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Friday, December 9, 2011

Psychoanalysis / Psychology - not Christian tools (book review Part 1)

Among the whoredoms of the modern LCMS is the use of psychology or psychoanalysis in the church.  An example of this was a book published by Concordia Publishing House in 1941 titled Learning to Know the Child - An Introduction to Child Psychology by Adolph Haentzschel, Ph.D.
Before the Lord graciously led me back to the truth of His Word, I had some experience with psychology from a patient's perspective... I needed help after disasters in my life.  But the worldly advice did not help me and the Lord led me to true peace through His Gospel message.  Then when I saw the inroads that psychology had made into the church, I decided to review the above book published by a Christian book publisher - from the LC-MS no less!
Here is the review that I wrote in January, 1995 and shared with a pastor (Xxxxxx) of a conservative Lutheran church body. This is Part 1 which offers my comments.  Part 2 (in the next post) will identify what the Bible and Dr. Pieper say on the subject:
A Review of the booklet "Learning to Know the Child- An Introduction to Child Psychology" by Ad. Haentzschel, Ph.D

        Published by Concordia Publishing in Concordia Leadership Training Series,  1941.

Xxxxxx quotes the portion of the foreword that speaks of modern psychology's abandoning of god.  This seems to be offered as justifying the "good" qualities of the book.  The next page offers Xxxxxx's comments (I think about this booklet- I'm not sure without page numbers).  These are:
    "Comments - excellent on presenting definitions and making distinctions "oft thought but ne'er so well expressed!"
            - especially good on learning and memory.

The author's educational credentials are listed as Ph.D. and was a Professor of Philosophy at Valparaiso University (supported by Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod).

Is this the same as studying the stars, mathematics, electricity, fluid dynamics, languages, thermodynamics, or biology?  It is presented as such since it is couched with scientific schools, scientific people, using scientific methods.  Is it true that we can learn something about child behavior that God's Word doesn't already teach?

A quick scan of the booklet reveals little reference to Scripture (or Luther or Walther).  It can therefore be deduced that the author intends to teach the reader about the knowledge of children apart from Scripture.  Perhaps by the methods of science: observation, recording, deduction. 

The foreword claims this booklet offers the much needed reliable scientific information on the subject, one that answers "our needs" (?).  The foreword also says that parents need this book.  I compare this to Luke 11:13 where Jesus acknowledges parents ability to give good gifts.  The foreword gives tacit acknowledgement of Who made these human beings - God.  Does he give the Creator/Redeemer glory by then going to man's observation of children to understand them?

The book's cover shows a grown man looking down at a boy of about 10 years or less age.  He appears to be engaged in studying the boy as the title suggests this booklet contains information about human behavior.  It reminds me of the notion that children are born as a blank slate (tabula rasa) to be written on- the notion of John Locke.  It has also struck me that the subtitle of this book "An Introduction to Child Psychology" is not printed on the cover.  Why not?  Is there something to hide?

But let us go on to the actual author of this booklet, Mr. Haentzschel himself.

Page 1: "At first thought it may appear strange if we undertake to extend these same principles to those who "work with" human beings; and yet they apply there equally.  Must not a physician, for instance, spend much time and effort in making himself familiar with what can be known about the human body, its ailments, and the methods that have proved most successful in bringing it back to health?  Must not a psychiatrist, who specializes in mental disturbances, be thoroughly acquainted with the ways of the human mind, with its normal activity, with the conditions that may cause it to act abnormally, and with the means that may be employed to bring it back to a healthy state?  Yes, it appears that also where human beings are the "material" with which on works, the more one understands their nature and the ways in which they can be influenced, the better.
    Comments:    Note the analogy of a physician's work and a psychiatrist's work.  This is frequently used to justify psychology.  Why should anyone assume this analogy?  The fields are entirely different.  This gives physician's work a bad name.  I will trust my first thought (based on Scripture) that it is improper to use scientific methods to "work with" human beings (in a psychological sense) like iron and steel.

Page 2: Knowledge of Children Must Be Acquired
"It is, no doubt, true that everybody has some acquaintance with human nature."
    Comment: Yes, there is NO doubt that everybody has some acquaintance with human nature.

Page 3: "Human beings, furthermore, are vastly more complex than the materials with which the chemist works."
    Comment: Yes, human beings ARE vastly more complex than the materials with which the chemist works. 

Page 4: "Farther than this it cannot go with the means at its disposal.  But the Word of God furnishes us ADDITIONAL LIGHT disclosing to us facts about human beings that we could otherwise not know."
    Comment: Though this statement appears to give God's Word credit, it in fact does just the opposite.  I thought (according to Scripture) that men lived in darkness. John 1:5, Matt 4:16.  I thought men were spiritually dead.  Ephesians 2.1.  I thought Jesus and the Word were the only light in the world. John 1:5.

Page 59-60: When and How the Will Operates
"..., but that the master voice of them all has been heard.  Our real self has made its choice, divided against itself though it be."
    Comment: Where did the terms "master voice" and "real self" come from. 

Page 61: Decisions of the Will Not Always Carried Out
"If we do not want this to happen [opposition of our hostile desires], we must come to the aid of the will by frequently calling to mind, and dwelling on, the considerations that favor the course which it upholds, by picturing to ourselves the advantages to be derived from remaining faithful to our determination,..."
    Comment:  Another name for this is "imaging", well known in psychology and other fields.  I had many cassette tapes that were designed to help me "image".  The problem was this technique still had no real power over the sin/ (oops, maybe I shouldn't mention that word) weakness in me.  I will ask the question as Mr. Haentzschel does at the beginning of the next section:
        -> What bearing has this discussion on the Christian outlook and especially on the Christian teaching of children?
        It does not matter that his next sentence ignores his main teaching and goes back to the message of sin and the Savior.  He has already exposed himself for what his "real" message is.
Page 61: Action
"Those, however, who through faith in Christ have gained forgiveness and peace and have become children of God and love their heavenly Father for His mercy toward them- these the Christian teachers must guide, so they will earnestly seek to bring all that they are and do into agreement with the will and pleasure of God:..."
    Comment:  What happened to nurturing faith through the Word- as Pieper constantly reminds "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed".

Page 64: Conscience and Desirable Action
"There is, of course, also in the child that strange inner voice which God has implanted in the hearts of all men: the conscience."
    Comment: Strange in what way?  Romans 1, 7, and 14 beautifully describe the working of the conscience.  Why is this "strange" to the learned doctor Haentzschel?  E.W.A. Koehler beautifully builds on the Scripture doctrine of the conscience in his booklet "Conscience".  
Page 66: Selfhood
"No doubt the easiest way to see how true this is is to observe what goes on in us."
    Comment: Now the doctor reveals his source of true wisdom- look inside yourself! 
Page 73-74: Personality- Integration and Balance
"...utmost importance that it be fully or things of which it consists are united into a harmonious whole."
    Comments: "fully integrated", harmonious whole" : more words and meanings of psychoholism.
Page 84: What Can the Teacher Do
"One of the most frequent sources of trouble is a feeling of inferiority, a lack of self-confidence, in the child,..."
    Comment:  This is the teaching of Alfred Adler- Austrian psychologist.
Page 84: What Can the Teacher Do
    "In some cases, for instance when early experiences are involved of which the child does not even know, the services of a trained psychiatrist may be necessary."
    Comment:  Xxxxxx stated Haentzschel did not use the techniques of Freud.  Microsoft Encarta '95 encyclopedia states the following of Freud's doctrine under the heading of Psychoanalysis:  "A basic assumption of Freudian theory is that the unconscious conflicts involve instinctual impulses, or drives, that originate in childhood."
= = = = = = = = = = = = =
See my next post for Part 2 of this book review.

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