One of my patients, suffering from depression came to me few days ago said she had suicidal ideations and self harming thoughts. I’m not a psychology related specialist, but I did chat with her for 2.5 hours which is 5 times longer than sessions I would normally do.
I asked her what the problem is, expecting that it wouldn’t be a single issue. The patient was not struggling financially or had any troubles in her family. In fact, she was wealthy, has a happy family, is well-educated, and has no traumatic experiences in the past. She’s been to a psychologist, but she told me the psychologist told her he can’t solve her issues.
The problem was a complex sense of religious guilt, related to her thoughts about men other than her husband. Basically she was feeling guilty of thinking about other men because she was Christian. When I first heard about this, I thought to myself ‘is that even a problem?’. Then I thought people are all different, depending on what environments we grew up in, or what belief we have, we look at problems in different perspectives. Because I’m not a Christian, I’m not a woman, and I’m not married, I might be thinking in different perspective.
I then thought, is religion the root cause of the problem? if it is, is there a chance that I can get her to stop believing in Christianity? Of course, I don’t stand a chance of making someone stop believing in their own religion, but I still decided to go ahead and tell stories about Christians I know, who have done similar sinful commitments. Then I told her its normal.
We are all human beings. I see all humans as one of the animal species. Marriage is something that humans made, its not natural. Some animals mate with multiple opposite sex animals, which is natural. Also, I see religion as something that was made by human. What is considered as sin in religion, is normal in nature.
We may look different to our ancestors, but our brain hasn’t evolved too far from our ancestors. Our brain still functions in a similar way to our ancestors. Which means we still have our instincts which may be thought as sin in religion.
Of course there’s no right or wrong in nature. I’m not saying religion is bad. Even though religion may be made by humans, it still helped humans rule good and bad when we formed a society. What I want to get across is that religion could give people peace in mind, but it’s not the answer to everything in our lives.
Anyway, I told her that we are blessed. There are people who still starve to death, who are too poor to get education, who are single and feels lonely, and people who have disabilities. I had none of those, and she also had none of those. Her problem was beyond the basic needs of human.
At the end of the day, she felt much happier and she has been coming in the clinic to give me some presents. I know the problem hasn’t been solved, but I do know that I cleared out the way for her to come to the realization that her sense of guilt may be a problem in our society, but is a normal thing for a human.
We are blessed to have family, education, and enough support from our relatives and friends. But as humans, we want more as we achieve them. Is that bad? no its normal, and in fact, its one of the things that drives us to push ourselves to our goals.