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Questions and Answers

I find myself stuck in many of the unconscious conflicts that you describe, the most striking of which has been outbursts of anger and blaming my parents. . . . My question regards study and self-discipline. I have had a consistent problem of serious procrastination since about the 7th grade (it was also during this grade that I discovered pornography and became addicted to it and that I began to spend many hours on the Internet). This procrastination has led to the near failure of [a] class in high school and my failing a class last year in college; I also had to drop another class. . . . I feel as though I’m taking a gamble every semester between getting my work done at the last possible minute (quite literally) [staying up] all night and failing the class.

I’ve found that if I can at least study with another person around, then I can get some work done, but having someone to study with isn’t always possible and the results have been mostly inconsistent.

One issue that I’ve noticed especially in the past few months is that I lack motivation to get things done. I even feel as though the love of God is not a strong enough motivator in my life due to my own brokenness. When asked by my spiritual director if there was anyone I could be accountable to that would motivate me to get my work done, I responded that I couldn’t think of anyone to be accountable to. I feel like I’m aimlessly floating this way and that, doing my work on a whim, if I do it at all.

I feel as though I understand in my mind that I need to enter deeply into the spiritual life and be healed through God’s grace of any past hurt that I’m carrying, but I continuously stumble over the same problems, such as procrastination and masturbation. I’m also almost always constantly fatigued (although this probably might be due to sleep deprivation).

How can I discipline myself to study well? What can I do to stop procrastinating? Do you have any advice for studying? What else do you think is going on here?

Outline of the Answer
• Anger
• Puberty
• The Psychological Meaning of Masturbation
• The Psychological Meaning of Procrastination
• How to Stop Procrastinating
• Summary
• Writer’s Block

From your first sentence, we both know that anger at your parents is behind your problems, but merely knowing about the anger doesn’t do anything to resolve it. Instead, it will be important to understand how and why the anger affects you in everyday events.


Let’s begin by examining what happened when you were in 7th grade. This is a time of puberty—when you would have been about 13 years old—that marks the entrance into the body’s sexual maturity, and, by extension, into adult social responsibility. From what you have told me, I surmise that, because of your parents’ failures, you faced the prospect of puberty with considerable uncertainty. Without the guidance of someone showing you how to face the unknown mysteries of life with confidence in God, you would have been crippled with fear at the prospect of facing the unknown obligations of adulthood.

Moreover, when all the manipulative aspects of sexuality were imposed on you through pornography at this time of adolescent crisis, you had no opportunity to develop a stable identity other than that of a slave to lust and hatred.

The Psychological Meaning of Masturbation

In this context, you used masturbation to provide a form of self-soothing and a feeling of control. Yes, masturbation feels good in the moment; nevertheless, it is a failure of sexual responsibility because it distorts the reproductive function into mere self-serving pleasure. Hence we can see the spiritual danger of masturbation: it’s a non-achievement that provides the illusion of achievement. At its core is anger at your father (and your mother, as may also be the case) for not comforting and guiding you when, in the face of impending responsibility, you felt vulnerable and insecure.

The Psychological Meaning of Procrastination

Similarly, procrastination can be understood psychologically as a sort of mental paralysis that arises when you face the fear of the unknown. It all results because of a lack in your father’s guidance when you most needed it. Thus, with no accountable person around, your journey into mature life became an aimless wandering without a guide—and so it can be said that your every action was not much more than a whim. Therefore, when new tasks appear in front of you now, you freeze psychologically. Behind it all, at its core, is anger at your father for not motivating you when you most needed guidance.

Thus it can be said that procrastination is not just a matter of not knowing how to do something, but that it’s an emotionally poignant matter of despair about what you do know: it’s a matter of knowing that you lack confidence in how to do something combined with knowing unconsciously that your father has failed to prepare you to do anything combined with a subtle knowing that, in your despair, you are afraid to do it right now—afraid of your anger, afraid of being frustrated, and afraid of being criticized if you were to make a mistake.

How to Stop Procrastinating

Understanding this, we can now proceed to describe what you need to do to stop procrastinating.

Make the Connection

First, admit to yourself that your father’s failures have had real and practical consequences in your daily life and have led especially to your own failures. When you experience a lack of motivation (or a lack of discipline, or distraction when trying to study, etc.) tell yourself, “This is happening because of how my father failed me.” The point here is not to blame your father so as to punish him, but to take the blame off yourself. Your difficulties don’t mean that there is something wrong with you—the real problem is that you have been cheated of something you very much need. Furthermore, this means that with proper guidance you can acquire what is now lacking in you.

To Become A Father to Yourself

Second, resolve to become a “father” to yourself. Instead of staying stuck in blaming your father for what you don’t have, and in unconsciously punishing him with your failures, focus on taking personal responsibility to provide for yourself with what has until now been lacking in you. This is easier said than done, so there are three things you can hope in to overcome your despair.

Hope in psychological guidance, such as you are now receiving from my writing, and do whatever it takes to learn from it.

Hope also in a growing cooperation with your own unconscious, so that your unconscious will be an ally in learning. Realize that your unconscious is not “out to get you”; it is, in essence, the truth of your life, which, until now, you have largely suppressed because, in not having your father’s guidance in how to appreciate it, you have feared it. Through your psychological work of healing you will find that your unconscious can be a trusted source of enlightenment.

Hope also in prayer, which will become more and more meaningful to you as you let go of your anger at your father and come to see God not as a reflection of your father’s failures but as He really is: your truest and deepest hope.

Beyond Blame into Forgiveness

Third—speaking of letting go of anger at your father—begin to discharge the static buildup of desiring the satisfaction of “hurting your father as he has hurt you.” This sort of satisfaction is called revenge; it traps you in blame, and it is revealed for what it is when the grace of God cures your psychological blindness and you see that all your failures have had one secret intent: to hurt your father.

Your true success now will depend on giving up the satisfaction of hurting your father. You can do this by trusting that justice belongs to God; this means that your father will have to answer to God for his failures, not to you. This is not a matter of condemning your father, because his destiny depends on whether he has contrition before God for all his failures; it’s not your job to “save” your father, so leave his judgment before God in the merciful hands of God. The best you can do for your father is relinquish your anger at him. Having done that, you will be free to pursue real achievement for the love of God. Up until now, in your anger at your father, you have been unconsciously seeking failure so as to punish him; now you can seek your personal achievement in all things, and in doing so you will exalt God the Father. This “discharge” of anger is called forgiveness because it is the cessation of your secret hatred for your father and the beginning of genuine love for God.


Follow this guidance and you will become a “father”—to yourself and to all God’s children.

In summary, then, when faced with any new task, (a) remind yourself that you fear the unknown and doubt yourself because your father failed to provide you with comfort and motivation and that his failures have crippled you; (b) in spite of your doubts, bring the pain before God by telling Him how you feel while relying upon the hope of receiving real guidance and comfort from God in a way you have never known before; and (c) then call upon His justice while you offer your true successes and achievements from now on for use in His service—and also as a special gift to your father, that someday his eyes, too, might be opened.

Above all, cling to the knowledge that with prayer and psychological guidance you now have all the resources you need to succeed in life, despite what your parents failed to give you.

A Similar, but Different Issue:
Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block is an issue that is related to but different from procrastination as described above. Whereas procrastination derives from anger at at father, writer’s block usually results from anger at a mother.

Writer’s block tends to result from some current pressure to be productive; it can be as if you are being forced to make your words speak “lies” rather than let them speak your own truth. This pressure can build to such a frustratingly intense creative blockage because unconsciously you are re-experiencing the frustration from your childhood when your own mother pressured you in one way or another. Maybe your mother was sarcastic, belittled you, never listened to you, had fixed ideas about you, gave you no sympathy, and showed you no respect. However it manifested, the pressure from your mother was all about her and her needs, and so it completely missed the point about you and your reality. Hence, when you were a child, you were being pressured to function in the face of constant lies about yourself.

Back then, the anger was so intense—and led to such guilt—that you had to suppress it. Now, as an adult writer, the pressure to produce (even if it may be self-induced pressure) rekindles that old anger. In this sense, writer’s block is analogous to apathy, a particular form of anger that leaves you unable even to speak.

To get past this blockage, it will be important to understand that all of that pressure your mother put on you had the effect of inducing you to “worship” her; that is, she imprisoned you in a fear that you could not function without acquiescing to her demands. That fear now functions unconsciously in you like a curse, such that you are terrified that if you follow your own desires—i.e., follow your own truth and stop worshipping your mother—you will be doomed. Therefore, it will be necessary that you see the writer’s block as a curse that must be broken with firm renunciation, as in the following deliverance prayer.


IN the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I renounce the spirits of anger and fear and the bondage they have over me.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I renounce the negative belief that I must worship my mother and serve her demands, and I renounce the unhealthy behavior of writer’s block to which am prone and the bondage it has over me.
I affirm my love for God and my trust in His perfect justice and providence, such that in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ no curse can function. Amen.



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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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