Images Of Hope

I’ve got no words for you today, so I give you the words of Fr. William F. Lynch. These are excerpts from Images of Hope, which I have been reading on and off since about March. It was one of the very few things that helped at all when things were darkest.

It contains some of the most breathtakingly dead-on observations about depression I’ve ever seen, and no small amount of powerful weapons for doing battle with it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a passage and said: Wow, he gets it. I never met anybody else who got it.

So I’ll present them without further comment. I hope you’ll get the book if you like what you see. In my copy, each of these passages has a big star, or heavy underlines, or DOUBLE underlines, or all three.

People who do not attend to detail are poor in hope. They do not believe that anything will come of detail. They rather expect that the pattern will form of itself, without the detail. This is contempt, which is the opposite of hope. The mentally ill frequently find it extremely difficult to have hope in language, in talk, in the use of one word after another, in actually saying to the doctor, step by step, word by word, what they think or feel.

Hope is related to help in such a way that you cannot talk about one without talking about the other. Hope is truly on the inside of us, but hope is an interior sense that there is help on the outside of us.

The image of the absolutely self-sufficient man is a mockery of physiological and psychological fact.

I know at least one therapist who abandoned the treatment of a particular schizophrenic in despair, only to find that his acknowledgment of despair had cured the patient! In acknowledging some of his own hopelessness he had himself rejoined the human race and had thereby helped to relieve the patient of an impossible burden, the burden of having nothing but beautiful feelings.

I propose that the sick person is really helpless, and that there is nothing more human than to be helpless. He is helpless. For he is operating within his own closed system of fantasy and feeling, unable, as a result, even to see or imagine what is on the outside. He needs another’s imagination that will begin to work with his own, and then the two can do it together. He must put on another’s imagination in order to rediscover his own.

This is agony, so to melt one’s thoughts, wishes, feelings, and self into those of others that one completely loses the taste of self. If we can say it without raising any moral implications for the sick, I think tha this is the psychic parallel of the terror of the loss of the soul. It is not the loss of the soul; in fact, the sickness may ironically turn out to be salvation, but it causes reverberations similar to the terror of this loss.

Christianity has regularly been interpreted as a great source of inhibition and as an enemy to wishing and willing. If this interpretation were correct, we would have to acknowledge that Christianity itself is one of the prime sources of mental illness. But it is not true; only those who will always refuse to wish will, in order to legalize their position, invoke a counterfeit Christianity that calls their refusal health or virtue. If Christianity were such, it would be the perfect system for taking away hope, piously pronouncing that if we remained thus hopeless until death, it would intervene at that moment to reward in death the hope that was never allowed to function in life.

4 Comments on “Images Of Hope”

  1. Dolores says:

    Made the mistake of reading the editorial of a local Vancouver (I’m Canadian) newspaper where gosh of all things the Editor went on and on blah, blah, blah about her relief that Obama got in. Her main theme being that women will be spared back room abortions and a few of the other timeworn phrases. Am assuming, Steve, that the election results are contributing to your feeling of depression – was I supposed to read between the lines? Thanks for the upbeat message from Father Lynch – am currently reading “Healing the Culture” by Father R. Spitzer, R. Bernhoft and C. De Blasi which is also helping.

    1. Rivka says:

      Before the legalization of abortion most abortions were done by doctors. And the rate of death for (born) women by abortion was decreasing rapidly during the twentieth century BEFORE it was legalized.
      Am guessing that election results are contributing to depression for you too?

      1. No, no, I’m not depressed at all! Like my sister says, no matter who is president, Jesus is king.

  2. JenF says:

    I wonder if we stop wishing because we are afraid to be let down…in essence, afraid to feel pain and, in avoiding it, spiral down into hopelessness?

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