The Source of Anxiety, Worry, and Depression

 Image result for anxiety worry depression

 The Source of Anxiety, Worry, and Depression

Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:

  • AC 759. That the “rain” here is temptation is evident from what has been said and shown above, concerning a “flood” and an “inundation;” and also from the signification of the “fountains of the deep were broken up” and the “cataracts of heaven were opened” as being temptations. (AC 759)
  • AC 760. That the “forty days and forty nights” signify its duration, was shown above, at verse 4. By “forty” as before said, is signified every duration of temptation, whether greater or less, and indeed severe temptation, which is of the things of the will.
  1. For by continual pleasures, and by the loves of self and of the world [ = the inherited character of our natural mind before it is reformed and regenerated ], consequently by the cupidities that are the connected activities of these loves, man has acquired a life for himself of such a kind that it is nothing but a life of such things. This life cannot possibly accord with heavenly life [ = the spiritual order in which our spiritual mind is through influx from the Spiritual Sun ]; for no one can love worldly [ = what is not yet regenerate, hence remains attached to our enjoyments of evil traits ] and heavenly things at the same time [ = the order of mental states in our natural mind when it is reformed and being regenerated ], seeing that to love worldly things is to look downward [ = towards the lower layer of the natural mind, which is corporeal or animal, and not rational or human ] , and to love heavenly things is to look upward [ = our study and knowledge of the correspondently sense of Sacred Scripture, i.e., theistic psychology ] .

Much less can anyone love himself and at the same time the neighbor, and still less the Lord.

  1. He who loves himself, hates all who do not render him service; so that the man who loves himself is very far from heavenly love and charity, which is to love the neighbor more than one’s self, and the Lord above all things. [ = for instance, to lower the volume on your radio or TV for the sake of the neighbors, and similar things that we do for the comfort of others rather than insisting on our comfort, etc. ]
  2. From this it is evident how far removed the life of man [ = unregenerated natural mind ] is from heavenly life [ = regenerated natural mind ] , and therefore he is regenerated by the Lord through temptations [ = once the person undergoes reformation as of self ], and is bent so as to bring him into agreement [ = when we use our knowledge of doctrine to resist spiritual temptations ].
  3. This is why such temptation is severe [ = experienced with strong emotional conflict, being pulled by the the love of enjoying evil traits and the love of becoming a heavenly person ], for it touches a man’s very life, assailing, destroying, and transforming it, and is therefore described by the words: “the fountains of the deep were broken up, and the cataracts of heaven were opened.” (AC 760)
  4. AC 761.That spiritual temptation in man [ = our conscious natural mind in daily life ] is a combat of the evil spirits with the angels who are with him [ = combats going on in our unconscious spiritual mind. The results of these unconscious combats determine by correspondence the emotional conflict we experience in our conscious natural mind ], and that this combat is commonly felt in his conscience, has been stated before, and concerning this combat it should also be known that angels continually protect man and avert the evils which evil spirits endeavor to do to him.
  5. They even protect what is false and evil in a man, for they know very well whence his falsities and evils come [ = those who have been regenerated and who are already present and conscious in the spiritual mind of the afterlife, can see and empirically observe how our unregenerate natural mind while we are still here on earth, is tied and influenced by those who are in the spiritual mind and in evil enjoyments ], namely, from evil spirits and genii. [ = these psychological, moral, and spiritual battles during temptations in our mind occur without us being consciously aware of the confrontations taking place in our spiritual mind ].
  6. Man does not produce anything false and evil from himself, but it is the evil spirits with him who produce it, and at the same time make the man believe that he does it of himself. Such is their malignity. [ = we are born with the enjoyments of evil traits that we inherit. It seems to us that those are our own traits and that we enjoy them. But they are not our own traits. We actually enjoy the traits of those with whom we are spiritually connected in our spiritual mind by mental inheritance. ]
  7. And what is more, at the moment when they are infusing and compelling this belief, they accuse and condemn him, as I can confirm from many experiences. [ = Swedenborg being conscious in his spiritual mind was able to observe the actions of the evil spirits who were connected to the individual by inheritance ].
  8. The man who has not faith in the Lord cannot be enlightened so as not to believe that he does evil of himself, and he therefore appropriates the evil to himself, and becomes like the evil spirits that are with him. Such is the case with man. As the angels know this, in the temptations of regeneration they protect also the falsities and evils of a man, for otherwise he would succumb. [ = there is a useful purpose prior to regeneration for having intermediate beliefs and doctrines, that are not yet genuine spiritual rational ].
  9. For there is nothing in a man [ = the inherited character of our natural mind before it is reformed and regenerated ] but evil and the falsity thence derived, so that he is a mere assemblage and compound of evils and their falsities. (AC
  10. AC 762. But spiritual temptations are little known at this day [ = prior to our reformation and regeneration ]. Nor are they permitted to such a degree as formerly, because man is not in the truth of faith, and would therefore succumb [ = to be in temptation without having the rational truths of doctrine to be able to resist ].
  11. In place of these temptations there are others, such as misfortunes, griefs, and anxieties, arising from natural and bodily causes, and also sicknesses and diseases of the body, which in a measure subdue and break up the life of a man’s pleasures and cupidities, and determine and uplift his thoughts to interior and religious subjects.
  12. But these are not spiritual temptations, which are experienced by those only who have received from the Lord [ = our doctrine of truth extracted from the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture ] a conscience of truth and good. Conscience is itself the plane of temptations, wherein they operate. [ = people who do not have the opportunity or ability to study the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture, nevertheless can accept influx into their conscience from the spiritual mind, and if they honor and obey their conscience, they are being regenerated and prepared for heavenly experiences in the afterlife of eternity ].
  1. Here is a passage from the Writings Sacred Scripture that discuss the role of the vertical community in experiencing anxiety:
    1. I have also been permitted to know the source of human anxiety, grief of mind (animus), and interior sadness, which is called melancholy. There are spirits not as yet in conjunction with hell, because they are in their first state; these will be described in the following pages where the world of spirits is dealt with. These spirits love things undigested and unprofitable, such as pertain to food becoming foul in the stomach. Consequently, they are present where such things are with man, because they find delight in them; and they talk there with one another from their own evil affection. The affection that is in their speech inflows from this source with man; and when this affection is the opposite of man’s affection it becomes in him sadness and melancholy anxiety; but when it is in agreement it becomes in him gladness and cheerfulness.
    2. These spirits appear near to the stomach, some to the left and some to the right of it, and some beneath and some above, also nearer and more remote, thus variously in accordance with the affections in which they are. That this is the source of anxiety of mind has been shown and proved to me by much experience. I have seen these spirits, I have heard them, I have felt the anxieties arising from them, I have talked with them; when they have been driven away the anxiety ceased; when they returned the anxiety returned; and I have noted the increase and decrease of it according to their approach and removal. From this, it has been made clear to me why some who do not know what conscience is, because they have no conscience, ascribe its pain to the stomach. (AC 299)
  2. Here you see Swedenborg’s empirical attitude and his attempt to use experimental manipulation as a way of confirming hypotheses. Note also that this was written some 200 years before the role of the stomach in anxiety was understood by modern medicine. Anxiety is frequently felt in the stomach due to the correspondential action between the stomach and the sensorimotor mind into which the spirits inflow who are delighted by the breakdown products in the stomach. In fact Swedenborg mapped out the relationship between every body part and the spirit societies that specialize in relating to each part of the body. The physiology and biochemistry of the physical body are so many detailed ways in which spirit societies communicate with the sensorimotor mind. The physiological operations are effects whose causes are the inflow of the various spirit societies.
  3. In the 1960s when I was teaching at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), one of my colleagues was the well known behaviorist Hobart Mower. He had been suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety for several years despite drug treatments. He then had an insight that reversed the Freudian idea that people feel anxiety in response to an overactive super-ego or conscience. Freud’s classic treatment consisted of trying to weaken the demands of the super-ego or of conscience to offer relief from guilt and anxiety leading to depression. But Mower discovered that the opposite was the case, namely, that instead of having an overactive conscience most people disregard their conscience in many situations and go ahead and do what they feel like at the moment. At the same time many people are oriented towards reducing guilt by weakening the power of one’s conscience. Mower started arguing that instead what we need to do is to strengthen our conscience so that we keep ourselves from violating its injunctions. He developed a new form of group therapy called “integrity groups” which I attended for two years. It is there that I learned that if I strengthen the voice of my conscience I can keep myself from acting against my principles and thus not run into guilt, anxiety, shame, or depression. I was greatly relieved.
  4. Here is a further description about the function of anxiety:
    1. With every man there are two spirits from hell, and two angels from heaven; for man being born in sins cannot possibly live unless on one side he communicates with hell, and on the other with heaven; all his life is thence. When man is grown up and begins to rule himself from himself, that is, when he seems to himself to will and to act from his own judgment, and to think and to conclude concerning the things of faith from his own understanding, if he then betakes himself to evils, the two spirits from hell draw near, and the two angels from heaven withdraw a little; but if he betakes himself to good, the two angels from heaven draw near, and the two spirits from hell are removed.
    2. [2] If therefore when a man betakes himself to evils, as is the case with many in youth, he feels any anxiety when he reflects upon his having done what is evil, it is a sign that he will still receive influx through the angels from heaven, and it is also a sign that he will afterward suffer himself to be reformed; but if when he reflects upon his having done what is evil, he has no anxious feeling, it is a sign that he is no longer willing to receive influx through the angels from heaven, and it is also a sign that he will not afterward suffer himself to be reformed. (AC 5470)
  5. You can see that anxiety is produced by conscience for the purpose of maintaining us in freedom of choice and reminding us of spiritual responsibility. We have the power to disregard or inhibit this built in effect. However it is clear that we will suffer negative consequences when we weaken the motivational force of conscience. If we kill or weaken our anxiety Freudian style, we lose the ability to benefit from positive spiritual influences and we fall into mental states that are negative, injurious, and self-defeating.
  6. Here is a similar paragraph discussing the source of anxiety:
    1. Since worrying about the future produces feelings of anxiety in a person, and since such spirits appear in the region of the stomach, feelings of anxiety therefore have a greater effect on the stomach than on all other internal organs. I have also been allowed to recognize how those anxious feelings have increased or diminished as those spirits have become present or been removed. I have noticed that some anxious feelings exist more internally, others more externally, some higher up, others lower down, depending on the differences in origin, derivation, and direction taken by such kinds of worry. Here also lies the reason why, when such feelings of anxiety take hold of the mind, the area around the stomach is tense and sometimes pain is felt there, and also why feelings of anxiety seem to surge up from there. The same also explains why, when a person ceases to worry about the future or when everything is turning out right for him so that he no longer fears any misfortune, the area around the stomach is free and relaxed, and he has the feeling of delight. (AC 5178)
  7. Anxiety is therefore “a natural effect in the body from a spiritual cause in the mind” (AC 7217). Anxiety is the resultant effect when an individual is deprived of spiritual heat (love) and spiritual light (truth). Such deprivation is self-initiated by ignoring conscience or principles of right living. When we obey conscience and our principles of doctrine for life we gain a new freedom and a new power which we have by virtue of the influx of good (spiritual heat) and truth (spiritual light) from the Spiritual Sun.
  8. Anxiety is a built in spiritual operation in our natural mind. There are hierarchies of anxiety caused by falsifying truths that flow in from the spiritual mind. All falsification or distortion of truth has consequences for the mind’s health and functioning. In non-theistic psychology we do not discuss “truth” in this way. Instead there is a tendency to avoid the concept of ‘absolute truth’ in favor of ‘relative truth.’ People associate the idea of absolute truth with dogma, not science. non-theistic science hates the idea of absolute truth while theistic science considers all Divine scientific revelations as absolute truth. The expression “absolute truth” is often invoked within the context of religious fundamentalism. Dogma however is not absolute truth because it comes not from sacred scripture but the incomplete wisdom and rationality of human beings who formulate dogma from sacred scripture. The dogma and the sacred scripture are as different as the number 1 is far apart from infinity.
  9. Because of dogma the concept of absolute truth has a bad reputation, but what people mean to reject is not absolute truth revealed by God but dogma invented by human beings misguided by their religious fervor. The fact is that everything God communicates to the human race in terms of revelation is absolute truth since it is Divine and God is absolutely perfect and infinite — omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, as defined by most dictionaries.
  10. Here is further evidence Swedenborg presents about types of anxiety:
    1. I have also noticed another kind of influx which does not take place through the spirits present with a person but through others who are sent out from some community in hell to the sphere emanating from that person’s life. They talk among themselves about the kinds of things that are unacceptable to the person, which results generally in a flowing into him of what is in many different ways troublesome, unpleasant, dejecting, and worrying. Such spirits have often been present with me, when I have experienced in the province of my stomach those who poured in feelings of anxiety – not that I knew where the feelings came from. Yet on every occasion I found out who they were, and then I heard them talking to one another about the kinds of things that were unacceptable to my affections. Avaricious spirits in the same region have sometimes been visible, though in a slightly higher position; they have poured in the kind of anxiety that results from concern for the future. I have also been allowed to rebuke those spirits and to tell them that they correlate with undigested food in the stomach which produces bad breath and so is nauseating. I have also seen them being driven away; and once they were driven away, anxiety completely disappeared. I have had this experience a number of times so that I could be quite certain that those spirits were the source of the trouble.
    2. [2] This is the kind of influx that takes place among those who for no good reason are anxious and depressed, and also among those who are undergoing spiritual temptation. During temptation however there is not only a general influx of such spirits but also a particular stirring up by spirits from hell of the evils the person has put into practice. ‘Those spirits also pervert and put a wrong interpretation on the forms of good that the angels use to fight with in temptation. A state such as this is what the person who is being regenerated enters by being let down into what is wholly his own. And this happens when he immerses himself too much in worldly and bodily interests and needs to be raised towards spiritual ones. (AC 6202)
  11. In otter words when spirits are in a situation to inflow into our spiritual body they do so and the resultant effect is felt as negative emotions. Note also that spirits who communicate with our spiritual body are able to perceive the content of our memories and affective inclinations. This is a common way spirits interact with each other. Swedenborg’s dual consciousness put him in the position of observing two interconnected events simultaneously, one spiritual and the other natural. The spiritual event was observing the spirits approaching his spiritual body and hearing what they were talking about. The natural event was the reaction he felt in his physical body, in this case the stomach. In this way he proved the effect of the spiritual mind over the physical body, an effect produced by correspondence. Furthermore, when they withdrew, the sensation of nausea from the stomach ceased instantly, but when they approached again, the sensation was back.
  12. From the next paragraph we can see that anxiety and worry are resultant emotions when the mind is “deprived of the affection of good and the thought of truth”: The more internal the love and truth, that is the more spiritual-rational they are, the greater the fear, anxiety, and worry at the thought of losing them:
    1. Those who cannot be reformed do not at all know what it is to grieve on account of being deprived of truths; for they suppose that no one can feel in the least anxious about such a thing. The only anxiety they believe to be possible is on account of being deprived of the goods of the body and the world; such as health, honors, reputation, wealth, and life. But they who can be reformed believe altogether differently: these are kept by the Divine-Human in the affection of good and in the thought of truth; and therefore they come into anxiety when deprived of this thought and affection.
    2. [2] It is known that all anxiety and grief arise from being deprived of the things with which we are affected, or which we love. They who are affected only with corporeal and worldly things, or who love such things only, grieve when they are deprived of them; but they who are affected with spiritual goods and truths and love them, grieve when they are deprived of them. Everyone’s life is nothing but affection or love. Hence it is evident what is the state of those who are desolated as to the goods and truths with which they are affected, or which they love, namely, that their state of grief is more severe, because more internal; and in the deprivation of good and truth they do not regard the death of the body, for which they do not care, but eternal death. (AC 2689)
    3. Image result for anxiety worry depression

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s