Cosmetics ... Form Without Substance

As you and I pursue the journey of life, we sense a deep need within the core of our being. We desire happiness. We want fulfillment, satisfaction. We are all involved in a quest - whether we consciously realize it or not. Without this truth validated within ourselves, we find life oppressive and burdensome. Often, meaningless.

Given the nature of what I do as a therapist, I certainly get to sit down face to face with extremely hurting individuals. Mine is only a microcosm of a world filled with significant groups of people who break down psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some I try to help become a danger to themselves or others, they get locked in psychiatric wards or prisons.

A lot of us mask our wounds or flaws cleverly. I'm reminded of Peter. He is a celebrity in the world of business. A certified millionaire. The media, such as television, radio, print etc, love covering him. He functions very well in the world and is definitely respected as successful. Though outwardly appearing attractive and a model to be emulated, he feels isolated from himself and others. In fact, as a result, he has frequent thoughts of leaving this world, strong feelings of ending or forfeiting his life.

From the condition of humanity and the world in general, it is obvious that there is something within our makeup that prevents us from living a healthy life. There always appears an inherent flaw or contamination within our makeup, regardless of station in life, age, social status, cultural origin, religious or political beliefs. Add to this, we live in a society where healthy changes or healings are further prevented by adversely unhealthy conditions and values maintained and perpetuated by deeply entrenched structures. Illness and contamination in this world is "normal."

Sadly, I witness treatments and changes that are epidemically cosmetic in the face of man's greatest need. Even mental health clinicians, doctors, and counsellors have been part and contributor to this world of rapid cosmetic changes of "form without substance." Yes, we have impressive scientific and technological advances that rapidly convenience our lifestyles and social structures. Yet after the dust clears, nothing has changed. Or, changes or treatments of choice make conditions worse. At best, changes gained, if any, are essentially cosmetic.

As a writer Jeremiah put it, "They offer superficial treatments for my people's mortal wound" (6:14). This, then, is the crux of our problem in our dominant modern-day recovery establishment and institutions.