The Freudian Connection
(The following is excerpted from the book Prophets of PsychoHeresy II by Martin and Deidre Bobgan. The book, which is now out-of-print, critiques Dr. James Dobsons promotion of psychology and self-esteem. This section of Prophets of PsychoHeresy II is not included in the new edition retitled James Dobsons Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology. )
Dobson interviews Dr. Paul Meier, Dr. Frank Minirth, and Don Hawkins on the topic of their book How to Beat Burnout. Meier and Minirth are two psychiatrists who head the Minirth/Meier Clinic in Dallas, Texas. There are a number of additional Minirth/Meier clinics elsewhere as well. At the time of the interview Hawkins was a cohost of the Minirth/Meier radio broadcast. Together with Dr. Richard Flournoy, they wrote the book How to Beat Burnout.
At the beginning of the program Dobson mentions how honored he is to have them and says:
Unfortunately Dobson doesnt even name the book and only alludes to one of what he regards as "unfair statements." It seems that if Dobson is truly interested in protecting the church, he would not only name the book, but deal specifically with what he regards as unfair statements. How can anyone examine the evidence under such conditions?
We understand how Dobson thinks that Meier and Minirth are giving first place to the Scriptures. Dobson could say the same thing about himself. But as we show earlier, Dobson may intend to put the inerrancy of Scripture in first place, but in practice he does not.
Meier and Minirths Faith in Psychological Myths.
We shall not repeat here all that we have said in a prior critique of Meier and Minirth.2 However, we do wish to note the following that was said on the Dobson interview:
In a separate interview with Dobson, Meier says, "Ventilating it helps you get over that anger." Meier also mentions the defense mechanisms of denial and projection.3 In a later interview between Meier and Dobson, discussing the topic "Coping with Anxiety," Meier makes some of the same comments as those above. Dobsons response to Meier is, "Youre doing an awful lot of good."4
Psychological "Experts" Undermine Parents.
Dobson also interviews Meier in a separate interview titled "Christian Child Rearing." The theme seems to be "parenting is difficult," which we agree with. However, the underlying message is that Dobson and his guests on the program will help you parent. Meier and others give worldly advice, sometimes with a biblical facade and sometimes without. Dobson mentions a "Frustration of Parents" poll that he did in which the number one frustration was: "I dont feel I know enough. I dont feel confident enough to do this job of parenting. Im afraid, unsure of myself."
In response, Meier says:
Meier says that he doesnt want to lay a guilt trip on parents, but as a matter of fact he does. He insists that parents dont know enough, dont feel confident enough, are afraid and are unsure. Then he gives examples that have nothing to do with the subject when he compares child rearing with gall bladder removal and a prescription for eye glasses. This is a gross error continually made by Meier. He is confused about the difference between the tangible and the intangible, the physical and the behavioral. He passes his confusion on to others and communicates that if we wouldnt have a gall bladder removed without a trained physician, then we wouldnt raise children without the psychological professional. Building upon this erroneous reasoning, the listener concludes that she needs Dobson, Meier and other such professionals to help her.
As a rule we would say that establishing fear in parents is not only counterproductive, but insupportable. Children are extremely resilient. Using extreme cases and intense emotional examples is harmful, not helpful. Furthermore, Meier seems to forget that most parents have had many years of training to become parents. Their entire childhood taught them how and how not to be parents. To preach that most parents are unequipped to raise children is to put parents into a helpless position and to rob them of any good sense they learned while growing up. Furthermore, parents who are Christians have biblical principles and standards to use in child rearing. Listening to Dobson and Meier makes one wonder how Christian parents managed throughout previous centuries without the twentieth-century psychological "experts."
Today, people trained in psychological counseling are considered experts in all matters of living, including child rearing. Thus Dobson and Meier should explain why, with all their so-called expertise, psychotherapists as a group are so (to use their term) "dysfunctional."7 Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld says:
Unfortunately these are the very same people who propose to tell parents how to rear their children.
As we have shown elsewhere, many of Meier and Minirths ideas on child rearing are Freudian. Dr. Louise Bates Ames, co-director of the famed Gesell Institute of Child Development, says:
Martin Gross says, "This environmental system is based on the psychodynamic theory in which the unknowing parent forces the child to repress its unconscious drives."10 Gross concludes, "Modern research indicates that the skeptics have been right all along: that environmental or Freudian theory is false."11 (Emphasis his.) Gross also says:
Gross further declares:
A writer to the editor in Science News says:
Misuse of Scripture.
In discussing an 8, 9 or 10-year-old pathological liar, Meier says:
Here is an instance of misuse of Scripture. Proverbs is not referring to psychological counseling. In fact, if psychological counseling were available at the time, the Israelites would have surely been warned against it as they were warned against other practices of the nations around them.
Notice how Proverbs is sandwiched between the two sentences recommending counseling (meaning psychological counseling). And since Dobson does not protest, he must agree with Meiers obvious interpretation and application. Had we been interviewing Meier we would have pointed out what he did and made it clear that we disagree with what he recommends.
Psychological Faith Systems.
In another Focus on the Family interview, advertising Worry Free Living by Meier, Minirth, and Hawkins, Meier speaks of anxiety and defense mechanisms as follows:
Absolutely no psychological or psychiatric book would contain such statements. Meier mixes the biblical and the psychological to make the psychological seem acceptable. However, instead of strengthening or illuminating Scripture, he strengthens the grip of psychology and distorts the meaning of Scripture.
To support his amalgamation, Meier says:
Thats easy to believe because its possible to find examples from Scripture to support any psychological system one is wed to----especially if you are willing to bend Scripture to fit the system.
Just because psychological systems and personality theories seem to explain the person and his behavior, that does not mean that the explanations are accurate. When we consider that there are numerous competing systems, each of which pretends to explain personhood, something must be amiss.
World-renowned scholar and philosopher of science Sir Karl Popper examined these psychological theories. He says:
At first glance this looks like promising evidence. However, Popper insists that constant confirmations and seeming ability to explain everything do not indicate scientific validity. What looks like a strength is actually a weakness. He says, "It is easy to obtain confirmations or verifications, for nearly every theoryif we look for confirmations. . . . Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory."19 (Emphasis his.)
The theories of counseling psychology and their underlying psychologies are not factual or scientific. While they may include some factual observations they are basically philosophical systems which require faith. Thus when Dobson, Meier and others present their own personal combinations of psychological opinions and gimmicks, they are presenting a faith system. However, because their readers and listeners think those people are presenting scientific fact confirmed by the Bible, they are drawn unwittingly into another faith system. But it is not the "faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
1. James Dobson, Paul
Meier, Frank Minirth, and Don Hawkins, "How to Beat
Burnout." Focus on the Family Radio Broadcast, CS
PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110
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