Christian Counseling: A Flight Into Health

Can you imagine the shock you would experience if you woke up and found yourself seated on an Airbus just touching down in a foreign country without any memory of ever purchasing a ticket or getting on the plane?

No, I am not talking dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personality), which can occur. I am speaking about the mind's unconscious flight plans that take us from our present reality to another one. These trips are called a flight into health, a flight into fantasy, a flight into illness and a flight from reality.

The flight from reality is descriptive of all the flights. It is an unconscious desire to avoid conflict or troubling thoughts, feelings and memories. To highlight one, a flight into health refers to a person who is suddenly cured. For example, this can occur when a person is first challenged and feels threatened about needing a physical or mental health treatment. Suddenly they claim and appear to not need help without any substantial understanding about how they were healed. It is easy to say and sometimes true and sometimes false, that God miraculously healed. The flight into health can also happen at the very beginning of counseling or later on when one becomes fearful of facing the reality of his or her own pain. Because it is an unconscious defense mechanism, it is difficult for the person to see.

What usually underlies this defense? Chances are those employing such defenses have cut off from conscious awareness one or more traumatic events and have a powerful desire to remain in control which they fear would be lost by delving into their inner selves. For all, to varying degrees, the frontier of one's deep, inner world is scary. I have never, that’s right, never in doing 30 plus years of counseling, found one person who is not resistant to and fearful of self-analysis.

So, we should always man-up or woman-up to look squarely at reality every chance we get? We all need breaks and everyone should consider if he or she is ready to hear and deal with difficult truths. In John 16:12 Jesus said to his disciples, "'I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.'" Jesus sometimes avoided speaking the truth and waited for an opportune time. The problem is not the temporary avoidance of truth or problems, the problem is permanent avoidance.

Why put oneself through such an ordeal of facing hard reality? Isn't life easier and is there really any significant harm if we take a couple of permanent flights during our lifetime?  You can find the answers to these questions when you answer these: why did David write, after what event and what did he (and God) mean by the words in Psalm 51:6, “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”

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