(Warning: This Stream is Polluted)
In contrast to the pure, cleansing, healing, and life-giving waters of the Word of God, the world offers the polluted streams of psychotherapy. One of those streams, in which many Christians continue to dip, is psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis was invented by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Though he has been dead for many years, the deadly poison of his bizarre theories has infected nearly every system of psychological counseling. Moreover, Freudian concepts and terms have so permeated our society that they are generally treated as facts about human nature.
For instance, numerous people refer to the id, ego, and superego as if these entities truly exist, as if they are well-defined compartments of the personality. They do not realize that Freudian concepts and terms were concocted in Freud’s own mind. But, that’s the way most psychological systems are formed. They are an attempt to define and explain the inner workings of all persons, but the psychological theorist ends up defining and explaining himself according to his own subjectivity.
That such a system for understanding mankind is flawed should be evident from the ever-increasing number of psychological theories that often contradict each other. Moreover, for the Christian, any such system should be seen as flawed because of the deceitfulness of the heart (“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9). Because of the noetic effects of the fall, man’s view of himself will be flawed. Thus each person who creates a psychological theory to explain the human condition will have at best a flawed view of himself. But, when people attempt to explain human nature in a universal manner, they fail even more miserably unless they are guided by the Holy Spirit and find their understanding in Scripture.
Freud did not do that. In fact, Freud was adamantly opposed to Christianity. Freud taught that religious doctrines are all illusions and that religion is “the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity.”
He viewed religion as the source of mental problems and thus formed all of his notions from a godless position. Nevertheless, Freud’s views influenced our culture to the degree that many Christians began to doubt the effectiveness of the Bible and the church in dealing with life’s problems. All the while, Freud argued that belief in God was delusionary and therefore evil.
Psychotherapy, from its very beginning, created doubt about Christianity. Freud effectively eroded confidence in Christianity and established negative ideas concerning Christianity that prevail today. He negatively influenced the faith and affected the attitudes of many people concerning the role of the church in healing troubled souls.
Numerous psychoanalytic myths devised by Freud are imbedded in our culture. Many people believe them as if they are facts. The following statements are Freudian myths:
1. The id, ego, and superego are actual parts of the human psyche.
2. A person’s unconscious drives behavior more than his conscious mind chooses behavior.
3. Dreams are keys to understanding the unconscious and thus the person.
4. Present behavior is determined by unresolved conflicts from childhood.
5. Many people are in denial because they have repressed unpleasant memories into the unconscious.
6. Parents are to blame for most people’s problems.
7. People need insight into their past to make significant changes in thoughts, attitudes and actions.
8. Children must successfully pass through their “psychosexual stages” of development or they will suffer from neurosis later on.
9. If I am to experience significant change, I must remember and re-experience painful incidents in my past.
10. The first five years of life determine what a person will be like when he grows up.
11. Everything that has ever happened to me is located in my unconscious mind.
12. People use unconscious defense mechanisms to cope with life.
Many of these Freudian myths permeate the thinking of numerous Christians and “Christian psychologists.”