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Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
October 1, 2006
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” —1 Timothy 4:1
In my two previous TBC articles this year (Mar and Apr ’06), I addressed the destructive influence psychological counseling is having on the evangelical church. Simply put, the church has turned from God’s Word to man’s bankrupt theories in attempting to resolve mental, emotional, and behavioral problems. The greater part of the church no longer believes what the Scriptures proclaim: that God, in His Word, has given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). The results, sadly, are what one might expect: there is often little statistical difference between those who profess to be Christians and those who do not, regarding the number of divorces, the reliance upon psychological counseling theories and methods, living together outside of marriage, illegitimate childbirths, pornography, sexual and physical abuse, and so forth.
Although such consequences are shocking, they shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who believes the Bible. Twice in the Book of Proverbs we are told, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Death throughout Scripture implies separation, whether of the soul and spirit from the body in physical death or, in another sense, the separation of light from darkness and truth from error—and ultimately, from God eternally. Just as the body without life corrupts, so do one’s life choices result in corruption when they are separated from God’s truth.
Psychology, with its psychotherapeutic counseling, has been embraced by evangelicals more than almost any other unbiblical endeavor that has entered the church in the last half-century. “Christian psychologists” are generally more popular and influential than preachers and teachers of the Word. What evangelical in America doesn’t know of psychologist Dr. James Dobson? The psychologically oriented American Association of Christian Counselors boasts 50,000 members. The evangelical church is one of the leading referral services for secular counselors (whether they claim to be Christians or not!). Like their secular counterparts, the second-most popular career choice for students at Christian colleges is psychology. What makes this information truly shocking is the fact that the roots, concepts, and many of the psychological counseling practices come from “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
First Timothy 4:1 is a prophetic verse. It foretells that “in the latter times,” that is, the time near the return of our Lord, “some will depart from the faith.” This is supported by other verses such as Luke 18:8: Jesus asked, “...when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” The implied answer is no. Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, declares under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that a “falling away” from the faith will characterize the Last Days. But haven’t many professing Christians departed from the faith since the time of the Apostles? Yes. The rest of the verse, however, indicates a condition that is unique to our present day. Those who profess to be Christians will give “heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
Doctrines of devils are designed to undermine what is taught in the Scriptures. They reflect the strategy that Satan instituted in the Garden of Eden when he seduced Eve into disobeying God. The chief of the seducing spirits began his direct communication with Eve by raising doubts in her mind as to what God had commanded: “Yea, hath God said...?” (Genesis 3:1). The serpent’s dialogue with her led her to believe that God had lied to her: “And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die.” Although God instructed Adam and Eve that the punishment for disobeying Him by eating the fruit of a certain tree in the Garden would be death (Genesis 2:17), Satan twisted that around, making God not only a liar but also the one who was withholding what they needed for their self-improvement and for realizing a supposed higher potential.
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Here's the rest of it as we have their permission to post it all:
Genesis 3:1-5 contains Satan’s basic strategy for the seduction and destruction of mankind. His deception began by questioning God’s Word, and offering tempting alternatives. Eve responded by believing Satan, rejecting God’s Word, and turning to her own self-interests. The enticements were so desirable to the flesh, including immortality, enlightenment, godhood, and knowledge (Genesis 3:5), that she eagerly embraced the lie. At that tragic moment in the history of mankind, self became a god, an autonomous rebel bent on doing its own thing. What Satan offered to Eve, he likewise has presented to all of her descendants, with similar success. His deadly allurements—immortality, enlightenment, godhood, and knowledge-—comprise the foundational teachings of “doctrines of devils.”
Even in a cursory review of psychotherapeutic concepts, Satan’s primary lies are clearly revealed. Teachings (i.e., doctrines) such as the following are found in nearly all psychotherapeutic theories. Immortality: There is no death in the sense that it should be feared. Materialist psychotherapists teach a judgment-free mortality; spiritually oriented counselors claim that we either evolve to a higher consciousness or reincarnate to improve our next temporal state of being. Enlightenment: Knowing the self, who we are, why we do what we do, and how we change, all open the critical gate to establishing our mental wellbeing. Some systems teach that our problems of living are determined by traumas related to our past (including past lives), our parental upbringing, our environment, or our having been oppressed by religious dogmas. Godhood: The solution to humanity’s problems is found within the self. Self is deified, whether directly or indirectly. For instance, psychology’s “self-actualization” is a process that leads to self-deification, which ultimately replaces any need for salvation outside humanity. Knowledge: The deification process for humanity involves methods of plumbing the depths of the unconscious, which is alleged to be the infinite reservoir that holds all mysteries of life.
Sadly, these doctrines of devils now permeate “Christian psychology.” Few evangelicals realize that these demonic teachings were introduced to the “founding fathers of psychological counseling” literally by “seducing spirits.”
It was Sigmund Freud who declared that “religion is the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity.” Furthermore, there is evidence that Freud hated Christianity, which he erroneously regarded as anti-Semitic. How then would this atheistic rejecter of organized religion advance doctrines of devils? By founding the “religion” of psychoanalysis. None of Freud’s theories, whether psychic determinism or psychosexual development or belief in the unconscious, have any scientific validity; moreover, they are religious beliefs that are antithetical to the doctrines of the Bible. Research psychiatrist Thomas Szasz had Freud primarily in mind when he declared, “...modern psychotherapy...is not merely a religion that pretends to be a science, it is actually a fake religion that seeks to destroy true religion.”1
Given the fact that psychoanalysis and its associated concepts are so diametrically opposed to biblical Christianity, there’s no doubt that Freud’s “fake religion” is the product of “doctrines of devils.” Furthermore, a strong case could be made that Freud’s theories came both directly and indirectly from “seducing spirits” through the techniques he employed in analyzing his patients. He put them into altered states of consciousness through hypnosis and the highly suggestible technique of “free association.” Early on, when he was formulating some of his theories, Freud was a regular user of the mind-altering drug cocaine for his bouts with depression.2 Calling it his magical drug, “he pressed it on his friends and colleagues, both for themselves and their patients.”3
Psychiatrist and historian Henri F. Ellenberger’s classic work, The Discovery of the Unconscious, reveals, “Historically, modern dynamic psychotherapy derives from primitive medicine, and an uninterrupted continuity...through the exorcists, magnetists, and hypnotists that led to the fruition of dynamic psychiatry in the systems of Janet, Freud, Adler, and Jung.”4 Psychotherapy is a modern form of shamanism, which explains why psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey rightly observes, “The techniques used by Western psychiatrists are, with few exceptions, on exactly the same scientific plane as the techniques used by witchdoctors [medicine men and shamans].”5
Shamanism is all about contacting spirit entities to gain their help, wisdom, insights, and so forth. In an interview with a former Yanamamo shaman who resides in the Amazonian rain forest of Venezuela, I was told rather bluntly that his spirit guides were liars and deceivers, from his first contact with them through ingesting hallucinogenic drugs until they left him when he turned to Christ. Their lies reinforced what he wanted to hear. It seems the same for Freud, whose concepts were a reflection not of science but rather removing his own guilt and satisfying his flesh. Freud’s theories were based mainly upon his own personal problems, most of which were sexual perversions.
In Freudian thought, the “unconscious” is a God-replacement realm without laws and judgment; morality is an oppressive neurosis-generating structure imposed by society and organized religion; sexual freedom (including adultery, homosexuality, incest, etc.) is paramount for normal mental health; dreams are symbolic messages from the unconscious and can be scientifically interpreted through psychoanalysis. These beliefs represent doctrines of devils. Although a materialist, Freud acknowledged the existence of spirit entities. He was influenced from that source, either indirectly, through his patients, or directly, through his own drug use, the ancient statuettes he used to help him write,6 and other techniques he used to explore the unconscious.
The life and works of psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung clearly reveal that his psychological theories came directly from the “seducing spirits” Paul warns about in 1 Timothy 4:1. Jung is far more popular today among professing Christians than Freud (the atheist) because of his perceived affinity for religion and things spiritual. However, though his father was a Protestant pastor (who seriously doubted his professed faith!), Jung was anti-biblical and resentful of organized Christianity from his youth. His early symbolic visions revealed Jesus as a Dark Lord and God defecating on a cathedral. His mother’s side of the family was heavily involved in spiritualism. His grandfather, pastor Samuel Preiswerk, conducted ongoing séances to commune with his deceased first wife, with his second wife and daughter (Jung’s mother) participating. The latter, who had bouts of insanity, reserved two beds in the Jung home for visiting ghosts. Jung’s doctoral thesis (published in 1902) was based upon séances conducted by his 13-year-old cousin, whom he placed in an altered state of consciousness through hypnosis in order to contact his and her dead ancestors.
In 1916, Jung’s household experienced an assault by demonic beings who claimed to be dead Christian Crusaders from Jerusalem. They were seeking counsel on redemption and were greatly distressed that their Christianity had left them in a hopeless condition. They would not leave Jung’s home until he began writing advice to them, which he received from one of his many spirit guides, his mentor Philemon, the “old man with horns of a bull.”7
Richard Noll, a lecturer in the History of Science at Harvard University and a clinical psychologist (who declares that he “is not a Christian of any sort”), makes some stunning observations in his book on Jung titled The Jung Cult. He argues that Jung’s “psychological theories of the collective unconscious and archetypes are essentially masks, a pseudoscientific cover to hide the practices of what was essentially a new religious movement in which Jung taught people to have trance visions and to contact the ‘gods’ directly.”8
Jung’s teachings are doctrines of demons, gleaned directly from seducing spirits: the unconscious and the collective unconscious represent an impersonal form of God; archetypes are viewed as psychological rationalizations for demons, the anima and animus are terms for the female and male entities within each person; psychological “types” are determined characteristics within our make up. Jung promoted all things occult, including astrology, alchemy, the I-Ching, mysticism, necromancy, visualization, dream interpretation, the active imagination, yoga, meditation, etc. Incredibly, his theories and recommended practices are endorsed in the teachings of some of the most influential people in evangelical Christianity. In many cases, ignorance is the principle reason, yet the demonic lies are nevertheless readily promoted and accepted among the sheep.
Rick Warren’s 30 million copies of The Purpose-Driven Life include Jungian concepts, such as psychological “types.” Saddleback Church’s “Celebrate Recovery” program (see TBC Oct ’05), which has been exported to 4,500 churches and Prison Fellowship Ministries, is based on A.A.’s 12-Step principles. A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson received the 12 Steps during the time he was in contact with spirit entities. He later wrote a personal letter to Carl Jung thanking him for his influence:
...[A.A.] actually started long ago in your consulting room, and it was directly founded upon your own humility and deep perception....You will also be interested to learn that in addition to the “spiritual experience,” many A.A.s report a great variety of psychic phenomena, the cumulative weight of which is very considerable. Other members have—following their recovery in A.A.—been much helped by [Jungian analysts]. A few have been intrigued by the “I Ching” and your remarkable introduction to that work.
Warren is not the only witting or unwitting promoter among evangelicals of what Jung learned from demons. He is just the most successful and the best known. Others include Christian psychologists, inner healers, and pastors. Jung’s occult methodologies, especially his demonically inspired techniques of visualization, guided imagery, meditation, and working with spiritual directors, are foundational to the Emerging Church interests of evangelical youth and the contemplative movement supported by Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and a multitude of others.
This astonishing development in the evangelical church is symptomatic of the abandonment of God’s Word. The result will be the advancement of the apostate “Christian” church. The antidote is found in Isaiah 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
you know, when I was younger I wanted to be a psychologist. I grew up trusting in psychology and psychiatry etc. After all, they're part of "medical science" or so I thought then anyway. Satan has been infiltrating the medical field ever since day one just as he has infiltrated the church itself. Now things like hypnosis, meditation, and yoga and reiki and all kinds of new age techniques are also seen as just another part of "medical science". But back to the subject. I've been to psychologists and counselors etc, before I was saved. I studied psychology myself. I just praise God that He protected me as much as He did when I did go through that, and then after I was saved began to show me His Truth from His Word which is directly against the vast majority of garbage taught in psychology today. The more I learn about it the more appalled I am that any Christian leader could be so mislead by it. It's one thing for a layman who didn't know the bible well to be mislead, but for a pastor who's supposed to be saved and being led by the Holy Spirit and supposed to know their bible to be mislead by psychology is just totally beyond my understanding. The only way I can figure it is that they never really checked it out against their bibles. They simply accepted that it was "medical science" and decided that it wasn't something they should look into. Because of that though, or for whatever reasons it happened, millions have been misled by this wolf in sheep's clothing.
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Rather then sitting down and talking to a person we don't know.. telling them all our problems.. wouldn't it be better to speak and pray to Jesus. He is the One we are to put our Trust in. He is the One that directs our paths in this life.. He knows that we are going through this trial and He is the One we should be talking to.. not a stranger.. that could care less about our problems.. Jesus is the only One that can help us through our trials and tribulations..
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
I've never been hypnotized or anything but is it a totally evil thing? What was it created to do? Can it help anyone? They say that a person being hypnotized cannot be made to go against their beliefs. Is that true or not? I'd like to know a little more about it because I might consider if one day if I ever thought it would help me with some problem I might be having. What about when they do it to people to help them remember something?
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Hypnotism is potentially dangerous, one puts a lot of ones mind under the control of the person doing it.
If you trust the person absolutely and they really know what they are doing it may be permissible.
Without absolute trust it is a NO! NO!.
Prsoanally I have little faith in "recovered memories"
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
I've been hypnotized and long before I was saved, and learned to hypnotize myself and others. I can guarantee you that Satan uses this to pervert people and undermine them in any way he can. And I don't care how "godly" the hypnotist is, evil is still present and able to influence you when you're hypnotized. I strongly recommend against it. I found this article which does a good job explaining why:
Hypnosis is problematic for a Christian for several reasons:
1) The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). As we follow the Spirit’s lead, He will give us the power to better control our own selves. Hypnosis involves the transfer of control away from ourselves to another person.
2) We are to yield ourselves—body, soul, and spirit—to God. Romans 6:12-13 gives us the formula for overcoming sin: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” It’s about control—as Christians, we can let sin control us, or we can let God control us. (See also Romans 6:16-23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-12; and James 4:6-7.) The scriptural formula leaves no room for hypnosis (yielding ourselves to a fellow human being).
3) Hypnosis leads to an altered state of consciousness in which the mind is very susceptible to outside suggestion. That susceptibility is what the hypnotist needs in order to modify the behavior of his subject. However, the word “susceptible” should concern us. Scripture says to be watchful and “… self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The hypnotist is not the only one who wants to modify our behavior; Satan also wants to do some modifying, and we should be wary of giving him any opportunity to make his suggestions.
4) Hypnotism is often promoted as a simple way of “refocusing” ourselves and finding the answer within us. As believers in Christ, our focus is to be on our Savior, not on ourselves or anything else (Hebrews 12:2). We know that the answers do not lie within us (Romans 7:18); the solution we need is found in Christ (Romans 8:2).
5) Many of the techniques used in hypnosis are shared by mystical, philosophical, and religious systems, including the occult. The “father of hypnotism,” Franz Anton Mesmer—from whose name we get the word “mesmerize”—was himself a practitioner of the occult. His method of inducing a trance was very similar to the way a medium conducts a séance. Hypnotism, along with yoga and transcendental meditation, has always been linked to spiritual darkness. The newfound respectability of these practices has not changed their underlying nature.
posted with permission
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
When we have problems we should look to Jesus for an answer.. This is what I am trying to show my brother.. to 'Trust in the Lord'.. never try to solve a problem on his own..or seek the advice of someone who does not know the Lord.. look to the Lord.. He is there to help.. and ask brothers and sisters to pray
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Amen Marianne! Well said! I thought I'd copy this to this thread too:
PSYCHOLOGY VS. SANCTIFICATION
The very fact that God's ways are higher than our ways has important implications in both salvation (justification) and Christian growth (sanctification). God's plan of salvation is an example of how His ways are higher and therefore different from man's ways. His plan was the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, which is quite beyond the imagination and comprehension of the human mind. Human wisdom relies on self-improvement, salvation by works, or some other such human endeavor. God's ways are also higher and different regarding how Christians are to think, speak, and act; how they are to relate to one another; and how they are to handle problems of living.
Increasingly during the past 50 years, Christian sanctification has been thwarted through psychological counseling theories and techniques. Mistakenly supposing that psychotherapy (counseling psychology) is science and that its findings concerning the human condition are true, Christian leaders, pastors, teachers, and authors have embraced this "enlightened" means of helping Christians deal with problems of living and learn how to become better marriage partners and parents. Gleaning from the wisdom of men regarding the hidden psyche, Christians have sought to improve their lot in ways that are lower than God's ways with ideas that often conflict with or undermine the revelation of God's Word given in Scripture.
--Dr. Martin Bobgan
posted with permission from an email
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
I got this in my email today and thought I'd share it here as well:
1 IN 5 AMERICANS HAD MENTAL ILLNESS IN 2009
[TBC: We have noted in past newsletters that the psychological industry is one of the most lucrative fields to be found. The following article shows how judgments are made that will inevitably increase the potential for further earnings.]
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans had mental illness in 2009 [Excerpts]
More than 45 million Americans, or 20 percent of U.S. adults, had some form of mental illness last year, and 11 million had a serious illness, U.S. government researchers reported on Thursday.
Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest level of mental illness at 30 percent, while those aged 50 and older had the lowest, with 13.7 percent, said the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA.
The rate, slightly higher than last year's 19.5 percent figure, reflected increasing depression, especially among the unemployed, SAMHSA, part of the National Institutes of Health, said.
"Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed," Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA's administrator, said in a statement.
"The consequences for individuals, families and communities can be devastating. If left untreated mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord."
According to the survey, 6.1 million adults last year had a mental health need that went untreated, and 42.5 percent said it was because they could not afford it.
It found 14.8 million Americans had major depression last year, and 10 percent of the jobless did, compared with 7.5 of retired people or those not in the job force, 7.3 percent who worked part time and 5.4 percent who worked full time.
(http://www.cnbc.com/id/40257359 - 2010 Reuters).
[TBC: More than one commentator has spoken of the "psychologizing of society." Although this is an invented term, it illustrates well how older groups have lower levels of "mental illness" while the proportion increases with the young. It should as they have had more exposure to psychological teaching. Finally, in the March 2006 issue of the newsletter, we wrote, "The Bible teaches that reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ is the only way for man to truly remedy his sin-related mental, emotional, and behavioral troubles. 'And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he [Jesus Christ] reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in [God's] sight' (Colossians 1:21-22.)]
Re: Christian Psychology
The Lord has blessed me by giving me all my Biblical Counseling books in my Bible Library forum! He even got me the books that I studied when I got my diploma as a Biblical Counselor so now I can more easily refresh my memory with them! Thank You Lord! Plus I can share a lot more with you guys! I am going to close this thread though, at least for now, till I can post all that I want to on it, which may take some time. I want people who need the information to be able to get it. So it might be better if you want to discuss it, to start another thread.
This first part is from a book my Godfather, who is a biblical counselor, had me read when he first suggested that I become a counselor too. He had no idea at the time that I myself and my family had been through a bunch of pscho babel counseling and that I already knew that it had hurt me and my family a GREAT deal. I didn't know "why" it had hurt us, but I did know we would have all been much better off without it. (I started to include all the footnotes and citations, but there's just too many and it would take too long, so I'm going to leave those out for the most part)
Why Christians can't trust psychology
By E. Bulkley
The Myth That Psychology Is Effective
The unpleasant truth is that psychology is not only relatively ineffective in changing thought and behavior patterns, but in many cases is also actually harmful to its clients. Most laymen are unaware of Hans Eysenck’s 1952 study, which demonstrated that recovery from neuroses is unrelated to whether a patient receives any form of psychotherapy. Some researchers have challenged Eysenck’s conclusions and have stated that there is general agreement that psychotherapy is at least better than no therapy.
Additional research indicates the very opposite. To prove his point, Eysenck did a second study in 1965, and according to Martin Gross, Eysenck’s revision was—
a more extensive survey of published studies, with still more damaging results for psychotherapy. He now claims that psychotherapy is a general failure by the very nature of its being unessential to the patient’s recovery. “We have found that neurotic disorders tend to be self-limiting, that psychoanalysis is no more successful than any other method, and that in fact all methods of psychotherapy fail to improve on the recovery rate obtained through ordinary life-experiences and nonspecific treatment,” Eysenck states.
Eysenck’s research is an explosive revelation that psychotherapy is a failure and is absolutely unessential. It is not surprising that many psychologists hotly dispute Eysenck’s conclusions. Gross points out that “the mere act of testing the art’s effectiveness has raised a ground swell of anger within the profession.…This defensiveness is a professional trademark in the Psychological Society.”
As a result, Eysenck’s work has been reexamined. A review of Eysenck’s research by Truax and Carkhuff claims to validate his conclusions. They go even further when they state, “The evidence now available suggests that, on the average, psychotherapy may be harmful as often as helpful, with an average effect comparable to receiving no help.”
If it is true that standard psychotherapy is superior to biblical counseling, how does one account for the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study reported in American Psychologist in 1978? The 30-year study revealed that the men who had received an average of five years of psychotherapy as boys were in worse shape, in view of alcoholism, criminal behavior, and mental disorders, than those who had not undergone psychotherapy.
In spite of the evidence that psychotherapy fails to change people’s hearts and can even increase their “dysfunctions,” seminaries continue to insist that pastors need psychological training to help people with their problems. How can this be when there is no scientific evidence that one form of psychotherapy is superior to other forms or is more effective in achieving results? Why should pastors or parishioners have confidence in any therapeutic system? And if long-term treatment does not achieve superior results, as research indicates, what possible justification is there for prolonged psychotherapeutic sessions?
Professional Versus Lay Counseling
The psychological industry has successfully concealed its ineffectiveness from the general public. Pastors, churches, and the laity have been brainwashed into believing that only psychologically trained professional counselors are competent to deal with serious problems. Christian colleges and seminaries have bought into this incredible deception and now enthusiastically encourage Christians to submit to the insights, methods, and findings of secular psychology.
Even when forced to admit the failure of psychology, Christian mental-health experts insist that professional counselors are surely more effective than untrained laypeople in helping to relieve psychic distress. The evidence, however, does not support their claim.
Psychologist Gary Collins reports an important study done by J.A. Durlack entitled “Comparative Effectiveness of Paraprofessional and Professional Helpers”:
[The research] reviewed forty-two studies that compared professional counselors with untrained helpers. The findings were “consistent and provocative. Paraprofessionals achieve clinical outcomes equal to or significantly better than those obtained by professionals.…The study, on the whole, lent no support to the major hypothesis that…the technical skills of professional psychotherapists produce measurably better therapeutic change.”
Collins reluctantly admits, “Clearly there is evidence that for most problems, laypeople can counsel as well as or better than the professionals.” But he hastens to ask, “Is their success rate as good with the more serious problems?” Professional counselors, in an understandable defense of their livelihood, say that inexperienced or untrained counselors can easily be fooled by counselees, while trained professionals are more likely to detect and understand complex and abnormal behavior.
If so, one would rightly expect that their diagnoses of mental disorders would be consistently accurate and that they would readily perceive when someone is faking a mental illness. Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and Dr. Judi Striano, in separate books, describe an experiment at Stanford University that revealed just how inaccurate psychiatric diagnoses can be and how easily the experts can be fooled. A psychologist by the name of D.L. Rosenhan, a professor of psychology and law at Stanford University, had eight “perfectly sane people” (Rosenhan “himself, one graduate student, three psychologists, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, and a woman who was a homemaker”) admitted to 12 different mental hospitals. The attending psychiatrists were told that these “patients” were hearing voices.
Otherwise, these normal people, mostly graduate students, gave completely truthful histories to the psychiatrists. They were all diagnosed as “schizophrenic,” except one who was diagnosed as “manic-depressive.” Once admitted, they acted perfectly normally; yet were held for 7 to 52 days (the average was 19) and were given over 2,100 pills total. The true patients on the wards often recognized them as pseudopatients but the staff never did. Once labeled, the staff’s perception of them was apparently so profoundly colored that normal behavior was seen as part of their psychosis.
In an even more damning postscript to the experiment, Rosenhan told one hospital what he had done. He then told them that he would try to gain admission for another pseudopatient there within the next 3 months. Ever watchful for the pseudopatient who was never sent, the staff labeled 41 of the next 193 admissions as suspected pseudopatients; over half of these were so labeled by a psychiatrist. The experimenter concluded: “Any diagnostic process that lends itself so readily to massive errors of this sort cannot be a very reliable one.”
In his succeeding pages, Torrey cites several other experiments which underscore the low reliability of psychiatric diagnostic techniques.
Contradictions in Psychotherapy
Even in the face of secular criticisms, one Christian psychologist states that it is “irresponsible to dismiss psychotherapy as a pseudoscience riddled with contradictions and confusion,” and that such a conclusion is “clear bias, not supported by research.” Yet the question remains, How could psychological counseling be anything but confusing when there are more than 250 competing and contradictory psychological systems in America alone?
In their book The Psychological Maze, Otto and Miriam Ehrenberg list just a few of the more prominent psychological systems: Freud and Psychoanalysis, Adler and Individual Psychology, Jung and Analytic Psychology, Reich and Vegetotherapy, Rank and Will Therapy, Horney and the Cultural Approach, Sullivan and Interpersonal Relations, Rogers and Client-Centered Therapy, Existential Analysis, Gestalt Therapy, Lowen and Bioenergetic Therapy, Janov and Primal Therapy, Transactional Analysis, Ellis and Rational-Emotive Therapy, Family Therapy, Child Therapy, Group Therapy, Encounter Groups, est, Hypnotherapy, Behavior Therapy/Behavior Modification, Sex Therapy, and Medical Treatment (psychoactive drugs, electric shock, psychosurgery, and orthomolecular psychiatry).
If this list is not confusing enough, remember that there are subgroups within the major systems. For example, Torrey writes about psychoanalytic therapies:
There are several different schools within this general group, including orthodox Freudian, neo-Freudian, Jungian, and Adlerian. Each of these schools is further broken down into subschools, e.g., the neo-Freudians are divided into followers of Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan, and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. Many of these schools and subschools have their own training institutes. The outcome is a panorama of parochialism and provincialism not seen since medieval Europe.
A Christian psychologist and dean of the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary admits being embarrassed by some of the antics of psychology. “At times I felt ashamed to be identified with a profession that merely used psychotherapy as a cover for carnality,” he writes. “Every professional convention I attended contained booths showing pornographic movies—under the guise of ‘sexual therapy.’ Many private gatherings of therapists reeked of marijuana’s pungent odor.” Feeling it necessary to defend his profession, he concludes, “Fortunately, this has all passed.”
However, it has not all passed. While professional associations may have clamped down on their peers and psychological conventions may have banned the porno stalls, weird psychotherapies still abound.
Thomas Szasz, well-known to the psychological establishment for his intense criticisms of psychotherapies, is a professor of psychiatry at the University of New York at Syracuse. He has documented surrogate sex therapy, nude therapy, divorce therapy, dance therapy, poetry therapy, shopping therapy, scream therapy, rib-cage stimulation therapy, camping therapy, pet-facilitated therapy, sailing therapy, skydiving therapy, hydrotherapy, thumb therapy, and many other unusual techniques which are recognized by the psychological establishment as legitimate treatments.
Therapies can become even more bizarre. Torrey points out that virtually any activity can be labeled as therapy so long as a psychologist or psychiatrist thinks of it. These include treatments such as money-management therapy, punching therapy, kinky sexual therapies, and more. “One common element is that they are all labeled as ‘psychotherapy.’ ”
Szasz refers to a Newsweek article to illustrate this point:
Sandi Enders, an attractive brunette of 26 who intends to become an occupational therapist, is earning her way through San Jose State University by working as a sexual therapist. She charges $50 for a two-and-a-half-hour session—including love-making—in her sensuously decorated apartment with its incense burner and heated water bed.
By relabeling her trade as a therapy, Ms. Enders made her prostitution acceptable. I ask then, is it “irresponsible to dismiss psychotherapy as a pseudoscience riddled with contradictions and confusion”? Not according to the research —or common sense.
Listen to this statement, which is representative of the unscientific and almost desperate approach that psychologists often take in supporting their findings: “Many benefits can come from therapy, in spite of its weaknesses. According to one review of the research, therapy can help people feel better.” One review? And the astonishing conclusion of this research? That therapy “can help people feel better.”
Of course therapy can make people feel better—temporarily. But does it truly change them? Does it help them solve their problems? Do they become more like Christ? Are they led into Christian maturity? Are their thought and behavior patterns brought into conformity to God’s Word? Those should be the tests of effectiveness for Christian counseling.
Though most people believe that professional counselors are more effective in dealing with people’s problems than untrained laymen, studies have shown that laymen are often more effective than professionals. One does not need to study psychology to help other people find God’s solutions for problems of living, for it is not as hard to diagnose a person’s problem as the professionals would have us believe.
There are only a few essential qualifications for a competent counselor: One must have an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures (Romans 15:14), a good measure of divine wisdom (experience and common sense under the illumination of the Holy Spirit) (Colossians 3:16), goodness (consistent, righteous lifestyle with a humble attitude) (1 Peter 5:5), an ability to relate to others (Colossians 4:6), an ability to communicate (Titus 2:8), and a genuine desire to help others (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Bulkley, E. (1993). Why Christians can't trust psychology. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House.
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
The Myth of Psychological Labels
Why are people drawn to psycholabels? Herbert Fingarette of the University of California, a critic of the concept of alcoholism as a disease, says, “Life is so puzzling and mystifying and obscure that giving something a name seems to give it clarity and power.” As Fingarette and others observe, however, psycholabels communicate two extremely serious and mistaken concepts: 1) the belief that anything short of perpetual happiness is a medical ailment that needs professional treatment, and 2) that since these disorders are actual illnesses, the individual bears no responsibility for their existence or solution.
Psycholabels do not reflect a consistent regard for scientific inquiry or professional integrity. As Goode suggests, one additional motivation for creating mental-illness categories is that “a new diagnosis gives doctors one more condition to treat.” Psycholabels are built upon personal observations of behavior and attitudes which are interpreted according to the biases of psycho-experts. Just because a psychiatrist or psychologist coins a new term does not prove that such a condition actually exists. As Bryna Siegel, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, observes: “People need to realize that these categories are not given by God.”3
“What’s the harm in labeling behavior as illnesses?” some people sincerely ask. There are at least four major problems with psycholabels.
The Excuse Label
The first problem is that psychological categories under the heading of “mental illness” provide crippling excuses for sinful behavior.
Dr. Thomas Szasz has said, “It is customary to define psychiatry as a medical specialty concerned with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses. This is a worthless and misleading definition. Mental illness is a myth.”
In reply, integrationists ask, “Is mental illness really a myth? Is it a mind game that allows professional counselors to believe in ‘the myth of psychotherapy’ and gives their counselees an excuse to avoid responsibility while doing nothing about the problems of living?”
Many observers on the outside would say yes. “What about physically caused abnormal behavior?” integrationists retort. “Distorted thinking, emotional disturbances, unusual behavior and many of the other symptoms we call ‘mental illness’ can and often do have a physiological basis.”
Critics of psychology recognize that fact. Biblical counselors realize that there are complex interactions between the physical and spiritual aspects of human beings. We are aware that brain tumors, neurochemical imbalance, mercury poisoning, poor nutrition, hypoglycemia, fatigue, pain, and a host of other physical disorders have an impact on the thinking processes of human beings. Nouthetic counselors do not suggest that all mental and emotional problems are the result of sinful thinking or behavior.
The real debate is not over organically caused problems. William Glasser describes the prevailing concept of mental illness:
Those who believe in mental illness assume incorrectly that something definite is wrong with the patient which causes him to be the way he is. [This leads people] into the false belief that the doctor’s job is to treat some definite condition, after which the patient will get well. This attitude was graphically illustrated by a patient whom I treated some years ago, an imposing woman who sat down, looked directly at me, and stated in all sincerity, “I’m here, Doctor. Do psychiatry!”
What then is wrong with the term “mental illness”? It is wrong because it communicates the inaccurate concept that the mind is synonymous with the brain. It reduces mental and spiritual processes to electrical/chemical interactions between the neurons of the brain. Psychiatrist Fuller Torrey writes: “The very term [mental “disease”] is nonsensical, a semantic mistake. The two words cannot go together except metaphorically; you can no more have a mental ‘disease’ than you can have a purple idea or a wise space.” He goes on to say that a “ ‘mind’ is not a thing and so technically it cannot have a disease. ‘Mind’ is shorthand for the activity and function of the brain. It is thinking, remembering, perceiving, feeling, wishing, imagining, reasoning, and all the other activities of which the brain is capable.”9
Some would argue that Torrey is exaggerating a minor semantical mistake. He says, however, that “the mistake is important. We must be very clear on what we mean by a mental ‘disease’ because our language shapes our thoughts. If we forget that ‘mind’ is only a metaphor, then it will shape our thoughts and determine our course of action.” Torrey points out that there are diseases of the brain such as tumors, meningitis, neurosyphilis, and epilepsy, but “the mind cannot really become diseased any more than the intellect can become abscessed” (emphasis in original).
The Disease Label
Fingarette’s assessment of the disease model for alcoholism applies equally to the mental illness model, and the consequences are enormous. As the public becomes convinced that they are suffering psychic diseases, the mental health industry can reap immense sums of money from insurance payments, government subsidies, and client fees.
And since the psychotherapeutic industry has labeled nearly every possible behavior as a disease, everyone is a potential patient needing their services. As Torrey notes:
[I]f we were to follow logically the medical approach, almost everybody would be mentally “ill.” The present official classification of psychiatric “diseases” is already so broad that there is a real question whether anybody can claim to not fit into at least one category. To do so, one would have to be free of everything from anxiety, depression, suspiciousness, and hostility, to ulcers, asthma, and hives, to tics and disorders of sleep, to acute alcohol intoxication. In short, all you have to do to qualify as “normal” under the present system is to be a bowl of Jello.
The public is a willing accomplice to the charade of the mental illness medical model. After all, if alcoholism is a disease, how can we hold a drunk responsible for the crime he commits? If a person has “multiple personalities” and murders someone, he must receive psychiatric treatment, not punishment. As Glasser says, “Deviant behavior is considered a product of mental illness, and the patient should not be held morally responsible because he is considered helpless to do anything about it.”
Garth Wood writes, “The concept of ‘neurosis’ has not helped the plight of ‘neurotics.’ For in truth, neurosis is the word we use in an attempt to explain the condition of those who have chosen to make a mess of their lives, to live unsuccessfully and to experience semi-permanent psychological pain.”
The Addiction Label
All obsessive behaviors can be relabeled as addictions in order to include them in the medical model. Samuel Janis has determined that prostitution is an addiction. An Australian doctor treats jealousy with a drug.21 Incest, multiple lovers, mate-swapping, rape, and sexual assaults can all be defended under the heading of sexual addictions. There is even a National Council on Sexual Addiction. Gambling and overeating are now officially recognized as addictions over which the victims have no control.
Lawrence Frank has suggested that our entire culture “is sick, mentally disordered, and in need of treatment.… The conception of a sick society in need of treatment has many advantages for diagnosis of our individual and social difficulties and for constructive therapy.” There certainly are financial advantages for the mental health industry!
Some Christian psychologists seem to believe that bad habits are signs of mental illness. They say that such things as “perpetual procrastination, nail biting, overeating, masturbation, lustful thoughts, worry, overusing credit cards” may be caused by reasons that are “neither physical nor spiritual.” For the integrationist, the problems are psychological. One prominent Christian psychologist writes, “Perhaps many of the personal problems which people bring to counselors are completely unrelated to spiritual issues.”24
To understand such reasoning, you must remember that integrationists view the mind as a reality distinct from the spirit. Thus only psychologists and psychiatrists are qualified to treat it. This is the great divide between biblical and psychological counselors. Psychologists view destructive habits as behavior that is unrelated to spiritual matters, while biblical counselors view such things as procrastination, lustful thoughts, masturbation, uncontrolled spending, and overeating as sinful choices that can be corrected by obedience to the Word of God.
“Aha! You finally said it!” an integrationist is sure to shout gleefully. “You have simplistically and naively reduced all dysfunctions to sin.”
That simply is not true. As I have carefully stated, there are physically caused disorders that we readily recognize. But choices are mental and spiritual matters. The unproven psychological theories of unconscious drives over which a person has no control are simply mechanisms for excusing irresponsible, immature, and undisciplined behavior and thinking.
A second major problem with psycholabels is perpetual victimization. When one accepts his label, he is forever categorized. Every experienced pastoral counselor has heard these ideas expressed: “I am an alcoholic…so it’s not my fault” or “I am a codependent…so it’s not my fault” or “I am an abused person…so it’s not my fault” so many times that it requires great personal discipline to keep from screaming, “Accept responsibility for what you once were and rejoice in what you now are in Christ! If you are in Christ, you are a new creation! The old things have passed away! All things have become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Two of the most liberating truths of the gospel of Christ are that God forgives us for our sins and we no longer have to remain slaves to the past! We can experience cleansing and total healing through the unlimited power of God.
It is troubling to know that many Christian counselors cling tenaciously to the labeling concept and consequently make their counselees slaves to the past. It is encouraging, by contrast, to discover that some secular counselors are coming to the conclusion that one does not have to remain a victim forever. William Glasser, a secular psychotherapist, rejects the concept of mental illness and the importance of past events and unconscious drives. In his practice, he says:
We do not accept the concept of mental illness…we do not get involved with the patient’s history because we can neither change what happened to him nor accept the fact that he is limited by his past.…We do not look for unconscious conflicts or the reasons for them. [Glasser refuses to allow a patient to excuse] his behavior on the basis of unconscious motives.
It is plain, then, that nouthetic counselors are not alone in holding to this opinion. So far as I am aware, therapist Garth Wood makes no claim to being a Christian, yet he believes that a troubled person must assume responsibility for past choices and make appropriate choices to change his behavior. He writes:
The unsuccessful person with his low self-esteem can, like the sinner, return at any time to the correct path and can be helped to do so. But he will not be helped by a denial of his problem or by reassurances that he does not really have one, or again that if he does have a problem it is through no fault of his own.
God has promised that for His children there is no such thing as a drive over which a person can have no control. He says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Some might argue that this verse does not apply to serious disorders and addictions, but merely to normal temptations that mentally healthy people experience. But the context shows that Paul is writing about obsessions, abuse of alcohol, overeating, and sexual “addictions”: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry. We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did” (1 Corinthians 10:7, 8).
A third result of psycholabeling is that it stunts the development of mental, social, and spiritual maturity. Some of the characteristics of childishness are an unwillingness to accept change, pouting or crying at disappointment, a preoccupation with self, a tendency to lie, shirking of responsibility, shifting of blame, demanding instant gratification, throwing temper tantrums, and a host of other symptoms that coincide with the labels of psychological disorders, such as “infantile regression.”
Psychologists tell middle-aged men and women that they are the “adult children of ________” (you fill in the blank). The theory is that since they suffered genuine torment at the hands of their parents or other authority figures, they must bear their psychic scars forever. The best they can hope for is to learn to cope. They can never be whole because they were eternally damaged. This is supposed to explain why they never learn to say no to alcohol, food, or drugs. Who can blame them if they become sexually promiscuous or if they get into extreme debt? It is to be expected that they too will abuse their children and perpetuate the cycle of violence. After all, they’re only children in big bodies.
Yet Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11). With the power of God, no matter how horrible one’s childhood may have been—and I do not discount the incredible horror inflicted upon millions of children—one can experience genuine healing of wounded hearts and grow into full maturity in Christ.
The commands of God—His invitations to joy—are given to every human, whether one grows up in a loving Christian home or in a cesspool of hell. Thank God, Jesus did not make this offer only to those who had healthy childhoods: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). He makes that offer to everyone regardless of his past.
A fourth result of psycholabeling is endless therapy. If a person is forever a child in need of the guidance of a mental health professional, there will be an endless source of revenue for therapists. If he is now and always will be an alcoholic, he will need to continue his meetings at AA without break until he dies. Otherwise, he will inevitably slip back into drunkenness and destruction. If one is a schizophrenic—never mind that no one really knows what that means—he must continue swallowing powerful drugs to control his bizarre behavior. If he is an abused person, he must go back into the dark and frightening past, rip open his emotional wounds, and embrace his hurts—realizing that life will always be painful.
Few people ever address one reason that standard psychotherapy takes so long: Therapists often don’t have a clue as to what the real problems are. The moment one dismisses accountability to God and discards His Word, therapists are left to their own subjective guesses as to what a person’s root problems are. We could hardly fault the psychologist for not knowing what lies in the heart of his patient were it not for his claims to godlike knowledge.
The client, feeling temporarily relieved by a verbal confession to his secular priest, believes that therapy has helped. He returns to long-established habits of thinking and acting in the hours and days that follow and within a week needs another psychic fix. Some clients finally awaken to the fact that having invested hundreds or even thousands of dollars in psychoanalysis or other forms of counseling, the ones primarily benefitting are the therapists themselves.
The mental health industry is seldom at a loss to create a new label for “abnormal behavior.” Erica Goode says that in 1917 only 59 distinct forms of mental disorders were recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. When the APA first published its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1952, the number of official labels had grown to 106. The third edition (1980) lists 292 specific disorders—a veritable smorgasbord to choose from —including “nicotine dependence,” “Self-Defeating Personality Disorder,” and the titillating “Hyperactive Sexual Desire Disorder.”
Are these categories scientifically determined? Goode writes that—
psychiatric diagnoses rest mostly on description of symptoms. And deciding which diagnoses to include, and how to define them, has historically been a judgment call. Cynics question how heavily such decisions are influenced by factors that have nothing to do with science —for example, social mores, psychiatrists’ wish to be seen as “hard” scientists, economic motives or the idiosyncratic views of prominent experts. As one psychologist says, “It’s a very political process.”
The rankness of such political influence became apparent in 1973 when homosexuality was removed from the manual as a disorder, since society had accepted the prevailing view that it is merely an alternative lifestyle.
Do we understand the human heart better now that we have created hundreds of labels? Has the general condition of psychic health improved noticeably now that we have the APA’s DSM to explain PMS? I hardly need to answer that question.
Christian Psychological Labels
Some people may be surprised to discover that the four basic temperaments presented by a popular Christian writer are not found in the Bible. The writer admits that he is aware of the problems associated with such labeling. He says, “There is danger in presenting these four types of temperaments; some will be tempted to analyze their friends and think of them in the framework of, ‘What type is he?’ ” He tells his readers that the temperaments are to be used for self-analysis only.
Bulkley, E. (1993). Why Christians can't trust psychology (112–119). Eugene, Or.: Harvest House.
Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Psychology and the Church Critical Questions, Crucial Answers
Psychology vs. Sanctification
Psychology, Just Another Broken Cistern That Cannot Hold Water
Bitterness as mental illness?
Our sufficiency in Christ
When drugging replaced spanking
Internet Addicts Get First U.S. Treatment Clinic
The Culture of Offendedness?
Psychiatric manual update
Why so many Americans today are 'mentally ill'
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
The Myth That Psychology Is Trustworthy
Can a Christian trust psychology? This is the essential question one must consider in evaluating the mixing of psychological concepts and Scripture in Christian counseling.
The Contrived Medical Model
William Kirwan presents his case for integrating psychology and theology in his book Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling. He believes that psychology is “the science of mental processes and behavior.” If psychology is a science along the lines of medicine, one could expect a fair amount of agreement within the trade. Indeed, newcomers normally view psychology, psychiatry, and other forms of counseling as a rather unified discipline. Those who have studied the field, however, know that there are literally hundreds of distinct and contradictory therapeutic approaches to counseling—with thousands of conflicting techniques—all claiming to cure the human psyche.
Gary Collins quotes F.H. Garrison, who wrote in his 1921 Introduction to the History of Medicine: “Whenever many different remedies are used for a disease, it usually means that we know little about treating the disease.” Psychology can’t even agree on the diseases, let alone the cures.
Medical doctors study physical ailments, diseases, injuries, and remedies. Generally speaking, when a treatment for a given illness is found to be successful, most doctors use that technique until a more effective one is discovered. There is general agreement among doctors regarding human physiology. Most medical doctors agree on the functions of the heart, liver, kidneys, or lungs. You may travel the globe from Mexico to Mauritania and not find significant medical disagreement about the purpose of the pancreas or the lymphatic system. Medical students from the time of Hippocrates have dissected cadavers and found the same physical human organs regardless of race, culture, continent, religion, or economic condition.
Dealing with the human mind and soul, however, is an entirely different matter. No one has yet observed a mind or dissected an emotion. No X-ray scan has ever detected the soul. Psychologists are not even sure how to define the mind. Is the mind synonymous with the brain? The following statement on psychology is revealing.
Psychology [is the] science or study of the mind. Such a definition, however, without an accompanying adequate description of what is meant exactly by mind is without meaning, and as yet there is no agreement among psychologists upon any single definition of mind. By some, for example, mind is considered a definite thing apart from the body and as such virtually synonymous with soul. Others, although they establish mind as distinct from body, bind it to body by the interaction held to take place between the two. Still others, in an attempt to do away with this separation, tie mind closely to the brain, making the one a function of the other. Others, however, deny existence of mind altogether, basing their conclusion on the belief that human behavior can be adequately described without the use of any such vague and indefinable term.
Isn’t that amazing? According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, psychology is the study of something that cannot be defined, and the term mind, lacking a clear definition, is “without meaning,” and according to some, the mind does not exist at all. Is there any wonder that psychology is confused and confusing?
The Questionable Use of Psychoactive Drugs
Though psychologists cannot adequately define the entity they presume to cure, they want us to trust their judgment and place ourselves in their care. In so doing, we can actually jeopardize our health—especially now that the psychological establishment has reduced all negative human emotions and behaviors to diseases instead of sin, and now that its natural conclusion is to treat those ailments with drugs. For example, prostitution is now being described as an addiction, and if so, it must be treated psychotherapeutically. The misconception that sin is a psychic disorder is precisely why Christians need to question the use of psychotherapeutic drugs as a normal part of counseling.
Most counselors have encountered people who use the medical model as an excuse for their behavior. After all, who can be blamed for having a “disease” that requires medication? There is the question of whether psychologists and psychiatrists haven’t merely redefined old behaviors as new “disorders.” For example, I hesitate to accept Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) as a genuine malady unless it is caused by biological problems such as brain or nervous-system damage or infant addiction to substances carried by the mother during pregnancy. Sometimes ADD is merely undisciplined behavior.
There is another serious question about therapeutic drugs: Can they lead to addiction? The answer clearly is yes, and that fact alone should be cause for deep concern in a potential counselee. Dr. Lee Coleman, a practicing psychiatrist, writes in his book The Reign of Error that psychoactive drug dependency is actually fostered by psychiatry: “Millions of patients are now told by their doctors to stay on psychoactive medications for years or even a lifetime.”
Zilbergeld says that “common anxieties are also treated with drugs” and that “there are dangers, addiction to the medication being one of the worst. Antianxiety medications are highly addictive for some people, as easy to get hooked on and as hard to withdraw from as heroin.” One of the “mental illnesses” commonly treated with drugs is schizophrenia. While it is true that those who have biologically caused symptoms sometimes improve with drug therapy, “there are debilitating side effects with long-term use of these medications.”7
Lithium is a case in point. It is often prescribed for patients who have been diagnosed as having a manic-depressive or bipolar disorder. Some clients have been led to believe that they are suffering from a lithium deficiency. Coleman reports:
So many patients have told me similar stories that I now know that psychiatrists and family doctors are disseminating a great deal of misinformation about lithium. Authorities advocate that patients be “educated in the concept that lithium is a perpetual preventive much like insulin.” These authorities also repeatedly call lithium a “simple, naturally occurring” substance. It therefore comes as no surprise that many patients consider lithium to be like a new vitamin. Unfortunately they are wrong: Lithium is a very toxic substance whose side effects include permanent kidney and thyroid damage, as well as other potential complications.
Side effects of psychoactive drugs are a legitimate cause for concern. A patient should be informed of the potential dangers a drug presents, and he should understand that the doctor is actually experimenting on him, for the doctor cannot reliably predict how a given patient will react to a particular drug. Harold M. Silverman, a doctor of pharmacology, writes, “Every drug has side effects. Your chances for developing a specific side effect depend on the drug, how much of it you are taking, the frequency of the specific effect, your age, your metabolism, and unpredictable responses to drugs known as ‘idiosyncratic reactions.’ ”
Some drugs may actually increase the symptoms they are supposed to cure. Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety, has been known to create depression or to make existing depression even worse in some patients. It is now recognized as habit-forming. Its common side effects include clumsiness, drowsiness, and dizziness. In some patients it can cause hallucinations, irritability, confusion, and depression.
Antipsychotic drugs such as Haloperidol are used to restore emotional calm in people who suffer extreme anxiety, agitation, or other “psychotic” behavior. It is not completely understood how these drugs work, but one theory is that they inhibit the action of dopamine—that is, they short-circuit nerve-impulse transmission in the area of the brain believed to control the emotions.
The “natural, expected, and unavoidable drug actions” of strong tranquilizers include drowsiness, lethargy, blurred vision, dryness of the mouth, impaired urination, constipation, and transient drop in blood pressure. In addition, there are other potential side effects, such as skin rashes, loss of hair, anxiety, agitation, heart palpitation, jaundice, Parkinson-like disorders, muscle spasms affecting the jaw, neck, back, hands or feet, eye-rolling, muscle-twitching, convulsions, photosensitivity, hallucinations, impotence, and depression. There is the danger of interaction with over-the-counter allergy medications, drugs which control internal eye pressure, antihypertensive drugs, and especially with methyldopa, which can cause “serious mental and behavioral abnormalities.”12
Tricyclic antidepressant drugs, such as Norpramin, are used to treat emotional depression by affecting those areas of the brain controlling moods and emotions. Again, scientists are not entirely certain how tricyclic drugs work. It is believed that “the drug slowly restores to normal levels certain constituents of brain tissue (such as norepinephrine) that transmit nerve impulses.” The potential side effects are similar to those of Haloperidol. This drug can have adverse effects upon the liver, bone marrow, heart rhythm, and more.
Some of my counselees have been treated with antidepressants. One had been incorrectly diagnosed as a schizophrenic and another had been in psychiatric therapy for more than 14 years, without cure. In both cases, the cause of their problems was deep anger and bitterness. Drugs were not the solution.
Though many exaggerated claims are made for psychotherapeutic drugs, it is clear that a large percentage of patients in one study recovered without any treatment, counseling, or drug therapy.
Psychotherapeutic Drugs and Christians
One Christian psychologist suggests that the reason many Christians resist taking psychotherapeutic drugs is that they “believe that drug use is a sign of spiritual weakness.” He then asks, “If the Lord has allowed us to discover new chemical tools to counteract the biological bases for human problems and to help us cope temporarily with the stresses of life, are these necessarily wrong?…Psychotherapeutic medications can help us relax so that we can think more clearly.”16
If the problems are genuinely biological in nature, pharmaceuticals may be justified. But if the problems are caused by wrong actions or thinking, the Bible teaches that we are to learn new ways of acting and thinking by renewing our minds rather than by anesthetizing them. Psychotherapeutic medications often “relax” a person so much that they prevent clear thinking.
Psychiatrists do not always explain the potential side effects of psychoactive drugs. Thus I strongly recommend that before a counselee takes any prescribed psychoactive drugs he consult with a biblical counselor who is literate about such drugs.
Counselors should also inform older people that they are especially vulnerable to misapplied drug therapies. Their bodies are more sensitive to tranquilizers and psychoactive drugs. ....
I am not suggesting that there is no legitimate purpose whatsoever for psychotherapeutic drugs. For those mental/emotional problems which have biological causes, there may indeed be medical and pharmacological solutions. But it would seem that these should be the last resort rather than the first. And remember, the patient has a right to know what effects a drug may have before it is administered.
If there is no actual biological or chemical deficiency, Christians should learn how to handle their feelings of anxiety and depression by renewed thinking (Romans 12:1, 2) and changed behavior (Ephesians 4:17–32) rather than by dulling those emotions with drugs.
Bulkley, E. (1993). Why Christians can't trust psychology. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House.
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
The Pretense of Divine Approval
Integrationists often defend their use of secular psychological concepts by insisting that psychology is a God-given scientific field of knowledge. This belief assumes two things: 1) that God has given the information, and 2) that the information is actually scientific. Let us look at the first assumption.
Gary Collins admits that Jesus would not have needed to use psychology even if it had been available in His day, because “his knowledge of human behavior was infinite and perfect.” And the apostle Paul knew that ultimate truth could not be found in worldly philosophies. “Instead, he built many of his arguments on Scripture and insisted that the scholars of his time repent. Surely the apostle would have presented a similar message to psychological scholars if they had existed when Paul was alive.”20 I agree.
Collins then commits a monumental error in his next paragraph: “Does it follow, however, that the modern disciple of Christ and reader of Paul’s epistles should throw away psychology books and reject psychology because it was not used centuries ago?” His error is found in the phrase “because it was not used centuries ago.” That is not the reason psychology should be discarded. When it was used has no bearing on its validity.
Paul would not have rejected psychology on the grounds that it was modern, but because it was “another gospel.” Responding to a similar issue, Paul wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6, 7).
Integrationists defend their position with the logic that if Christians have accepted other modern advances such as the radio, the microphone, antibiotics, computers, and cars, we shouldn’t reject the advances of psychology. The error of this apples-and-oranges comparison is that psychology is not dealing with material objects but spiritual issues. It deals with the very issues discussed in the Bible, but it does so from an opposing platform.
Paul vehemently denounced Christians who would mix light with darkness. He wrote:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:14–17).
...Integrationists seem to believe that there are counseling issues about which the Bible is silent and which therefore require psychological insights. It is true that the Bible does not specifically speak about cocaine addiction, but it deals with the principles of substance abuse (Proverbs 20:1; 23:21; 26:11; Daniel 1:8; Romans 6:12; 13:13; Ephesians 5:18). The Bible does not specifically address pornography, but it does deal with mental and spiritual purity (Psalm 119:9, 11; Matthew 5:27, 28; Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3–7). There is no single mental/spiritual issue upon which the Bible is silent.
....Historical evidence shows that the founders of modern psychology attempted to define and interpret human behavior in purely natural terms without reference to God. Wilhelm Wundt, who established the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig in 1879, divided the mind into three basic structural elements (sensations, images, and feelings), but left out the soul or spirit. He is commonly honored as the founder of modern psychology, but there is no evidence that he credited God for his “discoveries.”
William James, the founder of the first American psychological laboratory, was “strongly influenced by the evolutionary principles of Darwin,” and saw human behavior in terms of function, or the interaction between mind and body. He wrote a landmark work entitled Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, which held that an idea is true if it “works.” Nothing indicates that James was given his theories by God, even though his relativistic doctrine had major implications for religion.
Behaviorist John B. Watson saw human behavior simply in terms of response to stimuli. He was not even sure that the mind existed. “An avowed materialist, he objected to concepts such as mind, consciousness, volition, and emotion, stating that psychology should be the science of directly observable behavior.” B.F. Skinner, another behaviorist, offered “a systematic and scientific program to alter the nature of Man,”26 though it did not include God.
Psychoanalysis was formulated by Sigmund Freud, who theorized that man is under the control of unconscious urges that originate in childhood traumas and inner conflicts between the id, ego, and superego. He had a “profoundly low opinion of human nature…referring, on several occasions, to the majority of human beings… as ‘worthless.’ [Freud had] two deeply held sentiments, which were characteristic of the man: a bitter antagonism to religion and all forms of religious authority, and a hatred of America.”
In his book The Future of an Illusion, Freud ridicules religion. Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, and most of Freud’s other successors carried the same fanatical hatred of religion that Freud revealed in his writings.
These men are fairly representative of the general attitude which psychologists have of scriptural authority and validity. Literally thousands of branches of psychotherapies have sprung from these early roots, which grew from the seeds of rebellion toward God.
No, psychological counseling is not a God-given field of knowledge. It is a system of beliefs that originated in the minds of men who were godless rebels. Romans 1:22 says of such men, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”
Psychological counseling is darkness masquerading as light. It is built upon a foundation of sand, and as the storms of life crash upon it, the psychological system crumbles into ruin.
Bulkley, E. (1993). Why Christians can't trust psychology. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House.
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
I want to include some other posts we have on the board that relate to this on this thread as well:
By Ken Connor
“For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.” Plato
Over the course of the last century, Americans have become increasingly obsessed with psychology. We have embraced a therapeutic culture which posits that everyone is a victim, consciously or not, of emotional and environmental factors which dictate the way we see the world and the way we behave within it. While Plato was famous for his description of the ideal human soul, in which the head rules the belly through the chest, American pop-psychology increasingly promotes the idea that a person’s identity – who they are and what they do – is more a product of uncontrollable forces than a result of the will operating in concert with (or against) reason and sentiment.
In the past several decades we’ve come up with sympathetic psychological explanations (i.e. excuses) for everything from shoplifting to adultery to murder. Apparently, however, this wasn’t enough for the folks at the American Psychological Association, who in an attempt to “reflect changes in our society” have newly revised their Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This most recent iteration of the manual presents several new and unique mental disorders and behavioral afflictions. An article by George Will captures the absurdity of these new “diseases” thusly:
Today’s DSM defines “oppositional defiant disorder” as a pattern of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority figures.” Symptoms include “often loses temper,” “often deliberately annoys people” or “is often touchy. DSM omits this symptom: “is a teenager.” This DSM defines as “personality disorders” attributes that once were considered character flaws. “Antisocial personality disorder” is “a pervasive pattern of disregard for . . . the rights of others . . . callous, cynical . . . an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal.” “Histrionic personality disorder” is “excessive emotionality and attention-seeking.” “Narcissistic personality disorder” involves “grandiosity, need for admiration . . . boastful and pretentious.” And so on.
Will hits the nail on the head with his observation that where our culture used to see a defect in character we now see a psychological/mental/behavioral disorder. What was once a symptom of a disordered soul is now a symptom of a medical and/or psychological condition, to be diagnosed and treated by trained professionals, on leather couches in quiet offices, or – if your particular psychological affliction is interesting enough – maybe even on the reality TV program of your choice.
This is merely the latest in a growing trend of western society’s rejection of true culture, which is defined by conservative philosopher Richard Weaver as “a matter of yea-saying” that draws men together under a common banner of basic assumptions about the world. Culture, in Weaver’s view, is what allows men to transcend their baser instincts in service to a higher ideal; it is what makes men dignified. Fed a steady diet of self-affirming, self-esteeming, “I’m okay, you’re okay” pop-psychology, the man of today has rejected the perceived limitations and strictures of culture in favor of radical individualism. Alone in the world, he is free to nurture his basest instincts and most anti-social tendencies, secure in the knowledge that there stands ready a cadre of pseudo-scientists willing to absolve him of all responsibility through the diagnosis of a phony mental disorder.
For a ready example of this we need look no further than Tiger Woods, who reportedly underwent treatment for sex addiction in the wake of his adultery scandal. It’s one thing if Mr. Woods and his wife have sought counseling to heal the wounds of his betrayal and forge a way ahead for their family; it is something entirely different to peddle the notion that the megastar golfer has been a victim of anything other than hubris and a lack of self-control. Yet this is where we are as a society: Socially aberrant behavior is now understood merely as a peculiar yet “legitimate” variety of personality – something for which the individual in question bears no direct responsibility.
The apostle Paul had his own catalogue of social disorders, attributing the root cause as sin:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. . . . But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . (Galatians 5: 19-22, ESV)
Since the beginning of time, mankind has been ready to exploit any tactic or resource at his disposal to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. The second sin committed by Adam and Eve in the garden was to immediately shift blame for their acts of disobedience to another. Adam blamed God for giving him Eve as a companion, while Eve blamed the serpent for “deceiving” her (the original “the devil made me do it” defense).
Let us learn from Adam and Eve’s experience that justifying our actions by blaming someone or something else is not the way to go. A culture of moral evasion, selfishness, and irresponsibility is not a culture that will last.
This next one is from 2009. I was sure we have a recent one but haven't found it yet...but I will!
PSYCHIATRIC MANUAL UPDATE
Confidentiality of Psychiatric Manual's Update Draws Gripes [Excerpts]
The American Psychiatric Association is getting criticism for the secret process of putting together the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a defining volume of mental disorders.
Published by the APA, the manual, known as DSM, is important for insurance payments as well as prescribing and research, and the process of putting it together leads to heated debate. So for the first time, the association has required its contributors to sign a nondisclosure agreement, the New York Times reported earlier this month.
Hot button topics under debate for the latest edition include gender identity and addictions such as shopping and eating, NYT said. And as we've noted, sex addiction was in the manual in 1980, dropped in 1994 and brought back up for consideration for the new edition.
The Los Angeles Times this morning quotes Robert Spitzer, the editor of the manual's third edition, who has broken ranks and published a letter protesting the confidentiality. "If you don't know what goes on at someone's meetings, they're suspect of having conflicts of interest," Spitzer told LAT. And conflicts have become a significant issue for the psychiatric association, as Sen. Charles Grassley has been looking into payments to the association from drug companies.
The psychiatric association told LAT that psychiatrists working on the manual's update are limited to $10,000 a year from drug makers and that transparency is a priority for those overseeing the process. "The field of psychiatry has gone from an ideology to a scientific pursuit," Darrel Regier, who heads the association's research arm, told LAT.
(Rubenstein, Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2008)
[TBC: The psychiatric industry continues to demonstrate that it operates under principles that are far from scientific. It is worth reconsidering Dr. Sigmund Koch's comments concerning his own field of endeavor: "The hope of 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" (The American Scholar, Autumn 1973, p. 66). Consequently, even secular psychologists recognize that psychology began as a theory, has never advanced beyond a theory, and will remain a theory, a "theory" that is often subject to the highest bidder.]
posted with permission
Revision of psychiatric manual under fire
The "bible" of American psychiatry - a manual of mental health used around the world by doctors, consumers and insurance providers - has come under fire from a growing group of psychologists who worry that proposed revisions will feed into a culture of overdiagnosing, and overtreating, otherwise healthy people.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM, is undergoing its fifth major revision in the more than 60 years since it was first published by the American Psychiatric Association. The last update was in 1994, and the new manual is expected to be released in spring 2013.
Revisions to the DSM are often hotly debated, but after two decades of major, and frequently controversial, shifts in how mental health problems are diagnosed and treated in the United States, this latest update has become especially contentious, many mental health providers say.
Last month a group of psychologists with the Society for Humanistic Psychology posted a petition against many of the suggested DSM revisions, citing what they see as a broadening of the definition of mental health disorders, which, in turn, would lead to overtreatment with drugs.
"There's this propensity to push pills instead of looking at what's really going on with the person," said Saybrook President Mark Schulman.
Critics of the DSM update say that the task force assigned to make the revisions has suggested broadening the definitions of too many mental health problems, opening the door to even more diagnoses and treatments.
Grief after the death of a loved one, for example, may be included under the diagnosis of major depressive disorder. That means a person's grief could be labeled a pathological disorder, and not a normal human experience, said psychologist Brent Robbins, a professor at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and an author of the petition.
2-year-olds on meds
"Another diagnosis, dysphoric mood dysregulation disorder, is basically temper tantrums," Robbins said. "Next thing you know, you could have 2-year-olds on psychotropic medications."
Shyness, grieving soon to be classified as mental illness
Millions of healthy people - including shy or defiant children, grieving relatives and people with fetishes - may be wrongly labeled mentally ill by a new international diagnostic manual, specialists said on Thursday.
In a damning analysis of an upcoming revision of the influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health experts said its new categories and "tick-box" diagnosis systems were at best "silly" and at worst "worrying and dangerous."
Some diagnoses - for conditions like "oppositional defiant disorder" and "apathy syndrome" - risk devaluing the seriousness of mental illness and medicalising behaviors most people would consider normal or just mildly eccentric, the experts said.
At the other end of the spectrum, the new DSM, due out next year, could give medical diagnoses for serial rapists and sex abusers - under labels like "paraphilic coercive disorder" - and may allow offenders to escape prison by providing what could be seen as an excuse for their behavior, they added.
....Simon Wessely of the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London said a look back at history should make health experts ask themselves: "Do we need all these labels?"
He said the 1840 Census of the United States included just one category for mental disorder, but by 1917 the APA was already recognizing 59. That rose to 128 in 1959, to 227 in 1980, and again to around 350 disorders in the fastest revisions of DSM in 1994 and 2000.
....Whereas in previous editions, a person who had recently lost a loved one and was suffering low moods would be seen as experiencing a normal human reaction to bereavement, the new DSM criteria would ignore the death, look only at the symptoms, and class the person as having a depressive illness.
Other examples of diagnoses cited by experts as problematic included "gambling disorder," "internet addiction disorder" and "oppositional defiant disorder" - a condition in which a child "actively refuses to comply with majority's requests" and "performs deliberate actions to annoy others."
"That basically means children who say 'no' to their parents more than a certain number of times," Kinderman said. "On that criteria, many of us would have to say our children are mentally ill."
Here are some more related threads on this subject:
Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Psychology and the Church Critical Questions, Crucial Answers
Psychology vs. Sanctification
Psychology, Just Another Broken Cistern That Cannot Hold Water
Bitterness as mental illness?
Our sufficiency in Christ
When drugging replaced spanking
Internet Addicts Get First U.S. Treatment Clinic
The Culture of Offendedness?Why so many Americans today are 'mentally ill'
Elements of Joy; Or Do you experience Joy or Depression
Stress,worry,fear etc & the Christian
A Worried Christian
Complaining & How it all comes together
Re: Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils
Can We Find Reliable Answers within Ourselves?
If we must look within and try to understand ourselves as a way of solving our problems, we are in a hopeless situation. Jeremiah 17:9–10 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else / And is desperately sick; / Who can understand it? / I, the Lord, search the heart, / I test the mind.” Problem-solving by self-examination results in deceitful answers. When we reach down inside ourselves to get answers, we get lies.
The sin in us is biased against God. Because of it our own heart lies to us about what we are really like. It exalts us in our own eyes, and absolves us of responsibility for sin. Proverbs 16:2 says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, / But the Lord weighs the motives,” and Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, / But its end is the way of death.”
Some might argue that those verses refer only to unbelievers. But even Christians are not immune from self-deceit. Paul said, “I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:4). Paul couldn’t find anything against himself, but he knew he couldn’t rely only on his own self-examination.
We may reason that if we shouldn’t trust ourselves, perhaps we can trust qualified counselors. But if we can’t get truth out of our own hearts, how will someone else who also has a deceitful heart discern truth about us by putting us on a couch and listening? We can fool a therapist easier than we fool ourselves. While we sit trying to discover what’s inside us, our hearts tell us lies. Can we expect a therapist to figure out the lies he or she is being told, and then tell us what we ought to do with our deceitful hearts? Whom are we kidding? Only God can test, evaluate, and know the truth of anyone’s heart.
In Psalm 139:1–7 David prays,
O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;
Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.
Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Thy Spirit?
God doesn’t get any skewed signals—He knows everything about you. If you want to get in touch with the real you, get in touch with the Holy Spirit as He applies the Word to your heart. Psalm 32:6–8 says,
Let everyone who is godly pray to Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they shall not reach him.
Thou art my hiding place; Thou dost preserve me from trouble;
Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Scripture does what psychoanalysis can’t do: it pierces the heart. It penetrates deep into a person’s soul and judges his motives. To see yourself in the light of Scripture is to see yourself as you really are. And only God’s Word can promise real spiritual rewards to those who obey its counsel. No other form of therapy or counseling can make a person whole.
People say, “Oh, you have such a deep problem. You better go to a clinic somewhere for help, or get into psychotherapy, or find a deliverance ministry that can bind Satan and cast those demons out of you.” Now please think carefully about this for a minute: what can those things add to the living, active, powerful Word of God? It is sharper than any other weapon. It will cut deeper and truer than anything that exists. Hebrews 4:12 declares that “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” As I have written elsewhere:
God’s Word is the perfect discerner, the perfect kritikos (from which we get “critic”). It not only analyzes all the facts perfectly, but all motives, and intentions, and beliefs as well, which even the wisest of human judges or critics cannot do. The sword of His Word will make no mistakes in judgment or execution.
God’s Word reveals the deepest thoughts and intentions of the human heart—so much so that “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).
A Testimony about the Power of God’s Word
I recently received this letter from a woman in our radio audience:
I am a 27-year-old female. When I was 14, I began to experience depression frequently. I was not a Christian, nor was I raised by Christian parents.… My depression continued as I grew older, and as a result became worse as time passed. I became a chronic suicide case.…
When I was 20 I went to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me as a manic depressive. He put me on lithium and told me I would be this way for the rest of my life. The drug therapy kept me from going into a severe suicidal depression. However, the deep feelings of depression and despair were still a reality.
I finally came so low that there was nowhere to turn but to the Lord. I heard the Christian life was supposed to be the only way to live, but God was not real to me. I decided I was going to seek God with my whole heart, as Jeremiah 29:13 says. Then if I found this to be nothing but an empty endeavor, I would give up living.
I fed upon tapes of your Bible teaching. The Lord began His work in me. Through His Word, as you taught, the Holy Spirit showed me just exactly what my problem was, and what I needed to do about it.
My problem was sin—a heart that would not forgive, and it was making me bitter.… I turned to the Lord and asked Him to help me forgive. I continued in the Word diligently, and the transformation process took place. The Lord delivered me from this depressive illness.
The memorizing of Scripture is renewing my mind. This is the only key for anyone suffering emotional problems, because it is the Living Word of God, it is the supernatural power to transform anyone’s life and mind.… No doctor, no drugs can do what the Bible has done for me in changing my life.
Then she added a P.S.:
By the way, I have been off all medication for three years now! Obedience is the key!
I believe that testimony. I believe in the power of God’s Word. And I grieve that so many seeking people are diverted into humanistic psychology and psychiatry, which only compounds their problems by moving them the wrong direction—away from the sufficiency of Christ and the power of His Word.
Becoming People of the Word
James 1:25 says, “One who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”
The phrase “looks intently” translates the Greek word parakuptō, which literally means “to stoop over” or “to bend down to examine something with care and precision.” It pictures both the humble attitude and the intense study required of one who seeks to benefit from the “perfect law” (a synonym for God’s Word).
The Greek word translated “perfect” speaks of completeness or wholeness. As we have seen, God’s Word is sufficient, comprehensive, completely without error, and able to meet every need and fulfill the desires of every heart. If we obey it, we will be blessed in whatever we do.
What a glorious treasure God has given us in His Word! How should Christians respond to it? Psalm 19:14 records David’s response: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart / Be acceptable in Thy sight, / O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” In other words, “May the things I think and the things I say be acceptable to you. May they be consistent with Your Word.” David prayed that he would be a man of the Word, with biblical thoughts and words.
Even more direct and comprehensive are Paul’s statements to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:
I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house.… I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.… And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (vv. 20, 27, 32)
Those elders were just like us. They had all the basic problems, struggles, and spiritual needs we have. From the first day Paul set foot in Asia he began to teach them God’s Word (vv. 18–19). He held nothing back because it all was profitable for them. He saw in divine revelation total sufficiency for every struggle, need, and anxiety of human life. When he left them, he commended them to God and the Word of His grace, which he knew would edify and strengthen them for faithful service.
Spiritual leaders must once again embrace the sufficiency of Scripture and call their people back to it. Individual Christians must covenant with God to be men and women of the Word, finding their resources there and applying them to every aspect of their lives. You’ll never know what the Word can do if you don’t study and apply it. It isn’t enough to simply say you believe it. It must occupy an exalted place in your life. Since God Himself exalts it and magnifies it (Ps. 138:2), how much more should we?
As noted at the end of the last chapter, Joshua 1:8 sums up the absolute sufficiency of God’s Word as our guide for successful living: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
Counseling with the Bible
We all participate in the counseling process when we instruct one another from God’s Word, intercede in prayer, and are used by the Holy Spirit to help the weak and heavy-hearted (1 Thess. 5:14). The importance of that ministry was impressed on my heart again recently when I spoke with a dear Christian lady who has a terminal illness and is near death. I know she loves the Lord and has committed her life to Him. Her greatest desire is to obey His will. But she told me that she lives in constant fear of going to hell. When I asked her why she was so afraid, she said, “When I first got this disease, I did a terrible, terrible thing. I used profane words and cursed God. Now I’m afraid He won’t forgive me and I’m going to go to hell for what I did.” I could see she was deeply troubled by what she had done.
What do you say to a person like that? Death may be only days away and she needs assurance of God’s forgiveness. Do you send her for psychoanalysis? Or bind the demon of doubt? Or tell her to visualize herself in heaven? Or coach her through six or seven stages of personal discovery therapy? That’s what many are advocating today.
No, you don’t do any of those things. Someone like that needs reassurance from Scripture about God’s love and forgiveness, so the Spirit can impress that truth on her heart and give her peace. I took her through passages of Scripture that speak of the complete forgiveness that belongs to every believer. I assured her that even though she had cursed God, there was someone who blasphemed God far more, and he received abundant grace and forgiveness. I read Paul’s testimony to her from 1 Timothy 1:12–16:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
I reminded her that Paul’s testimony was an example to the whole world that since God could save the chief sinner, He can save all the lesser ones too—including her. As we continued to talk and pray together, there was great hope in her voice.
The answer for people with that kind of anxiety is simply to open to them the Word of the living God and allow the Holy Spirit to apply it to the heart. Even someone on the threshold of death can know the blessing of peace and confidence that comes from God’s Word.
Counseling and encouraging one another with the Bible has always played an important role in the church. That role wasn’t given to Christian psychologists or secular psychoanalysts. It was given to pastors and teachers, and through their careful proclamation and instruction, to spiritually gifted Christians whose lives are pure, whose knowledge of God’s Word is mature, and who are available channels of the Word, the Spirit, and divine wisdom. Paul said to the Roman believers, “You … are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14).
Each Christian is called to help, stimulate, and encourage one another within the body of Christ (Heb. 10:24–25). We must not allow neo-gnostic error to steal that ministry from those proficient in the Word and give it instead to professionals who adulterate it by mixing it with human wisdom and psychological theory.
Whatever Happened to the Holy Spirit?
Before we move away from the subject of psychology, we need to note its catastrophic effect on the church’s understanding of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. When our Lord’s crucifixion was drawing near, He promised to send “another Helper … that is the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17). That was His promise that the Holy Spirit would assume the same role He had filled in His disciples’ lives for the years of His earthly ministry—that of divine teacher, friend, guide, helper, and comforter. The Holy Spirit’s ministry in that regard is one of the wonderful resources Christ has made available to all who know Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12). All spiritual wisdom and resources come from the Holy Spirit. We may simply turn to Him if we want to know the truth about ourselves and the solutions to our problems. Tragically, the current neglect of the Spirit’s ministries has greatly crippled many Christians’ willingness and ability to do so.
In the early years of my ministry I traveled around the country preaching at many churches, Bible conferences, and camps. Almost everywhere I went people wanted to hear a message about the Holy Spirit. They wanted to know about spiritual gifts and what it meant to walk by the Spirit and be filled with the Spirit. Books and seminars on those topics were hot items. “Spirit-filled” was the catchphrase of the entire evangelical movement. But in recent years that has changed considerably. Now the Spirit’s ministries as outlined in the holy book seem to have been de-emphasized almost to the point of neglect.
I think part of the blame for that situation must fall on the charismatic movement’s misrepresentations of the baptism, filling, and illuminating work of the Spirit. Their overemphasis on miracles, signs, and wonders has misrepresented the Holy Spirit as some sort of divine magician who moves in ways that are always seen, felt, or heard. They have downplayed the Spirit’s internal sanctifying work, which is the essence of His ministry. Many Christians are unwilling to confront the excesses of the charismatic movement or even to speak on the subject of the Spirit’s ministries for fear of offending someone who holds a different view. Those who do speak out are often branded unloving or divisive. Consequently, many non-charismatic pastors and teachers avoid the subject of the Holy Spirit altogether, and that has led to widespread ignorance about His ministries.
Unfamiliarity with the Spirit’s sanctifying work has opened the door for the church’s current obsession with psychology. Psychological sanctification has become a substitute for the Spirit-filled life. What point is there in seeking the Holy Spirit’s comfort if, after all, deep-seated emotional problems can be addressed only by a trained psychologist, or if people can come to grips with their lives only by getting in touch with their childhood, or if the answers to our deepest hurts are buried deep within us? If those things are true, we don’t need an Advocate; we need a therapist. And that is precisely the route many in the church have chosen.
I recently received the following letter from a woman in our radio audience. She had listened to a portion of the broadcasts we had titled “Whatever Happened to the Holy Spirit?” and wrote to disagree with my comments about psychotherapy. Her views are representative of what many contemporary Christians believe:
I have never agreed with your view of psychologists and how you lump them all together, Christian and secular. A recent awareness of past events has made this all the more disturbing. I wonder if you realize the harm you are doing as you turn people who have deep emotional problems away from seeking the help they need.
If you came from an ideal family situation you may well have difficulty understanding how deeply the spirits of some people have been wounded and how it has warped the very fiber of their being. Oftentimes the incidents have been sublimated by the youngster only to surface as an adolescent or adult. Recommending only Bible study and prayer can be like putting on a Band-Aid when you need surgery. Just becoming a Christian doesn’t solve the dilemma, either (I used to think it does), because the troubled person may just consider their past life experiences fairly normal, having sublimated the deep hurt of their spirit. Then because these matters have never been dealt with they carry them on into their marriages and then begins another cycle.
The woman added some personal details about a son-in-law who she felt needed psychological counseling. He was being abusive to his wife and had even threatened to kill her. He refused to accept responsibility for his wrong behavior, always finding ways to blame others for things that were wrong in his own life. The entire family had been encouraging him to seek psychological counseling for more than a year but he had refused. Now he was using my teaching as justification for his refusal to seek a therapist’s help. She closed with these comments:
The simplistic answer is that it’s due to sin: ask God to forgive you, forgive others, read your Bible and pray. Ask God to help you do better. But you also have to address what the sin has done and if the person is not aware of the problem that has become so deeply buried in their subconscious, how are they going to go about correcting it? A man with a broken leg isn’t helped by rubbing ointment on the hurting area. Until you discover the underlying cause of the pain, you can’t bring about healing.
The Christian psychologist has been trained and is better able to get to the root of these serious problems … a friend or good listener isn’t of much help because the matter is too deep, and a minister has an entire congregation to minister to. How in the world could he justify the time it would take to deal with just a few in his congregation? Life is becoming more complex and relationships more fragile because of it AND YOU DON’T THINK CHRISTIANS SHOULD SEEK PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING???? I wonder how many other needy people have been persuaded not to seek professional help they desperately need. I shudder to think of the responsibility that is yours as your voice travels the airways, discouraging people from getting the help they need.
I sincerely hope that we have misunderstood the real meaning of what you meant.… To make my point very clear: I DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU THAT CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT SEEK PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELING. If the need is there, they should avail themselves of the help.
I sympathize with that dear woman’s plight. She is desperately seeking help for her daughter’s marriage and is even concerned for the daughter’s physical safety. She hints that her grandchildren’s behavior is being adversely affected by the trouble in the home. She is frustrated by her son-in-law’s hypocrisy; evidently he maintains a front of spirituality by reading his Bible and praying regularly. But his private life is undisciplined and often grossly unrighteous. Something is terribly wrong. If her description of the situation is accurate, I entirely agree that her son-in-law desperately needs help. And I would admonish him to seek wise counsel—urgently.
But is this woman encouraging him to seek answers from the right source? Is her view of his spiritual and emotional condition shaped by biblical understanding, or by the theories of modern psychology? Note her presuppositions: She has concluded that deep emotional problems like those of her son-in-law require some remedy Scripture and prayer can’t possibly provide. She believes, in fact, that Bible study and prayer are superficial, “Band-Aid” solutions, and that only psychotherapy offers meaningful help for people with such problems. She assumes that most emotional problems are rooted in childhood wounds and that the causes of emotional injuries are usually sublimated and require professional therapy to bring them to the surface. She evidently believes the only true “professional” counselors are those trained in psychotherapy. She says it is “simplistic” to suppose that her son-in-law’s behavior is due to sin—or to view repentance as any kind of solution. Complex emotional problems, she believes, can be unscrambled only by professionals trained to delve into the subconscious mind. Those disorders are evidently “too deep” for biblical wisdom and need the insight of someone with a higher wisdom than Scripture offers—someone equipped with better resources than the Bible, prayer, and the Holy Spirit to deal with the complexities of our age.
Not one of those presuppositions is in harmony with what the New Testament teaches about sanctification. Far from being a superficial remedy, God’s Word is the only tool adequate for radical surgery on the human soul: It is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Modern behavioral science, by comparison, is superficial—and usually downright counterproductive.
More important, sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s role. No therapist can accomplish what He can do in transforming the soul. And no therapy devised by men can possibly bring someone to repentance or repair the life broken by sin. Those who see therapy as the best means to cure a sick or wounded soul are trying to substitute fleshly devices for the work of the Spirit.
Are You Now Being Perfected by the Flesh?
Scripture speaks pointedly to this very issue. The Galatian church initially trusted in God for their salvation, yet foolishly compromised the gospel of grace by relying on human effort for personal holiness and spiritual maturity. In Galatians 3:1–5 Paul says,
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? (emphasis added)
In verse 1 Paul describes the Galatians as “foolish” (in Greek, anoētos), which indicates an absence of wisdom or perception. He wasn’t saying they lacked intelligence. He was rebuking them for failing to use their intelligence to apply the truth they knew. They had been disobedient to what they knew and were therefore being spiritually reckless. They had sinfully neglected their spiritual resources and tried to substitute fleshly formulae—exactly like many Christians today.
The J. B. Phillips translation of Galatians 3:1 says, “Oh you dear idiots of Galatia.” The Jerusalem Bible is even more graphic: “Are you people in Galatia mad?”
Paul told the Galatians they were doctrinally vulnerable, having been “bewitched” (in Greek, baskainō) by false teachers who told them they could achieve sanctification by their own efforts. In its strict sense baskainō speaks of casting a magic spell or seeking to bring harm to a person through an evil eye or a spoken word. Paul didn’t mean the Galatians were victims of sorcery or other occult activities. He meant they had been charmed or fascinated by evil teachers.
The situation at Galatia is typical of Satan’s efforts to defuse the Spirit’s power in believers’ lives. Whenever grace is received, he attempts to pervert it with legalism. Whenever faith is exercised, he attempts to replace it with works. Paul had preached to the Galatians a gospel of justification by faith and sanctification by the Holy Spirit; but the Judaizers (Jewish false teachers) wanted to add law to grace and works to faith. They sought to impose upon the Galatian Christians the rituals, ceremonies, laws, and legalism of Judaism. It was a subtle, satanic attack in religious trappings, and the Galatians were willing victims.
The answer to Paul’s rhetorical question in verse 2 is obvious: the Galatians had received the Spirit by faith, not by works. They received Him at the same time they received salvation. In fact, the witness of the Spirit is the greatest proof we have of our salvation. He bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16–17). His presence in our lives is the unmistakable evidence of God’s favor.
The infusion of psychotherapy into Christian counseling today smacks of Galatianism. It is little more than a systematic effort to eliminate the Holy Spirit from sanctification. It might be more subtle than the legalistic attacks of the first-century Judaizers, but it nonetheless poses the same monumental threat to the church.
For many, self-esteem, self-worth, and a man-centered theology have created a greater confidence in self than in the Holy Spirit. The truth is, only the Holy Spirit can produce and sustain spiritual life. Apart from Him, all our efforts are in vain. If He ever ceased His sanctifying, sustaining work within us, we would fall back into spiritual deadness. We live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). And what He provides is ample for every need—the all-sufficient Spirit supplies the necessary resources for every issue of life.
Don’t be victimized. The church today is filled with sin and weakness because many Christians have forgotten that spiritual warfare is fought with spiritual weapons (1 Cor. 10:4), not fleshly techniques, theories, and therapies. Sanctification comes by the Spirit working through the Word to transform us into Christ’s image (2 Cor. 3:18).
Therefore we must reject man-centered, humanistic “solutions” and learn to rely on the Spirit and walk in His power. Perfecting spirituality in the flesh didn’t work for the Galatians and it won’t work for us. As God Himself said long ago, it is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech. 4:6).
Where can we get reliable answers for life’s hardest questions? Our all-sufficient Savior has not left us without ample spiritual resources. His perfect wisdom is available through His Word. Comfort, assurance, understanding, and power are ours through the ministry of His indwelling Spirit. All of that is amplified by loving ministry from gifted people who operate in the community of believers. And it all works together to assure that each believer has perfect “abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor. 9:8).
MacArthur, J., F., Jr. (1997). Our sufficiency in Christ. Dallas, TX: Word Publishing.
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