Gary: This week’s item focuses on psychology, and is taken from USA Today: Psychologist William Dougherty, director of the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Minnesota says, “Our profession actually comes out of the shamanistic tradition. But to be financially viable to make a living, we had to hook it up to medicine and science. If we are really honest, we acknowledge that what we do is attend to the soul. It’s soul work, not science work.
Dougherty points to functional networks of healers who can work together, referring clients to appropriate healing channels including therapy, meditation, diet, exercise, spirituality, family bonds, and community engagement. Somewhat contrary to Dougherty’s remarks, but quoted in the same article, Frank Farley, past president of the American Psychological Association notes that insurance companies only cover what he calls “true and valid therapies,” and then he remarks that, “We have very few proven valid therapies.”
Tom: My guests are Martin and Deidre Bobgan, and the topic—certainly our main article—has been Psychotherapy and Christianity, but we’re going to pick up with these ideas in our “Religion in the News” and, in this case, “Psychology in the News”—this is a special for us, but also in our Q&A.
So, Martin and Deidre, one of the things I find fascinating about this—and many of our listeners who have been following the program for awhile, know that we’ve been dealing with occultism, shamanism, in the church. And this is a … when you say that psychology is related to shamanism, most people think, “Oh, come on!” But it’s true, isn’t it?
Martin: Well, one way to look that this is to think, instead of just starting out directly with shamanism, because a shaman, of course, is a practitioner—we can think in terms of, okay, is psychology religion? And you know the name, Thomas Szasz has endorsed our work even though he is not a Christian, but he said an interesting thing in endorsing one of our books. He said, “Although I do not share the Bobgan’s particular religious views, I do share their conviction that the human relations we now call ‘psychotherapy’ are in fact matters of religion and that we mislabel them as ‘therapeutic’ at great risk to our spiritual wellbeing.”
And I think he raises an important point here. It is a religion we’re dealing with, and it does risk—those of us who are Christians, there is a risk of our Christianity when we take on this other religion, and in terms of shamanism, a shaman is this individual who learns certain rituals and practices. And while I wouldn’t say that what a psychotherapist does is shamanic, at times it actually is, because a psychotherapist actually takes in the eastern traditions and other practices that he uses in his therapeutic approach. And so, they can function shamanically, and they do function as shamans in that they’ve been given kind of this status in our society.
Tom: Martin, let me give you another quote: E. Fuller Torrey, another research psychiatrist, he writes, “The techniques used by western psychiatrists often are, with few exceptions, on exactly the same scientific plain as the techniques used by witch doctors,” which would be shamans.
Deidre: That is exactly true. And I think another thing, too, is the term “soul work”—psychology (“psyche /soul; ology/of), and so we are dealing with the soul. We are dealing with that part of man that is not seen. That immaterial part. And so we are dealing…when we’re dealing with the soul, we are on religious ground. We are not in scientific areas at all, because even what might be the most scientific or objective part of research into psychotherapy would be observing behavior and asking questions and getting…but you see, all of this is subjective, because a person is observing the behavior. His report is subjective. A person reporting his behavior or feelings, that is subjective. So everything is subjective there, so it cannot be science.
And there’s another story about somebody in India that…they did a study where they compared native healers and western psychiatrists, and when they had kind of equivalent groups being therapized, and they evaluated the end results (of course, this is still a subjective evaluation, but still…) they evaluated them and found that they had equivalent results except that the witch doctors let the patients go earlier.
Tom: Right. And they didn’t charge quite as much..
Deidre: (Laughing) And they didn’t charge as much, that’s right.
Tom: Well, this is another quote from—again, I’m quoting these people to reinforce the idea—this isn’t just your idea. Or this isn’t a Christian bias, right? I want to quote psychologist Daniel Goleman, who was among the first to point out that Eastern philosophies seem to be making gradual headway in the West as psychologies, not as religions. So this is part of the deception here. I’m not saying that this is always intended, but I think a lot of it is. We have, basically, Eastern metaphysical views coming into what’s supposed to be science but is really religion, and now we have another religion coming into Christianity, because this is being accepted, don’t you agree?
Deidre: Absolutely. That’s exactly what’s happening. Thomas Szasz, who is a psychiatrist who has taught at the university for years and well known, written a lot of books—he sums it up this way: “It is not merely [he’s referring to psychotherapy and its underlying psychology] a religion that pretends to be a science. It is actually a fake religion that seeks to destroy true religion.”