By Selwyn Duke
Pain and suffering have been humanity’s constant companions since time immemorial, and man has always yearned to be liberated from life’s trials and tribulations. This yearning has given birth to much legitimate scientific and philosophical endeavor and has inspired many to look above themselves and find God. But it has also made man easy prey for snake oil salesmen and gurus, charlatans and false prophets, as he has desperately sought refuge in prescriptions that held out the promise of a taste of Heaven in this troubled world. Of course, as lifestyles have changed with the times so have people’s characteristic problems. This modern age and its luxuries have afforded people an unprecedented amount of free time - we no longer have to tend the fields all day long and do our laundry on a washboard. They also have granted us a previously unknown degree of freedom from threats, both natural and the work of man, to our physical well-being – we no longer die at the age of twenty-two like the average Roman. The downside to this ease of living and relative freedom from danger is that while busy hands are happy hands, an idle mind is the playground of the Devil. So, freed from worry about providing for our survival needs and protecting life and limb, our characteristic problems have become those that originate between our ears.
So we now focus on our feelings: how depressed we are, how anxious – what we feel and why we feel it. Every time life deals us a bad hand we search for how the misfortune must have traumatized us emotionally, and we all “know” that it must have. We’re fragile you see. This inordinate amount of attention paid to the emotional realm is unprecedented and how we seek to remedy it is also: we lie on the therapist’s couch. Yes, psychology has become the new priesthood; it doesn’t matter what the problem is, psychology is almost always the answer. Because of this, social scientists have become fixtures in virtually every modern institution. It’s hard to find a school, for instance, that doesn’t have at least one on staff. And if there’s a disaster, you can bet your bottom dollar that on the heels of it ambulance-chasing psychologists will be willingly embraced as deliverers from grief. Karl Marx wrongly said that “Religion is the opiate of the masses”; well, I think today it could be rightly said that psychology is the opiate of the masses.
Of course, I’m not the first one to scoff at this over-reliance on head-shrinkers to solve problems. It has been fodder for comedians for decades now. The problem is, though, that it’s no joke. Unbeknownst to most of those who simply laugh psychology off as just so much silliness, it has been one of the most destructive forces in modern civilization. Now, before I proceed, I must point out that there certainly is such a thing as legitimate “psychology,” although I’m not too fond of the word. For sure, there are reasons why people act as they do – there are things that make them tick and these things can be uncovered. Unfortunately, however, such psychology is hardly ever practiced. What is practiced is anything but legitimate, and it is this mainstream psychology that I mean to refer to when I use the term.
Now, many may think that I’ve overstated the issue. After all, to say that psychology is one of the “most” destructive forces in modern civilization is to have issued a damning indictment. But it is also the truth because few things have done more to undermine civilization than psychology; it has been part of the impetus behind the moral decay that has befallen western culture. This is because psychology does nothing less than serve to convince people that they are not responsible for their actions. Think about what psychology tells people: You murdered someone? Society made you that way. You drink too much? It’s in your genes. Killed your husband? Could be PMS. You’re a child who is ill-behaved? It’s ADD. And the list goes on, and on, and on. The fact is that everything that was formerly called a sin is now being labeled as a disease or condition of the brain. And this is, of course, why it eliminates personal responsibility: you can’t be held responsible for having a disease. After all, if a child consistently misses school because through the exercise of his own free will he chose to play hooky, we will hold him accountable. But we can’t blame him if he misses it because he developed cancer – he had no choice in that. But if his irresponsibility is due to his being at the mercy of a disease of the brain, he had no free will where it was concerned, and then how could we hold him any more accountable than if he had that different disease called cancer?
This is a very ominous state of affairs. For, if you can convince people that they’re not responsible for their actions, you’ve set the stage for great evil to occur because they will be able to justify anything they might want to do. If it pleases them emotionally to rape, kill or steal, why not? After all, they’re not really responsible. You may still think that I’m overstating the issue, but all you have to do is connect the dots. There are other forces that embody the same world view and that work in concert with psychology in this war against the idea of personal responsibility. But when you consider the fact that psychological principles are now accepted and applied anywhere and everywhere, you’ll realize that psychology is a major front in that war.
Why is psychology peddling this destructive doctrine? Well, this is where the rubber hits the road, and the answer is that like so many things nowadays it is atheistic is nature. A person cannot be responsible for his actions unless, as I indicated earlier, he has free will. Christianity teaches that God granted man free will, and because of this man has the power to choose to do evil. Psychology, however, involves the notion that we are simply the result of an evolutionary process. This would make us nothing more than water and a few pounds of chemicals arranged in a specific manner – organic robots, in other words [for more on this, read the essay “The Genesis of Respect for Life”]. It then becomes easy to believe that we don’t have free will, because after all, a robot is subject to its programming. If a robot does something wrong it’s only because something went awry in its hardware or software, and then it needs to be fixed. Free will doesn’t enter into the equation.
Another reason why the idea of personal responsibility is absent from psychological circles has to do with psychology’s embracing of moral-relativism, which is a concomitant of an atheistic orientation [for a more complete discussion of moral-relativism, read the essay “The Nature of Right and Wrong”]. Moral-relativism is the belief that right and wrong are determined by man. It must necessarily be an adjunct of atheism because if there’s no God, then there’s nothing above man to determine what right and wrong are. Then, of course, the process of elimination dictates that it could only be man who dictates what morality is. It must be remembered that this means that what we call right and wrong are simply opinion, in which case right and wrong don’t really exist. This makes it even more difficult to hold anyone responsible. After all, what would you be holding him responsible for? For having done something wrong when there is no wrong? When you believe that your ideas about right and wrong are just your opinions, it’s hard to feel like you have the moral authority to hold others responsible for violating them. Moreover, if morality is just opinion, then who’s to say that holding people responsible is better than not doing so anyway?
There are two reasons why the social sciences are permeated with the siblings atheism and moral-relativism; one is a function of intellectual desire and the other is a function of emotional desire. The former has to do with the fact that scientists deal in things that can be quantified - in empirical evidence. The existence of God and absolute right and wrong can’t be proven scientifically, however, so it is not considered to be the legitimate domain of these “soft sciences.” So, these sciences’ practitioners deal in what they can see: neurons and synapses, genes and chemicals. Feelings are accepted by them as subjective truths [meaning, ones that can be perceived only by certain individuals], and are often viewed as being the resulting symptoms of an individual’s physical state. This harks back to what I said earlier about psychology’s viewing of people as organic robots. And because it does, it all too often seeks to boil mental problems down to physical causes. The truth of the matter is that when we are dealing with human distress and frailty we are in the realm of the spiritual – most so-called mental problems are actually spiritual ones. Yet, psychology has completely divorced itself from this aspect of human nature because spirituality lies in the category of the “unscientific.” This is why psychology is doomed to failure: it is a soft science that is desperately trying to graduate to a hard science, but to succeed in its self-appointed mandate it must do the unthinkable – it must transcend science.
The second reason why psychology is a bastion of atheism and moral-relativism has to do with the appeal held by relativism itself: the fact that it allows us to easily justify any and all actions and beliefs gives us the latitude to live whatever kind of lifestyle we want, free from judgement. People hate being told that they’re wrong and if others accept relativism en masse, they won’t hear it too often. Sure, it makes it more difficult to score others when they act in ways that displease you, but that’s the trade-off. If you work to encourage the idea that an absolute standard of morality exists, you just might end up being hoisted on your own petards when it condemns that which you have a great affinity for as well. It’s as if you saw to it that the academic standard at your school was raised significantly. The new standard would ensure that your classmates didn’t graduate unless they were competent, but the same stringency would be applied to you also. This would mean that you’d have to hit the books – you could no longer be a slacker. Similarly, if you hold a magic mirror up over humanity and ask it who the fairest soul of them all is, there can be no illusions about your own moral rectitude – or lack thereof. Psychology is very seductive for this reason, for it raises up no such standard and provides what seems like a scientific basis for the notion that people aren’t responsible for their actions. Says the psychologist, “Good and evil are simply religious concepts and you don’t need to be burdened with unprovable, antiquated notions like those. No, you’re not responsible because the Devil made you do it, but the Devil is simply a defective gene or a chemical imbalance.”
I called psychology the new priesthood and this name is not simply colorful prose. I applied that label because the fact of the matter is that psychology has usurped the role of the clergy. In the days of yesteryear, if someone was troubled and needed counsel he would seek out his clergyman; now, people seek out therapists. It has become a knee-jerk reaction in fact: “Oh, you have such and such a problem, maybe you should seek therapy.” The implications of this are grave because the transition from the Church to the therapist’s office is like walking from light into darkness. After all, when people went to men of the cloth, what kind of advice did they generally receive? When people go to therapists, what kind of advice do they generally receive? The differences between the former and latter are profound, and there are many ways of describing them: God-centered counsel vs. atheistic counsel, traditional advice vs. new-age or Truth-oriented advice vs. relativistic. But the bottom line is that since psychology has embraced moral-relativism, it doesn’t have truth to use as its yardstick when counseling people about their behavior. And without truth, it only has one thing left to use as its yardstick: emotions. And passion governs and she never governs wisely – feelings aren’t good indicators of reality.
A bad tree cannot bear good fruit, and psychology is no exception. You only have to look as far as its practitioners to witness the havoc wrought by this destructive force. Of all professions, psychiatrists have the highest suicide rate; they also abuse drugs more than any other category of physicians. And you can just throw the child psychology books on the scrapheap because no group manufactures ill-behaved brats and depressed children the way psychologists do. Take Dr. Spock, the late, famous child psychologist. Many people held him in high esteem and he did much to change the way parents thought and acted, but what happened to his very own son? He committed suicide. By the way, do you have any idea what profession boasts the lowest suicide rate? The clergy does.
Yes, I venture to say that virtually any social ill you could mention is exhibited to a greater degree among social scientists than among the general population. What this means is that when you seek help from a therapist, odds are that you’re enlisting the aid of someone who is more messed up than you are. And I ask you, would we do this in any other sphere of our life? We wouldn’t give our car to an auto mechanic who could never get his own to run; we wouldn’t hire an English tutor for our child if he could do little more than babble himself; we wouldn’t give our dog to a veterinarian whose own pooches never were free of the mange. Yet, many people do this very thing daily when they visit their therapists – they jump from the frying pan into the fire. Physician, heal thyself.
It’s not hard to understand why psychologists’ mental health is so poor, and it’s not because, as some think, they are everyone else’s shoulder to cry on. It’s quite simply because they do get a taste of their own medicine – in a high dosage. The Godless, relativistic world view central to psychology leads to a sense of meaninglessness. Its failure to recognize Truth causes it to provide lacking moral guidance, and this corrupts people’s judgement and causes them to make bad moral and ethical decisions. This in turn leads to unhappiness because, as Aristotle noted, a prerequisite for happiness is living a moral life. Psychology has the validity of alchemy and the warmth of chemistry - it has all the coldness of science but none of its Truth.
I have said that psychologists have diagnosed what used to be called sin as disease. And we shouldn’t expect this to change anytime soon either, but not just because doing so is a by-product of viewing man as merely a material being. The fact is that those in the field have a vested financial interest in doing so. Think about it: every time they diagnose another human frailty as a disease or condition of the brain they widen their market. When brats were just ill-behaved parents simply put their foot down, but now that “they have ADD” they visit therapists – and open their wallets. Every new category of mental disorder garners psychology a whole new group of paying customers. And truth be known, according to the psycho-babblers we all have some reason to see them. That’s why I’ve long said that psychology is the only field in which the practitioners invent diseases and conditions for themselves to diagnose.
Before I conclude, I want to reiterate that I don’t reject all of what we call psychology out of hand. To do so would be to throw out the baby with the bathwater and that would be foolhardy. What I am saying is that mainstream psychology is 95% bathwater and only 5% baby. It’s not a tree that needs to be pruned, it’s a weed that needs to be pulled up by the roots. Its misunderstanding of man’s nature has become part of the fabric of our culture and this has diminished people’s ability to understand themselves and others. It has led to our current, perverse misunderstanding of the natures of the sexes; it has impacted upon people’s ability to understand children. The embracing of its poor moral compass has corrupted people’s judgement, preventing them from correctly assessing the gravity of crimes and other transgressions. The consequent permissive prescriptions for dealing with these ills have led to more violence in the streets, since we don’t punish criminals the way we once did. They have also led to greater misbehavior among children, as time-outs have taken the place of the rod – psychology has destroyed western parenting. It has told people that the sin of pride under the guise of high self-esteem is good, and has cloaked humility as low self-esteem and called it bad. When we tie our fate to psychology’s star we are betting on the wrong horse, and betting on this horse is a sure way to lose the human race.