The Value and Shortcomings of Modern Psychology

To finish up Chapter 2, our author explores the limits and future of psychology when it comes to the unconscious…

Today, existential psychotherapists tend to refute the concept of man’s unconscious because the doctrine became a “convenient blank check on which any causal explanation can be written…”  ImageBut Dr. Rollo May writes:  “…this is the ‘cellar’ view of the unconscious, and objection to it should not be permitted to cancel out the great contribution that the historical meaning of the unconscious had in Freud’s  terms… the far-reaching enlargement of personality, which is its real meaning, should not be lost… I would propose… to agree that being is at some point indivisible, that unconsciousness is part of any given being…”

So where do psychology and religion coincide?

And today at least one psychiatrist begins to relate Jesus’ description of the inner realm to man’s unconscious domain.  Dr. Stanley Blanton writes: “Trust and believe in the hidden power within you.  A psychiatrist might say, ‘Have faith in your unconscious.’  A minister might say, ‘Have faith in God.’ Personally, I see no conflict between the two ideas.  Indeed, they may well be the same idea, expressed differently.  After all, it was the founder of Christianity who said that ‘the kingdom of heaven is within you.'”

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One thing psychology (along with religion) hasn’t recognized yet is Preston Harold’s concept of Jesus as the breaker of the Messianic mold…

Dr. Blanton does not appear to grasp the implication in his statement, just as Schweitzer apparently fails to grasp the implication of his – that the Messiah mold is broken, and this as aftermath of Jesus’ work.  Jung, too, reveals a finding of inestimable importance, but does not appear to have realized its significance.  ImageAccording to Progroff, Jung saw that: “…some variation of the image of Jesus Christ is inevitably the center around which the symbol of individuation is expressed.  ….from a psychological point of view, the authenticity of the Christ symbol derives from the fact that it expresses the Self in symbolic form.”

Clouding this discovery is the orthodox Messianic concept of Jesus which prohibits Jung’s grasping the idea that Jesus’ mission was to make Himself a symbol of the Self in each man, a physical substitute for the Ego, becoming the unifying principle that promises reunion with self-nature itself, for Progoff says that Jung does not imply that “Jesus is any the less real as Christ.”  The Messianic question is bypassed.

So we all seem to have a blind spot that keeps us from recognizing that from Jesus’ own perspective, His mission was to make Himself obsolete as a Messiah come from without to save.  But He does save as much as we recognize Him as a outward sign of an inward reality, an inward grace, and that inward reality/ grace is the gift of our “I.”

How can “I” be revealed as the Christ of God in man?

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O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

There shall be no strange god among you;

You shall not bow down to a foreign god,

I am the Lord your God… -Psalm 81:8-10

“I,” the Authority-Ego is no stranger, is not an outsider or foreigner to the ego-group, “Israel,” although this One is not committed to the precepts of the conscious domain upon which “Israel” operates.

We finish up with a few observations about the role of psychology from the last paragraphs of chapter 2…

Today, psychologists, become in many ways a modern priesthood, tend to guide men around these precepts.  But some protest this: “There is a fear of the unconscious, that is of the life-force itself, from Imagewhich we all seem to recoil [Rank].  The apparent therapeutic effects of those methods that proceed in terms of ‘analytic hyperconsciousness’… seem to ‘work’ only because they avoid the shaking contact with the depths of the psyche that is the source of their original fear, and would also be the source of creative healing if the contact were permitted [Progoff].”

In the words of the Psalmist, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”  He who has experienced the depths of the unconscious approaches with an educated respect and this is as it should be – all psychologists acknowledge the danger attendant upon probing these depths.  But this does not mean that contact with the Authority within should be avoided, for: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth him that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Rank saw that psychology does not or cannot give man the faith he needs to make him whole, that for the most part psychology is capable only of explaining, not of believing – it “was produced from the neurotic type and corresponds to it.”  But psychology’s explanations are valuable.  Through them man may discover what it is that he fears and then come to understand the error, the neurosis, that is seeping through his civilization.

And with that we are ready to move on to Chapter 3!  See you there.  Until then, peace…

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2 thoughts on “The Value and Shortcomings of Modern Psychology

  1. Otto Rank was respectful of religion, if not a conventional believer. Matthew Fox often refers to Rank in connection with creative spirituality. Psychologist Rollo May also found his thinking valuable as a bridge between psychoanalysis and religion.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful, informed comment, E. James. I read Fox’s “Coming of the Cosmic Christ” back around 1991 but am not overly familiar with his work on the whole.

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