Daniel 2: Part 6: More about the Natural Mind’s Pain and Search for Identity that Leads to Dissociation
In this article we will see in Scripture that the response to the pain of never having been affirmed in life is deep-seated anger.
This person in the end times represented by Nebuchadnezzar has wrestled with his need for identity and exhausted every possible source of help in the natural. He has looked to everyone he knows hoping that someone will affirm him and tell him in some way that he is valuable and loved. He doesn’t need to hear those exact words, but he needs someone to treat him with respect and loving concern. No one has done this for him. The deep need for identity is so powerful that without it, he feels he can no longer continue with life as it has been.
This next verse will reveal more:
Dan 2:12 For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
We see that his response to his great need that has gone unmet is to be extremely angry…in fact he is furious. This describes a large portion of the citizenry of our nation today and other nations as well. People are angry. They are ready to erupt at the slightest provocation into acts of violence and lawlessness. They are angry because their need for identity has not been met. No one was around to demonstrate to them that they are valuable, precious and loved. Their father deserted them. Their mother went to work and got a boyfriend who abused them. Deserted mothers typically fall through the cracks ending up in the welfare system. Unfortunately, this very system covertly incentivizes their recipients to produce more illegitimate children—children whose needs for love and identity are left unmet. With the erosion of morality that has swept over our nation, the nuclear family has been sorely compromised. There has been so much adultery and divorce that an enormous number of couples have opted to live together rather than get married. When things get difficult in the relationship, since there is no marriage covenant, one or the other party departs from the relationship. There are children born to these couplcs…children whose emotional needs have not been met. These children are angry.
When people are angry, they have pain deep inside that they may not be aware of. Many people don’t even know they are angry, yet they can erupt into foul language and a tirade over the smallest frustration. If Dad drops his toast on the floor and can’t find his clean shirt so he can leave for work on time, everyone better stay out of his way for the rest of the day. He is so used to being angry, he doesn’t even realize it. He also doesn’t realize how devastating his angry outbursts are to the children. When a little preschool child sees his six-foot-tall father raging and stomping around the house, he is traumatized with fear. He doesn’t feel safe. He has to cope with his fear in some way.
As stated earlier, many people are not aware of how angry they really are. I remember one man who was entering fulltime pastoral ministry. His church denomination required he pass a battery of psychological tests before ordaining him to the ministry. His tests were evaluated and he was told by a psychiatrist that he was an extremely angry person. His response to that was to say, I’m not angry, I’m just intense. It took several years of difficult experiences to bring that man to the place where he could admit he was angry. As he learned later, he was angry because his need to know he was valued and loved had never been met by his parents. Underneath his anger was pain.
What happens when people throughout an entire nation are angry? We may soon find out. We see little outbursts from time to time when people riot over some incident in the news or when a mass killer gets a gun and goes on a rampage as happened at Virginia Tech and has tragically happened in many other places. There have been events nationwide that sparked fires of rage and lawlessness and destructive behavior in several of our cities. The governmental response to these outbursts has not been good. Why would mayors of large cities defund the police when whole sections of their cities have been devastated by rioting and fires? Not a subject to be tackled here, but I make my point—many people are filled with latent rage.
Getting back to our verse…not only was the king angry, but he issued a decree. He “commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.” It is a significant reaction to anger and one that affects all people. It separates us from God and makes us more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
Who are the wise men of Babylon that the natural mind plans to destroy? Daniel and his three friends. As we learned earlier, Daniel represents our spiritual mind, and his three friends are three understandings that support the spiritual mind—(1) knowing he is loved, (2) knowing the character of God and (3) knowing that God protects and helps him. In the king’s intense anger and frustration, he is about to cut himself off from the only part of himself that can help him.
How does a mind make such a decree? The key to understanding this is found in the exact meaning of the Hebrew word translated “destroy” in the King James Version of the Bible. “Destroy” means “to lose oneself” and “break.” When the mind breaks, it splits away from another part of the mind and loses itself. This is a picture of dissociation that demonstrates what happens when we split. We lose our connection with the part of us that is in communion with God. We split in unbelief and therefore that part of us that broke away is not able to connect with God.
Just to recap what we’ve been seeing here—God has given us a picture of dissociation hidden away in the ancient story of Daniel. The king, representing the natural mind, has made the decision to split away from the rest of his conscious mind because of the pain of not being affirmed in his identity. The anger and frustration over no one helping him know he is valuable and loved has brought him to the point of desperation. His only recourse in the natural, so he thinks, is to form another self to escape the pain which this tragic omission in his life has created. The next few verses reinforce that this is indeed dissociation.
Dan 2:13 And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
The Hebrew word for “slain” means “to cut off.” Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament states regarding this verb, “the primary idea is that of cutting.” How does a natural mind cut off? It cuts off part of itself to get away from its pain. There is so much in the Bible about dissociation (hidden beneath the surface as we see here in Daniel) that there is no doubt this is a major issue facing the people of the end times. Not only is it everywhere in the Bible, I see it all over our society. People aren’t looking for it and therefore don’t see it. Once we become aware of how common dissociation is (in varying degrees, of course) we can understand why many Christians struggle to maintain consistency in their Christian walk.
Sometimes we feel full of faith and very close to God. We feel secure in God’s love and all is right with the world. The next day we can be totally different. God seems to be a million miles away. We don’t even feel like a Christian. The Bible seemed so alive to us yesterday, but today it takes all the strength we can muster to pick it up and begin reading. We may decide not to read at all.
Most people have no idea that at various times in their life, they felt so hurt and neglected that they unconsciously made the decision to split. They broke away from their true self in which their spirit lives and formed a false persona to make them feel more accepted or more powerful in whatever situation they were facing. When we split in this way, these parts of us will remain disconnected from our true self in which our spirit dwells until God heals and restores us.
God can heal us in different ways. I had a happy childhood and formed less of these false selves than most of my friends and family who were not so blessed. God has healed me through the work of the cross and through prayer. In dreams he has shown me a dissociated part and brought it into joy and union with my true self. We will learn much more about dissociation as our study continues.