There is a growing conflict that is confronting evangelical churches regarding the way in which personal psychiatric problems should be dealt with for both those inside the congregation and those outside. Should the church deal with those who are seriously disturbed, has it got the right training to handle these difficult cases, or should it refer such cases to a psychatrist who is preferably a Christian?
The overwhelming inclination is to pass such cases to the outside expert, partly because the treatment can be very time consuming and there is a fear of the possibility that advice may be given that could damage the persons life even further. By far the most important reason, however, is that the he is considered to be a highly trained professional full-time worker who has skills and experience that no layman could possibly be able to bring on these serious cases of mental illness. Anyone who refuse to pass on to them those who are suffering from severe mental stress is likely to be accused of criminal negligence and an uncaring attitude. It will be inferred that the person might be scarred for life due to the inexpert advice of the untrained counsellor.
But are those who have trained in the profession of Psychiatry REALLY able to help those who are suffering mental anguish?
The popular image of the whole profession of psychiatry is of a large, fairly monolithic body of trained, dedicated men who are able to apply their skills and have a high success rate in helping the mentally ill. The truth, as is often found when the facts surrounding popular impressions are studied closely, is quite different.
It is the purpose of this paper to examine and expose the very fragmentary and contradictory theories that abound in the field of professional psychiatry, including psychoanalysis - the name specifically given to Freudian treament. This will be done by quoting the opinions, not of those outside the profession but experts within it, of many who have expressed their serious doubts about the efficacy and morality of what their colleagues practice upon a trusting and unsuspecting public.
For simplicity, it will be sufficient to just present some of the more damaging evidence or quotations; little comment is required. References to the professional publications for all the examples given below can be provided.
PSYCHOTHERAPY METHODS ARE EXTREMELY VARIED AND CONTRADICTORY.
There are four main approaches to treating clients.
BEHAVIOURISIM - (Watson, Skinner) Behaviour is determined by biological, genetic and environmental effects. Remove these impediments and man will behave well. [This is Rousseau's "Great Lie" - the Perfectability of Man.]
HUMANISTIC - (Maslow, Rogers) Man essentially looks after SELF. This gives rise to search for value, personal fulfillment. The focus is entirely on the self.
EXISTENTIAL - Man is a free agent responsible for his life. He must create his OWN values, religion, goals. They must come from within him. He must not be dependent upon any outside authority or religion.
FREUDIAN - emphasises mental factors, particularly in early childhood. Inhibitions must be cast off to allow the "ego" to be free. Repression is very harmful. Sex is the most potent driving factor in our lives.
[Whilst on this world famous method, few realise that the whole basis has been destroyed by the experts themselves. Freud deliberately lied about the success he had with a number of the cases he claimed to have completely cured. Either the client did not recover or was not ill in any case but for Freud insisting that they were "hysterical" etc. Freud claimed to help the emotionally disturbed, yet he suffered from depression during which he would recourse to cocaine.
The scientific philospher Karl Popper believed that the theories formulated by Freud and Adler, "though posing as sciences, had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science; that they resembled astrology rather than astronomy."
His weird sexual theories were based upon the gruesome Greek myth of Oedipus. As one writer observed - "This is the man who calls those who believe in God "sick" and then offers instead a sick view of mankind.."]
Out of these main avenues there are over 200 different psychotherapuetic approaches. Most ordinary practitioners will make their own "mix" of different theories he will use in the course of his work Those that do so are known as 'eclectic' - "using a bit of this and a bit of that"!
IS PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT EFFECTIVE?
In 1952, in a notorious memorandum that received very little publicity, Eysenk investigated the success rate of various forms of psychotherapy. He found it was 44% for psychoanalysis (Freudian techniques), and 64% for eclectic methods (Psychiatry). This sounds as if there is a reasonable chance of a cure for those who go to a psychiatrist. However, he found that those who received NO specific treatment at all had a success rate of 72%. Thus, if you received no treatment you stood a better chance of recovery than if you went to a psychiatrist.
This monograph caused a furor in the profession but the figures have not been faulted. Other researchers agreed with his findings. In 1967 Eysenk was still able to report
"To date, then, there is no real evidence for the effectiveness of psychotherapy - as is now admitted even by leading psychotherapists - though with further search such evidence might be uncovered." The last comment seems to be somewhat wry!
A member of the American Psychological Association Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility has questioned "..the moral justification for dispensing psychotherapy, given the state of outcome studies which would lead the FDA (Federal Drug Agency) to ban its sale if it were a drug."
One Christian researcher has said "Anyone who still believes in the romantic idea of the marvellous healing power of psychotherapy is out of touch with the stark reality of recent research."
HOW EXPERT ARE THE EXPERTS?
There have been several studies on the ability of the professional and non-professional psychiatrists to interview and assess clients. Out of 14 studies, 6 showed no difference, 5 favoured the psychiatrists but 3 favoured the non-professional. Another study showed that both physicists and Protestant housewives were better than the professionals. Another controlled test showed that disturbed students advised by a group of their professors improved just as much as those who went to a group of psychiatrists and psychologists.
HOW ACCURATE ARE THEIR DIAGNOSES?
The most famous exposure of the inexpertise of the professional psychiatrist was by Rosenham who sent eight volunteers into mental hospitals claiming that they "heard voices". Apart from maintaining these limited fake symptoms, they behaved normally and even made notes of their experiences. 11 were admitted as "schizophrenic" and discharged as "schizophrenia in remission". The 12th was admitted and discharged as "manic depressive psychotic".
Whilst the experts completely failed to see through their charade, the other inmates had strong suspicions for they were behaving so normally. Indeed, about one third of the other patients suggested this, even that they were journalists investigating the hospital!
The follow up is even more interesting. One hospital claimed that it would have spotted the fakes. So Rosenham warned them that he would be sending one or more fake patients to them in the next three months. Out of 193 patients admitted in this period, 83 were labelled as fakes or suspicious by various members of the staff. Rosenham then revealed that he had sent NO FAKE PATIENTS TO THE HOSPITAL AT ALL! He concluded "We now know that we cannot distinguish insanity from sanity."
ARE PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS "ILL"? Although there may be some dispute about an organic cause of some mental conditions, generally there is no reference to this for the vast majority of behaviour problems that are dealt with by psychiatrists. Whilst many cases can be alleviated by drugs, rarely do they actually cure the situation, and indeed their side effects can be devastating in their disruption of the social life of the patient. There was going to be a massive court case over the use of tranquillisers, but this was subverted by 'legal' means and government withdrawal of funds from Tranx and possibly other organisations that could have provided much evidence in a court case of the devastating and long term effects of tranquillisers on people.
There are several writers who make the controversial claim that those who are classed as mentally ill are not ill in any way similar to true medical cases of illness where the cause can be traced to an organic or chemical imperfection. They strongly insist that it is quite wrong to use this misleading word from the medical profession where organic problems can be diagnosed and apply it in a non-organic situation.
Thomas Szaz, one of the most forthright in his criticisms of the profession, in his "The Myth of Mental Illness" said "It is customary to define psychiatry as a medical speciality concerned with the study, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. This is a worthless and misleading definition. Mental illness is a myth."
THE ANTI-CHRISTIAN BIAS Although most psychiatrists are not against liberal religious beliefs, the whole basis of all the main methods given above are devoid of any reference to the existence and claims of God. With this fundamental omission, they cannot possibly deal with the true state of man and restore him to a state of "health". These systems are totally against any acceptance that man is basically sinful and needs to be restored to a relationship with his Maker. They are in fact against such an attitude.
For example, there is the wellknown Rorschach Ink-blot test where the client has to "see" shapes that are then interpreted to reveal his "Real (inner) Self".
In interpreting the results, it is claimed that
"Religion contents are virtually never present in the records of normals. Their occurrence is associated with profound concern with good and evil, concern which, almost always, is a screen for and displacement of guilt induced by sexual preoccupation. [These] responses are most common among schizophrenics, particularly patients with delusions which concern religion".
How many Christians who have undergone this test will have realised what the interpretation of the examiner would have been on any religious comment they made?
Of all the many methods used to deal with psychiatric problems, there is one non-christian approach that does have considerable success in achieving long term results. This is Reality Therapy, as proposed and practiced by Mowrer, Glasser, Harrington and now many others. In this, the client is made to face up to the demands of life and take full responsibility for his actions. The success rate is very high as witnessed in one hospital where Harrington was achieving a discharge rate of over 90% when it had been only 1%. Similarly, Glasser achieved an 80% rate with hardened girl criminals.
In a T.V. programme about 1985, it showed just these methods of confronting criminals to take responsibility for their actions, and again there was a good success rate. The programme, however, concentrated on the way in which one criminal (a rapist?) knew what the counsellors wanted and acted out the answers in order to get free. Much play was made of the way in which he was able to "cheat the system", and the implication was that it was a very flawed way to deal with hardened criminals. If this case was so unusual that it warranted so much exposure by the media, it unwittingly spoke well of the presumably satisfactory performance of the many hundreds who had been discharged successfully!
This insistence that people should face up to their responsibilities is one that is very clear as you read the Bible. In that Reality Therapy also insists, with considerable success, on taking responsibility shows that there is proof of its efficacy in normal life - if one needed any such evidence that the Bible is right! This is an aspect in preaching and Bible studies that is badly missing with the resultant wordly behaviour that is acceptable in many churches.
There is one quotation that I will now present, knowing that it will almost certainly annoy many readers. They will doubtless consider it a gross exaggeration which, in the light of most people's views of the high capabilities of the professional psychiatrists, is a slur upon their reputations. I must emphasise that it was made by Harrison who had a great deal of experience of working successfully in mental hospitals in discharging many of the worst cases. He is reported by Mowrer his colleague as saying;
"Hospitals are for crazy people. Everybody that is crazy has decided at some time to be crazy, has decided how he is going to act when he is crazy and, when he decides not to be crazy, he will not be crazy. He will make a conscious decision the same as you or I decide whether to take tea or coffee for dinner."
THE CHRISTIAN POSITION.
The Bible is full of commandments regarding out relationships with others - and with ourselves. Paul exhorted Christians to"minister one to another - bearing each others burdens" etc. The counselling of those who are stressed and who are stressing others is one that evangelical churches must reclaim. For too long ministers and congregations have been overawed by the "professionals", whose credentials, as we have tried to demonstrate briefly above, do not bear close examination.
The psychiatrist O. Hobart Mowrer has challenged the Christian church saying "Has evangelical religion sold its birthright for a mess of psychological pottage?" Any assessment of the present state of evangelical witness in this vitally important area forces one to reluctantly admit that it has.
In my examination of psychiatry, I have found very exact parallels with the way in which evolution is promulgated. Some of these are as follows.
a) Psychiatrists insist that counselling should always be referred to them as the experts. Evolutionists insist that only they have the scientific truth. Both assume that they are correct and that the layman should leave controversial issues to the experts.
b) They are protected from adverse publicity by a well organised press that usually limits the criticisms printed. Success stories are greatly puffed up - failures are ignored.
c) There is much confusion and contradiction within both of these disciplines of which the general public is completely unaware.
There is no doubt in my mind from whence the spiritual force behind both of them emanates.
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