You were an atheist before you started seriously studying psychology.
That's right. Like Nietzsche. That kind of atheism. But when I started looking at how great leaders handled themselves in times of crisis, I inevitably came upon Jesus and realized that no one could have made this man up because he didn't act the way men act, emotionally speaking. What was so different about him, from a psychological point of view?
What catches our attention in the gospels is that Jesus goes beyond concepts of human behavior; [it's] his capacity to consider the pain of others, even when faced with his own pain. His ideas were so surprising as to be historically unprecedented, really.Jesus' alternative to anti-anxiety meds
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Imagine if, on Inauguration Day, the President of the United States asked his staff members to get him a small donkey to ride to the White House. He'd immediately be asked to go see his psychologist. But take Jesus. Hordes of Galileans knew of him at the time he arrived in Jerusalem. He was at the peak of his popularity. People were euphoric and called him the king of Israel. James and John wanted to be chosen as his top two aides once he rose to power, as they assumed he would. What happens instead? He had a few disciples get him a donkey to ride on--the most admired man in Galilee riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. His behavior was shocking. People didn't know what to make of him. That's why I say that although he is probably the most famous man to ever live, he is the least understood. They wanted to proclaim him king, but he wanted to show them that he didn't need political power. This was completely foreign to them, as it would be to us today. They wanted to exalt him, but he told his disciples that they could do greater things than he. You like to say that Jesus would "shake the foundations of modern psychiatry." What do you mean?
Jesus spoke eloquently about anxiety. Remember the Feast of the Tabernacles? He's there risking death because the Pharisees have a death warrant out on him. His best reaction would have been to not attend the feast, or hide. Instead, his courage is amazing, it's like fear is not part of his vocabulary. He speaks to the crowd on the final day, 'If any man is thirsty let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the scripture has said will never thirst and out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.' He had the courage to tell people that he could teach them how to have a continuous flow of emotional ecstasy that could solve existential anguish. Let's pretend we're at some international psychiatrist meeting, full of pharmaceutical companies talking about which drugs are best for depression. How would they react to a man saying, "Hey, come unto me and you don't need drugs"? It would be, today, a totally insane comment, right? Psychiatric drugs can treat depressive diseases, but we have little resources to prevent depression before it reaches the clinical phase. We treat the sick and depressed man, but we know very little on how to promote a healthy man. Jesus knew how to do that. You say that Jesus responded to disappointment and deception differently from anyone in the annals of psychological case studies. From the point of view of a professional psychiatrist, Jesus' behavior is pretty impressive. When Jesus faced a crowd of fanatics ready to stone a woman to death for committing adultery, most people would say that his first response was the line, "Let the person without sin cast the first stone."