Finally, Pargament et al. . The notion of having a personal relationship with God was picked up and elaborated upon by religious actively seek out and maintain close psychological proximity to God in an effort to extend. The question, along with two others, is part of the Cognitive Reflection They'd been induced to put faith in intuition, and the Lord appeared. actualisation of the belief that God loves and accepts them, deepening their trust in responsibility and freedom) and their self-image and interpersonal relations. Counsellors' or therapists' awareness of their own relationships with others.
It was composed in jail as I was trying to understand what had hit me. My nine year old marriage dissolved, my finances were in a shocking condition, my family estranged, my reputation ruined, my personal freedom severely curtailed. Slowly, the realisation that it was all my fault, that I was sick and needed help penetrated the decades old defences that I erected around me.
This book is the documentation of a road of self-discovery. It was a painful process, which led to nowhere. I am no different - and no healthier - today than I was when I wrote this book. My disorder is here to stay, the prognosis is poor and alarming. It is my contention that narcissism is the mental epidemic of the twentieth century, a plague to be fought by all means. Narcissistic love is directed towards a misdirected impression of the self, and since narcissists can only love impressions, they are not capable of loving themselves.
Narcissistic love is always exchangeable with other emotions such as awe, respect, admiration and attention. When these actions are provoked in others - the others become loveable and loved. Thus, the narcissist's basic requirement is satisfied Vaknin As in the case with the other, the narcissists go through the same cycle in their relationship with God but continue to pretend to love God and to follow God Narcissists become God 'by observing God's commandments, following God's instructions, loving, obeying, succumbing, merging, communicating, or even defying God'; They become God 'by the proxy of his relationship with God'.
God is first idealised, then devaluated, then abused and 'one wonders if even God Himself can escape this classic pattern of behaviour of the narcissist' Vaknin Thus, from a theological point of view, a narcissist wants to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, admired, much discussed, and awe inspiring.
God resembles everything the narcissist ever wants to be - an idol Vaknin The experience of our humanness depends on our self-knowledge and the experience of ourselves. The difference between a healthy self-love and a distorted self-love lies in the ability to tell reality from fantasy and the ability to empathise and to love others Vaknin The narcissist, incapable of true self-love, has an unhealthy and distorted idea of self-love as well as a distorted experience of the self Vaknin But what is proper self-love really and what may we learn from Scripture?
This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: However, this is a misreading of what it actually says. We are not commanded to love our neighbour and ourselves, but as ourselves.
The Effects of Faith on Personality Characteristics
In other words, the statement naturally assumes that we have a certain desire for our own wellbeing, and the command is to have an equal concern for the wellbeing of others. Self-love is not a virtue that Scripture commends, but one of the facts of our humanity that it recognises and tells us to use as a standard.
For the purpose of this article and the proposed notion of an integrated self-love, agape, philia and eros need to be defined. Self-love and agape, philia and eros Love can take on the form of agape, philia, and eros.
Agape, philia, and eros are forms of love that we experience in everyday life, which give a specific meaning to the many relationships that we find ourselves in. But we have to determine the meaning of each of these forms of love in order to understand how relationships are affected by these specific kinds of love and how self-love fits into the bigger picture of our self-consciousness and our understanding of self-love Wood In Kittel's Theological dictionary of the New Testamentagape is described as 'God's special love for an individual', and the noun agape expresses the 'love that makes distinctions, choosing its object and holding to it … a free act, definitely chosen by the subject'.
Agape is specially seen in God's love, the love of one on high, exalting those of low degree humanity and creation. Agape is a form of sacrificial giving. It is God's way to humanity. It is God's grace, God's unselfish love, and it is given freely by God. Agape is sovereign in relation to its object and is directed to the good for those we stand in relationship with; it creates value in its object.
There is no such thing as a good agape and a bad agape - there is only God's agape Wood In Kittel's Theological dictionary of the New Testamentphilia is defined as liking or caring, 'as of gods for men, of friend for friends, the love that is given to all kinds of human beings' a love 'from which a man can excuse himself, not an irresistible urge or frenzy'. Vine in his Expository dictionary says: The use of philia in Peter's answers and the Lord's third question Jn.
Fieser and Dowden n. The view that Christian ethics has been diminished by an eros-based ethics also exists Nygren This means that more emphasis is placed on personal happiness or fulfilment. Human action is evaluated by the degree to which it leads to happiness of the self, fulfilment of the self, by possessing something, whether that something is God, a fellow human being or some other reality.
Eros turned inward results into selfish desires and wishes, and eros love becomes a demanding, self-centred, and needy self-love. Self, self-love and 'mind', 'emotions' and 'will' The focus on views on self in philosophy, psychology and theology reflects the difficulty experienced in describing the meaning of self in its full depth and breadth. The various views on self in the field of philosophy recognise the importance of the human ability to think and reflect, in the experiencing of self.
The mind seeks to understand through a process of reasoning what is experienced in terms of ourselves, others and the world around us.
What we experience as human beings of ourselves and of others can only be experienced through our senses and it stands to reason that the mind and its functions, in the process of endeavouring to understand what we experience, is closely linked to our ability to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. This process also brings our emotions and our will into play. Emotions such as, hurt, fear, anger, joy, happiness, and peace influence the mind's response Wood Although I agree with Descartes on the importance of humans' ability to think, and that this ability is closely linked with our experience of self, I want to emphasise that the experience of the self through the rational includes aspects such as feelings, perceptions etcetera.
The self, as viewed only as a thinking entity, results in a viewpoint of the self that becomes de-personalised, de-individualised, not having the quality of being an integrated self. A self that only consists of a thinking component negates feelings, senses and experiences. Without senses, experiences, feelings, etcetera, the idea of a personal identity is not possible and the self as a rational and relational being becomes a thinking-self with thought as its only attribute.
The rational side of the self is only one part of what constitutes the self. Pascal in Levin So too Locke with his emphasis on the mind, body and sensations working together in creating awareness of self; Hume with memory and one's sense of personal identity; Kant with the noumenal self, self-in-self, only to be experienced in its effect in our lives; Hegel with his dialectical self-experienced in differentiation, integration and action, and last but not least, Kierkegaard with his awareness of self, formed in the tension created in the experience of relationship.
It should be acknowledged that the ability to think, to reason, is of fundamental importance in experiencing self but it is always an ability that is closely linked and dependent upon so much more. It cannot be elevated to the only important reality in being human Wood In terms of the experience of an integrated self-love, mind, along with emotions and will is a core reality.
Although the mind works through reasoning it works closely with one's emotions and will but the mind is the part where all experiences are intellectually observed and where one consciously and unconsciously learns to deal with the inner as well as the outer world. The mind, by the process of reasoning and analysis, assists us to learn lessons about ourselves and makes us conscious about the world.
It stands to reason that everything we experience is fundamentally within the context of a specific relationship with something or someone. This relationship forms the context of the primary influence in the creation of an experience, but it is not the only influence in the creation of that specific experience. The whole net of relationships which we find ourselves in, in one way or another, influences our specific life-experiences, and thus also our experience of self.
The lack of an integrated viewpoint of the self clearly has dire consequences for the understanding of the relationships we have with God, other human beings, ourselves, and the universe. If we do not experience self, we cannot experience anything else. It is an ability that draws on and is influenced by our personhood as a holistic experiential experience of past and present realities and future anticipations.
Our evaluations, our perceptions of what we experience, are fundamental not only to how we relate to ourselves but to everybody and everything, God included Wood In the light of the above, the biblical teaching that God's love towards humans and all of creation is realised within the context of a covenant relationship, is a core truth.
Love in Scripture is always within clearly defined relationships governed by certain distinctive responsibilities. Interpretations of the statement in Matthew The first would then have the implied meaning of 'You shall love your neighbour just as you are to love yourself'; the second, 'You shall love your neighbour, understanding that you shall first learn what it means to love yourself'; and the third, 'You shall love your neighbour as you already do love yourself'.
Views recognising self-love as important in the lives of Christians - whether as a command, as desirable and necessary, or as a given fact of life - have met, and are still being met, with a strong current of thought that finds no legitimate place for self-love in Christian life.
In my opinion views that propagate self-love as a commandment and self-love as desirable or assumed very often flounder due to the poor theological milieu within which the interpretations are given - the latter often where great emphasis is placed on the interpretation of various texts in the Old and New Testament with deductions not guided by a satisfactory theological bedding for statements.
The questions raised by reflection on self-love in a Christian context cannot be satisfactorily answered by a mere stringing together of texts in a simplistic proof-text method, says Gulley As point of departure in the discussion of a biblical-theological foundation for self-love, I choose to focus on Matthew It is a core statement in many of the discussions on self-love and it reflects, in my opinion, the core of a theological underpinning for self-love.
The first that should be noted and considered in the forming of an understanding of the issue at hand is the context of Christ's answer. The law and the prophets In Matthew Responding to this question Jesus quotes from the Shema Dt.
But Jesus also added that these two commandments are the sum of all the law and the prophets. This double love command for God and neighbour is according to Brady the hermeneutical key in the understanding of Scripture. Jesus' answer indicates that he sees his statement on love - love of God and neighbour - revealing not only the main point of the 'law and the prophets' but its presupposition, its basis.
This immediately cuts off any interpretation of 'as yourself' as referring to the fact that it is natural and normal for humans to love themselves and that this becomes a kind of criterion for the love to be expressed in terms of the neighbour. Although it might be true that humans in general have a love of self, the spiritual milieu of Christ's statement, the root of the statement, is to be found in a defined relationship with God and neighbour.
The interpretation of love of God, neighbour, and self, has to be interpreted within the context of 'all the law and the prophets'.
The question posed to Christ and Christ's answer places the discussion of love squarely in this context. It is love understood and expected as revealed in the 'law and the prophets' - an understanding and expectation that has to conform to God's revealed understanding and expectation of what it should be and to which any expression of human self-love has to conform.
Self-love as a natural phenomenon does not, as experience teaches us, automatically express God's precepts for a life in relation to the 'neighbour' as given in the teachings reflected in the 'law and the prophets'. According to Donovanthe Torah or law Genesis - Deuteronomy is regarded as the most precious part of the Hebrew Scripture, and the prophets Isaiah - Malachi are the next most important.
They clearly reveal and explain the gift of love and the demand of God's love. Donovan further points us to the fact that Jesus, by referring to the law and the prophets, says that these commandments encapsulate the greatest wisdom in Scripture and a guide to God's will. By loving God and doing what God wants us to do, and by loving our neighbour, we are complying with God's law. Love of God and love of neighbor are quite different.
Love of God is manifested by acts of obedience and worship that grow out of reverence for God. Love of neighbor is manifested by acts of kindness that grow out of concern for the neighbor's need. Two commandments Christ describes 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind' as 'the great and first commandment' Mt. The two commandments - love of God and love of the neighbour - are clearly, as Barth The second of the two commandments also is no mere 'appended, subordinate and derivative command' Barth It is 'as important, of equal gravity', as Hill Quoting the second in addition to the first 'is in this instance not the fact that love to God includes love to our neighbour, which is true enough', says Lenski Barth is justified in writing: A true exposition can only speak of a genuinely twofold, i.
It has reference to God, but also to the neighbour. It has the one dimension, but also the other. It finds in the Creator the One who points it to this creature, fellow-man. And it finds in this creature, fellow-man, the one who points it to the Creator. Receiving and taking seriously both these references in their different ways, it is both love for God and love for the neighbour. The genuineness of the one without the other is suspect. Having said this, there is a second point concerning the relationship between the two commandments - an insight referred to by Barclay and by Schweizer - that needs to be highlighted.
Jesus not only limits the necessary commandments to two, but by fusing those two he also prescribes how to perform the first: Such a person lives continuously in the shadow of this command and continuously strives to realise in his or her life that which God expects of one living a life that acknowledges Him as Lord. This way of life reflects a love of self that acknowledges that the meaning and significance of life, the 'essence' of life, is to be found in living in a committed relationship with God.
Living in love Matthew Loving God and living according to His precepts are two sides of the same coin cf. God's precepts are love put in words; they define the duty of love in each of our spheres of responsibility as Christians Henry The 'instructions for life in Scripture give substance and definition to the basic law of love' McQuilkin Love of self reflects, in this context, not so much a commandment as an attitude concerning self that reflects an understanding and appreciation of oneself as a person living in the presence of God in an intimate relationship with God characterised by a love of God with all one's 'heart', 'soul' and 'mind' - a kind of love relationship that of necessity includes a love of one's 'neighbour' on the grounds that a love of God implies such a love.
The only commands are that of a love of God and of the neighbour. Love of self is an orientation of one's life towards God and neighbour because of the special relationship one finds oneself in, a relationship chosen by one and a relationship cherished by one. The radical nature of this love is to be seen in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and the fact that Jesus' love for us is, as Smedes His life, in essence, confronts us with a life that has fully lived the injunction to be 'holy' and 'perfect' as God is 'holy' and 'perfect' Lv.
He 'the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation' in whom 'the fullness of God was pleased to dwell' Col. It is a life characterised by renewal in the image of our Creator Col. The theological milieu of Matthew It is a humanising process with Christ as the example of what true humanity implies Heyns ; a humanising process that is dynamic and reaches its ultimate reality in the consummation at the end of all times Hoekema Against this background I now turn to a discussion of self-love as an integrated experience of love of self.
Towards an integrated self-love reading The route that I have taken has highlighted, firstly, the dilemma with the self-love concept. Narcissism, as pathology of love, was also brought into the discussion. The focus then shifted to self-love as a biblical concept with the meanings of such concepts as agape, philia, and eros and the self as 'mind', 'emotions' and 'will'.
Figure 1 sketches this experience by Wood The experience of love in everyday life is diverse and complex in nature. Consequently, emphases and nuances in the description of love are numerous.
A study of biblical statements on love reveals numerous insights that confirm these observations but there are also insights in biblical literature that add a dimension to the love experience not generally considered in everyday talk and study of love.
Biblical teaching on love brings into the discussion of love the statements that affirm that our love can never be independent from God because of our origin as humans in the creative act of God that has made humans those creatures that are able to respond to God's love in a unique way. This proposed concept of an integrated self-love highlights the fundamental difference between a healthy self-love and an unhealthy or narcissistic self-love. The difference, in essence, is to be found in the nature of the person's orientation in the various relationships was, is, and will be part of Wood In a healthy self-love, the experience of relationships is one of a sharing of our sense of self with others Lowen It is a giving of self without violation of personal integrity, an integrity which is formed and experienced in a healthy relationship with oneself as a result of reciprocal healthy interaction with others and with reality as such Fromm It implies an investment of self, a reality that is also uniquely portrayed in the biblical command to love our 'neighbour' as 'ourselves'.
A healthy self-love is the result of a self open to reality in a communicative, mutually-giving, receiving, and co-operative love relationship with everything and everybody Wood A narcissistic self-love does not display the basic characteristic of a self open to reality. It mirrors a person's experience of himself or herself that is the result of an implosion and a collapse of the personal meaning of all relationships.
Narcissism reflects not so much a true love of self than a love relationship with an image of self, a certain reflection of self, and thus portrays a lack of the true value of self Lowen Narcissism - with reference to Matthew The acceptance of self-love as one of the important and needed expressions of love in a Christian context does not negate the fact that there are unhealthy forms, skewed forms, of self-love.
Christians are not immune to numerable influences that could cause objectionable expressions of self-love. This, however, does not warrant dismissing the notion of self-love completely, as so often happened in the past, and still happens in our day and age. According to research done by Chemers, Hu, and Garcia optimistic students report lower levels of psychological stress and loneliness. Current research will hopefully model this as we show a positive correlation between optimism and faith.
Self-esteem Self-esteem provides insight to the belief a person holds about him or herself. High self-esteem is thinking that you are a worthwhile person. This is generally viewed as a healthy characteristic. However, there is a downside to high self-esteem.
Sometimes people with high self-esteem try to prove how much they can do or they take on tasks that cannot be finished. Such things lead to self-defeating behaviors. In many cases those with high self-esteem become aggressive in trying to defend themselves and then actually become susceptible to narcissism, which is an unhealthy self-focus and self-admiration Cloninger High self-esteem correlates with happiness. A recent study on college students provides some background information on self-esteem.
Bower describes the study done on college students who were paired into five person teams to work on a group decision making task and then ranked the contributions of everyone in their group. Most self-enhancers reported feeling much happier after the task and also scored much higher than their peers on self-importance, hostility, and condescension.
The results showed that self-enhancing students tend to have declining self-esteem when their academics did not meet their expectations Bower Faith Our studies will now shift to examine research on faith, or religion.
Since the time of Freud, psychologists have considered the psychological aspect of religion. Connections have been made and are continuously being made between the two. Freud proposed that people seek security in God that they once received as a child from their parents Gross People are seeking something that the world and individuals cannot offer. Since the time of Freud, more research has been made in this direction.
Similarly a harsh, overbearing, judgmental relationship with parents creates a negative view of God. Darlene Leatherwood investigated this relation between early parental interaction and perceptions of God. Some characteristics that would be demonstrated in their portrayal of God would be a less judgmental and more forgiving person. Leatherwood also found these people to be less likely to battle feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem. This research allows us to see themes of optimism and self-esteem begin to rise in relation to faith.
Maslow also discussed religion and science in his book Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences He described how science and religion were two separate entities but that they were beginning to merge. He describes three main stages in developing a belief system: Beliefs can be made on any level and kept on any level.
However something between the second and the third stage causes us to question whether beliefs and faith are the same thing.
Many times the words are used interchangeably, but do they mean the same thing? Allport suggests that after reaching the third stage, it is easy to see that faith is psychologically more complex than a simple belief So if faith is more than a simple belief, what exactly is faith?
Faith has been viewed in several different ways. People have faith in ideals, people, places, and even medicine. Brock had faith in the R. Brock had dedication and devotion, but the faith we are examining is of a different source. We will be examining the faith Freud said people looked for as adults.
The Bible is filled with countless stories of people of faith who trusted in God with every aspect of their life. This faith has allowed several people to persevere through hard times and to stay optimistic about the future.
It is this definition of faith that is of interest to this study. Results from a study on personal faith and religious state advocacy show a positive correlation between the two. Yamane did research hypothesizing that legislators with a high sense of faith will tend to support religious groups more than others. He created a survey with question about prayer, church attendance, and generosity to religious groups.
The connection between state legislatures showed the strongest connection among conservative religious groups. Some other interesting findings were that At the University of Texas, undergraduates participated in a study to examine the connection between the spiritual and psychological connections to physical wellness.
Adams and Bezner distributed a survey which measured spirituality, sense of coherence and perceived wellness. A study on college students was done. They were separated into two distinct groups one in which students were part of a Christian club or faith group and the other group compiled of students in sociology classes.
A questionnaire was administered containing questions based on demographics, stress, mastery, self-esteem, psychological and physical health, use of health care resources, friendship patterns, beliefs and values, and religious practice. Each of these items were measured for relevance This research opened the door for more studies and provided a starting point for subsequent research. However, before moving to methodology and discussion, it is important for us to realize that even if a person believes in God there are various concepts or levels in which we view faith.
For Christians, the most familiar part of the Bible that shows us this faith is John 3: After researching locus of control, optimism, self-esteem, and faith we can now begin to understand and make positive correlations among the four. Conclusion Each of these variables have been researched. However, there is not a huge source of information including all three of these topics and their correlation to faith and each other. In order to understand more of the psychological benefits of religion this study is very important to those with a religious orientation.
The researcher feels that theses three variables have a positive correlation to faith. The researcher hypothesizes that people with a strong sense of faith will have higher optimism, external control, and self-esteem. Operationally, there are nine hypotheses to be tested.
How a person currently views their relationship with God will be positively correlated to how happy that person is. Method Participants Eighty-nine participants affiliated with one of two mid-western Illinois colleges were a part of this study 39 males, 50 females.
Fifty-four were from a private, Methodist affiliated school; nine were faculty members and 45 were students in three different introduction to psychology classes. The other group of thirty-five were from a community college twenty miles from the other school. They were also enrolled in psychology classes within twenty miles of the other school. There were 70 who indicated some type of Christian denomination, 17 who had no response, and two non-Christians. The non-Christians were both from the community college.