On December 31, 1974, I was living in Colorado Springs. Even though that was several years ago, there were a couple of pieces of headline news on the last Tuesday of 1974 that caught my attention.
Since it was the middle of the football bowl season I was glued to my TV set, and I saw Nebraska beat Florida in the 41st Sugar Bowl. As a baseball fan I paid attention to the news that free agent pitcher Catfish Hunter had signed a record $3.75 million contract to pitch for the NY Yankees for the next 5 years.
There was something else in the news that day, and it was anosognosia. The best way to define anosognosia is to tell the story of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.
While vacationing in the Bahamas, Douglas was hospitalized with a debilitating stroke that left him confined him to a wheelchair. Even though he was paralyzed, Douglas asserted he was fine and demanded to be checked out of the hospital. He went so far as to declare that reports of his paralysis were “a myth.”
To prove his point, Douglas invited news reporters to join him for a hike. He even told the reporters that he had been kicking field goals with his paralyzed leg. As a result of this strange behavior, Douglas was dismissed from his seat on the Supreme Court.
Anosognosia is a cognitive impairment that denies reality. People, like Justice Douglas, believe they are fine, but in reality they are sick or suffering from some sort of paralysis.
Many people suffer from anosognosia in the sense that they refuse to admit the truth about their spiritual condition. Why is this? It could be attributed to the cognitive dissonance that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent.
When it comes to spiritual anosognosia, the inconsistent cognitions are: I am a good person, and I am a sinner. How can a good person be a sinner and how can a sinner be a good person?
Mankind has struggled with this dilemma since the time of Adam and Eve. The solution to this situation is Jesus Christ. This faulty cognition is resolved with a simple admission: I am not, nor have I ever been perfect.
Because none of us have ever measured up to God’s standard of perfection, we are in need of the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ. The confession of our transgression allows us to embrace a new relationship: Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence (2 Corinthians 5:17).
A new of way of living: I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.