Human Being: Insights from Psychology and the Christian Faith Bryan

From CatholicKnowledge
Jump to: navigation, search

Title: Creating Human Being: Insights from Psychology and the Christian Faith

Author: Jocelyn Bryan

Go back to Books list


The book provides a psychological perspective on key aspects of human nature and behavior drawing on recent research and reflect on the issues this raises for theology and ministry. The aim is to introduce theology students, those studying practical theology and those engaged in ministerial formation or ministry to the significant current research in psychology which will deepen understanding of some of the core aspects of human nature. The interdisciplinary nature of the exercise aims to model the benefits of such an approach for both theology and ministerial practice and as such the book aims to cross traditional boundaries. The objective is to introduce the reader to new fields of academic psychology beyond those of counseling and psychoanalysis, dated personality psychology and the popular psychology which is often referred to in publications in the area of ministerial practice and enable the reader to engage with recent psychological research and developments.


1. Introduction: Human Beings

  • When we reflect on our lives and who we are, we are inevitably drawn to events and episodes which we identify as defining moments in our life story. They are markers in a kaleidoscope of countless ex[eriences.
  • "Tradegies, chance happenings, significant life choices, in fact all manner of experiences, are events which form us. We understand who we really are through reflecting on the story of our lives.
  • "The tension between human diversity and our common human nature is deeply engrained in the way we understand and relate to each other."

My Story and Who am I?

  • Who am I "Christians find the answers to these questions in the narrative os scripture, which affirms that the story of every human being life begins with God.
  • For Christians, personal identity is intimately bound up with an understanding of the ways in which human beings relate to and understand the divine activity of God as a reality in our human lives"
  • Here the concept of vocation is important. God calls every human being who he has created to participate in their own unique way to his loving purpose.
  • Psychology answers the question who am I in a different way. It primarily looks to science and a reductionist approach to find the answer.
  • Neuropsychology asserts that we are essentially cells, tissue, and neurons. Cognitive psychology takes a more mechanistic view, describing human beings as essentially processors of stimuli and information to which they respond.
  • More recently, psychology has been drawn increasingly to investigate life stories to understand human identity, personality and behavior.
  • "Christians interpret their narratives and hence themselves, through the narrative of God's salvation. Attachment theorists interpret a personal life story through the lens of the nature of early attachment bonds and their influence on the formation of social relationships later in life. Behaviorists interpret personal narratives in terms of positive and negative reinforcement, and the key shapers and motivation and goals.
  • "The emphasis on the interpretation of story as a source of revelation both in psychology and the Christian faith is the premise of the first part of this book."
  • " constructing a critical conversation between theology and psychology, significant resonances emerge which can inform the way we understand both ourselves and each other.."
  • "Scripture speaks to us because it captures the truth about human experience."
  • "Chapter 2 begins by examining the storied nature of human experience and how narrative has been used to inform both theological and psychological understandings of being human. It lays the foundation for the psychological and theological approach to the nature of human experience which I have adopted, and sets up the context for the critical conversations which follow by outlining the different approaches to narrative in psychology and theology.

The Significance of Narratives: A Common Theme

  • The Bible epitomizes the importance of narrative for conveying theological truth."
  • the New Testament includes four narratives of the life of Jesus. Each story offers a different interpretation to suit a different purpose, but each seeks to reveal the truth concerning Jesus' identity as God's son and the Messiah.
  • the psychology of life stories is now emerging as an effective means of integrating the science of human behaviour and lived experience.
  • In each chapter, a story or human characteristic is analysed through the lenses of psychology and theology, and from this analysis a mutually informed distillation of what is revealed about a particular aspect of the nature of being human and embodying the Christian faith is outlined

Narrative, Human Experience and Meaning-Making

  • from chapter 1 " "Chapter 3 develops the use of narrative further, and examines its importance for meaning-making. Human lives are immersed in meaning-making: from understanding the world, which is essential for coping, to searching for meaning or a sense of purpose in life. Both of these are important for human flourishing. Our search for meaning characterizes human beings, and psychologically it is described as a desire or, in more extreme cases, as an addiction
  • The science of personality has been dominated by trait theories that describe how someone compares with others on a number of characteristics, such as the Big Five model 12 which includes the traits - extroversion, neuroticism, openness to experience, conscientiousness and agreeableness. But a person is more than their traits or dispositions. To gain a fuller picture of a human being, we need to know something about what motivates them, their values, their concerns, their ways of relating to others, their attitudes and habits.
  • Chapter 4 gives an overview of the psychology of personality and then examines different psychological approaches and theories of personality before considering how Christian faith can influence, or even change, personality, as it transforms what we are like, how we behave and respond to our life's experiences

Human Goals and Motivation

  • The interaction of faith on personality can be evidenced in the different levels of persona lity as described by McAdams.15 Chapter 5 focuses on level 2 of the model and presents the psychology of goals and motivation, placing this in dialogue with our understanding of the sinful nature of human beings
  • Our goals are informed by our needs, desires and concerns. All human beings have a need for competence, autonomy and being in relationships with others.
  • When our motivation is intrinsic we experience a sense of autonomy, but when we a re overwhelmed by demands and goals which we perceive as being set by forces outside ourselves, for example other people's expectations of us, society's expectations or even the demands of disciples hip, we can become anxious and distressed and lose our sense of being in control of o ur lives. In this way, our goals and the type of motivation we are experiencing have a significant impact on our well-being and our personal development.
  • of autonomy, but when we a re overwhelmed by demands and goals which we perceive as being set by forces outside ourselves, for example other people's expectations of us, society's expectations or even the demands of disciples hip, we can become anxious and distressed and lose our sense o f being in control of o ur lives. In this way, our goals and the type of motivation we a re experiencing have a significant impact on our well-being and our personal development. We live out our faith knowing that we are in need of grace and forgiveness, regularly confessing our sins and examining our motives, desires and actions.


  • From the beginning of the creation of humankind, God realized that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2. r 8). This echoes profoundly with human lived experience. When we are isolated and alone for long periods of time we become distressed. Chapter 6 is an exploration of how our relationships from the first stages of our lives affect the development of our personalities and personal narrative.
  • The relationship between a child and its parents or caregivers is considered to have a lifelong impact on personality. The nature of this relationship, described as an attachment bond, provides the template for the human experience of trust, security and love.
  • Even in the first year of life, infants exert influence on their parents or caregivers: both participants being formed by ca.:h other in a mutual, reciprocal relationship.
  • As social beings, relationships shape our personalities and constitute a large part of our personal narrative, providing essential information for the construction of our personal identity.


  • The instinctive emotional responses o f fright and flight revea l the world to be dangerous, before we can understand the source of the danger. Emotions have an evolutionary function and a re important for our survival. The comfort and love experienced by an infant in the presence of her parents elicits the emotion of contentment, and reveals the world to be a place of security and warmth.
  • Emotions also offer the possibility of a fruitful dialogue between psychology and theology. Christianity has been characterized by its suspicion of emotions and passion. Emotions have been considered as disruptions, irrational and in need of control.
  • Christian character is made up of the disposition to experience Christian emotions, and is described both as a passion and habitual way of seeing and interpreting the world in Christian terms. He chooses joy, gratitude, fear, hope and peace as the spiritual emotions. These a re some of the ' fruit o f the Spirit' (Ga l. 5 .22-2 3) as identified by Paul, and characterize Christian maturity
  • However, negative emotions such as guilt, disgust, pride, sadness and shame are excluded in Roberts's selection of spiritual emotions, but they can a ll be demonstrated to have some psychological benefit and have evolutionary purpose.
  • Growth in Christian holiness can be informed by a psychological understanding of the impact of reordering our goals and motivations on our emotions and our ability to regulate or manage our behaviour in accordance with these.

Self-Regulation and Self-Esteem

  • Baumeister, Hetherton and Tice claim that 'self-regulation failure is the major social pathology of the present time'.25 Regulating our behaviour in response to emotions is a persistent challenge to every human being.
  • An impaired ability to self-regulate predisposes us to behave in ways which not only harm others, but also ourselves. It is failures in self-regulation that lead to sin.
  • Self-regulation is psychologically necessary for human flourishing and the functioning of society; without it there would be anarchy
  • A basic characteristic of human

beings is that they have the capability to control their behaviour within the moral framework they have adopted in their culture to enable them to gain the advantages of living and thriving in social groups.

  • Theology and psychology share a common interest in self-regulation
  • Managing the self against self-indulgence and gratification is a necessary virtue in the struggle against sin and striving to live a holy and godly life.
  • Chapter 8 examines the psychology of self-regulation and reflects on it as the divided self, described in Paul's letter to the Romans (7.24b-2p) and echoed by Augustine in his writings as the division of the will.
  • in Chapter 9. The theory of optimal self-esteem suggests that a healthy level of self-esteem is characterized by goals larger than the self and self-worth, which are rooted in inner values
  • Goals, motivations, emotions, self-regulation and self-esteem are all influenced by a person's overall meaning of life and sense of unity and purpose and become integrated into their inner story. Our story evolves through our lives and when we enter the later stages of life we reflect upon it to draw wisdom from our experience and give more attention to the meaning-making process to cope with the losses and changes accompanying aging

The Return to Narrative

  • The final chapter of this book focuses on memory, narrative and identity in the later stages of life.
  • During our later years we read and reread our narrative as part of the process of self-evaluation when we ask such questions as ' have I lived my life well? ', 'is my story a good story?'
  • The appreciation of a good future as death approaches sustains a hopeful story. The Christian narrative of salvation offers this hope and sets each persona l narrative within the context of God's narrative, which provides a glorious and meaningful end to every story.
  • To be a human being is to have a personality shaped by traits, goals, motivation and values, expressed and experienced in our thoughts, actions and feelings. It is to live a story in a web of stories which mutually influence each other. It is how this psychological story of what it is to be human intersects with the living story of God active in the lives of human beings that is the subject of this book.

2. Living Narratives: Psychology, Theology, and Human Experience

  • Psychology as a discipline seeks to identify the major themes in the story of human beings as well as account for our individual differences. In the study of personality it recognizes the significance of narrative in understanding the formation of identity and personhood.

Narrative in Psychology and Theology: Relating the Disciplines

  • Theology has also engaged with narrative in a variety o f ways. In particular it has been used as a motif for human and divine agency, to explain reading strategies and the hermeneutics applied to biblical texts. It has also been employed to demonstrate the significance of the act of storytelling in the development of myths and fables and account for how narrative functions in the development of traditions.

Introducing Psychology and Narrative

  • Many teachers and parents use rewards to motivate and affirm children. They also employ punishments to control behaviour. Likewise employers pay workers...

Introducing Theology and Narrative

  • The conception of human lives as living human documents suggest that we are bearers of stories as well as listeners and interpreters of stories. This has been further developed to encourage pastoral practitioners to hear others into speech and in the telling of their story help the story to be rewritten so that broken or fragmented lives can be reconstituted into a new story of healing.
  • In a different vein, within biblical studies the New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus form the basis of canonical narrative theology.
  • For other theologians such as Metz narrative is vital to theology. It ensures that the experience of faith is not reduced to ritual and dogmatic language. Theology is understood to be primarily concerned with direct experience, expressed in narrative form.

The Relationship between Theology and Psychology

What is a Narrative?

  • First, stories have a context or setting.
  • Stories also have a beginning, something happens within the context or setting and that something involves characters either human or usually with human characteristics
  • each episode of a story may be seen as containing the following elements: an initiating event which leads to an attempt, the consequences of which give rise to a reaction. The episodes follow on from each other and build up the story until there is a solution to the plot.

Narratives: The Language of Human Experience

  • the formal quality of experience through time is inherently narrative'. 23 Hence, it is through telling our stories of falling in love, encountering a scene of breathtaking beauty or being betrayed by a close friend that our lives assume a richness and energy which would otherwise be lost in the relentless mingling of an endless succession of experiences.
  • Our storied experience with its numerous contexts, characters, initiating events, responses and consequences make up our past and present and direct our future. To understand what it means to be human is co listen attentively to the stories of others and to tell our own story.

The Significance of Stories

  • Throughout the literature on narrative in both psychology and theology is the assertion that storytelling is a universal characteristic of human beings.
  • in the process of remembering, as the origin of the word suggests, we re-member the experiences of the past by putting them back together in narrative form.
  • ...we subconsciously construct narratives to understand our lived experiences.
  • The therapist or listener (pastoral counselor) helps the client to reconstruct their life story and find either the meaning or new meaning within or by enabling them to tell or indeed interpret their story differently.

Stories and Structured Time

  • An important characteristic of narrative is how it details events over time. A Story has a beginning and an end in time
  • Memory plays a crucial role in this process. It provides the necessary information for us to achieve a sense of coherence in our moment by moment experiences.
  • These complex components or our experience are processed and held in an intricate web of associations and then used to reorder, reconstruct or simply reinforce our living narrative.

Personal Identity

  • By creating and internalizing a life story the answer to such questions as Who am I? How did I come to be where I am now? and Where is my life going? begins to take shape.

The construction of a Personal Narrative

  • The relationship between personal narrative and identity is so close that many use the term interchangeably.
  • For many Christians coming to faith is a point when they began to write a new personal narrative.
  • By extending the 'I' in the personal narrative to include others who we relate to, as well as the communities of which we are part, a picture of human experience emerges which places it within a web of living narratives.

Other Narratives and Their Influence

  • McAdams claims that we in the west live in a demythologized world, no longer believing in one just God who created the universe. In this existential nothingness' we are driven to create our own meanings and discover the truths which govern our lives.
  • In this bleak landscape of 'existential nothingness' in which we are no longer told who we are and how we should live, our task in adulthood is to discover this for ourselves.
  • Ultimately, it is these sacred stories which help us to create a sense of self and the world.


  • Our conversion is often an exchange of stories. They involve the telling, listening to and responding to stories.
  • The interconnectedness of stories and mutual influence of one story on another is indicative of the living human web in which our lives exist.

3 Narrative and Meaning Making

  • In the story of Emmaus, Jesus proceeded to interpret the events about himself in their story through the lens of Old Testament narrative. In this encounter, Jesus overlaid their story with the narrative of Moses and all the prophets to help them discover the meaning of events in Jerusalem.
  • The re-enactment of the breaking of the bread stirs the two men into recognizing the stranger.

Significance of Meaning-Making

  • Meaning-making is related to setting goals
  • Meaning-making is part of our survival toolkit - Meaning, in this context, means to understand the world and the ability to predict what may or may not happen in the world.
  • Meaning-making is also associated with our sense of purpose in life.
  • As Christians, we regularly confess that we have failed to achieve our main purpose in life of being Christlike. In that act of confession we acknowledge that our actions have conveyed a meaning which is contrary to our expressed intent.
  • The desire for congruence between our actions and what we believe life is about id frequently expressed in the concern to have led a meaningful life.
  • Each of these expressions of meaning is significant for human flourishing.

Psychology and Meaning-making

  • The paradigmatic mode has failed to offer a comprehensive explanation of human emotions such as love, jealousy and hate, or human relationships and belief.
  • The paradigmatic mode and narrative mode must work together to enrich our understanding of events, their origins and consequences, as well as to construct our understanding of the meaning and purpose of our lives.

Exploring what Meaning Means

  • Two notable, applications of meaning-making, are making sense of everyday happenings and experience, and meaning of life. Meaning of life is a higher level of meaning-making centered on understanding of our existence and its purpose.

Different Needs for Meaning and the Role of Narrative

  • It [meaning] is no longer described as an innate adaptive process, but something we crave. He argued that the will to meaning is the primary motivating force of human beings.
  • ... have identified four main aspects associated with the meanings of life that we construct, related to personal narrative construction and well-being.
  • we look to work, family, religion and other sources in our loves to provide these meanings.
    • Purpose - The events and episodes in our lives are ascribed meaning inasmuch as they contribute to or are steps on the way to achieving our main purposes.
    • Value and Justification - recognizes that for events to have meaning they must be judged against moral standards.
    • Efficacy - is the desire for our narrative to demonstrate positive outcomes for which we have some responsibility.
    • Self-worth - evidence that we have achieved something in our lives to commend or admire us about.

Relating the Four Needs to the Christian Faith

  • Baumeister and Wilson claim that these needs for meaning guide the construction of our personal narrative and our identity.

Baumeister also claims that the relationship between religion and the need for meaning is one of cause and effect, with religion being a consequence of this innate need and an extraordinary human phenomenon which grows from this human ned.

Purpose The Christian faith undoubtedly offers mean and purpose to life. In the life and ministry of Jesus we believe that God has revealed his loving purposes for the world and how we might participate in them. The goal for Christians is to seek and discern the will of God and centre their lives on obeying this. They believe they are created and called by God to participate in his diving plan and action.For Christians, God is the source of truth and meaning. Sin is the result of a misalignment of our purposes with those of God, and if self-fulfillment becomes our dominant goal, and we do not live in accordance with God's purposes but our own, then we judge ourselves to not be the person God intends us to be.

P. 64 We place our confidence in a God, who we can never fully know or understand, but who becomes our source of meaning. Christian meaning-making stresses the significance of past, present and future in our understand of the purpose of our lives. Hope in the future and the climatic eschatological event when the kingdom of God will be established is the fulcrum of Christian meaning. The purpose of life proclaimed in the Gospels and foreshadowed in the Old Testament is the bedrock of Christian meaning-making.

p. 65 Their narrative and personal identity begin afresh, and this is often incarnated in such phrases as "my new life in Christ," dying to my old self" and "being born again in Christ."

Value and justification It is notable that eight out of ten commandments tell us what not to do, whereas the new commandments of Jesus are focused on love.

p. 67 Efficacy from self-sacrifice and faith in God's promise of a deeply satisfying and joyful life, Christians make a commitment to seek and obey God's will. For the Christian, this is dangerously close to the sin of pride, and as such the need for efficacy is transcended. Positive outcomes are derived form obedience to God's will, acting in God's strength, not one's own, and working for God's glory and not self-edification. p.68 Self worth God's love for creation is willful or intentional love characterized by a determinations and faithfulness which affirm the other and proclaims emphatically that the other matters and their presence is desirable. Jeremiah 1.5 where he says " Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." The New Testament narrative is the story of God's love embodied in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

p. 69 Returning to the Narrative of Lived Experience It would be misleading to imply that Christian faith provides and satisfies all our needs for meaning-making.

p.70 Trauma, Narrative and When Meaning-Making is Lost and Found psychologists have found an association between seismic life events and profound personal development. Disorganized narratives are when a survivor's self-narrative is substantially or pervasively disorganized after exposure to a traumatic event.

p. 71 Following trauma, deliberate meaning-making either involves changing our understanding of the meaning of the trauma or changing our meaning of life. p.72 But not all religious reappraisals are positive. For some, meaning includes the realization that God is cruel, has caused this harm, or had chosen not to intervene and respond to prayer.... can lead to anger, mistrust and doubts about God's existence. At the center of the Christian gospel is the cross, the site of violence and trauma, the site at which Jesus cried "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27-4.6) p. 73 For it is only in the glory of the resurrection that the trauma and seemingly meaninglessness of the cross makes sense. It is the resurrection which ends the trauma and makes a meaning of it. It also enables us to more fully grasp the significance of all of Jesus' life: his birth, ministry and death. It is the ending which pulls it all together. Conclusion Human beings have an appetite for meaning. They need to make sense of the world and their lives. p.74 We also construct a personal narrative in order to understand who we are and a sense of personal identity. Without meaning we become agitated, distress and depressed. .....this chapter has demonstrated the transformative power of the meaning-making which is offered by the gospel. p.76 Personality:Uncovering the Mystery of Who We Are Describing and making sense of people is the ambitious goal of the study of personality.

Describing and Understanding Human Beings/ An introduction to psychological approaches ..the Renaissance and spawned the individualistic approach to personality. The tension between our individual uniqueness and our many similarities has been a paradox which the individualistic perspective has had to confront. Essentially personality psychology is concerned with understanding similarities and individual differences. One helpful definition is: Personality represents those characteristics of the person that account for consistent patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving. p.77 To achieve this it asks the following questions: What is a person like? How did they come to be like this? Why do they behave like they do? Each of these questions contributes to our overall understanding of another human being. "What a person is like" is found in the characteristics of a person -are they patient and kind and always keen to give of their best? "How did they come to be like this?" examines the influence of their genetic make-up and social environment on their character formation. Finally, " Why do they behave like they do?" explores what motivates them and what goals they set for themselves.

Trait theory arose out of the desire to measure personality and characterize a person. These traits are identified by psychometric testing, which is still a forceful presence in the study of personality. The term "trait" refers to a fundamental unit of personality: a person's personality being the sum of their traits.

P.79 Is our human nature passive? In other words, can we change the way we are, or are some of our behaviors so deeply ingrained either in our genes or because of our life experiences, that we cannot be held entirely responsible for who we are? P.80 The importance of parent – child relationships for later development can be traced to the

psychoanalytical school. Critical periods in early life are believed to leave inerasable marks on the person's psychological and social development, and are therefore understood to be major influences on personality development.

The interaction between our biological predisposition and our social environment is undoubtedly complex. The nature/nurture debate is central to the question of responsibility and change. P.81 Tendencies in our responses become engrained as habits and are hard to change. P.82 Psychological theories of personality/trait theory Trait theory is not so much a theory but a way of characterizing the traits we are all assumed to have.The most widely used model in trait theory is the five factor model. These were openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion and neuroticism. Behaviourism In contrast to trait theories, a behaviourist approach to personality suggest that our responses are learned by making connections between events and outcomes or stimulus and response. P.83 The theory claims that connections occur without cognitive processing or analysis. The theory does not limit its self to learning, but extends to a view of the human person that's essentially a blank slate which is passively altered by experience. ... same motivational goals of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure

p.88 The key issue with this theory is the primacy of agency and cognitive functioning. The question of how such a model can be applied to personality and personhood of people with any form of cognitive disability impacting on agency and high – level cognitive functioning is neither acknowledged nor discussed in the literature. p.89 McAdams: 3 level model is possible to find within make Adams's three level model scope for a more authentic representation and understanding of what it is to be human. The first level includes dispositional traits which characterize a person and describe what McAdams calls a "dispositional signature." These are adjectives which describe what is termed the overall style of a person's engagement with the social world. This includes how they go about doing things, how they typically think, and how they feel about things. From traits a recognizable signature is obtained. Dispositional traits are therefore characteristics which are non-conditional, decontextualized and generally linear and bipolar. p.90 .... using such dimensions as extraversion, dominance, friendliness, neuroticism, tendency to feel vulnerable, optimism and so on. These brought factors of Extraversion "E", "Neuroticism "N", Openness to Experience "O ", Conscientiousness "C" and Agreeableness "A", have a strong consensus as the most robust way of organizing and describing traits.

p.91 Goals and motivations are Incorporated into Level 2, the middle level of the model, which integrates the dispositional signature of Level 1 with personal concerns and changing contexts. Each person develops a characteristic set of goals, plans, strategies, self – images, values, virtues and schemas which make up their characteristic adaptations. Characteristic adaptations might not be related to traits as such, and develop from other strong influences such as a profound sense of faith, personal mission or vocation, an internalized model of secure relationships, a deep distrust of the opposite sex, or a crisis of sexual identity. p.92 A full account of human personhood cannot be derived from the most extensive cataloging a personal traits, strategic goals and motivations. The quest for identifying the essence of another human being remains unsatisfied by these two levels. p.96 Personality and Faith The Christian faith is emphatic in its proclamation of the gospel as the good news which transforms people's lives. The model of discipleship exemplified in the New Testament narrative begins with a response to the call to repent and believe the good news. Repentance requires an act of change or turning around as it is commonly understood. Faith in the power of the Holy Spirit working within and with us to achieve this transformation is an important source of strength in the process. p.97 ..the development of Christian character is founded on this governing principle of the Christian life. Christians also strive to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, namely: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Gal.5.22-23) These characterize Christian maturity and are developed by a prayerful longing for a closer relationship with God and by seeking to be obedient to his will in our responses to others and the world. In this way, faith becomes the defining factor in our personality. The development of Christian character is the task of discipleship as we seek to grow into the likeness of Christ. p.99 The promise of a superabundant life and everlasting life is a powerful and transformative feature of Jesus' teaching. The commitment to Christian discipleship changes the life goals and purpose of our lives and it's imagined ending.

p100. Goals and Motivation Motivation is also the concern of theology. The response of human beings to God the Creator and the source of all life shaped the biblical narrative. It Chronicles are selfish desires, motives and actions that failed to be aligned with God's will and vision for all of creation and its flourishing. This profound sense of tension runs throughout the narrative of Scripture. It presents a clear moral code for human being; one that is rooted in God's mission for the world and the location of human beings to participate in the work of God. p.101 We react instinctively to violations of care, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity, and these form the basis of human morality. p.103 And awareness of our motivations is fundamental to our character and integrity. Our motivations shape our character. p.104 The goals and motivation of Judas Matthew suggest greed as his motive "what will you give me if I betrayed him to you?" "(26.15). They paid him 30 pieces of silver". Mark concurs with Matthew, recording that "they... promised to give him money" (14.11). For Luke, Judas is a victim of Satan, depicting Satan as entering into him ( 22.3) But it is John who offers the darkest explanation of his actions by claiming that Judas is indeed the devil (6.7-71) Judas certainly brought about the arrest of Jesus and received payment for it, but as the events of Holy Week unfolded, his subsequent actions suggest that he deeply regretted his act of betrayal. p.105 (John 6.7-71) Human beings can become the devil. Jesus certainly demonstrates a conviction that people were able to "sin no more" and by repenting of their sins they can claim a form of personal cleansing and renewal. On many occasions Jesus' understanding of his ministry and his teaching reflects the binary of good and evil in human beings' motives and actions. p.106 The notion that good and bad coexist in every human being remains largely uncontested, but the same cannot be said for the question of whether we are predisposed to one or the other. We all have a predisposition as humans to be tempted, act selfishly and do wrong to others. p.107 The Basis of the Theological Approach to Motivation and Goals "Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person's blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind". (Gen.9.6)This acts as an important reminder that every human being is made in the image of God. The scene is set for the greater narrative drama of God's presence and activity in the world as God deals with the sinfulness of human beings, passes judgment upon them, and offers his gift of rescue and salvation through his son Jesus. The apparent change which takes place in Adam and

Eve through their interaction with the serpent is an awareness of the possibility of an alternative way from the way which God has decreed.

In eating the for bidden fruit, their motivation turns from pleasing God to pleasing themselves, and in effect exercising their freedom. It is from this point onwards that they know right from wrong, which means that they reflect on their actions, evaluate them and, in doing so, decide whether they are good or not.

p.108 Jesus' agony in the garden of Gethsemane when he is described as sweating tears of blood represents the most acute incident of the competing desires to please God or to please oneself. Yet, in the end, the difference between Adam and Eve and Jesus as the second Adam is his total trust and obedience to God. p.109 Striving for autonomy asserts that human behavior is consciously purposeful and not innate or shaped entirely by the environment. Their actions indicate their inability to trust in God's commandment and his good intentions for them. It is a failure of trust which leads to their separation from God, and their sin is not their desire for autonomy as such. p.110 When the desire for autonomy is motivated by a desire to be self – constituting and independent of God and indeed others, then it suggests a motivation to be Godlike and a distortion of the created order. In all cases human motivation is conceived as the psychological energy for the processes which drive the development of the self. p.111 Psychological Theories of Motivation Theories of human motivation can be broadly aligned with two approaches which place a different emphasis on the body and mind dialect. The first set of theories emphasize the body and understand motivation as the force which exerts itself in our response to meeting the incessant need for food, water and safety. The second approach places an emphasis on human consciousness and our intellectual ability. It stresses are capability to reflect on who we are and our human condition. Building on one or other of these two fundamental understandings are four main traditions which have dominated the study of human motivation, namely optimism, pessimism, neutrality and diversity, which we will now consider. The optimistic approach is one characterized by the assertion that people are basically good, reasonable and can lead happy and fulfilling lives.

p.112 The contrasting pessimistic view of motivation suggest that people are generally bad or selfish. This resonates with the doctrine of original sin and Freud's conclusion that human beings are motivated by unconscious forces related to sex and aggression which invariably have painful for anxiety – related consequences. The neutral position posits that in our first years we are unformed and, as we experience the world through relationships and our interaction with it, we learn what we should and should not want. Our goals and motivations are understood to be primarily shaped by our environment. Finally, the diversity tradition acknowledges the truth that different people have different needs and desires which shape and direct who they are and the course their lives take. p.113 Previn has classified these into five psychological goal categories from people's description of what they want in life: relaxation/fun, aggression/power, self – esteem, affection/support and anxiety reduction. Freud characterized this thinking with his theory that our ultimate motives are sex and aggression. Carl Jung Believe that the most significant motive in human be a beer was self – actualization. Jung championed the suggestion that we are all driven to be the unique authentic person we were "created " to be. p.114 Most of us have a strong desire to do well in the chosen field Most of us are also motivated to have some influence or make a difference in the lives of others and in our environment. Finally, for most of us, being in close, warm and safe relationships is an important motivation in our lives. p.115 The relationship of motives and desires to goals operates in a complex system in which our motivations and desires crystallize as goals. Our goals are the telos, and state or prize for which we strive. p.116 Autonomy and Agency Achievement depends on our ability to make choices, exert influence and bring about change to ourselves and the environment, and take responsibility for what we do. The fact that we can create and set our own goals and also achieve them is due to our agency in the world. The very nature of our environment, both physically and psychologically, as well as external factors such as time and place, at times impose limits beyond our control.

p.117 Competence, Autonomy and Relatedness Competence refers to our need to assert ourselves effectively in the world and successfully negotiate whatever we face. Relatedness concerns our need to care for others and to have relationships which bear the marks of authenticity and are mutually supportive. p.118 Psychological Needs and Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation Maslow's hierarchy of need According to Maslow, it is possible to group our needs and desires into five categories. The guiding principle of his model was that people do not move on to higher level needs until the lower level needs have been satisfied. Although it remains influential and has some validity, there are a number of problems with Maslow's approach. First, it oversimplifies the prioritization of needs. There are many counter examples of people pursuing higher needs when the lower ones are not met. p.119 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation An intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it is rewarding in itself. p.120 In contrast, Extrinsic motivation is defined as doing something for the sake of the reward or the separable outcome which is anticipated as a consequence of our behavior or activity. p.121 Deci and Ryan's theory is a theory which comprehensively integrates goals, needs and motivation. p.122 Personal goals, Strivings and Personality Motivations are the energetic power behind passions, personal ideologies; a resolute determination to transform, challenge what is, or live a religious life. p.123 Goals direct our behavior: sometimes consciously, and often unconsciously. Incentives are related to our personal goals and have a considerable influence on what occupies our thoughts and our feelings. Concerns keep the motivation and pursuit of a goal and focus. p.124 Another conception of the goals which orientate our behavior and personal narrative are personal projects. Little describes the personal project as a series of activities which are associated with achieving a specific goal.

p.125 Emmons postulates that each person can be characterized by a set of "trying to do" tendencies or goals such as trying " to look after my family", "to be financially independent", "to be a good husband". Personal strivings might be quite broad, positive or negative; for example "trying not to lose my temper" "avoid making a full of myself". Faith is not a cerebral, intellectual activity or a set of behaviors confined to a religious context as so often psychology has approached it, but rather it is an Integral part of who we are and our daily lives. p.126 Faith and Personal Goals For Thomas Merton, the goal of human life is to find one's true self in God. p.127 Many psychological theories of emotion are based on how we evaluate our experiences in relation to our goals and desires. When we are doing well and achieving the goal we aim for, we feel pleasure, pride and happiness. Conversely, if things frustrate us in progressing towards our goal or prevent us from obtaining our goal, we feel angry, frustrated and disappointed. As Christians, our goals and motivation are shaped by our understanding of the nature of God's relationship with us, the gospel message of the good news of salvation through believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, and our vocation as children of God to share in the life of God's kingdom. p.128 The Challenge of Relating the Psychology of Motivation and Goals with the Christian Life

Sin and Personal Values We exist within the tension of openness to God and our obedience to his holy laws, and attending to the needs of others and our own self – centeredness. p.129 Human beings are described as moral agents who construct personal value systems which are influenced by parental and social value systems and experience, and express what we believe to be good, of value and right. p.130 Although we are not always entirely responsible for all our actions and thoughts, we can set the overall orientation of our lives. As Christians, we orientate ourselves to God and strive to overcome influences which might lead us to sin as we draw on the help of the Holy Spirit in our aim to be imitators of Christ. p.132 Social Being Human beings have an innate social character or disposition. Genesis 2.18 puts it succinctly: "it is not good that the man should be alone". Relatedness is a fundamental human striving, and essential characteristic of our humanity. It is also essential to the Christian faith, which is defined by our relationship with God, each other and the world. p.133 As Christians, we believe that we are always in the company of God. Even when we are alone without another person present, God is with us. A longing to love and be loved manifest in the need for intimacy at the very core of what it means to be human. Our journey of faith usually begins too with some form of encounter with the living Jesus, as we are drawn into a personal relationship with him as the one who shows us the way, the truth and the life ( John14.6)

p.135 Human nurture is mostly directed towards autonomy, agency and relationship, where as Christian nurture focuses on the fullness of life found in the loving God, loving others and loving oneself. In Christian theology it is the very nature of God who is the source of love. Love is found and experienced through a commitment to follow Jesus. Through being in his company, we grow into an intimate loving relationship with God and participate in the work of loving redemption. In contrast, psychology's interest in love deprives from an analysis of relationships, the nature of them, and how they influence us. However, both disciples play significance on our first relationships and the nature of the parent – child relationship in particular. Psychology also stresses the importance of the parent – child relationship as a source of security, protection and love. p.137 The Psychological Need for Relationship In terms of evolution and personal survival, being with others was far more beneficial than the vulnerable state of being solitary.

The Importance of Social Relationships Relationships and Spirituality

p.138 Our primary relationship with our parents develops into a blueprint which shapes our assumptions about relationships and what we can expect from the other people we relate to throughout our lives. It is evident that our belief in a personal God with whom we have an interactive relationship acts as a haven of safety and a secure base for us in the same way as the parent – child attachment relationship and other attachment relationships do in our lives. p.139 Early Relationships Attachment Theory This initial bond between infant and carer is an example of the human being's propensity to form deep and long term relationships which Bowlby postulated to be the result of a genetic bias favored by evolution. p.143 Ainsworth categorize the response of the infants into four types: secure attachment, resistant attachment or insecure attachment, avoidant attachment, disorientated attachment. This suggest that the style of parenting we receive in early years is a primary influence on our experience as social beings, and our emotional experience in the world. p.145 Every child has a particular temperament which is part of their genetically endowed personality, and their need for attention will be expressed in ways which are influenced by this. Every parent also has a genetically influenced temperament and response – or doesn't – depending on a whole range of factors such as how tired she is, what other demand she is juggling, if there are other siblings to attend to, and what she believes about parenting. The effects of early negative attachment experiences and disruption of attachment bonds do not necessarily Destin a child too painful and difficult relationships, but rather they can be improved by subsequent positive, affirming relationships in later life.

4. Personality: Uncovering the Mystery of Who We Are

10. Memory, Narrative, Identity, and Aging

  • throughout our lives we journey on a progression through the process of story-making and meaning-making to wisdom accumulation which provides us with the experience and insight to meet the demands of life more confidently and confidently”.

Other facts

Bibliographic info

Not in LOC database