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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Questions and Answers

Especially around the anniversary of 9-11 we keep hearing about good coming out of evil acts. How can that be? How can good ever come from evil, especially, in particular, evil sexual acts when they have changed someone’s life forever?

 
Imagine the most evil act conceivable: humanity kills the only Son of God. What good comes of it? The redemption of humanity.

But, from the psychological nuance of your question, your words cloak a dark personal conflict that must be brought to light before you can truly comprehend the meaning of redemption.

Psychological trauma, especially childhood sexual abuse, can leave you with a confused mass of ordinary human emotions. But this confusion can feel so painful that your primary recourse to save your life will be to “get away” from all the emotional pain by hiding it with psychological defenses. It’s a sad thing for this to happen because you turn your back on divine values such as love and forgiveness; but then, how could any child be expected to know about those divine values? Child sexual abuse is so serve and so damaging. How would the poor child even know to cry out to God? Still, it fulfills Christ’s warning that whoever wishes to save his life will lose it (Luke 9:24), for many children lose their “lives”—their dignity and their hope—in this way.

When those divine values of love, mercy, and forgiveness are absent from your life, you will find yourself in a living hell with recourse to nothing but empty human weapons of resentment, anger, and revenge. Moreover, the guilt from craving those weapons will linger as an unconscious secret that you will struggle to hide from others for the rest of your life. And you will run from it yourself.

If, through the process of spiritual purgation, you have the courage to face all those emotions related to the abuse, tease them apart, and understand how each one affects your behavior, then there is real hope. Otherwise you will spend the rest of your life reacting automatically and blindly to your emotions, blaming others and feeling victimized.

Curiously enough, some adults who were abused as children even develop fantasies of being martyred, believing that their living hell is a form of martyrdom. But, in truth, all that pain results from the lack of divine values in their lives, and the fantasy of martyrdom is just a form of self-hatred, a desperate attempt to hide ugly reality behind a facade of superstitious devotional practices.

True martyrdom, after all, sacrifices even life itself in its love for the divine. Therefore, just as countless martyrs in the church have given courage to countless others through the ages because of real love, even now, because of real love, good can still come from evil.

Here, then, is the psychological meaning of redemption. Your original lack of divine values can be remedied now by your freely turning to the love you did not even know in the first place. All you need to do now is admit—to yourself, and to God—the emotional pain that you have been keeping secret all along, and then promise to do anything it takes to remedy your mistake of hiding that pain. In this humble admission, you redeem your emotional pain by giving it a meaningful place in your psychological and spiritual growth, and so you bring good out of evil.

 

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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.

 

Disasters and Trauma by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. explains how an event is traumatic because it disrupts your previously secure sense of self. Consider that wild animals live with a constant, sharp awareness of perpetual danger, yet most people live with a naive—and deceptive—sense of safety and security to the point of denying their basic vulnerability and fragmented sense of self. So when something disastrous happens, the psychological damage from the shattering of your illusions about life and identity may be more problematic than any physical damage.

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Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.