9 The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 “I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Art of Self Deception
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi supposedly had the Greek inscription above the door, translated simply as "Know Thyself." It is certainly a goal worth pursuing, even though unobtainable.
One of my favorite verses (to illustrate this point) is Jer 17:9,10 describing the human heart (psyche, mind, etc) is unknowable and deceitful beyond anything else on earth.
I am reminded of this on a daily basis, as I see many patients who have no insight to their, rather serious, psychiatric disorders. There is a saying around medicine (the practice of) that those who are most seriously mentally ill . . . are usually the last to know.
Depressed people might go through denial, at least at first, then their depression becomes the inescapable fact (unless they blame the world, perpetually). Anxious people tend to deny their flaw longer, often converting their anxieties into physical illness.
But the really mad people, the sociopaths, psychopaths, personality disorder sufferers, will never know themselves because the very nature of their illness prevents it. This is the real darkness of the Fall. These people make life hell for those around them (even more so than for themselves). The same number of these people exist inside the church as outside. Inside (because Christians tend to be naive about psychological disorders, blaming everything on "spiritual issues") it often goes "undiagnosed."
Why am I talking about this again? Two reasons have brought this topic to the forefront of my mind.
I think in the lead up to Halloween, a local cable channel showed the psychological thriller, Hide and Seek, several times over the past couple of weeks. I saw the beginning on one day, then finished the story by reading it online the next day.
In the story, David (Robert De Niro) is a psychologist, who's wife commits suicide leaving him and his daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning). They move from the city to upstate New York. There, Emily seems to create an imaginary friend, Charlie. But before long it becomes apparent that Charlie is real because he does things that little Emily could not have done, from opening a stuck window to pushing a woman out of her window . . . killing her.
To make a long story short, David finally realizes that HE is Charlie. That like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario, David (because of a multi personality disorder) transforms into Charlie. Indeed, it is later revealed, that his wife never committed suicide, but Charlie (David's alter ego) murdered her because she was having an affair. But, David knew nothing about his dark side until the end.
Now, I will take the story into the real-Christian context.
I've always enjoyed the true mystery shows, like NBC's Dateline and ABC's 20/20 especially when they deal with these psychological dramas (and even more so with it is about supposedly good people, doing horrible things). I think it is the same reason I like archeology programs, or some kind of science mystery. It is the intrigue that drives me, wanting to know more.
Last week 20/20 did a follow story about Matt Baker, a former Baptist pastor, whose wife died of "suicide" or so they thought. As the police investigated the story, there were many suspiciousness things coming to the surface, especially his friendship with a beautiful woman in his church. He was openly dating her within two weeks of his wife's death. He had 17 phone calls a day to her, starting well before his wife's death.
The new development was that the "other woman" finally came forward and described how her and pastor Baker had been sleeping together well before his wife's strange suicide and, in fact, he described to her in detail how he had suffocated his wife.
After that long introduction, here is the main point. Matt Baker swore, in his quiet, convincing, kind voice that he had never had an affair and had not killed his wife. A group of his closest friends stood by him saying he was a deeply kind and godly man.
By the day of the trial, he had to admit that he had been sleeping with the woman, although he still denies killing his wife.
Watching his very sincere, convincing video interview . . . any person in their right mind would believe him and trust him. But that's the way with psychopaths. They lie so well, that I think they can even start to believe their own lies.
On a much less serious level (than being a secret murderer) It leaves one to humbly ask God, "Search my heart and know me." It also gives me justification to trust, only with caution, the stated motives of other Christians. We are all warped . . . some, like Pastor Baker, seriously so.
Posted by MJ at 12:42 PM