Archive for November, 2011

November 28, 2011

Disorder #4: Megalomania

Disclaimer: refer to introductory post here

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Not officially listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD), Megalomania (hereafter, MM) could be defined as “an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs.”  Essentially, megalomaniacs consider themselves to be omnipotent and invincible.  While its clinical equivalent would be Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), I thought that MM pinpointed my delusions of grandeur in a concise manner, without having to encompass all the other elements of NPD.  But what made me realize I was showing signs of MM?

Living up here on the North Shore (MA), I tack on quite a bit of mileage on my car.  Driving up and down to Connecticut for the holidays, serving at a church in the city, and the occasional meal/coffee dates all add up.  When I drive on the highway, I can become a bit reckless and revert to a “speed-demon” temperament.  Weaving in and out of lanes and traveling at speeds 20 to 30 miles per hour over the posted limit, my only focus is to get to “Point B” as fast as possible.  What triggers this response?  One of three reasons:

  1. I’m late for an appointment/meeting/event/etc.  I hate being late.
  2. My “road aggravation” kicks in (notice how I didn’t say “road rage”… I do not have road rage).  This happens 90% of the time when there’s a driver in the fast/left lane driving at or below the speed limit.  He/she may not be breaking the law, but certainly is violating the unspoken etiquette of the road.
  3. An angry, upbeat, and/or pump-up song comes on shuffle on my iPod.  My heart rate increases, hands grip the steering wheel tighter, body repositions into racing posture (refer to picture here), and right foot just naturally gets heavier.

I held no regard for the law, my own safety, or the safety of others.  I thought I was invincible.

A couple months ago, I was able to go to Seattle for a friend’s wedding.  During my stay in the city, I rented a motorized scooter for a day to explore the sights (e.g. Space Needle, Pike’s Market, first Starbucks, etc.).  While I was riding around the streets of the seaport-city, I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my life.  Driving in the open air on a dinky, wannabe-motorcycle, I knew I was one jerky motion away from a dooming demise.  Even though the mo-ped topped out at around 40 mph, I was ant among elephants.  The once delusional confidence I felt behind the wheel of a car vanished, and I no longer felt invincible.

Gospel Connection: Only God is omnipotent.

I think that sentence alone is worthy of a GC.  But to dig a little deeper, there stands the Cross.  In an act of utter humiliation and weakness, Jesus triumphs over sin in a way which we can never have expected.  Instead of a glorious eradication of sin through a conquering manner, Christ chose to debase himself to the point of death.  Through his weakness comes our power.  Cars and speed don’t bestow invincibility.  Grades and salaries don’t guarantee omnipotence.  Relationships and friendships shouldn’t provide identities.  Our egos can’t die for us.

PTL that our assurance rests in the only One who is invincible.

November 19, 2011

Disorder #3: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Disclaimer: refer to introductory post here

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Most of you are probably wondering what DID even is.  Most often misinterpreted for Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder is more commonly known as “Multiple Personality Disorder.”  It was when I watched the movie “Me, Myself and Irene” (poster pictured above) in high school that I first made this particular error.  Jim Carrey’s character(s), Charlie Baileygates, suffers from DID which manifests itself in his alter-ego, Hank Evans.  During one scene of the movie, Irene (Renee Zellweger) labels Charlie as a “schizo”; if you were like me and have been making the same mistake up ’til now…hey, you really do learn something new everyday.

But why do I attribute myself with having DID?  To understand that, you’d have to know a little something about personality traits.  A popular personality test that has surfaced in recent years is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  The MBTI characterizes each person’s personality into four dichotomies:

  • Extraverted (E) vs. Introverted (I)
  • Intuitive (N) vs. Sensing (S)
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feelings (F)
  • Perceiving (P) vs. Judging (J)

To find out more about these pairs and the distinctions between them, good ole Wikipedia does a nice job breaking it down (click here).  Essentially what the MBTI test will do is break down your personality into one of 16 types, deriving one of the indicators from the 4 pairs named above.  Furthermore, some tests will gauge the level of your inclinations for each category.  For example, after taking the test, my personality resulted in an INFP type with the following breakdown: +15% Introverted, +20% Intuitive, +70% Feeling, and +15% Perceiving.

As you can see, the only preference that I’m particularly strong is the Feeling classification.  Within the other three dichotomies, I tend to fluctuate back and forth between the ends of their respective spectrum.  Most of the times, the attitude sphere of my personality (E/I) is dependent on the social context that I find myself in.  With a group that is dominated by extraverted people, I tend to retreat into a state of reservation; while, being among a group of predominantly introverted people, I tend to gravitate towards the “center of attention.”  Most who know me would consider me to be “chill” and “down to earth,” but given my entry on OCD, it’s quite obvious that I can be Type-A (distinguishing between the P/J dichotomy).  And finally, I find myself battling my idealistic mindset with an overwhelming inclination towards a realistic optimism (or optimistic realism… I still haven’t been able to differentiate the two).  So instead of having one distinguishing personality type, I could be bouncing back and forth among 8 different ones.

Clinical studies have shown that people who are diagnosed with DID have experienced some sort of psychological/physical trauma during their childhood years.  Due to their abuse, the brain forces a cognitive function that compartmentalizes their fear, anger and pain, which would result in alter-egos.  Extreme cases even exhibit differences in physical states or properties, including allergies, eye prescriptions and right-or-left handedness.

Gospel Connection: Not unlike our personalities, human souls also fall susceptible to a kind of Dissociative Identity Disorder.  Different social contexts, faith spheres, and physical settings evoke different responses in which our souls react accordingly.  Maybe we put on one mask when going to school or work, a different one at church or around Christians, and yet a different one still among family and friends, compared to complete strangers.  When you tend to bounce around between multiple identities like I do, chances are, you struggle with a specific type of sin.  Christianity stands firm in the position that the only identity that matters is the one we have in Christ.  Created in the image of Triune God, restored to the divine fellowship on finishing work of the Cross, and continually sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit, our titles as “student,” “employee,” “friend,” or even “husband/wife,” and “son/daughter” fall secondary to our commitment to God.  This isn’t to undermine these responsibilities, but instead place a clearer perspective on them.  We don’t lose any merit when we fail a test, miss a deadline, or let down our loved ones, because Jesus offers a hope greater than we can imagine.

November 11, 2011

Disorder #2: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Disclaimer: refer to previous post here

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Cellphone in the right-front pocket.  Keys in the left-front, with lanyard hanging outwards.  Wallet in the right-rear pocket.  Miscellaneous item in the left-rear pocket (e.g. pack of gum, piece of scrap paper I wrote a memo on, tissue, etc.).  The only exception: when I’m wearing a blazer or suit, wallet goes inside the inner-left jacket pocket (makes my butt look less lop-sided).  That’s the way it’s always been, at least since sophomore year in high school, when I had a cellphone or set of keys to carry around.  If they’re ever not in that order, something feels “off” and I won’t be able to go anywhere unless it’s fixed.  If any one of them is missing, I feel naked.  Before I leave to go out, I do the “Four Pat Method”: pat on right-front pocket, pat on left-front, pat on right butt cheek, pat on left butt cheek, in that order…*pat* *pat* *pat* *pat*… check, check, check, and check, ready to go.

All my books on my bookshelf are organized by either last name of the author, genre of the book, and/or the semester I used them for here in seminary (I didn’t own many books before coming to Gordon besides all seven Harry Potter’s).

All items on my desk are placed in a manner so that all straight edges are parallel or perpendicular to one another, in proximity for level of productivity with my chair as the focal point.

All my cash bills in my wallet (not many) are ordered from least to greatest, facing the same way in the same direction.  I don’t like having my presidents’ faces kissing one another.

“Trip A” on my car’s odometer is for gauging between oil changes, while “Trip B” is used to gauge between gas fill-ups.  After every trip to the gas station, I always make sure to fill up the tank to full.  That way, when I print out the receipt, I record the number of miles traveled during that stint, divide that by the number of gallons filled, and come out with an “Actual/Observed Miles per Gallon Ratio” for my car.  Toyota telling me my Camry averages 20mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway is too big of a range.  I am currently averaging 25.6mpg.

For many other people, OCD may manifest itself in the form of superstition.  Baseball players are notorious for being some of the most superstitious athletes, if not human beings, in the world.  Curses and pre-game rituals are a way of life.  Baseball fans flip their caps inside-out in the late innings when their team is losing, thinking that these “rally caps” will make a difference in the outcome of the game.

If you’re Korean, you might celebrate the manufactured holiday of Pepero Day (today being the ultimate Pepero Day of 11/11/11).  I have a friend who sets a daily alarm for 11:11 so that he can make a wish.  See a shooting star, toss a coin into the fountain, blow out your birthday candles… then make a wish.  Don’t walk under a ladder, break a mirror, or see a black cat… that’s bad luck.  If relate with any of these, you adhere to some form of superstition.

Gospel Connection: Human beings were given a divine mandate to rule over the Creation (Gen.1:27-31).  It’s in our nature to exercise control.  But often times this spills over to more than it should, even when it comes to circumstances we have no control over.  We begin to micro-manage every facet of our lives, and then add superstition on top of that.  We want to be able to say that we had some part of whatever happened that was considered significant.  We want to be in a position of power.  We want to play God.

The only man ever to claim to be God and prove it was Christ himself.  In a society where power rules and control is the only currency with which to bargain with, Jesus humbled himself to the point of utter humility and powerlessness on the Cross.  To everyone’s surprise, the Resurrection ousted Death; the ultimate equalizer was equalized.  Where no man could ever have dominion over, Jesus Christ did by means of weakness.

In what ways do you need to relent your control?  In what ways is God calling you to exercise control?  Does this apply to you at all?

November 9, 2011

Disorder #1: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Disclaimer: refer to previous post here

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I really don’t know how I’m surviving seminary.  Having graduated with an Accounting degree in undergrad, this liberal curriculum is killing me.  Reading was never my thing.  In high school and most of college, I survived off of skimming (hardcore), SparkNotes, or just plain ol’ wingin’ it.  Even now when I read, I have to read things twice or three times over.  I’ll be reading the words along the lines, but be thinking about something totally different.  The following is what goes on in my head while reading something for class:

“What follows is a dogmatic sketch of a topic much neglected in contemporary theology…” …I really need to start working out.  I should sign up for that gym membership soon before the discount expires… “…very fully discussed in modern theology and hermeneutics…” …I need to get an oil change, I’m already 600 miles over my limit from the last change.  I should get a car wash too while I’m at it this time… “…and to insist on determining the nature of Scripture in usu et actione…” …What the… am I reading in English anymore?  Crap, I didn’t retain anything that I just read…  By this point, I’m turning back the page and starting all over again.

Another part of my ADD manifests itself in being easily distracted and very skilled in procrastinating.  In college, I once wrote a 25-page case study for one of my accounting classes a day and half before it was due (that was somewhat to brag, but mostly to admit how stupid I was).  Sometimes I can’t fall asleep without watching an episode of a sitcom  before going to bed.  Many of my study breaks get prolonged from the intended 15 minutes to an hour’s worth of going on a Youtube surf of K-pop music videos.

It’s gotten to the point where I want to get tested for ADD and actually be clinically diagnosed with it.  That way, I can label the reason to why I’m so easily distracted.  Furthermore, I would be able to look back on how far I’ve come since high school and say, “Look!  I accomplished all of that even with this disorder!”  But that’s an entirely different issue in itself.

Gospel Connection: There are dozens of things vying for our attention everyday: school, work, relationships, e-mails, Facebook, texts, video games, online celebrity gossip, sports news, writing blogs… these are just to name a few.  While none of these things are inherently bad things, they become idols when we make them the defining things of our lives.  Advances in modern technology have shortened the attention span of the average human being exponentially in the past few decades.  Trends fluctuate, fads come and go, and fashions mutate to redefine “hot.”  But God remains constant.  The Holy Spirit is always beckoning us to be in fellowship with Him.  The finished work of the Cross redeems the union that was once torn by sin.  Christ deserves our gaze, will you give it to him?

November 9, 2011

Disorders Intro

I was having a conversation with a friend, and she happened to say, “I have a lot of problems.”  My almost immediate response was to ask myself a rhetorical question, “Doesn’t everyone?”  I’m a very introverted person and try to be mindful of what people think of me.  So I may not ever show it outwardly, but I have a lot of problems myself.  Doesn’t everyone?

Over the next couple of days, I will be starting a series on the kinds of problems I have.  Each day will highlight a specific problem that I think I have and relate it with an actual psychological/physical/clinical disorder.  You might be thinking, “That’s pretty ballsy, dude.  How are you ever gonna find friends, let alone a girlfriend/wife?”  Therein comes the GC.

Gospel Connection: It was easy for the Pharisees to love other Pharisees.  It’s easy for us to love other capable, sociable, noble people.  But the beauty in the Church comes from- not the self-righteous qualities individuals have that would merit recognition but in- the unifying acknowledgement that we are all sinners.  The common denominator amongst all human beings is that we’re flawed, and more specifically amongst Christians, is that we admit to that fact.  This is kind of a cheesy quote, but it always puts things in perspective for me:

We come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

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DISCLAIMER: If you happen to have/are diagnosed with any of the disorders mentioned hereafter, please do not take offense from my entries.  It is not my intention to undermine that particular disorder, but more so emphasize my own flaws and quirks.  Think of it not as a denigration of you, but rather a satire of Nameun.

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