After I graduated from medical school and completed of a family practice residency, I found myself well-prepared to treat broken bones, deliver babies, do appendectomies and tonsillectomies and respond to heart attacks and pneumonia.
But I found myself ill-prepared to treat the most common condition that afflicted my patients: the affliction of deep-seated, head-pounding, chest-tightening, gut-wrenching, backbreaking, exhausting belief that one’s personal identity is based on an internalized sense of personal shame, unworthiness and worthlessness. During my entire medical education, I had never recognized the extent of this human condition.
In most people’s lives, I observed adverse childhood experience — ACEs — resulting from an environment lacking in love, forgiveness, meaning and purpose in life. This resulted in an environment of jealousy, envy, strife and resentment.
These sentiments provide the information that form a belief about personal identity. A belief is a state of being based on information obtained from words, philosophy and from relational experiences that are received and processed by the brain and heart.
So how does a person develop this belief after ACEs about their individual personal identity? It comes from the information given to them by the words and philosophy they hear and from the relational experiences their brains and hearts have been exposed to during the growth and development of their person: spirit, soul and body. This includes the information from the words and philosophies and relational experiences from their genetic endowment, families, religious institutions, schools, communities, occupations, society and government. Each one of these contributes to a person’s sense of personal identity and is responsible for fostering individuals’ belief that they are shameful and worthless.
Since words, philosophies and relational experiences convey adverse information from ACEs, I have concluded that an ideal treatment for this human condition should be based on information and knowledge that opposes ACEs. Words, philosophies and relationship that are:
• loving, forgiving and imparting meaning and purpose.
• free, simple and equally available to all.
• adherent to the central tenets that an individual’s identity is their spirit and soul not their body.
• permanently connected by words and relationship to the source of their creation.
• created in the form and likeness of their own creator.
• unconditionally loving without obligation to perform or succeed.
• a blessing.
• giving individual meaning and purpose.
• giving individual power and authority to live and overcome all adversity.
• giving the freedom to fail or succeed, neither of which define their identity.
• forgiving for all wrong doings, past, present and future.
• without fear of personal judgment.
• giving personal trust, confidence and assurance that this information will never change and will be the same yesterday, today and forever.
• never leaving nor forsaking them.
I have found that these evidence-based criteria for the treatment of ACEs are incorporated in the beliefs and practical application of Christianity. Christianity is based on the transformative power of faith from belief based on the words and philosophy of God and on an interpersonal relationship with God through Jesus. Its application promises:
“I will give you one heart and a new spirit, I will take from you your hearts of stone and give you tender hearts of love for God” — Ezekiel 11:19.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” —2 Corinthians 5:17.
I have observed that for those who choose to take this treatment of Christianity, their success in changing their belief about their personal identity is equal to the degree to which they choose to renew their minds to the authority of God’s words and to the degree they value their daily relationship with Jesus. The choice is theirs.
Dr. Mark Paul Bishop, is a family physician in Claremore. He has practiced medicine in Wisconsin and Oklahoma for 47 years.
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