This article was originally written for my fifth wife, Świętosława, to help her and others like her wrestle with and overcome a number of psychological issues caused by abnormal childhood development (an abusive father) that were arresting her own spiritual development and seriously destabilising our family.
As a pastor, husband of three wives, and father of seven, I am naturally very interested and concerned about the psychological makeup of men and women. There are, to be sure, many views of psychology, each with their own philosophical biases and based on certain assumptions about life and the origin of man. Most are familiar with Freud (an evolutionist) and Jung (a mystic) who are well known and equally well studied by those in psychiatry. Whilst at University I took a diversionary interest in Sigmund Freud and Joseph Breuer and bought a library of his works under the influence of a good friend who was, at the time, completing his doctorate in Psychology, and made this an object of intense study. I was later to shift my interest and sympathy to the Jungian School of thought which more closely reflected my earlier beliefs. Not until I became a Christian did I become convinced that the only really true psychiatry manual was the Bible and that the only true 'normal' human being is one who has found wholeness in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). I therefore work from the assumption that no one is really on the path to normality until they are saved and nobody acquires psychological wholeness until thay have been sanctified. Therefore it is difficult to say who is really 'normal', save perhaps the Son of Man Himself who was without sin. I therefore take the view that everyone is 'abnormal' but that some are more abnormal than others.
It would be untrue to say, however, that I have not been influenced to some degree by secular psychologists. These days I do not consult the works of Freud who, in my view, like a very large number of psychiatrists, had major psychological (not to mention spiritual) problems of his own. I also little consult the works of Jung who, because of his occult dabbling, undoubtedly opened himself up to impure spiritual forces and which led him to formulate theories of psychology that are undoubtedly occultic in nature, and therefore harmful to the Christian. But one man who I do have the deepest respect for is American psychologist Arthur Janov, who is purely scientific and secular in his approach, and the author of a number of famous books such as The Primal Scream, The Anatomy of Mental Illness, The Feeling Child, and The Primal Revolution, whose conclusions I believe largely harmonise with the biblical view of the human psyche. For those interested, I recommend starting with the Primal Scream which, though a large tome, is really quite riveting. What most impressed me about him was not only his recognition that homosexuality was a psychological illness but his success in curing it. His methodologty is simplicity itself and consists, for the most part, of identifying what he calls 'primal pains' that have been repressed, often very early in life, enabling neurotics to eliminate them, gain awareness of their true feelings and needs, and so lead a more satisfying life.
The explosion in psychiatry in our Western society is, many argue, symptomatic of the cultural neurosis caused by abandoning biblical values. People are heading towards psychiatric clinics as in no time previously. Ours is a desperately sick society. Nor surprisingly, therefore, the institution of marriage is under such pressure and why in polygamy - which I sometimes call 'ultra-marriage' - has such an abysmal record in the West. The problems are multi-faceted to be sure but are made worse by the fact that one group of sick people neurotics is judging another group of neurotics. The Christian/Messianic polygamy community is polarised into two camps - neurotic men and neurotic women, with a few balanced and sane men and women in the middle who are loathed equally by both, biting the hands that are trying to help them.
Western men and women have learned, as a result of political and social pressure, and increasingly physical and psychological abuse, to bury and suppress their true feelings, covering them up with layers of sophisticed self-justification and reacting with recrimination of others. Only yesterday I went into a website and read the articles of a minister. They were brilliant, theologically accurate, well written, persuasive, and engaging. As an outsider knowing nothing about the man I would have been sorely tempted to support his work. The trouble was, I know this man personally - beneath the dazzling brilliance, however, is a neurotic. He is pyschologically unbalanced, abusive, and ... dangerous. But you would never have thought so reading what he wrote. You see, Westerners have learned to acquire sophisticated skills of repression. They have learned how to 'conveniently' separate the mind from the heart and spin illusion. They may even know enough about psychology to create the illusion that they are able to see clearly enough discern psychoses and neuroses in others whilst concealing that they are the most psychotic and neurotic of them all. I have seen it time and time again. These people are living out symbolic and disconnected lives and even though they appear be 'in touch' you only have to be around them for a period of time to realise that they are, in truth, very sick indeed.
Why do people act in this way? What is the underlying cause? What so typically happens is that a person acts out symbolically by denying feelings. He or she acts out the feeling instead of actually feeling it for real. It's a kind of unconscious theatre. And that is why their problems and struggles never end - the feeling is never resolved. Instead, symbolic solutions are sought out. This is the root problem in homosexuality because homosexuals are trying to find a resolution to a problem involving a lack of true love by finding an outlet in sex. And I dare say that many men want to become polygamists because they subconsciously want to act out their neuroses through more sex. This is the problem with lesbianism and bisexuality - they are pathological because they are seeking heart-love through a sexual substitute. And it can never be found that way because true love is independent of sex. Sex is an appendage to, or an unfolding of, true love, not its substitute.
We live in a society where abuse is common place. Domestic violence, child abuse - all of these things are on the rise and have reached epidemic proportions. Between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10 children have been sexually molested by their parents or siblings. In some societies it is as high as 1 in 2! In Egypt 99% of women have been sexually harassed. Add to this all the physical abuse that's about and what you have is a society where up to (if not more than) half the population is psychologically ill.
In the Christian/Messianic polygamy community alone over the last few years I have counselled several husbands and wives whose marriages failed because they were the victims of abuse at home and which played itself out in their marriages. And whilst it is convenient for the anti's to blame polygamy for the high incidence of failure the truth is that it is cultural psychosis that is the killer. People are messed up inside.
Let me give you a case example. A girl is constantly beaten and threatened by her father. She becomes afraid of men, especially their touch. She becomes involved with weak, non-threatening, passive men, often homosexuals, who will neither touch nor threaten her. In this way she symbolically tries to resolve the fear of her father. But she is foredoomed to misery because she deprives herself of affection, of a real man - a real human being who could care for her. Her struggle, then, becomes one of trying to make these men care about her. But they cannot - they are too passive, too weak, too much in need of a caring parent themselves. If this woman, married to a weak man, should get a divorce, she will still unconsciously seek weak men, because her underlying fear of men is unresolved. She will be in a constant struggle to make her new weak mate strong, and fearful that he will be.
If this woman could have felt her fear specifically with her father she would not have generalised it to all men. The problem is that her need for a good father remains and drives her constantly to find one, while her fear from the past pushes her to avoid strong men who could offer her protection and caring. She dominates the men she becomes involved with, not to 'castrate' them, but to keep them from becoming a 'bad' daddy, someone who could hurt her again. Finding a weak person is the symbolic solution. And she will go on finding weak men until the two feelings from the past - the need and the fear - are resolved.
Abused women are often attracted to polygamy because they see strong men in loving relationships with other women and reason that these men are 'safe'. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't - there are many brutes in this lifestyle who only exaccerabte neuroses because the abused wives see their 'fathers' in their husbands. But even if they are 'safe' they will be perceived as being anything but 'safe' simply because they are strong. Strong men are seen as threatening no matter whether they are good or evil though in practice they may swing from being trusting to being suspicious. The situation becomes compounded if the husband suffers from a neurosis himself (if he is from an abusive background) resulting in explosive situations, and an endless cycle of recrimination and conflict. And perhaps one of the most dangerous situations is when a neurotic person comes into possession of a little psychiatric knowledge and begins to interpret the actions of others through their own neurotic lens, colouring their world - their and world of others - with imaginary psychoses through self-projection. I have seen this happen many times too.
Because neurotics live out their feelings symbolically there are some readily identifiable traits in their behaviour. Thus a neurotic may always be starting new projects - starting afresh, as it were. The feeling being acted-out may be, 'Give me one more chance, Dad.' There are thousands of symbolic struggles. Joining clubs or on-line communities to get the family he never had. Organising parties so he doesn't feel left out. Constantly being on the go to keep from finding out that there is no place to go - most neurotics are nervous bundles of energy incapable of relaxation. Delaying payment of bills as a way of getting others to take care of you. Getting everyone to give you advice as a way of saying, 'I'm lost, take care of me.' Studing history as a way of finding out about your past. Buying old houses or cars as a way of resurrecting yourself. Constant talking as a way to avoid the feeling of not being worth listening to. Acting badly to give people a reason for disliking you. Getting sick as a way of being taken care of. Constantly saving money to feel safe. Always being in a rush so that you are never 'all there'. Acting dumb as a way of saying, 'Explain it to me, Mummy'. You fill in the blanks with your own struggle, with 'Mein Kampf'. This may be difficult because acting-out usually keeps one from being aware of what he is doing. It is automatic and unconscious, because the feeling is unconscious. When a person is constantly sweet, as if to say, 'Be nice to me, Daddy,' he usually has no separate awareness of his so-called personality. He began acting this way from his earliest years, and his 'personality' is second nature.
This acting-out is always against the feelings - a way of keeping feelings down. The aim of acting-out is to produce what could not be felt and said. The solution is to simply invite Yah'shua (Jesus) into your situation, feel and describe the pain and hurt, and then let Yah'shua (Jesus) in to heal it. The fear of most neurotics is to admit that, in a way, their whole way of being has been a lie - an understandable lie, but a lie none-the-less. And when you allow a lie to control your life, you have immediately opened up a demonic pathway.
Neurosis is a threatrical performance whose purpose is to shield pain. Many abused women turn to feminism and to man-hating as a way to protect that pain. Others simply withdraw within themselves and are like frightened lambs. When confronted with abuse we have a choice to either react with anger/rage/hate and open a major demonic pathway, or we can react in the opposite way and try to be artifically loving/kind/sweet and reclusive as some form of self-atonement. And then, of course, there are all the various combinations inbetween. In either case, healing is needed, though the latter is much easier to treat than the former. Both are, however, treatable and healable. It requires only trust in Christ with some guidance from a mature, whole counsellor.
Many neurotics interestingly turn to psychiatry as a career in the hope of healing themselves and end up doing their patients as much harm as themselves. It's not unlike a soul plagued by sin and guilt becoming a minister. I know a number of very neurotic men and women who have created websites dedicated to exposing people who 'threaten' their neuroses, especially strong men and women whom they categorise into one group as being universally 'bad' even though they may contain all sorts. They can be quite sophisticated and persuasive in their writing and yet they constantly betray their neuroses when they get up close to people. Not surprisingly, then, such tortured souls are quite seclusive so that they can protect their feelings. When around other people - both the whole as well as other neurotics - they can fall to pieces. Many polywolves, as well as some of their victims, are like this. Some have created very elaborate theological shields behind which to hide their true selves.
I have long said that theological-correctness is not the proof of being in Christ. To be in Christ is to truly possess His Spirit and thus His wholeness and shalom (peace). A person who is in Christ may be said to have 'arrived', and one who is free of neuroses is permanently recovered and not in the need of maintaining an endless posture of apparent recovery. One who is in Christ, and not just wearing Him as a rain jacket to hide what is actually unhealed inside, is not fighting anymore. Such souls are yielded and submitted. The neurotic may talk of being submitted and yielded but his behaviour - which is one of constant posturing and aggression - reveals otherwise. Usually they are trying to divert attention away from themselves (their hurts, fears, and unwholeness) by finding a suitable object of attack, be it a person (a strong man or woman who threatens their illusion) or an abstract philosophy (like 'patriarchy', for example) which is equally as threatening. Again, it must be remembered, that neurotics make little distinction between the 'good, the bad, and the ugly', all of whom they may simply lable as 'cultic' simply because they are 'strong'. One must seek to be aware of these things when talking with people.
Our problem in the West is that there is a national neurosis at work which permeates every level of our culture. It is a culture which has largely ceased to feel in a compassionate way because people themselves are dissociated from their feelings and are simply acting them out symbolically. Instead of being driven by the core self they are driven by a series of images which have acquired an artificial life of their own. As one psychiatrist said of neurotics: "The emotional pain one feels is not coming from the memory of the event [which caused the pain] but rather from the interpretation which was given the event." In other words, neurotics tell themselves: "If I believe the lie, it may as well be the truth because the consequence will be much the same." Dr. Smith continues: "No one, including myself, is capable of talking me out of the lie. I will only be free when I hear the truth from the One who is Truth."
That is why conventional psychiatry is limited in healing. It may, as in Primal Therapy, help you identify a lie, and may even enable partial healing, but complete healing is only possible through the Healer, Yah'shua (Jesus). Neurotics can be, and very often are, dangerous people simply because they interpret the present through the past, including other people's lives with whom they have made no personal connection simply because they are not capable of doing so. I have known, and even been married, to people who have been around me but have never known me (or my other wives, for that matter) because they viewed the world and the people they interacted with, through neurotic lenses. All the information that they obtained through events became processed through this neurotic grinding-machine. In reading the writings of such people I never ceased to be amazed how two people living in the same environment can see two totally different worlds. And yet the explanation is not difficult. The bottom-line issue is between truth and falsehood.
Most neurotics cannot tell the difference. They sincerely believe that lies are truth because they have been living this way all their lives. The truth may take a very long time to distill upon them and this will be in proportion to their courage to face the truth and their willingness to embrace it. The problem with the latter is that the truth often hurts, and if they are neurotics fleeing from pain, they will by all means attempt to avoid that pain by retreating into their 'comfortable lie' where they can feel 'safe', like the crab burying under the sea-bed at the sign of danger or the proverbial ostrich burrying its head in the sand.
It is a well known fact that when an historical event is triggered in a neurotic, it transfers its pain into the present event that has triggered it. Thus if a strong man says something that reveals a lie in a neurotic that may well serve as a trigger, making a connection with some past abusive event. The neurotic may then, without knowing what she is doing, transfer the pain of the historical abuse into the person trying to help her and perceive him as a threat and, utlimately, as an enemy, unless she confronts the pain. True healing cannot happen until the lie is exposed with divine truth through the Holy Spirit into the present event - into the here-and-now. Because Yah'shua (Jesus) is "alef/alpha and taw/omega" (Revelation 1:8) - past, present and future - He is able to simultaneously enter the past of our pain, heal it in the present, and secure our future. He is the "way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
Thus it has been that many people have visited our home, or even lived in it, and seen it both as it actually is and as it is interpreted through various neuroses, and the resultant testimonials are, not surprisingly, entirely different. Whoever you are, however Christian, you are going to be seen through different lenses. You can never please everyone, and certainly never a neurotic. You can show kidness, tenderness, and care and yet there will always be people who interpret these things in a sinister light because of their deep-seated inner fears. Neurotics perceive the world through 'logical truth' rather then 'experiential knowledge' because their feeling-life is handicapped. Everything is 'analysed' rather like an historian sifting through the dead relics of the past. Everybody knows that there is a diference, for instance, between live movie footage from an historical event, and the written account of a dead journalist who can no longer be consulted. Talking to someone 'who was there' is infinitely more revealing that to someone who is reporting second- or third-hand. A neurotic, even though he may have been at a place physically, is nevertheless only 'seeing' it with his physical eyes because he did not - because he could not - interact with his soul, because his soul was subverted by the lies spun in his mind and heart as a result of painful experiences from the past.
I have personally taken an interest in studying the psychology of SS Einsatzgruppen or 'Extermination Squads' from the Second World War. These people became brutal killing machines as we all know and yet their first encounter was about as traumatic as trauma can be. Because their first deed of mass murder was so horrific, in order to survive they were forced to bury it deep and re-interpret it by believing the lie that they were doing 'good' in 'cleansing' Europe from a 'menace'. That guaranteed mass demonisation. Many of those SS men went insane, some committed suicide. The survivors to this day are in deep denial of what they did and are likely too terrified to deal with the truth and the horrific pain they caused.
One should always be careful, then, in dealing with victims of abuse or trauma. They are unbelievably fragile even if at times they give the appearance of toughness. Their toughness is just a coping mechanism and must be recognised as such. Their interpretation of current events and of people is usually very distorted and biased because they are interpreting them through the past even if there is no objective connection between them and the past. Many patriarchs have married women from such backgrounds and then been overwhelmed by the tornado that suddenly struck their families because in a polygamous environment truth is confronted as in no other relationship, and that is always 'threatening' to a neurotic. And when you have a wife and a husband who are neurotics, you are virtually guaranteed a Hiroshima.
No man who suffers from neurosis should be a polygamist - ever - until he is delivered. And he should probably not be a monogamist either. No woman who suffers from neurosis should ever become a polygamist wife either unless she is willing to open her life to her husband and sister-wives. And if she is going to do that, she must have confidence in them, and that means getting to know them well before making a committment. It is also important to be very careful in how we apportion blame. Abuse victims are not responsible for their abuse but they are responsible for the way in which they have reacted to it. No matter how 'understandable' certain reactions are, that is not an excuse for covering up sin, and indeed is a retroactive thing to do because it is sabotaging healing. A neurotic is a person who has lies stored in his experiential knowledge, with demonic links, and has little choice but to act out accordingly or live a life of constant struggle and self-effort. Some neurotics are, in my view, real heroes and heroines in trying not to let the tidal wave of inner self-destruction wreck havoc on others and often seek seclusion to avert that. Others simply give up and let go and are walking flame-throwers, burning everyone up in their path. In the end, they end up alienating everyone who has been burned. But not until they have made a decision to recognise that they are living a lie and have (likely) demonic problems can they be helped both to be whole for themselves as well as to have healthy relationships with others. Until Christ has been allowed into the pain areas, and not just in those areas which are 'comfortable', they will simply continue hurting themselves and others. It is not, moreover, something they are likely to be able to do alone, but need experienced believers who know how to handle such things.
There is hope for those suffering from neuroses but only they can make the decision to be healed and to take the risks in dealing with lie-based experiences. Because so much fear usually surrounds neuroses the sufferer must also be willing to find a Christian counsellor whom he will trust and to whom he will yield. And this can often be the hardest part of all. Having had, and ministered to, wives with various neuroses - including one who had chronic neurosis and who could not, for various reasons, be helped - I have learned somewhat of this psychological illness and how to minister to them. It is not easy and can often take great time and patience, not to mention physical strength and endurance. If you marry a neurotic wife in polygamy, be prepared to devote much time and to experience psychic draining. In my worst experience of this phenomenon I became so utterly drained and ill that I could not proceed any further, and required a lengthy recovery time. It's under such circumstances that experienced backup ministry can become very important. Of course, I have had to learn as I have gone along, made a few mistakes along the way, and am still learning.
My desire is to see this kind of ministry firmly in place in the Christian/Messianic polygamy community because without it many more tragedies are going to result, especially in Western countries which are themselves deep in a deep cultural psychosis for abandoning their Christian roots. With increasing numbers of sick people in both the churches (assembles) and polygamy community, we need to be better informed and equipped to help. I hope this brief introduction will be a spur in that direction.
 Dr. Arthur Janov, The Primal Revolution, Abacus, London: 1972
 Ed. M. Smith, Beyond Tolerable Recovery, Theophostic Ministries, Campbellsville, KY, 1997 - a visit to this website www.theophostic.com is well worth it. The techniques used here are employed by NCAY and its associate ministries like this one