The Folly Of Freud and Psychological Counselling
‘Sigismund Schlomo Freud’ was born in 1856 into a Jewish home in Freiburg, Austria, a geographical area that is now part of the Czech Republic. His father was a wool merchant and his mother was his father’s third wife. Sigmund was the first of their eight children. In 1859 the family moved to Leipzig and then to Vienna in 1860. At the age of nine, Freud enrolled at a prominent high school where he excelled in his studies. He was proficient in eight languages and had a love of literature, with a special life-long interest in the work of William Shakespeare.
Freud entered the University of Vienna at the age of 17 with the intention of studying law, but ended up studying philosophy, physiology, and zoology instead. He graduated as a medical doctor in 1881 and the following year he married the daughter of Hamburg’s Chief Rabbi. That same year he embarked upon his medical career in a psychiatric clinic at the Vienna General Hospital. In 1886 he entered into private practice specializing in ‘nervous disorders’. He also undertook medical research into the use of analgesics for pain relief, a work that almost gained him a Nobel Prize for research.
It is widely reported that during his time of research Freud became addicted to cocaine, a drug almost unknown at that time. He developed a deep hatred of Christianity and perhaps this helped to develop his obsessive fascination with the occult. When he was a young doctor it is said that he had made a pact with devil and undoubtedly his involvement with the occult and cocaine use had a strong influence on the concoction of his psychological theories that could only have emanated from a deeply sinful and corrupt imagination; (for example his ‘Oedipus Complex’, by far the most wicked and perverse of all of Freud’s theories).
One theory conjured up by Freud was psychoanalysis, a concept that attributes human behaviour to the unconscious mind, which Freud labelled the ‘Id’. According to Freud the ‘id’ is the uncontrollable part of the mind driven by a self-gratification principle that influences an individual’s basic impulses, behaviours and motivations.
Dr ES Williams in his book entitled ‘The Dark side of Christian Counselling’ rightly identifies serious problems with Freud’s theory of the unconscious and brands it as “extremely subtle, for it places enormous power in the hands of the therapist, for only he has the esoteric [specialised] knowledge to delve into the deepest recesses of our unconscious mind and interpret its motivations.”
Freud’s erroneous unconscious theory also has potential to exempt individuals from responsibility for their actions since according to him, they have no control over the impulses or behaviour that are directly attributable to their id/unconsciousness, which he claims is developed as a consequence of their childhood experiences.
Freud taught that in order to identify the source of an individual’s problematic behaviour and negative thoughts or emotions, the expertise of a therapist (Psychodynamic counsellor) is required as this is the only viable means to help people deal with their behavioural or mental problems. Employing a variety of therapeutic tools to help them delve into a patient’s subconscious, the therapist/counsellor unearths the source of their problems. The problems so skilfully resurrected by therapeutic means are used to explain the patient's current problems, which are then commonly attributed to the individual’s early life experiences such as an inadequate, abusive upbringing or over-zealous religious parenting etc. Such an exercise appears to have more in common with a spiritualist séance, a practice clearly forbidden by the Word of God!
There truly is nothing new under the sun as evidenced in Freudian theories and therapies. The outcomes reportedly produced by Freudian and other humanistic psychological therapies bear a close resemblance to the excuses that Adam and his descendants employ in an effort to escape the consequences of their own personal choices and their want of obedience to the just demands of God’s Law.
Freud’s psychological theories also bear a close correlation to evolutionary theories. Both were developed to deny the existence of God and thus excuse mans accountability to their Creator. If Freud’s unconscious theory was accurate then man could not be regarded any different from an animal acting according to its instinctive nature, void of an ability to choose otherwise. However, from the biblical record it is evident that the Lord provided man with a clear distinction from animals by creating Adam in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and by breathing into Adam’s nostrils thus making him a living soul capable of thinking, knowing and with a unique ability to make rational decisions. (Genesis 2:7) God also equipped Adam with a God consciousness that enabled him to enjoy close communion with his Creator. However, Adam’s fall into sin resulted in his immediate spiritual death, thus robbing him of the capacity to commune with his Maker and eventually he was also subjected to physical death. Each of Adam’s descendants have inherited this spiritual deadness and whilst they may know about God and even believe in His existence through the reading of God’s Word and the witness of His creation, sinners remain void of spiritual life or a God consciousness until they are made recipients of God’s redeeming love, grace and mercy, whereby they are made spiritually alive when miraculously born again from above by the Spirit of God! “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins....but God, who is rich mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved.” Ephesians 2:5-6
When confronted with his sin by God in the Garden of Eden, Adam responded in a way his descendants have continued to perpetuate – he tried to evade responsibility for his wrong choice and attempted to place the blame for his sin upon Eve and the Lord, who had so graciously given him Eve as a meet help! But he was without excuse because God had also equipped Adam with another distinguishing feature not possessed by animals – a conscience within his soul and an ability to choose between right and wrong. Despite Adam’s instantaneous spiritual death and loss of God consciousness, he and each of his descendants have a conscience within their eternal souls (albeit marred by sin), thus enabling them to choose between right and wrong. Therefore we are compelled to accept responsibility for the decisions we make in life. Whilst it cannot be denied that many people live with deep hurt and inerasable memories of appalling childhood abuses, nevertheless these experiences cannot be used as justification for sinful choices or adverse behaviour on the part of any individual.
Adam’s ‘blame game’ was repeated by his son Cain when he tried to shirk responsibility for the wilful murder of his godly brother Abel. However, God confronted Cain and compelled him to take responsibility for his sinful deeds and in particular his vain attempt to offer the works of his own hands as a means of atonement for his sin and rejection of God’s way of salvation (substitutionary atonement).
Psychoanalytical therapists would have traced Adam and Cain’s sinful actions to their id/unconsciousness that had developed as a consequence of God’s draconian demands for Adam’s complete obedience and His unreasonable rejection of Cain’s very commendable and sincere efforts to make atonement for his sin!
What utter folly and yet these principles are the basis for psychodynamic therapy and almost all subsequent psychological counselling models including so called Christian counselling therapies! Sadly many undiscerning Believers have been duped into undergoing such counselling methods often because they are presented under a ‘Christian’ counselling label!
Therapies based upon such unscriptural theories ought to be rejected by Christians yet disconcertingly within recent years they have been accepted by many and have even crept into evangelical and otherwise sound churches. A rise in the number of Christians experiencing emotional/mental problems in recent years cannot be denied. Undoubtedly much of this increase can be traced to the stresses and strains of modern day living. In addition to this some Christians (including those appointed by God to feed the flock), have been affected by the worldly spirit of the age and are therefore lacking in the spiritual wisdom and power that is crucial to counsel downcast souls aright from God’s Word. Consequently some well meaning ministers of the gospel and believers have no reservations in sending needy members of the Body of Christ straight into the arms of humanistic psychological counsellors, who neither possess the means or the inclination to apply the Balm of Gilead to troubled souls.
The Lord’s people have always experienced dark providences in their lives and all Believers’ will continue to be subjected to their ‘valley’ experiences. Apart from certain physiological conditions, neurological disease or damage to the brain, most emotional/behavioural problems experienced by Christian’s are caused by reaction to adverse circumstances within their lives; this may result in them experiencing stress, anxiety or deep melancholy. Painful as it may be, Christians must be prepared to consider if their adverse circumstances have been sent as chastisement from the Lord due to a lack of conformity to his Word!
When a Christian’s emotional problems are caused by unfavourable circumstances, a solution cannot be found in the ‘cures’ offered by the God-denying psychological therapies adopted by the world and the so called ‘Christian’ Counselling Movement. This is because the problems arising from life’s difficulties mainly involve our thoughts, emotions and behaviour, all of which are sourced in the soul and the Lord alone can alleviate problems within this area of our created being (although ultimately the Lord alone has control over all aspects of our well being, including our physical health). It is interesting to note that Freud and many other psychologists refer to psychology as the study of the soul of man!
The Christian can never be immune from life’s difficulties; indeed it is guaranteed that “In the world ye shall have tribulation... John 16:33. How frequently this verse is quoted yet the end of this verse is often omitted; “...but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Herein dwells the secret for a victorious Christian life that does not fear or falter when faced with the difficulties of life, but rather glories in infirmities“and counts it all joy when they fall into divers temptations!” James 1:2 It is in Jesus Christ’s overcoming alone that we are enabled to be victorious. In the Lord’s great High Priestly prayer (John 17) He prays for his people, not that they should be taken out of this world with all of its trials and tribulations, but that they should be kept in the world. He has prayed for us and continues to pray for us but we have a responsibility to avail of the means of Grace that He has provided to strengthen us in the day of adversity; “...He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. 2 Corinthians 12:9.
The author has on several occasions experienced dark trials that resulted in stress and anxiety of soul. In response to one of these experiences she foolishly accessed counselling services; thereby she became utterly convinced that psychological counselling could not offer any solutions for the downcast soul that is in Christ. During these difficult times she was brought to realise that the Lord did not want her to depend upon the arm of flesh or muster up the strength to cope with her difficulties. However, He did expect her to avail of His power and it was entirely through His grace and mercy that she was enabled to survive the storms intact!
Physical functionality would be greatly hampered without regular intake of food and water and likewise the author found that sitting often at the Lord’s feet to partake of the Bread of Life and to drink from the Fountain of Living Waters during her time of frailty and weakness was necessary to enable her to receive the Lord’s gracious provision and sustenance for her soul.
One trial resulted in the author being laid aside for many weeks. During this time she gained much needed physical rest and more importantly spiritual strength, obtained primarily through her personal daily devotions. During these times of devotion the Lord revealed Himself through His Word and provided her with many promises to encourage, strengthen and guide her in a completely new direction on her life’s journey.
During times of melancholy and anxiety there is often a tendency to avoid contact with others. However, the author found attendance at the Lord’s house to be of great benefit as it enabled her to derive further spiritual nourishment from the ministry of God’s Word, the times of prayer, the Lord’s Supper and fellowship with other Believers.
Modern busy lifestyles do not easily afford us the time to be employed in spiritual exercises. The writer found that the world, the devil and by far her greatest enemy, the flesh, all collaborated to hinder her from taking the time required to partake of God’s appointed means whereby He dispenses grace unto His children; and it does take time!
Another problem becoming more evident in the latter days of this age is that many churches have departed from the Faith once delivered unto the saints and consequently many professing Christian pastors and members do not have a love for God or regard for His Word. Combined with this there is a great deal of backsliding, carnality and indifference within many true Churches. As a consequence there is an increasing tendency to resort to the flesh and humanistic counselling methods in an attempt to find resolutions to difficult emotional problems arising in the lives of the churches member’s, when what is needed is men and women filled with the Spirit of Wisdom to enable them to love and support needy souls and counsel them aright from God’s Word!
With the benefit of hindsight, the author can now bless the Lord for providentially permitting her to undergo days of trial during which she was laid aside to be taught that His grace is sufficient to meet the needs of each and every one of His children, regardless of the magnitude or severity of their adverse circumstances. Personal experience has also helped the author not to fear difficult days of trial, being fully persuaded that the Lord only places his children in the furnace of affliction that they might learn more of Him, become more utterly dependent upon Him and that their faith might be tried for His praise, honour and glory! “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried in fire, might be found unto the praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7
The editors of B.A.N.A.S.H. trust that this article will be a means of blessing and encouragement to Believers who may be experiencing deep melancholy or anxiety of soul and may it persuade them to seek diligently for help from the One who alone can sustain them and raise them out of their darkness and despair.
“According as His divine power hath given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:3-4