AAron Beck Ancient Christian Wisdom


Healing the Sickness of Philautia and Egocentricity through the Restoration of the Nous

Aaron Beck

“The soul of fallen man has come under the illusion of self-sufficiency. Therefore, it is not satisfied with concerning itself with temporal needs (food, clothing, and shelter), but seeks also to dominate nature and others as well as to find new sources of sensual enjoyment. In fact man, begins to view self-expansion and the self’s pleasures in their extreme forms as inalienable rights. Such a soul has become what is today called an ego. On the one hand, our spirit (or nous) in communion with God is our real self, the true seat of personhood.

On the other hand, the ego, that sum of a human being disconnected from God, is our false self, an illusory self-sufficient entity. Because the ego thinks to achieve its ends and overcome it obstacles through its own unaided powers, the ego can also be called our false “problem solver”, false because man was made to cooperate with God, not to be cut off from Him, false because the ego solves problems that are not really problems and fails to face the one problem that truly needs solving. This false sense of autonomy leads the ego to do everything in its power, consciously and unconsciously, to silence the spirit that seeks a relationship with God in humility and dependence upon His Providence.”

Egocentricity is an issue that lies at the heart of both a number of strategies from cognitive behavioral therapy as well as many spiritual counsels from ancient fathers. In Ancient Christian Wisdom, I note,
“Although everybody tends to view his life as his own private novel in which he is the hero around whom all other characters revolve, Beck notes that such a subjective egocentric take on life becomes so overwhelming in psychiatric disorders that any semblance of objectivity is lost. In fact, in psychopathology, egocentricity colors every aspect of a patient’s thought. In like manner the monastic fathers in general and Saint Maximus in particular, viewed philautia or love of self (friendship with self) as the very essence of morbidity…and the root of all passions. In bare logical terms, bad thoughts are to philautia as cognitive distortions are to egocentricity. Philautia and egocentricity seem strikingly similar in meaning and function. However, egocentricity is about a misguided perspective while philautia is a matter of misguided love. Both are deleterious to the health and welfare of the individual.

Patients with AEDS

Read Full Article by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis, “The Church is a Therapeutic Center”.

We are all familiar with AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). AIDS is caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). By killing or damaging cells of the body’s immune system, HIV progressively destroys the body’s ability to fight infections.

n the spiritual realm there is a similar syndrome, which we will call AEDS (Acquired Evil Disposition Syndrome), caused by a virus we call HEV (Human Ego Virus), which like HIV is passed on in the procreation act. HEV, if not treated, attacks the soul and destroys its ability to resist evil and fight off sin.

Unlike HIV, which has infected only a (growing) segment of the population, HEV is truly a worldwide epidemic which has spread to every human soul.

Correct Diagnosis

Just as people diagnosed with AIDS may acquire life-threatening diseases caused by HIV, similarly people with AEDS acquire passions that threaten body and soul and everything around us, such as spiritual sins (e.g., pride, hatred, jealousy, envy, etc.) sins of the mind (e.g., evil desires, fantasizing, etc.) bodily sins (e. g. lust, gluttony, drunkenness, possessiveness, etc.) and “creation-destructive” sins (e.g. harming nature, exhausting the natural resources, abusing the ecological balance, etc.).

As with people infected with HIV, people infected with HEV are not easily detectable. Severe Symptoms of HEV may not appear externally. It requires a thorough examination by a specialist to detect HEV. However certain symptoms are discernible, such as anger, irritability, depression, talkativeness, violence, etc. Whether any symptoms are present or not, consult with your spiritual therapist for a thorough check up, especially during Lent. You’ll be glad you did.

Seeking the Cure

The decision to get well is entirely ours, If we feel we are healthy and refuse to see a physician or therapist of the soul (priest), we are in grave danger. Our immune system is attacked by HEV, which infects the mind with information that there is nothing wrong with us. We are particularly vulnerable, because HEV blocks all attempts to make us see our illness. It is imperative to see a therapist (priest) at once and accept the therapy he prescribes for us without objection.

Choosing a Doctor/Therapist

Chose a healthcare provider or doctor (priest) who is experience with the treatment of HEV and can prescribe the correct medications and therapeutic treatment (prayer rule, sacraments and ascetical life),. Usually this will be our parish priest, but if the case requires the attention of a specialist (elder) he will recommend one of us.

Orthodox Pathology

There are three powers or energies of the soul, known as reason (mind) desire (emotions) and will (willpower). They are used either for good or for evil. When they are used for good they are called virtues; When they are used for evil they are called passions. Passions are perversions or distortions of the soul. The main sickness of our mind is ignorance; The main sickness of our emotions is self-love; the main sickness of our will is the pursuit of evil.

We need to make a conscious decision once, and then continuously throughout our life, to either turn to God or to isolate ourselves from God; to either act in a spirit of repentance and humility or in an act/attitude of ego, pride, and self love. The choice is ours.

My thanks to; Aaron Beck, Ancient Christian Wisdom, and Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis. Inquire at OrthodoxWitness.org

Chap. Dr. Richard Ward, J.C.D., Ph.D
Practicing Medical Hypnoanalyst

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