He angrily swiped at the cup of water on the desk in front of him, hurling it against the wall. He stood up, his face flushed and red, and his fists tightly clenched. Yelling into the hallway, the hospital corridor was pierced by his strident declaration, “I am a human being!”
“Hey…HEY! Calm down!” One of the nearby medical assistants attempted to mollify him. He violently pushed him away as he continued to shout, “I AM A HUMAN BEING!!”
I was frightened and stole a glance at the closest door, seeking a chance to escape. Hospital security soon arrived and escorted him away. What could have precipitated such an outburst? I later learned that one of the attending professors in another department of the hospital had complained about his language skills, asserting that he could not understand him.
He was a brilliant researcher and a compassionate physician. Immigrating from another country where English was not his primary language, his language skills were not as advanced as his medical proficiency and he encountered frequent problems communicating with other medical staff. Apparently, this was not the first time something like this happened. A few years earlier, when he first arrived in the United States, he encountered a similar criticism from another one of his pathology professors. This initial incident left him embittered and subsequent episodes that reminded him of that fateful day triggered hostile and violent responses.
Embitterment can destroy a person, wiping out common sense and sober judgment. It may arise from one or several incidents in a person’s life and the reactions may vary from feelings of indignation to violent behavior. The psychiatric community has identified a Posttraumatic Embitterment Disorder (PTED), citing precise diagnostic criteria and an embitterment scale for risk assessment. This incident occurred many years before the identification of such a disorder but I suspect that he was suffering from this.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Hebrews 12:15 (ESV)
I have felt embittered over a variety of different circumstances. I suspect I am not alone and for some, the experiences may be so painful that they may exhibit some manifestations of PTED. To whom can one turn to for help?
God understands our hurts and never asks us to cover them up or attempt to bury these memories deep within our psyche. He invites us to give our hurts to Him, to confess our pain and suffering and heal us. God invites us to receive His grace, an undeserved kindness, to take our embittered feelings away. When we allow Him to do this, He fills us with a peace that surpasses all understanding.
This is what it truly means to be a human being. We need to acknowledge that we are completely lost, wallowing in our bitterness unless we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.