HUMANISM AND MODERN PSYCHOLOGY
Weldon E. Warnock
The most dangerous of all college disciplines is the field of psychology. Freud and his humanistic disciples have taken over this academic discipline (that is studied by 85 percent of today's college students), and they use it to propagate the five basic doctrines of humanism:
4. autonomous self-centered man;
5. socialist one world view.
Every phase of psychology . . . . is based on these erroneous assumptions" (Tim LaHaye, Foreword, An Answer to Humanistic Psychology, by Nelson E. Hinman).
Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis
The basic weakness of modem psychology and psychiatry is that they have left out God. Behavioral psychology says that man is totally the product of his cultural environment. It denies that man has a soul or that he can even make a free choice. He is controlled by his environment, trapped and programmed by it. To talk of man being made in the image of God, thereby being responsible for his actions, is nothing more than theological myth to the behaviorists. Man is a machine, they say. We would agree that, to an extent, man is what his environment is, but that does not mean he cannot transcend his surroundings, or rise above his environment. The Corinthians did (1 Cor. 6:9-11) and we can, too.
Freudian psychology or psychoanalysis sees all problems resulting from a bad childhood. There are three areas that receive much attention in psychoanalytic therapy: (1) society, (2) family and (3) sexual drives. Freud maintained that society, especially the church, severely inhibits man's ego. The family, parents and grandparents, builds barriers in their children's egos, and sexual drives are suppressed by society, especially the church, and the family. All of these forces inhibit instinctive releases in a person and cause frustrations, neurosis, psychosis, and even schizophrenia.
Both of these schools are antithetic to biblical teachings, making it impossible for reconciliation. Behaviorists, believing that man is nothing more than an animal, studies man in the framework of animal behavior and treats his improper behavior with positive-negative reinforcement, desensitization (an example is overcoming fear of a dog by showing people happily playing with a dog), drugs, or alteration of brain states, either by electric stimulation or surgery. The father of behaviorism was James Watson and the leading proponent is B.F. Skinner.
It is true that man, at times, has needs requiring reinforcement, drug therapy and the other things mentioned above. But viewing man totally as an animal, and environmentally controlled and deterministically guided, behaviorism is unable to explain man's non-material needs, such as love, justice, peace, truth, loyalty, good conscience, hope, etc. These can only be explained from a biblical perspective that man is also a spiritual being, created in the image of God.
Psychoanalysts, like behaviorists, make somebody else responsible for malfunction in human beings. Those with deviant behavior or maladjustments became that way because of parents, or friends, or church, or teachers, or society in general. Everybody and everything are the problem, but never me. I am not the blame! It is true that others can influence us, disappoint us and frustrate us, but in the final analysis, each person is responsible for his own conduct. Everyone of us can live above the pressures of life, if we so choose, instead of permitting them to control us. As Phillip's translation puts it, "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold" (Rom. 12:2).
Dr. Edward Pinckney said, "There is not one single 'scientific' experiment on record to support the doctrine that psychoanalysis . . . . as defined by Freud as a form of treatment for mental illness .... has, or can, cure anybody or any illness! In contrast, there is a wealth of documented information to show that the results of psychoanalysis are not only unsuccessful, but what is even worse, have been harmful.
"Again, I feel the answer lies in the assumption or rejection of responsibility. If you are willing to assume your share, you will conquer every conceivable obstacle to good mental health. If, on the other hand, you spend your efforts trying to dodge moral obligations, you cannot help but bog down in your own mire of self-created doubt . . . . which leads to worry, which leads to anxiety and which finally leads to your seeking help for something you will not do for yourself" (The Fallacy of Freud and Psychoanalysis).
Many psychologists, seeing man dehumanized, both by behaviorism and psychoanalysis, developed another school of psychology, known as "Humanistic Psychology." Behaviorism, making man nothing more than a machine and predetermined by blind fate, and Psychoanalysis portraying man as helplessly trapped by inner, subconscious forces beyond his control prompted psychologists to invent something that would give man dignity and worth. Hence, humanistic psychology was born. Prominent men of this school are Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow and Rollo May. The label would aggrandize and dignify man, instead of denigrating him as they viewed behaviorism and psychoanalysis doing.
They reasoned that all that man needed was to look at himself, see his problem and then proceed to solve it, himself. One of the central propositions of the Humanist philosophy is that "Humanism, having its ultimate faith in man, believes that human beings possess the power of potentiality of solving their own problems, through reliance primarily upon reason and scientific method applied with courage and vision" (The Philosophy of Humanism, Corliss Lamont, p. 10).
We can readily see, for the most part, that humanistic psychology is no better than what it sought to replace. Solutions to life's problems are still approached with human reasoning rather than divine revelation. To the Humanist, man must overcome ignorance and fear in order to become the complete person. Of course, ignorance, among other things, would be the eradication of any concept of a supernatural Being and a Divine revelation. Religion does a disservice to the human species, they tell us, and promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful. These things distract people from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices (Humanist Manifesto II).
Humanism says that man is autonomous, independent of God, and he decides under all circumstances what is good or bad for him. Sin is not in the Humanists' vocabulary, except when used with scorn and ridicule. Fear would be conquered by releasing all instinctive inhibitions, to do your own thing, and to have the courage to reach out for one's fullest potential without too much ado about moral restraints.
It is becoming obvious what to expect when one visits the office for a counseling session with many of today's psychologists and psychiatrists. With the exception of a few biblically oriented psychologists, a person with emotional and mental problems who is seeking psychological counseling will be led to look at himself and come up with the solutions to his own problems. That is a lot of money for just a few hours of companionship.
The counselor might also tell you to break out of your established moral restrictions and be more permissive and free. "If you want to get drunk, have an affair, divorce your mate, smoke 'pot,' go do it. After all, there is no good or bad, right or wrong in and of itself. So, release your inhibitions and you will be happier as a result of unleashing those pentup emotions."
Nelson E. Hinman stated that psychology, such as behaviorism, psychoanalysis, humanism and transpersonal psychology, has its roots in philosophy, empiricism and evolution (An Answer to Humanistic Psychology). He gave the following diagram on page 49:
Philosophy tries to find reality without God, leaving psychologists and psychiatrists unable to explain man. God created man, and, therefore, knows man perfectly. He who made us, obviously, knows more about us than we know about ourselves. Empiricism or scientism says that man can know nothing except by sensory perception. Nothing can be ascertained unless it be examined by the physical senses. There is no way to know God by this method, and very little can be learned about man. There is a place for empiricism, but it does not provide all the information that is needed to correct man's problems. Purpose of life, guilt, sin, love, morals, etc., cannot be solved by sensory perception.
Evolution greatly influences psychological evaluation and has tremendous potential influence over future social orders. Henry W. Broslin, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburg, said at the 1959 Centennial Convocation at the University of Chicago, "It is appropriate for psychiatrists and other students of mental disorders to pay homage to the work of Charles Robert Darwin and the theory of evolution, for without this work it is difficult to imagine what the state of our discipline would be like" (copies from The Twilight of Evolution, Henry M. Morris, p. 17). So, most of these modern psychiatrists and psychologists look at man as just a glorified ape in a chain of evolutionary development.
The Moral Bankruptcy of Psychology
As a result of psychology's godless and non-biblical approach to man, words like "bad," "wicked," and "immoral," have become old fashioned. "Sin" is an absolete word. Criminal acts are now symptoms and immoral conduct is euphemistically softened. There are no liars, but simply extroverts with imaginative talents. The drunkard is a sick alcoholic with an inferiority complex. Adultery is an affair or biological maladjustment. The murderer is the victim of early childhood trauma. As Dr. Karl Menninger wrote, "Whatever became of sin?"
Albert Ellis, Ph.D. and Robert A. Harper, Ph.D. psychologists, authored a book entitled, A New Guide To Rational Living (1975). In chapter 12 under the title, "How To Stop Blaming and Start Living," they said, "The idea that we can label some people wicked or villainous springs from the ancient theological doctrine of free will. Although we cannot accurately say that humans have no free choice whatever, modern findings have shown that they have relatively little free will in the sense that this term usually gets employed in theological discussion. As Freud thought . . . . humans have genetic or inborn tendencies to behave in certain ways . . . . The idea that people emerge as 'bad' or 'wicked' as a result of their wrongdoings stems from a second erroneous notion: namely, the concept that we can easily define 'good' and 'bad' or 'ethical' and 'unethical' behavior and that reasonable people can readily see when they act 'right' or 'wrong."'
What a contrast to Dr. William Glasser, psychiatrist, who said, "But, whether we are loved or not, to be worthwhile we must- maintain a satisfactory standard of behavior" (Reality Therapy, p. 10). Dr. Glasser also said that "the conventional weakness of psychology and psychiatry has been that we have left out morality" (Quoted from Four Trojan Horses of Humanism, p. 34).
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, psychiatrist wrote, "A major impetus behind this tendency to psychiatrize social problems arises from the vacuum of absolutes in our culture. This vacuum is associated with the decline of religious influence - the death of God, some claim . . . . Psychiatry has been willing to sanctify its values with the holy water of medicine and offer them up as the true faith of 'Mental Health.' It is a false Messiah" (The Death of Psychiatry, p. 107).
Humanistic psychology endeavors to make man feel great about himself while he is living in sin, debauchery and profligacy. Hinman's approach to counseling is the proper way to begin when he wrote, "When people I counsel tell me how worthless they are, I always agree. I even tell them that they would probably feel worse if they knew how bad off they are as compared to what they could be in Christ. I then show them that God has a plan to transform them into the image of His Son. We start building and rebuilding from that point . . . . I try to get them to see themselves as God sees them - both as fallen, sinful creatures and as creatures that can become like Him" (Ibid., p. 93).
The Bible and Psychology
In conclusion, psychology may have some of the answers to some of the problems of man. But it certainly does not have all the answers. In fact, some of the answers it claims to have are wrong answers. Psychology is wrong when it extrapolates data from animal behavior and applies it to human behavior. There are too many variables in man: power of choice, ability to appreciate, to love, evaluate, to be evil or wicked, etc. Animal behavior sheds no light on these things.
The Bible is the only book that has all the answers to man's real problems. God has granted unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). The Scriptures furnish us unto every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). In the Scriptures we learn how to be triumphant (2 Cor. 2:14), conquerors (Rom. 8:37), content (Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6-8; Heb. 13:5). We can have our burdens lifted by the Lord (Matt. 11:28-30; 1 Pet. 5:7) and every physical necessity supplied (Matt. 6:33). In Christ there is hope that satisfies man's yearning for life eternal (Col. 1:27; Tit. 2:13). All these things man can have by simply exercising his free will in obedience to God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gordon Allport, Harvard University psychology professor, said, "And we could probably prove that throughout history those Christians who have accomplished the most practical benefit in this world are those who believed most fervently in the next" (The Individual and His Religion, p. 22).
What the world needs is Jesus Christ and the Bible, not Sigmund Freud and godless psychology!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 14, pp. 430-432, 443