Personality Problems Which Threaten

I. Character Disorders of Today

By MAJOR HENRY E. ANDREN, Medical Corps, United States Army

Occuring before our very eyes on every hand are noteworthy changes in social and scientific attitudes and views. We are especially aware of the changing moral fiber of society as a whole, and it would seem timely to review some of the problems of individual char­acter deviations in order to understand the human mind working en masse. To think for a moment that the church of today can remain unaffected by the intrigue and havoc increasingly manifested by distorted minds and personality structures would be the height of folly.

Through divine leadings the remnant church has been equipped in a special way to meet these subtleties, being provided with a strong represen­tation of medical workers who are able to throw their weight of influence as well as their profes­sional experience and counsel into the struggle for truth. When the cause has been embarrassed through failure of discernment and sound judg­ment in some matter involving mental aberration, perhaps we may rightly wonder who might have been at fault—layman or physician. Has appropri­ate counsel been sought? Has it been heeded? Or has it been adequately given, when sought? Only a consecrated physician may be able to assist in these matters, where such a fine division exists between the matters of the spirit and the mind. Never before was there greater need for studious attention to this neglected field and for greater co­operation on the part of all workers, where the slightest move may work either for good or for untold harm to one and all.

How may one detect the unfortunate individual whose character and emotional balance is some­what inadequate? That would be a matter for the specialist, ordinarily, but with the abundant litera­ture now available for the layman on the subject, a careful review of the problem might be timely and useful to workers of every station, as the work becomes more and more confronted with problems of this nature. The symptomatology of the psy­chopathic personality varies with different per­sons, but the following general pattern holds.

1. Defective relationship with the community.
2. Inability to pursue socially acceptable goals.
3. Rejection of constituted authority.
4. Maladjustment and perversion in the sexual sphere.
5. Overt aggression demonstrated especially in the social sphere.
6. Lack of appropriate emotional response.
7. Almost total lack of insight with regard to the self.
8. Defective judgment as evidenced by marked im­balance between ego and social goals.
9. Verbal rather than emotional acceptance of social precepts.
10. Intelligence—as measured by tests—in the range of normal to superior.
11. Strong migratory tendencies.
12.Marked egocentricity.
13.Quick ability for rationalization.

Other symptoms relating to these may be un­social habit-systems ; failure to profit in a socially acceptable manner from ordinary life experiences ; inability to follow through acceptable plans for the future ; unwillingness to accept responsibility for misdeeds ; exhibitionism and extraversion to a marked degree ; paranoid tendencies ; emotional immaturity, instability, and inappropriateness ; lack of sympathy, ingratitude, sometimes callous indifference to the suffering of others ; stubborn­ness, irrascibility; hostile and vengeful attitudes toward others, vindictiveness ; inconsistency in be­havior patterning; unpredictable, impulsive conduct.

To a Christian worker it becomes well-nigh discouraging to see the unmistakable evidences of a disordered social realm so clearly portrayed in certain individuals who offer so little hope of rec­lamation. Early environmental factors, as well as inherited fraits, are the causative agents leading to such flagrant disloyalty on the part of the poorly disciplined person toward every natural impulse and to practically every human relationship in life.

In recent years several far-reaching attempts have been made to restore those afflicted with such personality disorders. As yet the efforts have been futile, except to show that definite improvement is possible under constant guidance. Unfortunately, in many instances as soon as the guiding forces are removed, the patient has returned to the same hopeless irresponsibility. R. J. Van Amberg voices his belief that the problem in the future must be attacked by establishing a strong emotional bond between the patient and some protective, authoritarian individual or organization such as the church to start anew the reconstruction of the personality.

Much truth hangs on these words, and it can readily be appreciated what will be expected of the church, as an authoritarian agency, to an increasing degree as times grow worse. What a challenge this presents ! But it is not a new challenge. The history of Christianity is studded with many instances of would-be psychopathic youths, who by turning to their Creator and Saviour in complete surrender later became great benefactors to mankind and to the cause of truth.

"Psychopathic individuals of some degree of in­sight often recognize the force of good derived from church affiliation, but unfortunately not all permit the Great Healer to complete the soul work. He is the only true "Authoritarian." Any who are but half converted will not heed the pleadings of His Spirit long enough to become changed.

They are unmindful of the great truth that "it is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church." 2

The foregoing observations make clear, then, the type of person that through the years has inflicted severe tests upon God's people. They are the source of deplorable divisions, gross and unjust faultfindings, and innumerable other evils. They have been and will continue to be instruments of the evil one until the time of the harvest. What havoc has such fanaticism in all its varied forms played with those precious truths for which the honest of the earth have hungered, but been led away from by such members. What need there is for genuine conversions today. Seventh-day Adventist workers will have to be increasingly on guard against these wolves at our doors. The step of baptism and church membership must be more and more guarded. Emotional preaching must be toned down, as it is a veritable net for large numbers of unstable and immature "temporary" converts. The probational system as used among the heathen may become a necessary step the world over. Long ago this warning was given :

"That our influence should be a savor of death unto death is a fearful thought ; yet this is possible. Many who profess to gather with Christ are scattering from Him. This is why the church is so weak."

"For thousands of years Satan has been experiment­ing upon the properties of the human mind, and he has learned to know it well. By his subtle workings in these last days, he is linking the human mind with his own, imbuing it with his thoughts; and he is doing this work in so deceptive a manner that those who accept his guidance know not that they are being led by him at his will."'

Perhaps even more powerful than these' in­fluences of the church on the individual life are the home influences. With the wealth of literature on the subject, it seems perhaps superfluous to elaborate on these forces ; yet how sadly neglected a matter this has been among professed Christians.

What responsibility rests upon every parent ! It is in the home that preventive seeds must be sown.

By and large, except for a very special miracle, prevention is the only answer to this problem. Major Louis A. Krause, of Walter Reed General Hospital, expressed himself as follows, in an ad­dress delivered to the graduates of the University of Maryland School of Medicine:

"I hope that we lose enough of the material trappings of our age so that we learn again to appreciate the home as the fountain of all spiritual values. And by home I mean the place where the stress is placed upon the simple virtues of decency, honesty, and work, where chil­dren are taught self-restraint and application, and the cardinal virtue of not wanting too much, and wherein children are not given over to the silly ideas of complete individualism and self-expression that many of our psy­chologists and psychiatrists so blithely proclaim."'

Intermarriages and binding alliances with those not of our faith inflict dangers on the persons con­cerned, and on their children, which are little realized until it is too late. The seeds of psycho­pathy frequently lie in the conflicts thus brought about in the home—the division between parents proving too difficult for the young developing mind to properly integrate. Seeds of disbelief, of vanity, and of pride thus gain hold in the child, and he may be nearly as bad off as the fatherless waif or the orphan of divorce.

The timely admonishments for our young people on the marriage institution and the home, so amply provided through the prophetic gift, were never more needed than now. We cannot warn our young people too emphatically that to play with the follies and the loves of the world is to play with fire. Sin has become systematized to a point where the innocent victim cannot become untangled with­out some scar that will last a lifetime. This was always true to a degree, but it is tenfold more so now. The psychopathy to which we have referred above has, to a large degree, spread over the masses, for the mode of behavior now existing everywhere and among all age groups is distinctly tending toward the above symptoms and signs, as every one of us recognizes. The unstable, ever "learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth," are more and more filling the earth, and will continue until the harvest of honest souls is completed. But His Word will not fail His waiting, patient people, who seek to be practical and sensible in their struggle for truth and right.


1 Psychiatric Quarterly (New York State Department of Mental Hygiene), Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 61-77.

2 The Desire of Ages, p. 671.

3 Christ's Object Lessons, P. 340.

4 E. G. White in Review and Herald, April 6, 1944. Bulletin of the School of Medicine, University of Maryland, April, 1943.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

By MAJOR HENRY E. ANDREN, Medical Corps, United States Army

December 1944

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Use of the Spirit of Prophecy in Evangelism

Presentation at recent workers' meeting in the Brit­ish Union Conference, its object being to suggest ways of introducing the Spirit of prophecy to the public in con­servative countries.

The Broadcast in Jeopardy

Radio Evangelism in Action

To Convert or to Teach Doctrine?

Can it be that we have been seeking to make Seventh-day Adventists more than to make Christians?

Vital Place of the Evangelistic Choir

The role of careful planning helps ensure a vital place of the evangelistic choir

Protracted Public Prayers

Avoiding long prayers.

Our Service as an Investment

Our denominational workers who serve for a missionary wage sometimes are inclined to feel that they are making a great financial sacrifice in forgoing the higher wages offered by commer­cial organizations.

Editorial Keynotes

Not a Block to Be Moved Nor a Pin Stirred

Reaching Ministers of Other Denominations

A symposium at a Michigan Conference workers' meeting

Making Favorable Contacts

It has been my privilege to become personally acquainted with more than one hundred minis­ters of other denominations during my active con­nection with our organized work.

Contacts Through Temperance

The present interest in the problem of alcohol in the nation, with its attendant juvenile delin­quency evils, offers Adventists the grandest oppor­tunity of their history to build up a large group of friends among ministers of other faiths, leaders in temperance work, and high school principals.

Dome-Shaped Portable Tabernacle

Since the days when the sanctuary was erected at Mount Sinai, the idea of a movable place of worship has been existent. How can we make use of them in the 20th century?

Meeting Changed Conditions—No. 3

When existing conditions make it difficult to get the majority of the interested people to attend the week-night meetings in an evangelistic effort, it may be wise to have only two or three week-night meetings, and use the other week nights for community or neighborhood Bible schools in small halls or in the homes of interested people in the respective sections of the city.

How Shall We Escape?

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?

Our Sanitariums as Soul Winners

We attribute the degree of success in soul winning which we as workers at the Porter San­itarium have attained to our united efforts in earnestly striving to carry out the following timely instruction...

Where Can We Find Our Protein?

The people of the nation are becoming more and more nutrition conscious.

The Minister as a Student

One certain way in which we can be assured of efficiency and success in the work committed to us is by every minister's being an untiring student.

Pointer's to Progress

From the Ministry back page.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600