Friday, November 11, 2011
The Psychological Method vs. Christianity - Part 4
SCIENCE OR THEORY?
There is nothing scientific about the psych field; psychologists have developed hundreds of theories and several thousand therapies. A good place to start an examination to prove this is to look at some citations about Freud’s theories in particular, since, as already stated, all other theories have their ultimate origin in Freud.
Freud’s theories essentially state that “early childhood experiences, especially those that are sexual in nature, as being the crucial determinants of adult personality and behavior.” Hunt points out that Freud’s theories “were founded upon his warped view that all thought, feeling, and motivation have their roots in sexual cravings.” However, as Torrey succinctly puts it, “people who have invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in therapies arising from Freudian theory are not pleased to learn that the theory is devoid of any scientific foundation.”
Torrey writes that, “Although he had been trained as a scientist and on occasion invoked scientific metaphors to support his position, after the turn of the century Freud’s interest in scientifically validating his theory appears to have waned. . . . Freud’s critics noted the scientific shortcomings of his theory from its earliest days.” Torrey also cites a 1916 article in the Nation which said that Freud’s theory was “well founded neither theoretically nor empirically. . . . it conveys the impression of unscientific method.”
In 1959 Dr. Benjamin Spock attempted to prove that Freud’s theory was accurate and he recruited 21 families to study. As Torrey tells us, “The results of the study provided no support whatsoever for Freud’s theory and, not surprisingly, little of the data was ever published.”
Torrey cites study after study demonstrating the lack of scientific evidence for Freud’s theories. The following lengthy citation from Torrey will shed some light on the subject:
The scientific validity of the oral, anal, and Oedipal stages of development has been reviewed by several researchers over the years. In 1937 Gardner Murphy and his colleagues noted:
Although we have now been exposed for some time to psychoanalytic and other psychiatric hypotheses regarding the effects of birth trauma, weaning trauma, extreme emphasis on early control of urination and defecation, excessive attention from adults, dethronement by a second child, we have almost no objective records of the development of children going through these experiences, or of experiments controlling certain aspects of the problem.
Ten years later Harold Orlansky reviewed the pertinent “empirical data bearing on the theory that various features of infant care determine adult personality” and reported that “our conclusion has been largely negative.” In 1952 Ernest Hilgard et al., although sympathetic to the Freudian point of view, acknowledged in a review that “anyone who tries to give an honest appraisal of psychoanalysis as a science must be ready to admit that as it is stated it is mostly very bad science, that the bulk of the articles in its journals cannot be defended as research publications at all.” . . . .
[Paul] Kline added: “Freudian theory, so far as it is dependent on data at all, rests on data which by the criteria of scientific methodology are totally inadequate. These data are, for the most part, the free associations of patients undergoing therapy and their dream reports, and both of these sources are unquantifiable and riddled with subjective interpretation.”. . . .
[Hans Eysenck in the 1985 edition of The Experimental Study of Freudian Theories] likened Freud’s ideas to a “medieval morality play” populated “by such mythological figures as the ego, the id and the superego . . . too absurd to deserve scientific status.” Freud was, Eysenck wrote, “without doubt a genius not of science but of propaganda, not of rigorous proof but of persuasion, not of the design of experiments but of literary art. His place is not, as he claimed, with Copernicus and Darwin but with Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, tellers of fairy tales.”
Torrey makes the clear statement that “learning and mastery are important components of effective psychotherapy not because the theories being taught have any scientific basis but because people believe in them.” So any theory is okay, as long as the client believes the theory being espoused by the particular therapist. The problem, of course, is that there are so many of these theories that we should be objective and not judge the theory by beliefs, but whether there is any supporting evidence behind them. Torrey cites a textbook by Redlich and Freedman as saying that if we used only the psych theories that were based on scientific evidence, then “not much would remain, because there are very few truly scientific therapies in our field.”
What is disturbing is that even though we should look for evidence over beliefs, this is not the norm in the psych field. Torrey points out that “. . . scientific validity of insights and truths is irrelevant in psychotherapy. Learning is a process, and the achievement of mastery is an end in itself. It matters little whether the truths have a small or a large t; if they are accepted by the client, then they have the same force as religious beliefs have on the devout Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian. As any mullah or priest can tell you, it is the strength of a person’s belief that is the important determinant of whether the person is able to translate belief into action.” In fact, as if to prove this point, Dave Hunt cites an article from American Journal of Psychiatry that says, “Patients given conventional mental-health treatment in Puerto Rico reported less improvement than those that often went to spiritist healers. . . . [In] spiritist healing. . . mediums receive spirit messages or become possessed by spirits in order to diagnose, counsel or prescribe herbal and ritual remedies.”
Now let’s take a look at the psych field in general.
Hunt tells us that “A lengthy study appointed by the American Psychological Association (subsidized by the National Science Foundation and involving 80 eminent scholars) concluded in 1979 that psychology is not and cannot be a science. Karl Popper, one of the greatest philosophers of science, declared that psychological theories have ‘more in common with primitive myths than with science.’” Hunt also cites Dr. Tana Dineen as saying that if psychologists “were to look honestly at what they are doing it would cause them to have doubts about their effectiveness, their worth, their self-image and their career.”
“Dr. Arthur Shapiro, clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says: ‘Just as bloodletting was perhaps the massive placebo technique of the past, so psychoanalysis - and its dozens of psychotherapy offshoots - is the most used placebo of our time.’"
The Bobgans cite Psychologist Roger Mills as saying, “The field of psychology today is literally a mess. There are as many techniques, methods and theories around as there are researchers and therapists. I have personally seen therapists convince their clients that all of their problems come from their mothers, the stars, their bio-chemical make-up, their diet, their life-style and even the ‘kharma’ from their past lives.”
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) was first published in 1952 with 112 “disorders” compared to six from 100 years earlier. In 1968 the total was 163 and by 1980 it was 224. In 1994 the list had grown to 374 “mental disorders.” Ironically, there has been no scientific validation for this exponential growth of “mental illnesses.”
Dave Hunt cites past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, Lawrence LeShan, as suggesting “that psychotherapy will be known as the hoax of the twentieth century.” Hunt also notes that one of psychology’s most respected leaders, R.D. Laing, gave an “opinion that not even one ‘fundamental insight into relations between human beings [had] resulted from a century of psychotherapy.’”
The psych field has no scientific support for any of their theories, and yet the field is promoted as authoritative when discussing human behavior.