We Have Had A Hundred Years Of Psychotherapy—And The World Is Getting Worse
By Don Ruhl
I have borrowed the title of this article from a book of the same name by James Hillman (psychoanalyst) and Michael Ventura (newspaper columnist). Hillman begins a discussion with the writer by saying: “We’ve had a hundred years of analysis, and people are getting more and more sensitive, and the world is getting worse and worse” (p. 3). Who can argue with what he says?
Moreover, the teaching of self-esteem is the fruit, which attracts people to psychotherapy, and everyone is supposed to be feeling better about themselves, hence better toward others. The truth is psychotherapy and self-esteem have not helped the world, but have contributed to its down fall, as Abraham Maslow said in later years, (but most people have not listened to this, preferring his earlier work):
The high scorers in my test of dominance-feeling or self-esteem were more apt to come late to appointments with the experimenter, to be less respectful, more casual, more forward, more condescending, less tense, anxious, and worried, more apt to accept an offered cigarette, much more apt to make themselves comfortable without bidding or invitation.
In still another research, their sexual reactions were found to be even more sharply different. The stronger [high self-esteem] woman is much more apt to be pagan, permissive, and accepting in all sexual realms (Motivation and Personality, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1970, Second Edition, pp. 237, 238).
Why is our society filled with troubles of living?
In Deuteronomy 28, God told Israel by the mouth of Moses how they would be blessed for obedience, and cursed for disobedience. Verse 15 begins the list of the curses. Notice one of the curses:
The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart (v. 28).
This gives insight into the “craziness” that we are witnessing in society right now. The world proposes psychotherapy, but the answer lies in obeying the Lord. Therefore, the church must once again preach the unadulterated gospel of Christ, forsaking the various philosophies and psychologies of man, for we have had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world is getting worse.
Most people would say: “Psychology has created many problems for the church, but there are some areas of psychology which can be helpful.”
When the word “psychology” is used, most people think of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is the most well known field of psychology. Yet, there are many divisions of the American Psychological Association, going from the mostly objective to the extremely subjective. Dave Hunt has written:
The most scientifically legitimate would be the former, and that would include those fields of research of experimental psychology, which use the scientific method as they collect and evaluate tangible, observable information. A psychologist who studies man/machine interface, for example, the placement of knobs or keys on a machine or choice of letter size or color for optimum use, would be a good example of a psychological field with varying degrees of objectivity.
To the degree that they stick to quantifiable facts, evaluation, measurement and statistical psychologies are for the most part legitimate as a science. The testing of skills or abilities for placement (typing, math, hand/eye coordination, finger dexterity, etc.) where the information gleaned and reported is objective and quantitative would be valid as a psychological endeavor. Testing that deals with personality types or personal feelings or subjective views lacks the necessary statistical validity to be considered seriously. When evaluations mix the objective “what has taken place,” with the interpretive “why it has taken place,” it has moved out of science and into subjective speculation (The Berean Call).
Psychotherapy is subjective, for no man has the ability to see into the heart of another person. Only God knows what is in each person (1 Chron. 28:9), and He is the One to whom we should go for inward peace.