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Episode Info:

In this episode, Brother Jonathan asks two questions: Is Psychology Scientific? And, Is it Effective? With numerous quotations from secular psychologists these two questions are answered.

 

Psychology or God’s Word?

S3EP14

Remnant Bible Fellowship

 

  1. Introduction
    1. There are ultimately only two ways of looking at the world and mankind: God’s way, or some other way. Everything that is not God’s way is incorrect. God is the one who made the world and all things in it, including human beings. If God made man in His own wisdom and power then we should take it as a matter of fact that God is correct in His description and handling of man and man’s issues. To say anything else is to call God a liar, incompetent, non-existent, or evil.
  2. The Real Issue
    1. The real issue behind psychology is sufficiency: is what God said really sufficient for us in our life and eternity? We have been promised all that we need:
      1. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2Pe 1:3-4)
    2. The part that troubles me most about this issue is that it’s main argument comes very close to what Satan himself said in the garden of Eden: “Yea hath God said…?” His very first act of deception recorded in the scriptures was to convince people that God’s Word was not sufficient or correct. Anything that resembles this line of thinking therefore shows its origin.
    3. In one sense, the issue of psychology is very similar to the issue of the theory of evolution. There is a great deal of indoctrination that happens in the modern world without our knowledge. In cartoons about dinosaurs it always begins with “millions of years ago”, and in horror/thriller movies the ‘person of reason’ is a psychiatrist or an academic atheist/agnostic. These things associate in our minds reason or science with these ideas. So we grow up already thinking of them as reasonable. We have been programmed by the culture and this is exactly what the Lord tells us to overcome. We are told to change our minds and how we think:
      1. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom 12:2)
      2. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24)
  • “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6)
  1. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1Pe 1:13-16)
  1. There is a way that God sees things and describes them and there is a way that the world sees things and explains them. When we come to a point of decision we are going to choose one or the other. When you are challenged you are going to default to the one you actually believe: God or the world. When I look at the Grand Canyon I see evidence of the worldwide flood of Noah. When an unbeliever looks at the Grand Canyon they see evidence of millions of years. When I see someone who delights in adultery I see a wicked person who is living after the flesh. When the world sees the same things they may not like it but they consider things like: were they justified? What was their motive? Or, who are you to judge? The world does this because it doesn’t believe God’s Word which says it is wicked. In every opinion or choice we make we are going to place faith in either what God says or what some human says.
  • A Fundamental Problem
    1. There are almost 500 psychotherapeutic approaches and thousands of techniques. At the heart of every one of these schools of thought is the opinion of one person who thought they knew how to explain what’s wrong with you and how to fix you apart from God. The question you have to ask is: what is the authoritative opinion of what man is supposed to be like? Everyone knows that man has problems, but who is the person who can legitimately, objectively, and authoritatively declare what a healthy human mind is supposed to look like? Any answer that is not “God” is a denial of His authority, creation, and power. This goes back to what I was saying when I said if you accept psychology then you must alter your view of God to be either a liar, incompetent, non-existent, or evil. If God exists then He is the absolute authority of man and His opinion is law and true. If we accept any view of man that is contradictory to God’s Word then we must necessarily deny God in some sense. This can be seen most clearly in how we describe man’s nature. There are really only three common views:
      1. Tri-partite – Body, Soul, and Spirit (Biblical)
      2. Bi-partite – Body and Mind
      3. Naturalistic – Body only
  1. Is Psychology Scientific?
    1. “With the decline of religion and the growth of science in the eighteenth century, the cure of (sinful) souls, which had been an integral part of the Christian religions, was recast as the cure of (sick) minds, and became an integral part of medical science.”
      1. (Thomas Szasz. The Myth of Psychotherapy. Garden City: Doubleday/Anchor Press, 1978, p. xxiv.)
    2. “In plain language, what do patient and psychotherapist actually do? They speak and listen to each other. What do they speak about? Narrowly put, the patient speaks about himself, and the therapist speaks about the patient. In a broader sense, however, both also speak about other persons and about various matters of concern to their lives. The point is that each tries to move the other to see or do things in a certain way. That is what qualifies their actions as fundamentally rhetorical. If the psychotherapist and his patient were not rhetoricians, they could not engage in the activity we now conventionally call ”
      1. (Thomas Szasz. The Myth of Psychotherapy. Garden City: Doubleday/Anchor Press, 1978, p. 11.)
    3. A little over fifty years ago in the US there was no state licensing, no insurance reimbursements (less than forty years ago), no uniform graduate programs, and no Bible college, Christian university, or seminary programs promoting psychotherapy. In California psychologists were first licensed in 1958 and Marriage and Family therapists in 1964.
    4. “The field of psychology today is literally a mess. There are as many techniques, methods and theories around as there are researchers and therapists. I have personally seen therapists convince their clients that all of their problems come from their mothers, the stars, their bio-chemical make-up, their diet, their life-style and even the “kharma” from their past lives.”
      1. (Roger Mills, “Psychology Goes Insane, Botches Role as Science,” The National Educator, July 1980, p. 14.)
    5. One science writer contends that: “… there exists in psychology no systematic body of laws or principles, no basic units of analysis, and not even a commonly accepted methodology for investigating behavior from which credible deductions about the unobservable events could be made.”
      1. (Henry D. Schlinger, Jr., “Of Planets and Cognitions: The Use of Deductive Inference in the Natural Sciences and Psychology,” Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 51.)
    6. “In attempting to evaluate the status of psychology, the American Psychological Association appointed Sigmund Koch to plan and direct a study which was subsidized by the National Science Foundation. This study involved eighty eminent scholars in assessing the facts, theories, and methods of psychology. The results of this extensive endeavor were then published in a seven volume series entitled Psychology: A Study of a Science. Koch describes the delusion from which people have been suffering in thinking about psychology as a science: ‘The hope of a psychological science became indistinguishable from the fact of psychological science. The entire subsequent history of psychology can be seen as a ritualistic endeavor to emulate the forms of science in order to sustain the delusion that it already is a science.’”
      1. (Psychoheresy, Bobgan, pp. 103-4)
    7. “Koch says: “Throughout psychology’s history as ‘science,’ the hard knowledge it has deposited has been uniformly negative.”12 (Italics his.) He contends that much of psychology is not a cumulative or progressive discipline in which knowledge is added to knowledge. Rather, what is discovered by one generation “typically disenfranchises the theoretical fictions of the past.” Instead of refining and specifying larger generalizations of the past, psychologists are busy replacing them. He adds, “I think it by this time utterly and finally clear that psychology cannot be a coherent science.”
      1. (Psychoheresy, Bobgan, p. 104)
    8. ‘One reason why psychotherapy cannot legitimately be called a coherent science is because it attempts to deal with deep human complexities that cannot

be directly observed or consistently predicted.’ (p.105)

  1. Dr. Gordon Allport says: “The Individual, whatever else he may be, is an internally consistent and unique organization of bodily and mental processes. But since he is unique, science finds him an embarrassment. Science, it is said, deals only with broad, preferably universal, laws…. Individuality cannot be studied by science, but only by history, art, or biography.”
  1. The fact of the matter is that science can accurately describe HOW someone is behaving but as soon as we move from HOW to WHY they are behaving that way we are entering into an area that is opinion and not observable, testable, and repeatable science.
  2. “Research psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, in his book The Mind Game, says, “The techniques used by Western psychiatrists are, with few exceptions, on exactly the same scientific plane as the techniques used by witchdoctors.”
    1. (E. Fuller Torrey, The Mind Game. New York: Emerson Hall Publishers, Inc., 1972, p. 8.)
  3. “In a book titled The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, a professor of psychology, reveals “that the apprenticeship of psychology to natural science ... does not work.”
    1. (Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1982, p. 91.)
  4. “Psychiatrist Lee Coleman titled his book about psychiatry The Reign of Error. In this book he demonstrates that “psychiatry does not deserve the legal power it has been given” and that “psychiatry is not a science.” He says: ‘I have testified in over one hundred and thirty criminal and civil trials around the country, countering the authority of psychiatrists or psychologists hired by one side or the other. In each case I try to educate the judge or jury about why the opinions produced by these professionals have no scientific merit.’”
    1. (Psychoheresy, Bobgan, p. 109)
  5. Is Psychology Effective?
    1. “Whether the magnitude of the psychotherapy effect is medium or small remains a moot point; no one has claimed that it is large.”
      1. (APA Commission on Psychotherapies. Psychotherapy Research: Methodological and Efficacy Issues. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1982.)
    2. In the same study the authors stated: “Unequivocal conclusions about causal connections between treatment and outcome may never be possible in psychotherapy research.”
    3. Martin Seligman, a past president of the American Psychological Association, says that “by and large, we produce only mild to moderate relief.”
      1. (Mary Sykes Wylie interviewing Martin Seligman. “Why Is This Man Smiling?” Psychotherapy Networker, Vol. 27, No. 1, p. 51.)
    4. “Research often fails to demonstrate an unequivocal advantage from psychotherapy.”
      1. (Prophets of Psychoheresy, Bobgans, quoting from Brain-Mind Bulletin, p. 67)
    5. “…an experiment at the All-India Institute of Mental Health in Bangalore found that Western trained psychiatrists and native healers had a comparative recovery rate. The most notable difference was that the so-called ‘witch-doctors’ released their patients sooner.”
      1. (ibid. p. 68)
    6. One of the world’s leading psychologists, Dr. Hans Eysenck, said after examining over 8000 cases of those who were treated with psychotherapy that: “…roughly two-thirds of a group of neurotic patients will recover or improve to a marked extent within two years of the onset of their illness, whether they are treated by means of psychotherapy or not.”
      1. (ibid. p.68)
      2. He went on to remark: “From the point of view of the neurotic, these figures are encouraging; from the point of view of the psychotherapist, they can hardly be called favorable to his claims.” (same page as former)
    7. Eysenck presented the results of his reviewing the history of cures for mental patients from the hospital in which he worked as far back as the late 17th century in 1979. In spite of the fact that psychotherapy did not exist at the time, about two-thirds of the patients were released as cured. This means that the improvement rate was about the same even though psychotherapy had not yet been invented. Treatments at the time even included the use of fetters (chains), cold baths, solitary confinement, and the extraction of teeth for extreme punishment. If these methods produced the same “cure” percentage perhaps we should bring them back!
    8. Some so-called Christian psychologists have tried to say that this is not true and that treatment is better than none at all—i.e. Collins. But this is not what the evidence testifies to, and observable science is based on evidence,
      1. “…it is disheartening to find that there is still considerable controversy over the rate of improvement in neurotic disorders in the absence of formal treatment.” (Bobgans quoting Bergin, Prophets of Psychoheresy I, p. 69)
    9. When Smith and Glass released the results from a study that used a meta-analysis approach the psychological community rejoiced in what they thought was finally support for their field. Later though, Dr. Morris Parloff stated that there was one disconcerting finding in their results: “all forms of psychotherapy are effective and that all forms of psychotherapy appear to be equally effective.”
      1. This means that no matter how contradictory, unscientific, or even at times mystical, the psychotherapeutic approaches are they are all equally effective. In short, none of them were really effective at all because none of them were any different in their results. This, coupled with the fact that the rate of “cures” is the same as the non-treated, shows that complete lack of effectiveness of psychotherapy.
    10. Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychopathological Association give mixed reports about the effectiveness of their field. Why then do so many lay-people believe it to BE so effective?
    11. In fact, researchers have determined that the positive results from therapy have more to do with the person receiving therapy’s desire to change and the warmth of the relationship than on any theory or technique or experience of the therapist.
      1. Allen E. Bergin and Michael J. Lambert, “The Evaluation of Therapeutic Outcomes,” in Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change. Sol L. Garfield and Allen E. Bergin, eds. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1978, p. 180.
      2. Allen E. Bergin, “Psychotherapy and Religious Values.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 48, p. 98.
  • Parloff, op. cit., p. 288.
  1. In fact, Placebo studies have indicated that almost any interesting activity (such as listening to music, being in a current affairs discussion group, reading plays, etc.) can be substituted for therapy with equal results.
    1. (Bobgans, Prophets of Psychoheresy, p.71)
  2. “We are thus left to conclude with the sad and paradoxical fact that for the diagnostic category in which most psychotherapy is applied—that of neurosis—the volume of satisfactory outcome research reported is among the lowest and the proven effectiveness of psychotherapy is minimal.” (Nathan Epstein and Louis Vlok)
  3. “It has to be admitted that the scarcity of convincing findings remains a continuing embarrassment, and the profession can regard itself as fortunate that the more strident advocates of accountability have not yet scrutinized the evidence. If challenged by external critics, which pieces of evidence can we bring forward?...The few clear successes to which we can point, are out-numbered by the failures, and both are drowned by the unsatisfactory reports and studies from which no safe conclusions can be salvaged.” (Rachman and Wilson)
  4. Michael Shepherd from the Institute of Psychiatry said: “A host of studies have now been conducted which, with all their imperfections, have made it clear that (1) any advantage accruing from psychotherapy is small at best; (2) the difference between the effects of different forms of therapy are negligible; and (3) psychotherapeutic intervention is capable of doing harm.”
  5. Dorothy Tennov, author of Psychotherapy: the Hazardous Cure, said: “…if the purpose of the research is to prop up a profession sagging under the weight of its own ineffectiveness in a desperate last-ditch effort to find a rationale for its survival, we might prefer to put our research dollars elsewhere.”
  6. Again, Dr. Hans Eysenck said:
    1. “It is unfortunate for the well-being of psychology as a science that…the great majority of psychologists, who after all are practicing clinicians, will pay no attention whatsoever to the negative outcome of all the studies carried on over the past thirty years but will continue to use methods which have by now not only failed to find evidence in support of their effectiveness, but for which there is now ample evidence that they are no better than placebo treatments.
    2. He continues: “Do we really have the right to impose lengthy training on medical doctors and psychologists in order to enable them to practice a skill which has no practical relevance to the curing of neurotic disorders? Do we have the right to charge patients fees, or get the State to pay us for a treatment which is no better than a placebo?
  7. Donald Klein and Judith Rabkin of Columbia University said: “A core, covert issue in the specificity debate is the uncomfortable realization that if all psychotherapies work about the same then all of our elaborate psychogenic etiological hypotheses are called into question.”
  8. If all of the psychotherapeutic theories and approaches are equally ineffective, and sometimes harmful, then how is it that a pastor, preacher, teacher, or everyday Christian, who is not trained in the ineffective pseudoscience of psychotherapy but well-versed in the scriptures, cannot be more effective? The only way to deny this is to deny the Word of God as being the Word of God.

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