I have been
down the rough road of drug addiction, to the point of trashing my credit, my memory,
even what would seem like a bad thing - my pride. Sloth had filled my life and I can
sum up the past 4 years with just a few words on a piece of paper I call my resume.
Most of them are what you would call lower level jobs such as clerk or my current one
as helper. The worst part is I have been going to the doctor for help such as anti-psychotics
and anti-depressants only to find out that most of my problems were due to physical pain in
my inner ear. When I typed "catholic bipolar" in a Google search, your chastity site was
one of the first things to pop up. You talked about the vanity of new age anti-depressants
which I associate now with a complex set of words to make people seem like they know how to
I have yet to try [anything else] due to my unconscious desire to agree
with my therapist and the habit of saying "I’m doing fine" to any question of “How are you
I have found that reading aloud in AA groups really helps my verbal skills,
but I still lack the strength it takes to tell people how to deal with me so that I may be
productive in work or social settings.
My question is this: What is money? I feel as if it is nothing more than
paper or 1s and 0s on a computer screen.
hat is money? At first glance,
it might seem that this question should be referred to an economics professor.
But the context of your question points to the unconscious basis of your symptoms,
and so as a signifier your question is worth its weight in gold. I will clarify
the meaning of this in the rest of my answer.
money is a signifier that points to things that have actual value. Things that
have actual value can be practical things that directly sustain the body (such as food,
water, and clothing), practical things that help to sustain daily life, and more
abstract things (such as art, jewelry, etc., as well as services) that affect the quality of
In primitive societies,
things of value (i.e., commodities) are traded for other things of value; this process
of trading is called barter, and in such a system there is no need for
In more sophisticated
economic systems, certain commodities such as gold and silver can also be signifiers
of value, such as when gold and silver are minted as coins. As coins, the gold and
silver relinquish their function as commodities (that is, raw materials for metal work)
and take on the function pointing to the value of other things.
As a further economic
step, paper money replaces coinage, and base metals, such as copper, replace precious
metals, such as gold and silver, in coinage. Thus the paper money, along with base-metal
coins, become signifiers of gold and silver. That is, even though the paper currency
and the base metal coins have almost no intrinsic value, they signify value because
they point to the value of other things.
In the current technological
age, electronic transactions frequently replace paper money and coins. In this case,
the 1s and 0s to which you refer are signifiers with no tangible physical
The Psychological Problem
Thus, the truth is that
money as a signifier has no real value; its value is in its function of pointing to other
things—and it’s at this point that the psychological problems with money develop.
Signifiers are neither
good nor bad. For example, money in itself is not bad, but the love of money, as Saint
Paul said, is a root of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Words, too, are signifiers, and words can
be used to bless or to curse, to edify life or to defile it. Thus any signifier can be
used for a good or for a perverted purpose.
The word pervert comes
from the Latin word to turn; thus a perversion turns you away from something; in
short, a perversion misses the point.
The psychological reason
for perversion is found in the symbolic realm. When all
things are valued as having been created by God to serve love,
then there is no perversion because the true point of the thing is being fulfilled; but
when, as Saint Paul describes in chapter 6 of his first letter to Timothy, things lose
their symbolic reference to God and take on a reference to self-gratification, everything
collapses into corruption and false beliefs—and love is defiled.
Thus, without pointing to
proper symbolic value, money and words only serve psychological and spiritual perversion.
For example, as you said, in your disordered state of life your life has become reduced
to just a few words on a piece of paper.
The Failure of a Father
Now, in your case, the reason
for this perversion can be found in the failure of your father. Even though you did not
mention your father in your question, you did mention several signs of
unconscious anger at a “missing” father:
addictions, a lack of respect for money, a lack of value for your own talents, and a lack of
respect for the words to protect your dignity.
Your father has failed you as a
father in his failure to teach you the proper symbolic value of life; whatever he points to,
he misses the point about your needs and about serving God. Moreover, in your anger at your
father you have been trapped in the unconscious desire to
send yourself to hell in order to hurt him for hurting you.
Your healing will begin when you recognize this unconscious anger
and the reason for it, and when you learn to value all things for their service to
And now we come to a final
question: How much is something worth? Well, it’s worth what you will pay to acquire it
for yourself. In your case, you asked me a question about money, but it led us into the reason
(unconscious anger at your father) for your psychological problems. Thus, in pointing you to
the real problem, your question has shown its real value, for, if you now seek to acquire
healing, your question is worth its weight in gold.
A book that provides much needed clarity about
two topics often misunderstood in contemporary culture.
Most of us carry more anger in our hearts than we are capable of admitting even to
ourselves, and as a result we often feel stuck in a lack of spiritual progress. This
book, written in a clear, non-theological language, explains the deep psychology of
anger and forgiveness and shows how to turn the emotional wounds of daily life into
Psychological Healing in the Catholic Mystic Tradition
A treasure of a resource for psychological
and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites is now available at your fingertips
in book form with a comprehensive index.
Psychological defenses help to protect us from
emotional injury, but if you cling to the defense mechanisms that were created in your
childhood and carry them on into adulthood—as most everyone does unconsciously—your quest
for spiritual healing will be thwarted by overwhelming resentments and conflicts.
Still, God has been trying to show you that there is more to life than resentment and
conflict, something so beautiful and desirable that only one thing can resist its pull:
So now, and in every moment until you die, you will have a profound choice between your
enslavement to old defenses and the beauty of God. That decision has to come from you.
You will go where you desire.