Sunday, January 10, 2010

Psychology or not?

I'm going to go out on a limb here. Are you ready?


That's it. I like psychology. I mean I really like psychology.

So, what do I mean when I say: psychology? Am I talking about the Psyche 101 class in college? Am I talking about Freud, Skinner, or what? And what does a Christian have to do with all of that stuff? We have the Bible, and that's enough, right?

The concept of psychology is embodied by this thought: the study of the human mind/ inmost being. Both worldly people and Christians are capable of observing the workings of the human psyche. Under the premise that human thought controls human behavior, many people have come up with interesting observations of what makes our mind work. The study of the human mind is very interesting but very complex.

What most people have trouble with is the interpretations of the data or the bizarre circumstances under which the data was collected. Take Freud, for example. Everyone knows that he think everything boils down to sex drives. Absurd. But did you know that he did his research on prisoners convicted of sex-related crimes? So, yes he had data, but it was really skewed, to say the least! But was there any truth in what he was doing? Well, probably. But very few people want to go digging around to figure that out. But there have been godly Christians who have studied these things and been able to "spoil the Egyptians" in a sense and learn what we can from it. In the case of Freud, we learn that our past experiences can really affect the present. The horror, trauma and sin that we are experiencing at one stage of life can sometimes be hiding and come out in weird ways in another.

At other times, the reason why (worldly) psychologists fail is not because the method or even data is incorrect, but the absence of the presence of a loving God does not offer the person suffering any hope. (Obviously I talking about this in the general sense, since there are plenty of theories that are flawed in method and/or data) It's not enough to know what's wrong with the brain or even how it works, but if we can not point the hurting person to the ultimate healer, we still aren't helping them.

If you are still wondering if much learning hath made me mad, consider this post: Learning how your brain works in organizing. Go ahead and read it, and come back..

I'll wait for you...

What was I doing when I wrote that? I was using psychology. It was probably cognitive psychology, but it was psychology, nonetheless. And what else? It was helpful (or so one of my readers told me), and it was written by a Christian who reads the Bible and loves the Lord Jesus.

So this week in our counseling class, we studied the Bible hard. The book of Hebrews, the tabernacle, Romans, Genesis, etc. But we also had to read about all of the major writers of psychology. Rather than reject them altogether, we were challenged to think, evaluate, ponder, pray. Sometimes we don't have the energy to evaluate things, and it's easier to dismiss them. I know, I've done it. The Bible is our grid from which we evaluate all information that comes our way. It's our job to wrestle with each thing and think. Thinking takes work. It's hard.

Well, I'm done being lazy. I'm done generalizing. I want to know what's up, and how to really help people. And I'm not saying that I fully understand this. In fact, it's just the opposite. I know enough to be very humbled. I just want to really know Christ.. more! Studying psychology has not made me reject God. It has made me all the more amazed at him for creating such a beautiful thing as the human mind. For the little that man has been able to observe about it, I am thankful. The fact that my little brain is capable of thinking about thinking.. is a wonder in itself. It's like that mirror of a mirror of a mirror of a mirror..... AAAhhh!! my brain hurts!!!

Maybe I should stop now before I explode.

And if you disagree with me, don't cut my RSS fee off immediately, we'll be back to funny stories and sorting socks soon enough.

Make my home sing Monday with Moms the Word


Tiffany said...

lol, this was great! I am not sure I completely agree, but I loved reading this nonetheless!

kristilea said...

I don't have time this morning to read the other article, but I did want to share my thoughts.

I started taking Psychology classes at college when I was still in highscool. That is what I wanted to be, was a psychologist. Once getting saved, and entering the church world, I found a huge controversy on the subject. I still think that there are patterns and behaviors that you can classify. I do believe that psychology is a good thing and can be needed. I believe some behavior issues are chemical, and have to be treated as such. And that we can help people by looking into their past and how it has affected their future in their mind. I know that their are people who are truly helped through the avarage psychologist. But....some are WAY OFF the mark. Taking it where it's not meant to go, and overly medicating a large portion of the worlds population. The help will not save their soul, and may even be just temporary without leading the person to Christ, who is the source of all power greater than this world.

I still want to be a psychologist when my kids are grown, Lord willing, but now I want to be a Christian Psychologist because I will not be able to talk with someone without God being a large part of that conversation. Maybe even just a counselor, but I think the study of the human mind, and patterns is really helpful. Yes, we can lead them to the One who can really save them, but it does help do know all that other stuff, I've already found that out in the counseling that I have done already!

Organizing Mommy said...

Tiffany, I knew this was sticky. I appreciate the other side also.

Kristilea, there are so many dangers out there that we really do need to in the will of God when pursuing this. I am still praying about what to do with the information I've learned. We do have a lot in common in this area..

momstheword said...

I have to say that I don't think I could take a psychology class unless it was late afternoon and I was wide awake. It makes my brain hurt, lol!

It's nice to see that there are Christian ones out there! You are absolutely right, the Bible is what we use as a basis of comparison. We have to take everything and compare it to what the Word says.

Thanks for linking up today.

Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth said...

"if we can not point the hurting person to the ultimate healer, we still aren't helping them."

This is the key with every productive thing we do in the world, whether it be auto repair, blogging, or even doing dishes, not to mention psychology. We may be solving an immediate need, but if we cannot transition that into meeting a real and lasting spiritual need, it is worthless.

Another thing that struck me was the debate between thinking through tough topics or throwing them out. Sometimes it is easier to throw them out, especially if it is something we don't need. I don't have a problem with a well-balanced, growing Christian throwing out psychology. They don't need it. They just shouldn't be condemning those who do need it and are willing to think through it, or even those who don't need it, but are interested for the sake of intellectual curiosity.

Charlene said...

What an awesome thought to know that someone can take the tools and observation of man and apply them with the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit!

Mrs. Parunak said...

Sounds like you got quite an education crammed into your week! Lots to think about! I think your approach of examining everything in the light of Scripture is exactly the right one for any study, but most importantly the study of our own minds.

Kathryn said...

I was a double major in college (well, everyone was). Psych & Bible. Each took 1/3rd of my total credits, & the liberal arts took the other 1/3rd. In my 4 years i had only 2 (really free) electives.

It was my goal to be a psychologist. I've known for a long time that psychology tends to be controversial in Christian circles. To be honest, i had some (i'm sorry) contempt for pastors attempting to do counseling. But the truth is i'd had some experience with some truly, truly clueless pastors trying to do counseling with me (when i was a suicidal 17 YO) & it was awful. And frankly i wouldn't trust my pastor to do counseling with me now, should i need it.

I don't feel as strongly about it now, but i've seen some really strange things pass for "Christian counseling." I've been told more than once i was "demon possessed." (I don't believe this to be accurate.)

But i do think it is a good thing for folks to have many of the basics of counseling principles, such as learning listening skills & other techniques to better understand the folks around us.

I didn't become a psychologist. Part way thru my Master's i got off track & when i got serious about going back i found something that fits me better.

But sometimes i wistfully miss the psych track. You're going to be great at it, i know. Best wishes & hope you enjoy the ride!

Organizing Mommy said...

Kathryn, I think my experience (like yours at 17) is what told me there's got to more training needed for so-called counselors. There really is MORE to it than telling people they're demon possessed. I felt marginalized also. It's people like us (who are actually believers) who are going to be able to help those who are really hurting. It's a shame that it has to be so controversial in Christian circles. The Lord told me that if I pursue this, I will be thought of as "liberal" by many of the people I respect. I am still weighing this all out. I think that if I can rescue even one person from despair it will be all worth it...

Jenny P. said...

My favorite classes in college were educational psychology and child psychology -- studying how people learn. There was a lot that intrigued me, a lot that confused me, and a good bit I decided was false.

You sum it all up beautifully with this sentence: "Rather than reject them altogether, we were challenged to think, evaluate, ponder, pray." That's my philosophy in life.