Science in Christian Perspective
BASIC ANXIETY AND ADAMIC MOTIVATION
Philip B. Marquart
Professor of Psychology
"But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest., whose waters cast up mire and dirt." Isa. 57:20.
"As for me, I shall behold Thy Face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I shall awake with Thy likeness." Ps. 17:15.
Basic Anxiety is universal in human nature; it lasts a lifetime; and it occurs in no other except our own. It is to be distinguished from all other forms of anxiety and fear -- for it forms the roots of all these other fears, the so-called Manifest Anxieties. Strictly speaking, it is not an anxiety at all, but rather it is the basis of anxiety, The Manifest Anxieties are definite fear states which the victims recognize as such, whether they recognize the object of their fear or not. Manifest Anxieties appear in such conditions as free floating Anxiety, Anxiety tension state, and Anxiety neurosis. Also the Basic Fears, which will be described later, are specific fears of a manifest variety. A scriptural description of such manifest fear is- "the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of My fury." Isa.51:22.
Basic Anxiety is a normal state of restless uneasiness and loneliness universally present in every human being, all of his life, and peculiar to our species only, but it is usually not sensed as a form of frank fear or anxiety, It is a gnawing, restless.q irritable, intangible stimulus, which makes us go on and do things in order to cover up the dissatisfactions above. It is characterized by uncertainty, diffuseness, and a sense of incompleteness.
The basic requirement of human nature is love (I John 41l9). In Scripture we are enabled to envision a time when human nature was truly motivated "at the impulse of Thy love." Sin is not only lawlessness and disobedience; it is also a violation of love,
Even though the Freudians have initiated and used the term, Basic Anxiety, their use of it has not been helpful, since each writer has used it in his own varying, implied definition. Some have even used the term to denote a condition which others would call free floating Anxiety. Hence it has become necessary to construct our own definition in keeping with the best correct usage. Shoemaker, a liberal Christian counselor, says that he believes Basic Anxiety "may be akin to the spark of life itself, and may have been put within us to keep us from becoming too much like vegetables.... But unless basic anxiety finds some adequate outlet and satisfaction, it causes us to live lives of "quiet desperation'."1 He says that some people eat and sloop in excess as an overcompensation for it and some use work and pleasure as a refuge from it. But none of those substitutes is quite what we want. So life is for many people a series of attempts to got away from themselves and to resolve their Basic Anxiety. He says there are only two possible centers for our basic emotion: ourselves or God, Basal anxiety is given a dictionary definition of "the fear of being helpless in a potentially hostile universe."2 Horney says that this helplessness is im2licit in basic anxiety, the result of being in a delemna without being.
1Dr. Samuel Shoomaircer, How You Can Help Other People (E.P. Dutton Co., Now York, 1948) p. 55.
2P, Lo Harriman, Now Dictionary of Psycholopy (Philosphical Library, New York, 1947)
aware of it.3 She also says that basic anxiety is in everybody, that it is the same everywhere: a feeling of being small. insignificant, helpless,. deserted, endangered. The fear itself is often repressed.4
Men of the world have shown an interest in the origin of Basic Anxiety, but none can agree in their varied suggestions and conjectures. Some say that there is a phobic element in every successive breath. Others suggest that it arises out of the trauma of birth, but they fail to explain why animals experience birth without it, or if they refer to the usual spanking at birth, there are many humans who do not require spanking in order to induce them in initiate breathing. Others, who present a religious viewpoint, suggest that man was created with Basic Anxiety. None of these views is correct, because they do not coincide with the record of the origin of human nature in Genesis. The real cause of Basic Anxiety is the Fall of man, whereby he-sinned against God, and has transmitted to us in some way, the sin nature with its inevitable accumulation of sin acts. Guilt and fear and overcompensatory striving are all involved in its origin and inevitable continuance, Man was not created with Basic Anxiety, but he acquired it through the original sin. Thus we see that Basic Anxiety has not only a relationship to the origin of sin in human nature, but that much of human motivation is involved as well. It is the purpose of this paper to outline the details of this relationship and to show the only possible solution of this problem in the Scriptures.
First let us look behind the scenes and see what human nature was like before the Fall insofar as this is revealed. The basic physiological drives of man were completely satisfied (hunger, sex, and activity) in a completely desirable way, The basic personality needs (security, affection, and success) were also so completely fulfilled through the presence of the Lord God, that man was probably unaware of these needs as he is at present, Since the Basic Losses, mentioned later, had not yet been sustained, the Basic Impulses, which arise from them, were not found in human nature. In other words., neither Ego Recognition nor Ego Satisfaction6 was the impelling force in human nature. Through the presence of God, man received all the recognition and satisfaction he needed (See Chart I). Conscience, and its component; function -- the moral judgment -- were intact, as shown by their reaction to the law laid down in Gen. 2:17. But conscience had not yet been activated by guilt, and therefore the awareness of it was minimal. Man was motivated by the Love of God.
Fig. 1 shows the development of the changes in human nature from its primal state to its post-Edenic form. Man sustained two Basic Losses which gave rise to the two Basic Impulses, which are now commonly referred to by the secular psycholoists. The Basic Needs also, now no .longer provided abundantly, become the occasion of human striving. There is also a desperate attempt to substitute one of them for another. The infraction of Love, has brought lovelessness into human nature to such
down into a pattern of conduct arising out of these things# Stimulating him into activity, it spurs him on to carry out the work of the world and all its pleasures, as a compensation for his lack. Also the motives and urges (the Bible term is thirsts) arise out of his Basic Impulses. These thirsts are mentioned in specific detail in Chart II, but it can be seen that they easily organize themselves into the three "things that are in the world" mentioned in I John 2-.15,16. Altogether they comprise the Sin Nature of man, the background upon which overt sin acts are sure to occur. Their presence is due to the fact that the heart, that inner core of human nature, has been distorted and rendered wicked. (Jer. 17:9). In the believer,, these constitute the Old Man or the former self. This part of us continues to constitute a part of us and can never be converted, it must be rendered inoperative. The flesh or the lower nature is that portion of the sin nature which is most specifically turned in upon the bodily self in egocentric interest.
Guilt has become constant, but the awareness of guilt is merely relative with it come the various fears of human nature. When Adam had to face God with his sin, it set up a terror, described in Genesis 3, which was so severe that the only modern name for it is PANIC, in .capital letters. In fact, the withdrawal of God's immediate presence was a mercy to prevent man from becoming undone. Even today, man cannot thus face God and live. At the same time the seven Basic Fears (see Chart II) were originally activated. All these fears may still be activated under proper stimulus, but since they arc Manifest Fears they must have a stimulus. Also following this severe ordeal of PANIC, Basic Anxiety was aroused in human nature and continues on in its background even into the lives of believers. We have already shown that this so-called Basic Anxiety is really the basis of anxiety and that it it a motivating force which drives men on to do the things that men do in the world, unlike any other species, Rural electrification, battles of bulges, circuses, business, inventions, explorations, studies, all arise from this peculiarly human "stir craze" which comes to us through our Basic Anxiety.
Neither is it possible to be rid of this Basic Anxiety even in the Christian life. The warning against the frankly manifest forms of anxiety at the end of the sixth chapter of Matthew is not concerned with Basic Anxiety, but rather with manifest anxiety for the basic things of life, with which God promises to supply His true children, we are told to be anxious about nothing (Phil. 4:6) and then the peace that passes all understanding is promised to us. We may have all of this peace of mind and heart, but still we retain our Basic Anxiety. It never leaves in this life* "Perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:18). But believers do not yet have perfect love.
The Basic Anxiety as well as the Sin Nature come forth from the "heart," that core and center of man's personality. The "heart" in Scripture seldom refers to the organic pump within the body (as it does in-Ex. 28:29), but refers usually to that part of personality which was supposed to have a relationship to the bodily organ (and modern psychosomatics shows that it does have such a relationship). The heart is not the whole personality, but it represents the whole personality, for it is that point at which the whole personality converges to a focus. It is the very essence of personality -- the real you inside, -- in contra-distinction to the various functions of consciousness and conduct which we usually study as psychology Out from the heart come all the various activities of our personalities,. Animals do not have "heart" in this psychological sense and neither do they have Basic Anxiety. Animals also have bodily flesh, made of molecules, atoms and cells., but they do not have the "flesh" in its psychological sense of the lower nature. The reason that animals cannot have any of these t1hroe characteristics of human nature is that to have them would require the presence of mental images,, conceptual thinking, reasoning, insight, and consciousness of self as self -- all of which are entirely absent from
animal consciousness -- as proved by various Scripture passages and by our own
experience with their behavior. These are possible only in that erstwhile image of
God which vie call man.
God's ways are not our ways, and thus the "flesh" which arises with Basic Anxiety, due to guilt and sin., should by no means become the motivating force of our Christian lives. As Christians, we are told to seek the things which are above. (Col. 3:1) and even to sot the affections on the things above (Col. 3:2). Even now the Love of God is the specific cure for the manifest anxieties$ and it should be the motivation for the Christian life. The rich motivation for the work of the world which is furnished in Basic Anxiety is thus replaced by something better and oven more abundant. Christian motivation cuts diametrically across all the lines of both Basic Anxiety and the manifest anxieties. Indeed, it cannot be conformed to the things of this world because it is a genuine transformations which is not of this world,
For instance, our fears are given this simple sedative: "I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears" (Ps. 34:4). The itch for wealth is given this anodyne: "let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good..." (Eph. 4:28). Self-seeking is given the lethal dose: "deny the self" (Mark 9:34). The search for pleasure is diluted with a greater love for God (II Tim. 3:4). Aggression also has its potent soporific in Gal, 5:26, where we learn that we should not be desirous of vain-glory nor the provoking of others.
In the face of these ideals of behavior, psychology has nothing to offer. Like human nature itself, it is unable to perform that which is good. Psychology is able to offer description of the things of Christian human natures provided that it keep on scriptural grounds. It can also offer certain techniques of evaluating and manipulating human nature, but it can never give the dynamic of supernatural change. Only Christ can do that. But it can furnish method and pattern for the human efforts which partakes therein. Man must, in his heart, choose whom he will serve (Rom. 61l6') but only Jesus Christ, as Lord of the life, can deliver him from the way of the flesh (Rom. 7:25).
We shall be delivered from Basic Anxiety, and from the susceptibility to the Basic Fears, only when we are also delivered from the presence of sin. It is still normal for people to show fear of nakedness, even though individuals may be conditioned out of it. But it is present through-out the Christian life, We never become so Christian that we become nudists. Likewise the fear of death does not leave us, but it makes slaves of us. "That through death He might destroy him that had the power of death And deliver them who, through the fear of death, were
all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14,15). Only at the resurrection
of the just will we be free from the uneasiness and dissatisfactions of Basic
In summary, Basic Anxiety is a vague and intangible restlessness universally and continuously experienced by humans only, as a result of the guilt of the original sins transmitted to every descendant in Adam's race. It gives rise to those adjustments and maladjustments which are so characteristic of human behavior, which are scripturally known as "the flesh." Through the Cross, the Lord Jesus has insured that that dissatisfaction which we call Basic Anxiety will be cured when the body is redeemed and raised. "I shall be satisfied when I shall awake with Thy likeness" (Ps. 17:15).