Sunday, August 3, 2014


While it is mostly moribund as a therapy, psychoanalysis continues to exercise an outsized cultural influence.

That, after all, was the reason I wrote The Last Psychoanalyst. It is good to know from whence the therapy culture arose, and better yet, how it turned into an ideology that fostered a culture.

Of course, I am not the first and will not be the last to expose the pernicious influence of Freudian thought. Unfortunately, most of those who attack what is called therapism or psychotherapism do not have a very sound grasp of Freudian theory. Thus, the rationale for my book.

In the meantime, Bruce W. Davidson has just denounced psychotherapism in the American Thinker. In some instances, his views coincide with mine. In others he explores areas that were beyond the scope of my book.

Surely, Davidson would agree with Jacques Lacan’s 1977 statement, to the effect that clinical psychoanalysis is a scam. Obviously, the word of so important a psychoanalyst as Lacan said it is the most newsworthy.

Davidson writes:

For more than 80 years, considerable research has been done looking into its effectiveness, and the weight of the evidence indicates that it is ineffectual at best and harmful at worst.

This is not to say that psychotherapists are con artists with evil intentions.  No doubt many are well-meaning people who genuinely want to alleviate human suffering, and certainly many people have felt encouraged by their therapists.  However, much of this may be simply the relief that comes from unburdening one’s concerns to a sympathetic ear.  Indeed, amateur therapists such as teachers have done as well as trained, credentialed therapists in some research studies.

Freudian psychoanalysis is introspective. It is a form of mind-reading. Worse yet, it assumes that our hidden motives, the ones that are revealed inadvertently in slips of the tongue are truest.

Translated into cultural practice, this idea becomes pernicious. Davidson stated the point well:

Furthermore, psychotherapism has encouraged the trend of judging people’s motives and speculating on their secret thoughts rather than looking at their explicit views and outward behavior.  When political commentators accuse Obama’s critics of racism, they are expressing psychotherapism’s tendency to encourage us to guess at the contents of people’s hidden thoughts. 

Thought police, anyone.

As Davidson points out, the therapy culture insists that everyone be judgmental. Only, now people are to be judged by the purity of their thoughts and by the fact that their thoughts and feelings are politically correct.

This means that people are no longer to be judged by their behavior. In consequence, people feel empowered to behave any which way and to insist that they should not be judged. No matter what they did, they had the best of intentions.

It is worth underscoring, your outward behavior is objectively knowable. Your true intentions are a matter of guesswork.

Davidson also makes much of the fact that Freudian theory and its bastard spawn in the self-esteem movement has undermined the family.

In truth, and despite Freud’s claims, theories of infantile sexuality exist throughout Christian theology. In that Freud was hardly original.

And yet, Freud took a step into ignominy when he declared that parents and children were harboring ill will toward each other. Breaking down the bonds of trust among family members, persuading children that they should not accept the authority or good intentions of their parents has done significant sociocultural damage.

Davidson explains how these theories worked their way into more humanistic—that is, less sex-obsessed—theories:

More serious still, a focus on childhood emotional wounds, popularized by humanistic psychology, naturally bred resentment of one’s parents for not being perfectly supportive.  In their book on the harm done by recovered-memory therapy, Making Monsters, Ofshe and Watters describe how children become “filled with righteous hatred” toward parents as a result of therapists dredging up supposed past parental misbehavior….

In place of “Honor your father and mother,” psychotherapism has often substituted “Indict your father and mother.”

Ah yes, failure to be supportive… another deadly sin, proclaimed to be so by the therapy culture.

Imperfect parents… surely the cause of all your woes. The ill will fostered by the therapy culture has made it nearly impossible for parents to teach their children how to build good character.

As for one of my central notions, namely that, from the time of Freud, psychoanalysis was destined to become a new religion, or, as I put it, a pseudo-religion, post-Freudian analysts defined the same goal:

Finally, psychotherapism has often usurped the place of religion, becoming in effect a new religion of the self.  This was the deliberate aim of humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who held traditional Judeo-Christian religion in contempt.  They envisioned psychology replacing monotheistic religion in a future utopia, which Maslow called Eupsychia.

Evidently, the contempt for Judeo-Christianity has its source, as I and others have pointed out, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rogers and Maslow were somewhat late to the party, but they were advancing a cause that had been around for some time.

Let us not overlook the fact that just as the powerful demon Eros is one of the central characters in Freud’s neopagan pseudo-religion, Eros’s counterpart, in a poem by Apuleius is: Psyche.

Maslow’s cult to Psyche is yet another stealth attempt to bring back paganism.


Anonymous said...

According to author Vitz,poor or absentee fathers seem to produce
children inclined to pursue an atheist worldview.
Of course those with such a worldview
excoriate Vitz' book.

The sneering and contempt common to many atheists seems ignorant of Grace or anything resembling holiness...perhaps even Wonder is foreign.

At a minimum,
religious belief encourages one to seek an appreciation of such things. Atheism appears unaware of their existence.

Anonymous said...

What we have here is a solution looking for a problem. All this psyche/psychobabble is a sophisticated pseudo-science masquerading as a new objective religion, as you have eloquently stated.

High pagan priests are attempting to tell you their (necessarily subjective) meaning of life, only to bring you to the est model that "Life is empty and meaningless, and it's empty and meaningless because it's empty and meaningless."

From there, you're supposed to come up with your own meaning. So while this is supposed to be empowering, it's actually a backdoor way of sanctioning Nietzsche's "will to power," creating the individual self as some all-knowing, self-justified superman. Of course you have the right to judge when you've replaced God. That's the idea.

It's engineered as a way to rescue the human mind from the control of clerics. Clericalism is the true enemy, to be replaced by a new clericalism. The void that must be filled, and the psychoanalyst is all too willing to tell you what this all means. And now, without God, one is alone.

But at its core, the orthodox Judeo-Christian professes a God who is "utterly other," who is a mystery. That keeps us seeking. Psychoexplanations like those of Rogers and Maslow propose a replacement -- something novel, yet as certain in its interpretations as anything religion can muster. These new high priests are evangelists of a neo-gnostic movement propelled by subjective mind-reading, producing an intoxicating self-righteousness without a hint of peer review. The interpreter is always right... he/she holds the secret knowledge. There's nothing "utterly other" about that, and master manipulator a like Bernyays knew it. It's elevation of the Self as the subject of worship. And we wonder why narcissism is on the rise everywhere? Yet the truth is there is no secret knowledge.

This self-worship drives us away from our fellow man and falsely empowers us to categorize him/her in three ways: (1) someone who agrees and is thus an (always temporary) ally; (2) someone who is beneath you, who doesn't "get it" and is to be viewed with indifference; or (3) someone who questions the newly-minted superman's worldview, and is thus worthy of contempt because of their supposedly oppositional motivations. Pretty neat game, set up for he who is his own life center in every way, and very much alone.

Rogers talked about "On Becoming a Person," which is necessarily apart from Christianity's recognition of the universal dignity of the human person. Rogers' person is self-justified superman just because he says he is. This leads to fights over "purity of thought," and purity is a demanding standard that leaves one man standing. We are pushed headlong into the deep, dark recesses of our (always subjective) feelings, Everyone eventually becomes an enemy. Intellectual elitism, disconnection, self-hatred and despair.

Yeah, I'd say Freud's experiment failed under its own weight. Solitary confinement, whether in prison or self-imposed, is the surest way to insanity. Freud wanted to replace religion with a new clergy following his model, just as today's New Agers want to replace religion with this personal, pagan "spirituality." Either way, it separates us from each other.