Post -Abortion Spiritual Disorders

Introduction

Christian counselors have the advantage that they can offer more than just a psychological viewpoint. While they are fully trained in the psychology of post-abortion disorders, they are not limited to that perspective. Maybe the greatest difference is that a Christian counselor will not see a woman as just a victim, but always as a person with the dignity that comes with being a child of God, made in His image and likeness, with free will.

Refusing to Forgive Prevents Healing

This chapter aims to show how widely forgiveness impacts the process of healing and how absolutely central forgiveness work is within any counseling situation. In our experience, a lack of forgiveness lies at the heart of post abortion struggles. The act of forgiving holds profound healing grace, and it is the task of any Christian counselor to teach this powerful truth often kept secret in favor of a mere psychological approach which may further break relationships apart rather than healing them. It is not rare to experience deep healing of even the worst trauma once authentic forgiveness can be practiced by a wounded person.

Impediments to Forgiveness

Many women are stuck with the mainstream's negative caricatures, like the image of a raging grey-bearded God. Women who grew up with a punitive understanding of faith may not be aware of the healing and restoring gifts of the Church and develop serious fears. Part of the counselor's job is to inform them about God's forgiveness. In fact, the Church teaches that all sins can be forgiven with sincere contrition and reparation. A Christian counselor can offer a correction of limited and faulty perceptions of the Catholic faith. 

Self-Condemnation

It is a common occurrence that a woman's self-esteem plummets after having an abortion. This leads to self-condemnation, self-loathing, and low self esteem, as well as many other issues.  When a woman confesses the sin of abortion she receives true spiritual freedom. However, she may not feel forgiven, leading her to doubt God's mercy.  

Helpful to women in this situation is to remind them that everybody sins and that living in Christ makes the difference. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1). In addition, the best way to stop condemning oneself is to refrain from condemning others. In  Matthew 7:1-2 it says, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”      

Abortion-Induced Scrupulosity

Some people are naturally predisposed to scrupulosity; however, this disorder may not become activated until a traumatic event occurs. Participation in abortion can trigger scrupulosity. The intensity level can vary widely from a mildly scrupulous disposition to constant disruptive scrupulous thoughts that interfere with daily tasks.  

Scrupulosity is a serious condition, but it is not a psychiatric disorder. Scrupulosity is a spiritual disorder that can be every bit as torturous as any psychiatric disorder. The scrupulous worry because they confuse involuntary fleeting evil thoughts and temptation with having committed an actual sin.  They experience the guilt of sin when they don't actually sin. Scrupulosity is not a sin in itself, but it effectively drowns out the inner voice of the Holy Spirit by creating a constant interior background noise like a thousand roaring lions. In this way, it blocks the healing and purification desperately needed by a person harmed by abortion.

Abortion-Induced Spiritual Desolation

In spiritual desolation, a person experiences discomfort, insignificance, emotional sensitivity, hopelessness, anxiety, and restlessness, among other feelings. Negative thoughts, self-imposed limitations, and the critical inner voice are amplified during this state. These thoughts are overwhelmingly negative, filled with guilt, shame, self-hatred, helplessness, and self-condemnation which destroy inner peace. What makes this uniquely spiritual desolation is that it attacks faith, hope, and love. Spiritual desolation goes for the jugular artery of our spirituality. Abortion often causes spiritual desolation.  While spiritual desolation shares similarities with psychological depression in symptoms, it's important to note that their etiology and treatments are distinct. 

Over Spiritualizing 

A common problem for some post-abortive mothers is over-spiritualization of their abortion wounds. This has a few different manifestations.  One is that they believe that the loss is a punishment from God, and only spiritual reconciliation is needed to heal.  They do not want to do the grief work that is necessary but painful, and so have convinced themselves that it is not needed. It becomes apparent that healing work still needs to be done, but it is very painful for her, and she continues to say (and believe) that she doesn't need to do the grief work. However, they can't just pray it away. They want the results without the hard work.

Abortion Induced Sloth and Acedia 

As a consequence of abortion, many wrestle against the sin of sloth and acedia. The slothful abdicate their potential God-given holy state of life because it takes too much effort. If they go to Church, they irregularly attend. If they pray, their prayer life is erratic. They don't necessarily become atheists, but they develop a disinterest in Christian tasks. Being too busy for God, instead, they choose to watch a repeat on TV. Consequently, they experience general laziness toward cooperating with grace. For example, a woman may intend to make time for prayer, but sloth hinders her from following through. When the allotted prayer time arrives, the woman might figure it's easier to forget about it altogether and thus avoid facing the pain it might stir up. 

Acedia is much worse than sloth because not only do they become lazy, but they also develop disgust, revulsion, and apathy toward God, His Church, sacraments, and religion. Apathy then appears as a way to subvert the pain. Acedias affective apathy replaces good conscience and installs itself in the thrown of their heart. They don't want God's help and even worse they reject help. They don't desire to return to God through repentance even though they understand the consequences of their inaction. It's not that they passivley don't plan to repent, they actively plan on never repenting. (Hebrews 10: 26-27).  

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