I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Therapeutic State and Competing Religions

Granting that our contemporary therapeutic, self-worship culture is controlled by psychical theories, Christians need to become increasingly cognizant of the primary religious competitor of the Christian faith in America.  I am not talking about Islam or Buddhism; rather, the comprehensive control religion of the psycho-therapeutic state.  Below is one of my initial critiques of the psychical so-called “sciences.”  I have shared this point with several psychology professors and others in the field.  I’ve yet to hear a reasonable rescue of the position.  Granting my decades of navigating a closest family member’s struggles with so-called Bipolar disorder, I thought it would be a fine point of departure.    

One of my primary concerns with psychical sciences has to do with just that, its science.  Of course, at bottom, any and all science is fundamentally concerned with causal relations.  Psychical theories are no different.  So, to be a genuine science, it will seek to discover causes and sufficiently explain related effects.  As I see it, psychiatry on the one hand and psychology on the other must posit (and do postulate) reversed causation.  Let me explain.

Let's take so-called bipolar disorder as our example.  Psychologist must presuppose that the causes of bipolar are external stimuli or otherwise behavioral in nature.  This generalization will likewise be narrowed according to the adopted theory of the clinician.  Cognitive psych will suppose that the patient's problem lies in their conceptualization and interpretation of relational and situational events, for instance.  The behaviorist (even contemporary theorists, such as Bandura) will posit that the patient's environment or social construct is the final causal link in the chain of causes.  Thus, psychological theory finds the causes of manic-depressive episodes in something extraneous the patient.

Psychiatry, on the other hand, is obliged to work on the assumption that the effect of bipolar behavior is caused by biochemical imbalances in the brain.  This, of course, is part and parcel of the popular-level thought on the problem.  The psychiatric position, then, says the cause is internal to the patient and the effect is the external behavior and symptoms.  Therefore, the psychologist and the psychiatrist are operating off of perfectly contrary causal premises.  This is not to say that neither can therefore be true.  One or the other may be true, but they cannot both be true; the ice cold grip of logic will not allow it.  Moreover, the respective methodologies of each perspective reinforce the causal premise of the perspective.

It is tempting to say, "Well, the truth lies in a careful wedding of the two perspectives; and, subsequently, a bipolar sufferer's remedy lies in dual treatments: pharmacotherapy (by the psychiatrist) and psychotherapy (by the psychologist).  Despite how hopeful and popular this may be, it is still illogical.  The former assumes that the brain causes the behavioral effect; the latter assumes the external stimuli are the cause of the effect.  It is unreasonable to the say the cause is the effect and the effect is the cause.  This would contradict the laws of logic, the principle of sufficient reason and intuitive common sense. 


  1. Its interesting because there is a similar relationship to damnation in Reformed theology, isn't there? You are damned because you sin, yet you sin because you are damned. The cause is the effect and the effect is the cause.

  2. No way, Jose. Your analogy does not hang together. First, I don’t know any Reformed thinker that would affirm your reciprocal inversion of the relationship between sin and condemnation, neither is it a necessary entailment of Reformed theology. Secondly, your construction necessarily equivocates the term “damned.” But I think we understand your point clearly enough: You despise Reformed theology. Thankfully, your numbers are shrinking a bit (http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1884779_1884782_1884760,00.html).