Is it possible to do “Biblical psychology” or “Biblical psychiatry”? In order to answer that, we must first look at what psychology and psychiatry, as practiced today, actually are.
It is relatively well-established that the field encompassing psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis is best and most often classified by the experts on such matters as pseudo-science (false science, or non-science). Tom Widiger, who served as head of research for DSM-IV, admits:
“There are lots of studies which show that clinicians diagnose most of their patients with one particular disorder and really don’t systematically assess for other disorders. They have a bias in reference to the disorder that they are especially interested in treating and believe that most of their patients have.”1
Alex Berezow attests that psychology “does not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability.”2
Psychology, as a term, originally meant (and still parses out grammatically to mean) “the study of the soul.” Psychiatry, the term, grammatically means “healing of the soul,” though its founder Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) always denied the very existence of a soul, thus the term was a misnomer from the very start. Freud himself even acknowledged that his “science” was completely inapplicable to anyone conversant in the Holy Torah:
“No reader of (the Hebrew Bible) this book will find it easy to put himself in the emotional position of an author (Freud) who is ignorant of the language of holy writ, who is completely estranged from the religion of his fathers (Judaism) as well as from every other religion . . . .”3
Further, Freud is completely disqualified and invalidated as an authority on mental health by the undisputed fact that the way his life ended was by suicide. He followed the lead and example of his colleague Max Kahane (1866-1923), who had committed suicide sixteen years prior. Freud’s modalities and philosophies had failed even in his own life. It is rather ridiculous to regard the teachings of a suicidal atheist as the definition of “good mental health,” especially for any person of faith.
One of the main voices in psychology, and in its development into its modern form, was neo-pagan Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961). He is treated in psychological circles as a demi-god. Let us examine what he believed and taught. Jungian psychology shares in common with neo-paganism the belief: “the gods are really the components of our psyche; we are the gods.”4 Jung was a student of Sigmund Freud (father of psychiatry, elctro-shock therapy, and a bevy of other nonsensical pseudo-sciences).5
Carl Rogers (1902-1987), another highly-touted name in the field, was a gnostic idolater who arrogantly proclaimed, “I, rather than God, am the one who determines the value of me.”
Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990) built upon the work of Alfred Adler, resulting in operant conditioning theory. He asserted, “psychological, control of human behavior is the only hope for the immense problems facing mankind.” This statement pits Psycho-Babylon (the psychology-psychiatry cult) against the moral matrix of Torah as the control on a person’s behavior. Chomsky observed way back in 1971, “Skinner imposes certain arbitrary limitations on scientific research which virtually guarantee continued failure” and rightly relegates Skinner’s theories to the irrelevant genre of “pseudo-science of the nineteenth century.”6 To their credit, Skinner’s approaches have been dismissed as pure nonsense by most Psycho-Babylon practitioners and he has even been monikered by Dvorsky as possibly “the most dangerous psychologist ever.”7
All of Psycho-Babylon’s pagan modalities and philosophies should be so dejected. The pagan cult’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” devised by Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), is aptly refuted by Yeshua in Luke 12:29-31 and by Sha’ul in 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 11:27; and Philippians 4:11-12.
What is the alternative, then, to Psycho-Babylon?
HaShem‘s answer to all of these purveyors of self-idolatry (godless solipsism) and witchcraft (by its Biblical definition) is that seeking counsel from any source other than the inerrant, infallible torah (instruction) of HaShem “leads to destruction” (Isaiah 8:19-20). It is primarily obedience to Torah which corrects a person’s praxis. The more we yield to the yetzer haTov which guides and directs us to Torah-compliance, the less hold the yetzer haRa has over us, and the less it influences our behavioral decisions. No person of any Bible-based faith should seek the counsel of atheists and neo-pagans.
Thus, rather than seeking a counselor from the secular realm, a person of faith should, rather, seek out a Torah teacher and plumb the depths of HaShem’s Word. The solution to what the world classes as “psychological or psychiatric disorder” is not medications or solipsistic voodoo such as that offered by Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew. It is Torah-based hashqafah, which leads to Torah-based halakha. MJR recommends accessing that process through studying the Torah, guided by the quintessential works of Pirqei Avot, Shulchan Arukh, and A Code of Jewish Ethics (Telushkin).
1 Tom Widiger, DSM-IV.
2 Alex B. Berezow, “Why Psychology isn’t Science,” Los Angeles Times (13 Jul 2012); online: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/13/news/la-ol-blowback-pscyhology-science-20120713
3 Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (London: Routledge & Kegan, 1933), 134.
4 Gwydion Pendderwen; in Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (New York, N.Y.: Viking Press, 1979).
5 Richard Noll, The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Gustav Jung (Boston: Macmillan, 1998).
6 Noam Chomsky, “The Case Against B. F. Skinner,” The New York Review of Books (30 Dec 1971).
7 George Dvorsky, “Why B. F. Skinner may have been the Most Dangerous Psychologist Ever,” Daily Explainer (21 Mar 2014).