Materialism and Type-A Behavior

The desire to accumulate material possessions as proof of success and well-being is related to Type A behavior. That is the conclusion drawn by Australian researchers who penned “An Exploratory Look at the Relationship Between Materialistic Values and Goals and Type A Behaviour.” The Australian study published by the Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology and authored by Shaun A. Sanders, Michael W. Allen, and Kay Pozzebon found that materialism engenders aggressive, impatient, and sometimes hostile behaviors typified by a Type-A behavioral pattern. In their study, the authors note that “social … [Read more...]

A Bit on Compulsive Buying’s Distant Cousin

Before taking leave of this series on compulsive buying, I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts concerning compulsive buying’s distant cousin, hoarding, that tendency to stockpile possessions and that difficulty to let go of items that just might be useful if the right occasion arrives. I describe them as distant cousins because the two maladies share some basic family resemblance in terms of being about our relationship with material things, but fail to live like close relatives in the same house with the same daily routine. Hoarders like compulsive buyers tend to view … [Read more...]

I Believe in God the Father Almighty

In returning to our Sunday series of reflections upon the Nicene Creed and core beliefs, it might be helpful to be reminded of our core premise in this series-“What would it mean if the believer could deeply assimilate the beliefs laid out in the Creed on the same level as the core-beliefs described earlier? Couldn’t the Creed potentially reshape idiosyncratic core beliefs or even create new ones ex nihilo? Couldn’t it change one’s perspective on life, death, loved ones, difficult people, and one’s own self-image? Couldn’t it affect our rules for living and even our automatic thoughts?” The … [Read more...]

Compulsive Buying: Filling the Closets and Emptying the Soul

In contemporary consumer society, the choices of products for sale seem almost endless, and yet those things that are most valuable and most useful for the soul cannot be purchased at any store or ordered online. Nevertheless, many have fallen into the trap of compulsive buying, a behavioral disorder that fills one’s closets, but only empties one’s soul. In her essay, “A New Look At ‘Compulsive Buying’:  Self-Discrepancies and Materialistic Values as Predictors of Compulsive Buying Tendency”, Helga Dittmar theorizes that this form of buying involves psychological deficits rather than material … [Read more...]

Ideal Selves, Ideal Images, or the Image of God

We all have our own stories about who we are, stories that are part fact and part fiction, with the dividing line between the two being less than clear. In order to feel good about ourselves, we sometimes make these stories into an ideal image of who we should be or who we wish we were. Unfortunately, that ideal image can make us, often unwittingly, arrogant in the original sense of the word, arrogating or appropriating qualities that we don’t really fully hold. And also regrettably, this ideal image has very little to do with either the ideals of the Gospel or with the image of God, but … [Read more...]

The Self-concept and Our Identity as Christians

Mine, me, and no are important words in a child’s vocabulary and in the later life of most people in this post-fallen world. They coalesce into what psychologists call a self-concept, our own personal, but often semi-conscious definition of ourselves based on how others, especially our parents, describe us. Thus, we we tend to define ourselves by our appearance, our intelligence, our abilities, and our possessions as well as by our relationships with others and the way they look at us. A positive self-concept helps us feel good about ourselves; a negative self-concept makes us feel bad about … [Read more...]

Self-esteem, Philautia, and the Fathers’ Solution

For many people, the barometer, that determines whether they are happy or not, has to do with their self-esteem. William James once defined self-esteem as “perceived competence in domains of importance.” So if I value writing good posts, my self esteem should go up if others tell me that such is the case and I will then feel good about myself. If a businessman values becoming a CEO, a promotion to that position will be a promotion in self-esteem that will make him feel good about himself. If young woman values being a smart dresser, comments by others to that effect will increase her … [Read more...]