The Challenge of Accountability

In an entitlement culture people, do what they want and, seek to defend their position. Yet, doing what one wants is inclusive of tormenting consequences, some immediate and others not so. Our antecedents inescapably consequence us diachronically. Causality would ask: What are the antecedents in your life? How do they govern your consequences? I’ve been having this conversation with my patients, that begins with another question: What motivates your defensiveness? Interestingly, a reflective response is what I most often get.                                   

This pensive posture is evidence of a persistent problem: Hurt people hurt people. Yes, all of us are hurt people hurting people and the challenge to humankind, in surviving our hurtful experiences, is bringing them to a measurable resolve. Lacking the courage to be accountable for our unresolved issues becomes the motivator of our defensiveness. In so being, we are consumed by our consequences not willing or not knowing that our unresolved antecedents are the cause of what’s eating us: alive. I’ve learned from my patients that what may be happening, within one another, has to do with one’s willingness (or lack of) to be accountable. Accountable for what one might ask? In defense, it is our Unresolved Pain. That being true, I’ve found this psychological equation at work within us: Bio Psycho Socio Spiritual categorical identitifyiers of one’s unresolved pain, consequences us in this way.

Conveniently located within our person, pain, defined holistically, is simultaneously inclusive of our personhood: A Biopsychosociospiritual BPSS phenomenon. This term is more useful than one might first think, in its definition of what it means to be human and how that person may identify their experience with pain.                                                                   

For example, humans are a dichotomous being: material (Bio – Socio) and immaterial (Psycho – Spiritual). Humankinds’ experience with pain is a largely unresolved biopsychosociospiritual consequence governed by antecedent causality. If we only knew pain’s purpose for our lives, life would be lived with a clearer sense of personal wellbeing. Maybe you don’t care or can’t care r/t a personal sense of wellbeing for various justified or unjustified consequences: abandoned or not validated.

At this juncture, a question must be asked: If the consequences are the aftermath, what are the causal antecedents? In my work as a Law Enforcement Chaplain, I learned about absolutes r/t consequences and antecedents. As Chaplains, one of our purposes for being present was to assist the police officers with Death Notifications, DNs. One particular task, within a DN, is to assist the notifyee to gain a measure of comfort through debriefing, defusing, and responding to the notifyee’s particular need for acute closure.                                                                                                                                               Referring back to the above diagram (Pain-Defensiveness-Entitlement-PPD) the need for closure (i.e. resolve) is as imperative for the notifyee of the DN as it is for the individual / person represented in the diagram. Without closure, our pain remains unresolved as we become trapped and eaten alive by our BPSS consequences unnecessarily. Similar to removing a bloodsucking leech, resolve the antecedents the consequences reduce themselves. For the Notifyee, this is most often impossible in the first moments of a DN. However, sometimes they would ask me to bring them to the scene of the death of their loved one. After removing the body (and not w/o discernment), I would accommodate their request for the expressed purpose of acute resolve.                                             

Although this limited measure of resolve may only bring limited closure, it most often significantly palliates the Notifyee’s immediate pain. It is a Bio – Psycho – Socio – Spiritual experience that initiates one’s journey towards closure, all the while, tormenting diachronic unresolved issues are found lurking in the shadows of closure, often for entire lifetimes and espousing their transgenerational consequences to the 3rd and 4th generation. In a similar light, DNs reveal the factual truths of what it means to be human: Material and immaterial, Dichotomous beings.  Interestingly, Spencer, whose education was exceptionally free of restraints and guidance, was incomplete in his understanding of what it means to be human:

for he developed [10 years before Darwin’s Origin of the Species] an all-embracing concept of evolution, applied to every realm of reality, as the progressive development of the universe -- the biosphere, the sociosphere, and the psychosphere of human consciousness. All living things as well as the human mind, our culture and our social interaction all, according to Spencer, come under the aegis of evolutionary progress.  There is no realm of reality which Is exempt from this inevitability and Spencer, unlike lesser men of meeker courage, chose to address the universe in its entirety.

Morgan, John H.; Morgan, John H. Understanding Ourselves: Essays in the History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences (p. 6). Wyndham Hall Press. Kindle Edition.

But did Spencer address the universe in its entirety? Maybe it was the rejecting of his father’s spirituality, a religious dissenter of Methodist origins and destined to embrace Quaker principles of the Society of Friends that motivated Spencer to deceive the scientific community of his day (1850s), which he led, to embrace Darwinism. When in reality, the scientific community of our day has proven that humans have more in common with the household rat than we do with primates and the imaginary prim-evil Neanderthal. The evil that humankind inflicts on e/o is ample proof of the constant variable of primordial pain.

Morgan, John H.; Morgan, John H. Understanding Ourselves: Essays in the History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences (p. 7). Wyndham Hall Press. Kindle Edition.

If anything is prim - evil, it is the constant diachronic variable of pain that has inflicted and constantly confronts humankind. The proceeding diagram provides an inside view of one’s experience with pain.


The preceding and proceeding illustrations suggest, a warzone, our pain-narrative never stops and is challenging to resolve. It seeks to invite humanity to conversive transcendence. Humankinds’ relationship with the transcendent is helpful, relevant and recognizable throughout civilizations’ historically diverse cultural determinism and generativity, especially in its description of the dichotomous nature of humankind. Transcendence that adds value to our personhood is meaningful for its value added and purposeful for its integral interrelatedness. The rest are as useful as filthy (bloody) minstrel pads.

Painful intra-interpersonals reach beyond cultural societal (macro) determinism and focuses on humankinds’ intrapersonal relationship within a painful (micro) world. Our micro intrapersonal world of pain can be expressed as: a complexity of painful experiences flooded by a barrage of unanswered adrenaline inundated questions.

The proceeding graph is concerned enough about you to ask: Where do you discover yourself on the graph? The loops in the pain-experience line are there to add a human factor of variables with the additional realization that pain is expected to be experienced differently in a personal (micro) sense yet categorically similar in a human societal (macro) sense. Predictably, pain does not wait in single file to afflict us. Pain’s confrontation barrages us as if we live within a warzone with our pain. How will the sufferer maintain accountability within such a complex environment?


This is the conversation my patients and I have, as we seek to assess unresolved pain experiences. Within this diachronic warzone with pain, I ask: How will you resolve your pain? What has worked for my patients is to initiate a conversation. An insight-oriented, pain-share, talk therapy conversation prescribing narrative medicine for a conversive just-right challenge. This narrative is a particular pain-story to share. Just as pain needs to be identified, we also need to entrust (share) our pain-story with one who cares enough to listen and to validate what they are hearing. This sharing provides the relationship for resolve. However, virtue is required to maintain this very compassionate relationship, to guide the Sufferer to a place of hope.

The place of hope is not conveniently located and arriving there can be a chaotic descend with a steep climb out which many never ascend. The challenge is one of conversive accountability. Yet when one cannot find their way out of their pain-event, even after the sincerest of efforts, they continue their free-fall into the abyss of unipolar depression or worse. One might ask: What could be worse? Well, ask the sufferer who is pictured here.

In this narrative, one might ask: Who is the patient? Well, you are. You are the one hurting self and others. Conceived within one’s experience with pain is another question. How do hurt people stop hurting people? The answer I offer my patients is to accept hurt as an invitation to love. I realize that the term love is an abused and misinterpreted term. Therefore love, may best be interpreted as the virtue to provide particulars for the sufferer; a substance of love as they would define it. That defines the challenge of accountability. The virtue of love, one is accountable to express, is fulfilled when we provide the particular substance of empathy for the sufferer. In this way we keep ourselves accountable to love our neighbor as would be appropriately other-oriented and unconditional.


Dr. B.