Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Do Basic Therapeutic Assumptions Lead to Child Sex Abuse?

Mr. Younos,
Below are my reponses to your questions.

Mr. Martinez,

Thanks for your prompt response. I knew that Freud and Jung were both strongly influenced by Nietzsche. I wasn't so sure about Adler, but thank you for making the clarification there. No doubt, Nietzsche has made quite an impact on the way modern psychology has developed. It seems to me, however, that instead of inventing his psychological ideas, Nietzsche simply articulated in a concise manner much of what was already conventional wisdom (albeit in an as of yet free-floating form). In fact we find ideas which are similar if not identical to Nietzsche's in the works of Hegel, Schopenhauer, the Marquis de Sade and Emily Bronte (among others). Nietzsche himself professes his enormous indebtness to Dostoevsky, stating that the latter was the only psychologist from whom he had had anything to learn.

My conclusion is therefore that Nietzsche had a way with expressing psychological observations -- which were by no means novelties -- and that this concise method of expression was what later psychologists like Freud, Jung and Adler found extremely useful. We might say that Nietzsche was the bridge by which conventional wisdom regarding human nature made the transition into the solid discipline of modern psychology.

The therapeutic approaches, which started with Freud, have a basic assumption that is not Christian. The starting point is not the Christian worldview, which is summed up in the parable of the prodigal son: a fallen and sinful world with persons needing God the Father to forgive them so they can return to be His sons and daughters.

Unlike the Christian worldview, the therapeutic starting point is that the individual must overcome personal unconscious forces, in Freud, and in Carl Jung the person must unite to the collective unconscious, which is shared by all humans.

In both cases, the therapist assists his client to change himself to 'become his real self.' Forgiveness and returning to God are not needed. What is needed are not God and His Forgiveness, but a therapist assisting a self to reach the fullness of its self.

Adler believe there is no sin (no right or wrong), only selves needing to reach the fullness of themselves. Adler believed child sex abuse was therapy. According to William Coulson, a former collaborator of Carl Rogers,

Maslow was always a revolutionary. ... In 1965, working a radical idea about children and adult sex into his book about management, "In Eupsychian Management: A Journal," [Maslow said]: "I remember talking with Alfred Adler about this in a kind of joking way, but then we both got quite serious about it, and Adler thought that this sexual therapy at various ages was certainly a very fine thing. As we both played with the thought, we envisioned a kind of social worker ... as a psychotherapist in giving therapy literally on the couch."

As one can see, the basic therapeutic assumption leads to certain results in the real world. These thinkers don't believe in the basic Christian assumption that there is a need for forgiveness from God. Instead, they believe there is no sin, only selves needing to reach the fullness of themselves.

If you believe these is the solid discipline of modern psychology, I feel sorry for you.

Regarding Kierkegaard, almost the whole of his existential philosophy revolved around the notion of self-creation. He was the first thinker to propose that the self exists not as an immaterial substance (i.e., a "soul") but as something which comes into being through actively making decisions. He was also the first thinker -- at least as far as I know -- who spoke of the relation between social roles and the self: namely, that the individual identity is fragmented by the many roles one is forced to adopt in society, and that an authentic "self" can crystalize only around decisions which are made after committing to an ethical standard. I think that this comes very close to Nietzsche's ideas about self-creation, the type of ethics Kierkegaard endorses being the one difference.

You are wrong. Kierkegaard believed in a soul that could love God and others. (See R. Wesley Hurd's article below)

Nietzsche believed not in love of God or others, but in a self reaching the fullness of its self.

And speaking of Kierkegaard, he had hoped that the epigraph on his gravestone would read, "That Individual". He capitalized on the value of individuality, which brings me to my next point: that I think a distinct western emphasis on individuality has played a large roll in shaping today's pop psychology. In the last email I stated my view that the postmodern preoccupation with self owes itself to the influence of liberal democracy on the way we think. I made a reference to the petty selfishness of the bourgeoisie and how I believed that differed from Nietzschean ethics. You pointed out that you believe that difference to be a mere matter of degree. I would disagree with you here, but I will concede a sort of "family resemblance" between the two. Both stem from the western tendency to emphasize the value of individuality, insofar as liberal democracy can be traced back to the political ideas of yet another western philosopher, namely John Locke.

Hope to hear from you again soon,
Ken Younos



Gaining One's Soul
by R. Wesley Hurd

The concept of a literal human soul seems very old-fashioned in today's highly secularized world, where educated sophisticates equate "real" with tangible, visible, material. Our culture rarely uses the word "soul" except in a loose and metaphorical way, in reference to emotional and psychological realities. We say one's soul can be "touched," "troubled," "elated," by which we mean that life's difficulties and trials or beauty and joys are spurring a person's emotions or concerns. We say jazz or rock music "has soul," by which we mean it elicits deeply emotional or excited responses. Nowhere in these contemporary uses of "soul" do we detect a necessary belief in the existence of an actual human soul. Yet I believe that the spiritual impoverishment of the Western world is largely due to the modernist/postmodernist mindset that questions even the existence of the soul, let alone its nature and relation to existence. And I am not alone in this belief.

In his 1978 Harvard University commencement address, titled "A World Split Apart," Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian exile and 1970 Nobel Prize winner in literature, argued that "Hastiness and superficiality are the…disease of the twentieth century…." His words imply that, in its deep secularity, the West has succumbed to a superficiality and trivialization of what is valuable in life. The modern mind has dismissed the idea that man possesses a soul given by a transcendent Creator to whom he needs to be rightly related. Yet the consequences of rejecting the long-standing Western belief that the God of the Bible exists and is the only source for understanding ourselves are dire. Man exchanges belief in his own soul for a myth of freedom. If he has no soul and no God to whom he is accountable, man then believes he is free to define and cultivate a different concept of the self and the grounds of personal existence.

The Bible's View of the Soul

In contrast to our culture, the Bible both assumes and asserts the existence of the human soul. The Old Testament (OT) uses the word nephesh and the New Testament (NT) uses psuche to refer to the soul and its various dimensions or aspects. In the OT, nephesh can refer to "the seat of feelings, desires, affections," "the will," "the heart," or "that which breathes—that is, the vital force that animates the body and shows itself in breathing." In the NT, psuche refers to "a living being," "the source of feelings, both affections and aversions," and "the inner essence of man that constitutes his immaterial and spiritual self as distinguished from his outer, physical self." In short, the Bible views the human soul as the composite of one's personal, immaterial, and spiritual existence in which one's psychology and rationality exist. The Bible assumes that the soul is the deepest precinct of the human person. While the whole human creature—soul and body—bears the marks of the Creator, the Bible emphasizes the inherent importance of the invisible, immaterial aspect of humans: their souls.

In the biblical view, worldly rewards, as charming and attractive as they can be, are "like grass" whose greenness fades quickly. The world lures the soul; but while the world offers much—on its terms—its attractions are "thin" and temporal. A person can possess a soul that draws its life from this temporal existence, but the soul gained on the world's terms is not capable of bearing the light and weight of eternal existence; it will die and be destroyed. The temporally oriented soul is not worthy of existing eternally. Thus God barred Adam and Eve from the eternality of the garden because of the condition of their souls, which were not yet worthy of eternal existence.

The Great Problem of the Soul

While the Bible asserts the existence of the human soul, it also reveals a problem. Two biblical texts, in particular, articulate what can be called the most profound dilemma confronting every living human being. The first text is Matthew 16:25-26:

For whoever wishes to save his life [soul-life] shall lose it; but whoever loses his life [soul-life] for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
This passage implies that one can "possess" one's soul on the world's terms or one can own one's own soul on Christ's terms, but not both. Here is the dilemma: every person must decide how to own, possess, or gain his own soul. A person can do it on the world's terms or on Jesus' terms. But a person cannot have it both ways. In the Apostle John's language, each person must choose between "darkness" and "light"; either a person gains his soul in terms of the world (darkness), or he gains it in terms of Christ (the Light).

The second text is Luke 21:19, where Jesus says to his disciples, "By your perseverance you will win (gain) your souls." Jesus is speaking to His disciples in the context of the severe trials and persecutions He knows are coming upon them because of their commitment to Him and His kingdom. And I would argue that Scripture shows that the truth Jesus reveals in this statement to the disciples also applies to the life and experience of all believers.

Kierkegaard's Observation

In his inimitable way, Søren Kierkegaard, in a collection titled Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, refers to the Luke passage and points out a perplexing paradox regarding the human soul. How is it that humans can possess a soul from birth and at the same time be required "through perseverance" to "gain their souls" in the course of this life? Kierkegaard asks, How can we come "naked" into this world with only one possession, our souls, and yet in some real sense not possess our own souls? He answers that a person owns a soul at birth that will be either gained or lost in reference to the world or to Christ. Kierkegaard makes two profound observations regarding what it means to be a human soul.

First, from the first moment of our life, we are "creatures of the world" in a most profound and fundamental sense. Being of the world in this sense is normal and not to be repudiated. In Kierkegaardian terms, "we are the world" [italics mine] in the sense that our very nature and existence is made of the same created stuff of which the rest of the world is made. The problem comes when we make evil choices. We "creatures of the world" become "worldly creatures" when the active posture of our souls is "in and of the world" and against God.

Second, the human soul is "a contradiction." God created the human soul to be simultaneously finite and eternal. Kierkegaard points out this tension at the center of our daily human experience: we are finite, limited, earthbound creatures who were created for and presently long for infinite or eternal things. In short, he states that the human soul is "at contradiction with itself."

The writer of Ecclesiastes affirms and explains the nature of this paradox; he tells us that God created us as mortal, physical creatures with "eternity in our hearts." God's plan was to create a being "in His image" and to give this being the profound task of looking to Him to find the answer to this finite-eternal contradiction. We can see in the promise of the fulfilled gospel, made known through Jesus and His teaching, that God planned this painful contradiction from the beginning. God's gracious salvation is the only solution to our deeply felt need and incompleteness. God will take us from being profoundly incomplete creatures to being those filled with His life and glory. The completion of our incomplete, unfulfilled natures involves the dissolution of the finiteness of the creature into the eternality for which the creature was originally created. In these terms, the God-given task that the writer of Ecclesiastes ponders poetically is the human creature's "gaining his soul."

How We Gain Our Souls

How then do we gain our souls in our everyday experience? Luke 21:19 offers an important clue. Jesus told his disciples they would "gain their souls" through hupomone—patience, endurance, perseverance. So we, too, must gain our souls through an enduring, continually proven "believing" in the gospel. Against the attractions and securities the world offers, we must count on the love and mercy of God to supply our needs in the trials of life.

We gain our own souls away from the world through patient, enduring faith in our God and the promise of His gospel. Ultimately, only two persons have active "contact" with our souls. We do, as active owners of our own souls. And God does, as the transcendent Creator and Sustainer of all existence. Our souls belong to us, but they are also God's. Only the gospel of Jesus promises the transformation of soul that we are here calling "gaining the soul."

The soul of every human creature has a telos, an end or purpose. The meaning of telos is illustrated by the relationship between an acorn and an oak tree: all the oak tree will ever be is contained in the tiny acorn; thus the telos of the acorn is to become the completed and mature oak tree. Similarly, the soul God gives each person at birth has a telos to become what God created it to become. For the chosen believer, that telos is to become a mature, glorious creature whose nature and character God is well pleased to keep eternally in fellowship with Him. "Gaining one's soul" is the process by which humans, through perseveringly choosing to live life in light of the truth of the gospel, fulfill the telos for which God created them.

Copyright August 2006 by McKenzie Study Center.



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