Today, an entry from a book in preparation: the Textbook of Spiritual Diseases. The introduction to the book includes the following warning:
“This book is intended more for self-diagnosis than for diagnosing others. Failure to keep this mind when using it may result in serious spiritual harm.”
An inflammatory case of hypocritical pedantry. Hence, ‘pedantitis’ from ‘pedant’ – one who cares excessively for tiny unimportant details; and ‘-itis’ – inflammation. See II Corinthians 3:6
The patient is afflicted with an obsessive interest in following the very letter of God’s Law, whilst neglecting the spirit of it. Some very famous defining cases are recorded among the Pharisees in the Gospels, although there is strong evidence for the existence of this disease many centuries before that.
- Disregard for the genuine welfare of others (although a superficial appearance of compassion is often exhibited)
- A cancerous growth of pride in one’s piousness.
- There is an obsessive attention to details such as eating precisely the right foods, fasting to the second, carrying out one’s daily prayer canon and meticulously preserving Church traditions.
- A narrowing of the visual field and the emotional field so that only one point of view is visible. The patient refuses to seriously consider other points of view.
- Self-confidence well above what is generally considered normal
- Constant desire to teach others and exercise authority over others
- An inflated estimations of one’s own self-worth, e.g. the patient insists on others according appropriate respect to the him; being overly sensitive to insults etc
The diagnosis cannot be made unless the first two symptoms are present, together with any number of the other symptoms.
- Scriptural Correction Therapy (SCT) can be of immense value. The Bible is full of examples of this disease, both in the Old and New Testaments, together with God’s clear and powerful condemnation of it. This can be quite effective in achieving insight in the first instance, and then in modelling a new pattern of behaviour (below).
- A new pattern of behaviour must be modelled and learned. Tools that can help in this process include SCT (above); mentoring; and regular self-review.
- Successful treatment is not possible without the constant application of humility in large doses. This is aimed in particular at the tenacious symptom of pride in one’s piousness
- Regular doses of humble service without reward can also help to improve the patient’s genuine compassion levels.
- Reality Check Shock Therapy (RCST) is dangerous in this situation and should only be used by extremely experienced therapists. Cases of astounding success for this method have been recorded (e.g. one Saul of Tarsus who was treated with RCST on the road to Damascus), but these successes have only been at the hands of experts. In inexperienced hands they are likely to result in the patient becoming extremely angry, will serve only to increase the symptoms, and may sometimes result in harm to the inexperienced therapist.
- This is one of the most difficult of the Spiritual Diseases in which to achieve insight.
- Once insight has been achieved, the disease responds extremely well to treatment and the prognosis for recovery improves dramatically
- This disease often occurs together with Superiority Complex. Treatment of both diseases simultaneously improves the chances of recovery, since if one of them is left untreated, it is almost certain to lead to a recurrence of the other.
Related Diseases and Syndromes
- Parish Pride
- Superiority Complex