Saturday, February 13, 2010

State of Double-Mindedness: Ontological Conflicts


If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. . . he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

James 1:5-6

As I evaluate new clients, I mentally place their emotional distress or psychological problems on a continuum. On the far right end of this continuum are those whose lives have been going pretty well. They are surprised by the development of a psychological condition. They haven't made any recent changes, they like their job, their children are doing well, and the marriage is strong. As I listen to their list of new symptoms, I see a biological illness. This is the right end of the continuum; the presenting issue is primarily a physical condition.

At the far left end of the continuum are individuals whose lives are undergoing significant change. These clients' life stress scores are very high(for more information about this, please see below). They have been undergoing difficulties for awhile and now feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and helpless. I can sense their desperation and frustration. Their reported symptoms do not match well with a condition of a mental disorder, instead their psychological problems seem to be based on a situational predicament.

It is this left end of the continuum I would like to focus on for the next few weeks.

There is a common theme to situational problems. It is this: clients' problems often are rooted in ontological confusion. Let me explain. Ontology is the philosophical study of the state of being or existence. In other words, each of us have unconsciously or deliberately defined the nature of ourselves and the basic fabric of our lives. This definition either isn't working well or is conflicted. For example, a PETA volunteer who works in at a butcher shop probably isn't very happy. This individual's work life is in conflict with his core belief that that all life, even an animal's, is sacred. Many people have similar ontological conflicts, but either don't recognize the psychological discord or don't know what to do about the clash of beliefs.

Today's verses address this double-minded state. This Scripture calls us to live a life that is in agreement with itself. Over the next few weeks I would like to explore five ontological issues to help us untangle our internal conflicts.


Drs. Holmes and Rahe, psychiatrists at University of Washington Medical School, have devised a list of stressful events. An individual who scores over a 150 is at risk of experiencing an illness. For more information or to take the Life Stress Scale, please visit the following link:

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I look forward to the upcoming articles.