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James 1:8 (ESV),

he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Here "double-minded" is a translation of δίψυχος, a compound of δίς, meaning "twice" (from δύο, the number "2") and ψυχή, referring to "soul".

The word seems to indicate someone who is two-souled, not in a literal sense of actually having two different souls in one body, but of a soul that is divided into two pieces, or somehow otherwise broken, if you will.

From HELPS Word Study:

1374 dípsyxos (an adjective, derived from 1364 /dís, "two" and 5590 /psyxḗ, "soul") – properly, "two souled"; (figuratively) "double-minded," i.e. a person "split in half," vacillating like a "spiritual schizophrenic." This term may have been coined in the NT (R. Lenski, P. Davids).

This reminds me somewhat of bipolar mood disorder, and I am wondering if it would be acceptable to understand James' use of δίψυχος in such a way.

https://biblehub.com/greek/1374.htm https://biblehub.com/greek/1364.htm https://biblehub.com/greek/1417.htm https://biblehub.com/greek/5590.htm

  • The lexicon you quoted clearly says that δίψυχος is actually "schizophrenic" per se not bipolar. These mental illnesses are entirely different. I didn't see how you connect bipolar disorder with dípsyxos when schizophrenia was already mentioned. Perhaps, you could explain how in your question – Radz C. Brown Jan 26 at 18:45
  • Hi, Radz. Thanks for responding. I saw the use of schizophrenic in the lexicon, but I found the use of it less compelling, as schizophrenia is defined as having a severe psychological break from reality, or being unable to discern reality from fantasy. Bipolar mood disorder seems to fit better with the context of a person seemingly pulled in two opposite directions, mentally and emotionally speaking. – The Votive Soul Jan 26 at 21:20
  • You're welcome. :) I'm not sure how δίψυχος relates with bipolar disorder. Bipolar patients have mood swings from depressive to manic and vice versa. The DSM-5 requires that its symptoms must be met for one to be diagnosed with it. I think you thought of this from the phrase "unstable in all his ways" in which are also symptom for Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD in Adult etc. – Radz C. Brown Jan 27 at 0:04
  • Hi, Radz. Thanks for the dialogue. Actually, I was thinking of bipolar, the manic and depressive phases as being the "two souls" of δίψυχος. Of course, the instability of being two-souled or double-minded goes well along with that. The main connection I am drawing is between the use of δίς ( meaning twice) from δύο (meaning the number 2) and bi, from Latin bis, meaning twice or two. The meaning between the two prefixes is identical, and the polarity of moods seems to coincide well with what it might mean to have more than one soul, as it were, operating in a single individual. – The Votive Soul Jan 27 at 12:39
  • Did you by any chance miss verse six ? – Lucian Feb 1 at 7:24
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The humanity of man, inwardly, is as complex - and more so - than the body of man which is wondrously composed. 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made' says the Psalmist, 139:14.

But just as the internals of the body are not (visibly) compartmentalised (though the organs all have their own specialised functions) so the immaterial parts of humanity are varied but not in separate boxes, as it were. They function together, in concert, each affecting the other and each adding to the whole.

So we say 'heart' and we might mean 'will'. We say 'mind' and sometimes we are expressing one of the functions of the soul, not just what resides inside the skull in a physical organ.

'Double-minded' is by far the most common translation of what the OP rightly points out is literally in Greek, 'double-souled'. (I am uncertain if that has one 'l' or two. The spell checker accepts neither.)

δίψυχος, διψυχον (δίς and ψυχή), double-minded; a. wavering, uncertain, doubting: James 1:8 (

Thayer - Biblehub (Strong 1374)

If 'wavering' then the will is involved, and the intention, and the mind which has cognitive function.

We don't have a suitable word in English to express what the Greek so ably conveys.

Which is why I think that all the competent translators have stayed with 'double-minded'.

I am not qualified in the area of mood disorders but I would have thought that a 'mood' is a matter of emotions, of sensibilities and is therefore not as deep a matter as mind/heart/soul/will/intent.

Moods are ephemeral. Moods change. But the heart is fixed. Where your treasure is there will your heart be also, Matthew 6:21. What the mind fixes on, will affect the will.

  • Hi, Nigel. Thanks for responding. The use of "mood" in bipolar mood disorder is not so much about the moods but rather about the disorder that is created in a person's life by the bipolarity of a person's moods, in that, there is a regular shifting between two different mental phases, that psychologically tear people apart emotionally and physically. – The Votive Soul Jan 26 at 21:23
  • Great answer! The state of indecision (= double minded) does not necessarily imply bipolar disorder. – Dottard Feb 8 at 21:44
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It is hard to understand this verse without reading 5-7.

I had an experience of being double-minded. I was one-day seeking answers from God concerning a particular doctrine. I had my ideas about what the doctrine meant. But, a few people had different views concerning this doctrine. So, I thought I would seek God’s wisdom concerning the matter.

So, prayed, and a strange thing happened. I have often prayed about similar matters, and God would answer me. But this time it was different. When I prayed, it seemed as if no one was listing. Usually, it at least felt like someone was listening. I thought I had done something wrong.

Then one day, I again read James 5-8 and understood verse 8. Though with my lips, I asked for His understanding concerning this doctrine, in my mind, I had already decided that I was right. I was a double-minded man, Unstable in my ways. I realized that I did not seek God’s answer. I just wanted God to confirm my answer.

Christ said, Expect we become as little children we will never enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). I needed to become as a small child, humble, meek, submissive, and walk up to my Father and tug on his His pant leg, ready and will to expect His great wisdom.

When seeking answers or wisdom from God, we must have our hearts and mind singularly fixed on Him. We must be our minds humble and ready to receive His instruction.

If not, as verse 7 says. “That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (NIV)

After I humbled myself, God answered my prayer. I learned my view of the doctrine was wrong. O, how great the wisdom of our God!

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