions) may have prayers
on their lips but their hearts are lukewarm.
Parents like this cheat you of faith, and when you are
cheated you have good reason to be hurt.
You have good reason to be hurt, but
that hurt has fallen into anger, and, as I said before, you are blind to your anger.
You have done such a good job of hiding it from others that you have hidden it from
yourself to such an extent that you deny it even exists.
Still, deep in your soul, you
do want Gods love, just as you crave the love of the father who angers
you. You will never see this love, however, by denying your anger.
Angereven unconscious angermakes love impossible. But if only
you acknowledge the anger, understand it, and heal
the hurt that lies beneath it, then you can
your fatherand then you will be capable of real love.
So, if you really want to finish
your unfinished business, accept the fact that you are spiritually blind
and that no effort on your own will enlighten you. Let that acceptance
allow you to seek the truth with all your soul. Discuss the matter with God
Himself. Implore Him for mercy and
pray that He will open your eyes and your heart
to see the truth. Maybe then you will be able to interpret the depths of
what you cannot now see: your unconscious anger.
Invisible anger in OCD
How a defense is a protection
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 donít see living
faith. They donít see protection from evil. They donít see genuine, fruitful
devotion. They donít 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 credibilityóand 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. Letís bring them back.