Article by Ed Bulkley

Can a Christian trust psychology? This is the essential question one must consider in evaluating the mixing of psychological concepts and Scripture in Christian counseling.

The Contrived Medical Model

William Kirwan presents his case for integrating psychology and theology in his book Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling. He believes that psychology is “the science of mental processes and behavior.”1 If psychology is a science along the lines of medicine, one could expect a fair amount of agreement within the trade. Indeed, newcomers normally view psychology, psychiatry, and other forms of counseling as a rather unified discipline. Those who have studied the field, however, know that there are literally hundreds of distinct and contradictory therapeutic approaches to counseling—with thousands of conflicting techniques—all claiming to cure the human psyche.

Gary Collins quotes F.H. Garrison, who wrote in his 1921 Introduction to the History of Medicine: “Whenever many different remedies are used for a disease, it usually means that we know little about treating the disease.”2 Psychology can’t even agree on the diseases, let alone the cures.

Medical doctors study physical ailments, diseases, injuries, and remedies. Generally speaking, when a treatment for a given illness is found to be successful, most doctors use that technique until a more effective one is discovered. There is general agreement among doctors regarding human physiology. Most medical doctors agree on the functions of the heart, liver, kidneys, or lungs. You may travel the globe from Mexico to Mauritania and not find significant medical disagreement about the purpose of the pancreas or the lymphatic system. Medical students from the time of Hippocrates have dissected cadavers and found the same physical human organs regardless of race, culture, continent, religion, or economic condition.

Dealing with the human mind and soul, however, is an entirely different matter. No one has yet observed a mind or dissected an emotion. No X-ray scan has ever detected the soul. Psychologists are not even sure how to define the mind. Is the mind synonymous with the brain? The following statement on psychology is revealing.

Psychology [is the] science or study of the mind. Such a definition, however, without an accompanying adequate description of what is meant exactly by mind is without meaning, and as yet there is no agreement among psychologists upon any single definition of mind. By some, for example, mind is considered a definite thing apart from the body and as such virtually synonymous with soul. Others, although they establish mind as distinct from body, bind it to body by the interaction held to take place between the two. Still others, in an attempt to do away with this separation, tie mind closely to the brain, making the one a function of the other. Others, however, deny existence of mind altogether, basing their conclusion on the belief that human behavior can be adequately described without the use of any such vague and indefinable term.3

Isn’t that amazing? According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, psychology is the study of something that cannot be defined, and the term mind, lacking a clear definition, is “without meaning,” and according to some, the mind does not exist at all. Is there any wonder that psychology is confused and confusing?

The Questionable Use of Psychoactive Drugs

Though psychologists cannot adequately define the entity they presume to cure, they want us to trust their judgment and place ourselves in their care. In so doing, we can actually jeopardize our health—especially now that the psychological establishment has reduced all negative human emotions and behaviors to diseases instead of sin, and now that its natural conclusion is to treat those ailments with drugs. For example, prostitution is now being described as an addiction,4 and if so, it must be treated psychotherapeutically. The misconception that sin is a psychic disorder is precisely why Christians need to question the use of psychotherapeutic drugs as a normal part of counseling.

Most counselors have encountered people who use the medical model as an excuse for their behavior. After all, who can be blamed for having a “disease” that requires medication? There is the question of whether psychologists and psychiatrists haven’t merely redefined old behaviors as new “disorders.” For example, I hesitate to accept Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) as a genuine malady unless it is caused by biological problems such as brain or nervous-system damage or infant addiction to substances carried by the mother during pregnancy. Sometimes ADD is merely undisciplined behavior.

There is another serious question about therapeutic drugs: Can they lead to addiction? The answer clearly is yes, and that fact alone should be cause for deep concern in a potential counselee. Dr. Lee Coleman, a practicing psychiatrist, writes in his book The Reign of Error that psychoactive drug dependency is actually fostered by psychiatry: “Millions of patients are now told by their doctors to stay on psychoactive medications for years or even a lifetime.”5

Zilbergeld says that “common anxieties are also treated with drugs” and that “there are dangers, addiction to the medication being one of the worst. Antianxiety medications are highly addictive for some people, as easy to get hooked on and as hard to withdraw from as heroin.”6 One of the “mental illnesses” commonly treated with drugs is schizophrenia. While it is true that those who have biologically caused symptoms sometimes improve with drug therapy, “there are debilitating side effects with long-term use of these medications.”7

Lithium is a case in point. It is often prescribed for patients who have been diagnosed as having a manic-depressive or bipolar disorder. Some clients have been led to believe that they are suffering from a lithium deficiency. Coleman reports:

So many patients have told me similar stories that I now know that psychiatrists and family doctors are disseminating a great deal of misinformation about lithium. Authorities advocate that patients be “educated in the concept that lithium is a perpetual preventive much like insulin.” These authorities also repeatedly call lithium a “simple, naturally occurring” substance. It therefore comes as no surprise that many patients consider lithium to be like a new vitamin. Unfortunately they are wrong: Lithium is a very toxic substance whose side effects include permanent kidney and thyroid damage, as well as other potential complications.8

Side effects of psychoactive drugs are a legitimate cause for concern. A patient should be informed of the potential dangers a drug presents, and he should understand that the doctor is actually experimenting on him, for the doctor cannot reliably predict how a given patient will react to a particular drug. Harold M. Silverman, a doctor of pharmacology, writes, “Every drug has side effects. Your chances for developing a specific side effect depend on the drug, how much of it you are taking, the frequency of the specific effect, your age, your metabolism, and unpredictable responses to drugs known as ‘idiosyncratic reactions.’ ”9

Some drugs may actually increase the symptoms they are supposed to cure. Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety, has been known to create depression or to make existing depression even worse in some patients. It is now recognized as habit-forming. Its common side effects include clumsiness, drowsiness, and dizziness. In some patients it can cause hallucinations, irritability, confusion, and depression.

Antipsychotic drugs such as Haloperidol are used to restore emotional calm in people who suffer extreme anxiety, agitation, or other “psychotic” behavior. It is not completely understood how these drugs work, but one theory is that they inhibit the action of dopamine—that is, they short-circuit nerve-impulse transmission in the area of the brain believed to control the emotions.10

The “natural, expected, and unavoidable drug actions” of strong tranquilizers include drowsiness, lethargy, blurred vision, dryness of the mouth, impaired urination, constipation, and transient drop in blood pressure.11 In addition, there are other potential side effects, such as skin rashes, loss of hair, anxiety, agitation, heart palpitation, jaundice, Parkinson-like disorders, muscle spasms affecting the jaw, neck, back, hands or feet, eye-rolling, muscle-twitching, convulsions, photosensitivity, hallucinations, impotence, and depression. There is the danger of interaction with over-the-counter allergy medications, drugs which control internal eye pressure, antihypertensive drugs, and especially with methyldopa, which can cause “serious mental and behavioral abnormalities.”12

Tricyclic antidepressant drugs, such as Norpramin, are used to treat emotional depression by affecting those areas of the brain controlling moods and emotions. Again, scientists are not entirely certain how tricyclic drugs work. It is believed that “the drug slowly restores to normal levels certain constituents of brain tissue (such as norepinephrine) that transmit nerve impulses.”13 The potential side effects are similar to those of Haloperidol. This drug can have adverse effects upon the liver, bone marrow, heart rhythm, and more.

Some of my counselees have been treated with antidepressants. One had been incorrectly diagnosed as a schizophrenic and another had been in psychiatric therapy for more than 14 years, without cure. In both cases, the cause of their problems was deep anger and bitterness. Drugs were not the solution.

Though many exaggerated claims are made for psychotherapeutic drugs, it is clear that a large percentage of patients in one study recovered without any treatment, counseling, or drug therapy.14

Psychotherapeutic Drugs and Christians

One Christian psychologist suggests that the reason many Christians resist taking psychotherapeutic drugs is that they “believe that drug use is a sign of spiritual weakness.”15 He then asks, “If the Lord has allowed us to discover new chemical tools to counteract the biological bases for human problems and to help us cope temporarily with the stresses of life, are these necessarily wrong?…Psychotherapeutic medications can help us relax so that we can think more clearly.”16

If the problems are genuinely biological in nature, pharmaceuticals may be justified. But if the problems are caused by wrong actions or thinking, the Bible teaches that we are to learn new ways of acting and thinking by renewing our minds rather than by anesthetizing them. Psychotherapeutic medications often “relax” a person so much that they prevent clear thinking.

Psychiatrists do not always explain the potential side effects of psychoactive drugs. Thus I strongly recommend that before a counselee takes any prescribed psychoactive drugs he consult with a biblical counselor who is literate about such drugs.17

Counselors should also inform older people that they are especially vulnerable to misapplied drug therapies. Their bodies are more sensitive to tranquilizers and psychoactive drugs. Silverman writes:

Increased tissue sensitivity is a particular problem for seniors taking tranquilizers and other psychoactive drugs. The response to psychoactive medicines is definitely enhanced as the years pass. This means then, unless the dosages of these medicines are reduced, seniors run the risk of being overmedicated and developing unwanted side effects.…Some studies have shown that seniors experience as many as seven times more side effects than do younger adults given the same medication. Although the numbers vary somewhat, the trend is always the same: the older we get, the more likely we are to suffer from the medicines that are supposed to cure our ills.18

I am not suggesting that there is no legitimate purpose whatsoever for psychotherapeutic drugs. For those mental/emotional problems which have biological causes, there may indeed be medical and pharmacological solutions. But it would seem that these should be the last resort rather than the first. And remember, the patient has a right to know what effects a drug may have before it is administered.

If there is no actual biological or chemical deficiency, Christians should learn how to handle their feelings of anxiety and depression by renewed thinking (Romans 12:1, 2) and changed behavior (Ephesians 4:17–32) rather than by dulling those emotions with drugs.

The Pretense of Divine Approval

Integrationists often defend their use of secular psychological concepts by insisting that psychology is a God-given scientific field of knowledge. This belief assumes two things: 1) that God has given the information, and 2) that the information is actually scientific. Let us look at the first assumption.

Gary Collins admits that Jesus would not have needed to use psychology even if it had been available in His day, because “his knowledge of human behavior was infinite and perfect.”19 And the apostle Paul knew that ultimate truth could not be found in worldly philosophies. “Instead, he built many of his arguments on Scripture and insisted that the scholars of his time repent. Surely the apostle would have presented a similar message to psychological scholars if they had existed when Paul was alive.”20 I agree.

Collins then commits a monumental error in his next paragraph: “Does it follow, however, that the modern disciple of Christ and reader of Paul’s epistles should throw away psychology books and reject psychology because it was not used centuries ago?”21 His error is found in the phrase “because it was not used centuries ago.” That is not the reason psychology should be discarded. When it was used has no bearing on its validity.

Paul would not have rejected psychology on the grounds that it was modern, but because it was “another gospel.” Responding to a similar issue, Paul wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6, 7).

Integrationists defend their position with the logic that if Christians have accepted other modern advances such as the radio, the microphone, antibiotics, computers, and cars, we s houldn’t reject the advances of psychology. The error of this apples-and-oranges comparison is that psychology is not dealing with material objects but spiritual issues. It deals with the very issues discussed in the Bible, but it does so from an opposing platform.

Paul vehemently denounced Christians who would mix light with darkness. He wrote:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:14–17).

An increasing number of informed believers are questioning the mixing of biblical truth with psychological theory. Unfortunately, these critics of integrationist counseling are commonly stereotyped as incompetent reactionaries. But the truth is that many are thoughtful professionals who refuse to buy the party line that psychology and the Scriptures together are better than the Bible alone.

Integrationists seem to believe that there are counseling issues about which the Bible is silent and which therefore require psychological insights. It is true that the Bible does not specifically speak about cocaine addiction, but it deals with the principles of substance abuse (Proverbs 20:1; 23:21; 26:11; Daniel 1:8; Romans 6:12; 13:13; Ephesians 5:18). The Bible does not specifically address pornography, but it does deal with mental and spiritual purity (Psalm 119:9, 11; Matthew 5:27, 28; Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3–7). There is no single mental/spiritual issue upon which the Bible is silent.

Still, the integrationist asks plaintively, “Could it be… that psychology is a God-given field of knowledge?”22 It could be, but is it? Historical evidence shows that the founders of modern psychology attempted to define and interpret human behavior in purely natural terms without reference to God. Wilhelm Wundt, who established the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig in 1879, divided the mind into three basic structural elements (sensations, images, and feelings),23 but left out the soul or spirit. He is commonly honored as the founder of modern psychology, but there is no evidence that he credited God for his “discoveries.”

William James, the founder of the first American psychological laboratory, was “strongly influenced by the evolutionary principles of Darwin,”24 and saw human behavior in terms of function, or the interaction between mind and body. He wrote a landmark work entitled Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, which held that an idea is true if it “works.” Nothing indicates that James was given his theories by God, even though his relativistic doctrine had major implications for religion.

Behaviorist John B. Watson saw human behavior simply in terms of response to stimuli. He was not even sure that the mind existed. “An avowed materialist, he objected to concepts such as mind, consciousness, volition, and emotion, stating that psychology should be the science of directly observable behavior.”25 B.F. Skinner, another behaviorist, offered “a systematic and scientific program to alter the nature of Man,”26 though it did not include God.

Psychoanalysis was formulated by Sigmund Freud, who theorized that man is under the control of unconscious urges that originate in childhood traumas and inner conflicts between the id, ego, and superego. He had a “profoundly low opinion of human nature…referring, on several occasions, to the majority of human beings… as ‘worthless.’ [Freud had] two deeply held sentiments, which were characteristic of the man: a bitter antagonism to religion and all forms of religious authority, and a hatred of America.”27

In his book The Future of an Illusion, Freud ridicules religion. Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, and most of Freud’s other successors carried the same fanatical hatred of religion that Freud revealed in his writings.

These men are fairly representative of the general attitude which psychologists have of scriptural authority and validity. Literally thousands of branches of psychotherapies have sprung from these early roots, which grew from the seeds of rebellion toward God.

No, psychological counseling is not a God-given field of knowledge. It is a system of beliefs that originated in the minds of men who were godless rebels. Romans 1:22 says of such men, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

Psychological counseling is darkness masquerading as light. It is built upon a foundation of sand, and as the storms of life crash upon it, the psychological system crumbles into ruin.

Is Modern Life More Complex?

A second question is whether psychology “might be an academic and practical discipline enabling us more adequately to help people who live in a society permeated with change and complexity unknown in the days of Jesus and Paul.”28 To help people more adequately than what? The Scriptures? Jesus? Paul? Though integrationists clearly state that “psychological conclusions, psychotherapeutic practices, counseling principles, psychiatric theories—all these, like every other area of study, must be examined carefully under the probing light of Scripture,”29 they also believe that modern life is simply too complex to be handled by the principles of Scripture alone.

In his defense of integration, one Christian writer compares psychology with other “modern methods” such as homiletics, education, and medicine.30 Yet the two greatest preachers who ever lived, Jesus and Paul, had nothing to learn from modern homiletical techniques; modern education can hardly boast of its successes over the older systems; and medicine deals with physical conditions rather than the spiritual matters invaded by psychologists.

The writer cites “stress management” and “coping methods” as examples of psychological techniques unknown to man before the development of psychology. The Bible, however, dealt with those issues centuries before Wilhelm Wundt, William James, or Sigmund Freud came on the scene. The Scriptures offer many solutions for stress in passages such as Matthew 6:25–33, Philippians 4:4–9, and 1 Peter 5:7. Rather than telling us to learn how to cope, the Bible tells us to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7) because we have a trustworthy God (Psalm 118:8; Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 26:4) who loves us (Psalm 32:10) and will give us inner peace (Isaiah 26:3). We are told that if we are in darkness we should “trust in the name of the Lord” (Isaiah 50:10), but we are not told to seek psychological insights.

I take issue with a representative integrationist summary: “I doubt that Jesus or Paul would be likely to throw away psychology—as some contemporary Christians might hope. As a formal discipline, psychology was not available in Bible times; but it is available now and can be used by believers, with thanksgiving.”31

On the contrary, psychotherapy was available in Bible times. As Thomas Szasz writes:

In the history of the cure of souls, no less than in the history of civilization itself, Jesus Christ occupies a unique place. Indeed, in the Continental Reformation, He is represented first and foremost as a physician of the soul.…

Jesus’ role as psychotherapist is important on several counts, not the least among them being His disagreements with the established practices of the then officially recognized physicians of the soul, that is, the rabbis.…Jesus not only departed from established practices of soul-healing, He also castigated and condemned the counseling establishment itself in the strongest terms.…

Jesus’ role as reformer could not be clearer. Similarly, He might now warn people to beware of psychiatrists who like to go about in the white coat of doctors, and to receive government grants and the best seats in the theater.32

A Substitute for the Holy Spirit

One of the dangers of the integrationist approach is that it substitutes psychological techniques for the work of the Holy Spirit. Collins reports that—

a respected Christian psychologist…argued that the fruit of the Spirit…could all be produced by psychological techniques alone. There was no need to wait for the Holy Spirit to develop these.…They could all be duplicated by any competent psychologist…in his opinion, spiritual maturity and psychological health are really the same thing. They can be produced either psychologically or spiritually.33

That Christian psychologist speaks for many of the Christian psychological establishment who believe that there is little actual difference between the theories, goals, and results of psychotherapy and the gospel of Christ. According to them, both systems seek happiness, fulfillment, relief from suffering, self-esteem, meaning, and purpose for their followers. Note that the “respected Christian psychologist” did not even require that the therapist be a Christian—only competent.

Many Christian writers accept the idea that Christian maturity is somehow dependent upon psychological methods. A psychiatrist writes in The Christian’s Handbook of Psychiatry, “We assume that because we are now possessed by the Holy Spirit somehow this magically protects us from psychological or emotional problems. In fact, however, this is no more the case than that being a Christian protects us from getting mumps or measles.”34

Yet just a few pages further the author says, “[The true Christian’s] belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture helps him to become ‘perfectly fit and thoroughly equipped for every good enterprise’ (2 Timothy 3:17 Williams).… Christian moral character and mental health are manifested by these graces and are made possible in the believer because of his vital union with Christ.”35

Which is the author’s real position? Does the Christian have no more protection from mental and emotional woes than from catching the mumps? Or is mental health made possible by a vital union with Christ? His confusion stems from trying to mix two opposing systems.

Other Christian psychologists make the same dangerous error. Crabb believes that one cannot become mentally and spiritually mature until he digs back into the past, exposes his unconscious drives, and embraces his hurts.36 Schuller teaches that the Christian cannot experience mental health or Christian maturity until he learns to love himself.37 Allender insists on the need to reclaim submerged memories.38 Minirth says that one must deal with his defense mechanisms on the subconscious level.39 Narramore believes that it is a medical responsibility to determine if someone is mentally ill40 and that “counseling with the emotionally and mentally ill is of special psychological and psychiatric concern.”41

Carter writes in an essay about Christian therapy entitled “Maturity” that “many non-Christians show varying degrees of behavior and attitudes similar to the fruit of the Spirit,” and that “an individual may develop his humanity (the God-given divine image) by utilizing the principles of psychology and mental health, with or without the aid of a therapist, to become a more mature, healthy, self-actualized person.”42

Where does God or His Word fit into this model? Psychology offers a system that replaces the role of God and the Scriptures in producing real change.

The Struggle to Define Mental Health

In one form or another, most psychologists tend to define mental health in terms of the highest characteristics of human functioning. They use different descriptions, such as “healthy personality,” “maturity,” “self-actualized personality,” “transcendent personality,” and “authentic personality.”

At the same time, psychological “experts” vary on the number of characteristics that a mature personality will exhibit. Rogers lists ten essential traits; Maslow contends that there are fourteen characteristics.43 The Menninger Foundation has developed a table of seven criteria of emotional maturity.44 Allport cuts the list to six.45 J.D. Carter condenses the necessary attributes to five: “(1) having a realistic view of oneself and others; (2) accepting oneself and others; (3) living in the present but having long-range goals; (4) having values; (5) developing one’s abilities and interests and coping with the task of living.”46 Another writer boosts the essentials back to ten.47 Yet the truth is that these respected psychologists have not added any knowledge by their new labels and categories. To the contrary, the more they categorize, the more confused and confusing they become.

Psychology has found it nearly impossible to define mental health. If it is relatively good adjustment, then relative to what? If mental health consists of “feelings of well-being,” does that include criminals who feel good about themselves? If one does not fulfill his “expected role” in his society or group, does that mean that he is mentally unhealthy? By that definition, Jesus surely was as insane as his brothers diagnosed when “they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’ ” (Mark 3:21).

The question is, Who are we going to trust for a proper definition of mental health? Psychologists or the Bible? The right to define mental health immediately places great power in the hands of the definer. The practical implications of this power may not be immediately apparent to a casual observer, but the dangers are incalculable. For example, children are being removed from their parents on the basis of the psychological opinions of social workers. Sincere religious parents are being charged with child abuse for exercising their faith. As Thomas Szasz has noted, “Classifying human acts and actors is political, because the classification will inevitably help some persons and harm others.”48

Torrey warns about the inherent dangers of the psychopathological model of mental health when he writes:

Certainly the most serious criticism which can be leveled at preventive psychiatry is that it leads logically to psychiatric fascism. If the problems referred to…are all really mental “diseases,” then psychiatrists should be given increasing amounts of power so that these “diseases” can be “cured.” Eventually they would be given control over almost every phase of human life and it would all be justified by the medical model.49

Torrey relates a chilling statement from G. Brock Chisholm, who once directed the United Nations’ World Health Organization and was President of the World Federation for Mental Health: “If the race is to be freed from its crippling burden of good and evil, it must be psychiatrists who take the original responsibility.…With the other human sciences, psychiatry must now decide what is to be the immediate future of the human race. No one else can. And this is the prime responsibility of psychiatry.”50

Psychiatrists like Chisholm are going to decide the future of the human race? It may not bother integrationists that the psychological society wants to determine the course of humanity, but it bothers me immensely.

Psychiatrists’ self-proclaimed “original responsibility” to free the human race exhibits not only delusions of grandeur, but misidentification with deity.

An Untrustworthy Understanding

of Spiritual Maturity

Just as general mental health is impossible to define, so integrationists believe that there is no “universally accepted” definition of Christian maturity and therefore Christian maturity and mental health do not necessarily go hand in hand. One Christian psychologist says, “It may be possible for believers to mature spiritually and remain psychologically unhealthy, but this seems rare and unlikely.”51

I agree that one cannot equate spiritual maturity with psychological health, nor would I want to. Psychological definitions of mental health are subjective interpretations of thought and behavior patterns by the unregenerate standards of unbelieving men.

God has given us His standard of normalcy in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13–16). He has listed the inner characteristics that humans must develop to be truly mature: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23). He has told us the three-step method of therapy that will change a person: “Put off your old self…be made new in the attitude of your minds…put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–25).

I am not arguing that all unbelievers are to be categorized as “mentally ill,” since I question that very term. Furthermore, not even Christians can be accurately classified as spiritually mature, since we all fall short of God’s standards (Romans 3:10, 23). Instead, we need to understand that Christians are in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and that even though we fail in many ways, we can be confident that “he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Complete Christian maturity cannot be achieved in this life, yet we recognize that there are those who have spiritually matured beyond the average Christian. Christians who are walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), in obedience to God’s eternal laws (Mark 12:28–31; Galatians 5:14), according to the principles of His Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:3), will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23) and will exhibit the characteristics commonly described as mental health.

1 William T. Kirwan, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), p. 24.

2 Gary R. Collins, Can You Trust Psychology? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), p. 65.

3 The Columbia Encyclopedia, 3d ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963), s.v. “Psychoanalysis.”

4 Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Psychotherapy (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987), pp. 195–96.

5 Lee Coleman, The Reign of Error (Boston: Beacon Books, 1984), p. 130.

6 Bernie Zilbergeld, The Shrinking of America (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1983), p. 146.

7 Ibid., p. 149.

8 Coleman, Reign of Error, p. 148.

9 Harold M. Silverman, The Pill Book, Guide to Safe Drug Use (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), p. 3.

10 James W. Long, The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 3d Edition, 1982), p. 345.

11 Ibid., p. 346.

12 Ibid., p. 348.

13 Ibid., p. 209.

14 Collins, Can You Trust?, pp. 37–38.

15 Ibid., p. 38.

16 Ibid., pp. 38–39.


There are several volumes available to help a lay person evaluate medications that have been prescribed. H. Winter Griffith has published the Complete Guide to Prescription & Non-Prescription Drugs, which contains important information: the brand names under which the drug is sold, whether the drug is supposed to be habit-forming, what its primary purpose is, dosage information, possible adverse or side effects, warnings and precautions, and possible interactions with other drugs or substances. The book retails for $15, but can be purchased for less at discount outlets.

The Physicians’ Desk Reference, commonly referred to as PDR, is a more expensive source book, but contains a great deal more information. With this volume, a counselor can research a drug by manufacturer, product name, category, generic name, and chemical name. It provides a full description of the “indications and usage, dosage, administration, description, clinical pharmacology, supply, warnings, contraindications, adverse reactions, overdosage and precautions” for each drug. By looking up a specific drug, the counselor can learn how the drug is metabolized, what organs are affected, the duration of drug effect (especially important if additional drugs are prescribed), how a person’s age affects drug metabolism, and other significant information. This reference work will require a larger investment, somewhere between $40 and $60.

Another helpful reference is the American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine. This volume explains many of the medical terms that commonly confuse the layperson. It is available for about $25. U.S. News & World Report, May 20, 1991 edition provides a helpfu l list of the “10 Top Drug Books” and the “10 Top Medical Books” available to the general public. University libraries provide other valuable sources of medical information for the layperson. The purpose of such information is to provide a counselee sufficient data so he knows what he is taking and why the drug was prescribed.

18 Silverman, Pill Book, pp. 2–3.

19 Collins, Can You Trust?, p. 89.

20 Ibid., pp. 89–90.

21 Ibid., p. 90.

22 Ibid., p. 91.

23 Lyle E. Bourne, Jr. and Bruce R. Ekstrand, Psychology, Its Principles and Meanings, 3d ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976), p. 20.

24 Ibid., pp. 21–22.

25 Ibid., p. 1202.

26 B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York: Bantam/Vintage, 1971), frontis page.

27 Richard Wollheim, Freud (Glasgow: William Collins Sons and Co. Ltd., 1971), pp. 16–17.

28 Collins, Can You Trust?, p. 91.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid., p. 92.

32 Szasz, Myth of Psychotherapy, pp. 30–31.

33 Collins, Can You Trust?, p. 83.

34 O. Quentin Hyder, The Christian’s Handbook of Psychiatry (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1976), p. 49.

35 Ibid., pp. 52–53.

36 Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr., Inside Out (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991), p. 184.

37 Robert H. Schuller, Self-Esteem, the New Reformation (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1982), esp. chapter three.

38 Dan B. Allender, The Wounded Heart (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1990), p. 188.

39 Frank B. Minirth, Christian Psychiatry (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1990), p. 75.

40 Clyde M. Narramore, The Psychology of Counseling (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960), p. 174.

41 Ibid., p. 178.

42 John D. Carter, “Maturity,” in Psychology and Religion (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), pp. 173–74.

43 Ibid.

44 Gary R. Collins, Effective Counseling (Carol Stream: Creation House, 1972), pp. 160–61.

45 Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology, David G. Benner, ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), p. 618.

46 Ibid.

47 Collins, Can You Trust?, p. 84.

48 Szasz, Myth of Psychotherapy, p. 183.

49 E. Fuller Torrey, The Death of Psychiatry (Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Co., 1974), p. 107.

50 Ibid., p. 108.

51 Collins, Can You Trust?, p. 86.

Article From

Ed Bulkley "Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology. Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 1993).


© 2010, Matt. All rights reserved.