Friday, December 18, 2015

Kashering by renaming. What is Jewish Psychotherapy?

 Update: I carefully read this post for the first time after receiving a strong protest by a frum therapist. I agree with his objection so I decided I needed to add a preface. The problem of accepting ideas simply because they are from Psychology and thus assumed to be tested and true - is in fact a real problem which is why I published this There are many ideas which are not tested, not true and are in conflict with Torah values. BUT there are also many valuable ideas and techniques. It isn't a choice between totally accepting Psychology or totally rejecting. There is a need for thoughtful vetting of ideas and techniques by people knowledgable in both Torah and Psychology. There is also a need to focus on evidence based Psychology. There is a lot in Psychology - just as there is in medicine - which seems to make sense but doesn't actually work or can be harmful. 

We also need to recognized that there is also a corresponding problem of frum people mechanically applying Torah ideas - without a sensitivity and concern as to whether these ideas are appropriate for the situation or people and whether they help or harm spiritual growth.

Guest post

May University Academic Psychology be imported en bloc into Judaism?

Does Hashkaffah have to be consistent with itself, or may incompatible ideologies be homogenized?

How are treif ideas introduced into the Haredi community?

If you take ideas from anywhere and just rename them, 'Psychology', they automatically become acceptable.

'Psychiatric diagnosis' 

Denigrating, labeling and degrading another Jew, an action previously called ‘lashon hara’, ‘motsi shem ra’, ‘onoas devarim’, ‘mitkabed bklon chaveiro’ and ‘yalbin pnei chaveiro berabim’, is now acceptable if it is renamed 'psychiatric diagnosis'. This is what they publicly did to the husband of the agunah. He has grounds for lodging a complaint.

Even if this ‘psychiatric diagnosis’ is valid, which I doubt, it may only be applied 1) to a patient and 2) confidentially. In this case, it is public slander.

I doubt the validity of the DSM5, the categories therein, and the application of these stigmatizing labels.

The names of the non-existent illnesses in the DSM5 are merely derogatory epithets.

Just rename these ideas, 'Psychology' or ‘Psychiatry’, they automatically become acceptable.

Practices which previously were forbidden by Torah, for example, onoas devarim, obscene speech or shaming, all of a sudden become permitted by renaming them ‘psychotherapy’.

‘Psychotherapy’ is really ‘Just Talking’, and does not have any special status which permits violating Hallachah.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are admired for the mere fact of being 'psychologists' or ‘psychiatrists’ and will be invited to speak at a shul. Speakers will be invited to tell us "the secrets of marriage", "how to handle stress", "’how to’ … many other things", parenting, relationships, education and "the meaning of life" and so, deviously they introduce Christian existentialism, mechanical behaviourism, carnal Freudianism, deterministic neuroscience and Eastern meditation into our culture.

Freud has been elevated from the anti - religious person he really was (he wrote, "Religion is the universal obsessive neurosis of mankind") into a 'ground breaking medical pioneer'.

Psychoanalysis has been elevated from the pornography it really is into a 'respectable medical treatment'. Any harmful practice to another person becomes acceptable just by calling it ‘doing chesed’ or ‘therapy’.

Besides the current topical agunah/eishes ish/mekach taut case, there is another questionable heter from psychology which needs to be examined.

When women are allowed to have abortions or contraception, "in order to protect the "'mental health of the mother'" (rodef?), we have to question the vague, capricious, subjective term, "mental health of the mother".

Is the term, "the mental health of the mother" really an authentic illness and serious enough to warrant an abortion?

Some religious women may go through a doubtful "post natal depression" in order to get a heter for contraception...

I think the general practice appears to be meikel because we fear the risk of suicide.

Kids may try obtaining abusable, stimulant drugs through the questionable illnesses of ADD\ADHD and learning "disorders".

Shyness in a woman is regarded as being Tzniyus and is a very precious Jewish value. However, in the American value system, shyness is regarded as an "illness", "Social Anxiety", to be treated with tranquillizers.

In fact there must be many examples of the misuse of psychological conditions and behaviours, renamed as "illnesses", to make permitted the otherwise forbidden.

On the other side of the coin, there must be many examples of renaming bad practices as "therapy" to make permitted the otherwise forbidden.

What about electric shocking people against their will? Usually this would be assault, striking a person, but renaming this as "therapy" makes it permitted.

The Aseret HaDibrot forbids kidnapping. "Lo Tignov", Although this refers to one stealing a person for resale and being chayav mita, lesser degrees of confining people against their will are also forbidden, and involuntary psychiatric hospitalization may be a loophole through which this is done. Of particular danger are young girls, with anorexia nervosa, who are removed from their frum home environments and placed in very suspect circumstances where bad things and bad influences happen.

Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy. The only psychotherapy acceptable to Judaism?

In certain circles over the past 40 years, Viktor Frankl's has been promoted as, the only psychotherapy acceptable to Judaism!

Probably the reason Frankl's therapy is so popular in religious, especially kiruv, (and missionary) circles is his use of expressions like 'Religion', 'Values', 'Free Will' and 'Responsibility' as solutions. These are presented as opposed to deterministic Freudianism and mechanical behaviourism, and therefore appear to be an improvement. However these attempts to elevate psychology by "adding Spiritual Values" doesn't work.

Here we will show that Viktor Frankl's psychotherapy is the opposite of what it is advertised as. It is actually deviously introducing non-Jewish values and undermining Torah!

Both Logotherapy and Existentialism, which have been popularized, are actually alien to Judaism and we have been misled.

Viktor Frankl, prescribes 'Meaning' as a reason for becoming religious, and as the cure for mental illness.

Problems of living or whatever, are addressed by Frankl's followers with, "You need, Rx prescription, "Meaning in Life".

When someone is told, "You need to get 'Meaning In Life'" does that mean that 'Meaning In Life' is a commodity which you can "get"?

Actually, it's impossible to "get "'Meaning' in Life.""

It's impossible to get "'Meaning' in Life", because 'Meaning' is an abstract noun and does not denote any concrete thing.

What do Existentialists refer to when they talk about ‘Meaning’?

Let's search for the origins.

In the writings of the existentialist psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, he recommends "Meaning in Life" as a cure out of despair or alienation or mental illness, and yet Frankl does not say what that "Meaning" is! He certainly does not specify "Torah and Mitzvot"! "Meaning" can be anything, and is subjectively unique to the individual.

In the case of Sartre the French, "atheist existentialist", "Meaning" could stand for, or refer to, exercising his freedom and creativity in literature, or fighting in the French Resistance, out of having suffered the "meaninglessness of life". Once again Sartre also holds that, "Meaning" can be anything, and is subjectively unique to the individual.

For Jewish existentialist Martin Buber "Meaning" appears to be found in the "Encounter" between "I and Thou".

For German existentialist, Martin Heidegger, speaking in 1933, "The Führer alone is the present and future German reality and its law."

Let's go to the first existentialist in order for us to grasp the origin of the concept.

In the case of Søren Kierkegaard, the founder of Existentialism, as a Christian, Jesuit priest, "Meaning" seems to refer to, turning to the Lord out of the sickness of Original Sin. This seems to be the prototype of "Meaning" from Existentialism's creator.

From here by induction we may generalize out what Existentialists refer to by "Meaning".
Existentialist "Meaning" refers to "turn to X out of Y".

"X" = existential "Meaning."
Where "X" means any subjective meaning you want the variable to be.

However "X" has a quasi religious orientation, like "turn to the Lord", although atheist existentialists have given a non-theistic meaning to "X" like 'creativity' or 'patriotism' or 'French freedom'. Sartre described Existentialism as "theology without a god".

The variable, "Y" could be any negative state you'd like it to be e.g. 'nothingness', 'despair', 'mental illness', 'original sin', 'alienation', 'meaninglessness' etc.

"Turn" is of a therapeutic or quasi 'religious conversion' nature.

Existentialists tell us, "turn to X out of Y!"
An underlying principle behind the use of Viktor Frankl is the double agenda of therapy as religious conversion.' i.e. "Meaning In Life" as a cure, being the reason for becoming religious. This is not seeing 'Religion' as Truth, or the Essence of Creation, but rather pragmatically, 'Religion' as "therapy" or crutch.

Just to add a sad digression; If he had lived in his time, how would Karl Marx have understood Viktor Frankl's therapy?

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
— Karl Marx.

It's because we have perspectives like Viktor Frankl's that we get responses like Karl Marx's.

We've been fooled!

By the way! Was Viktor Frankl really the spiritual, existential psychiatrist that propaganda makes him out to be? No! Who was Viktor Frankl?

Viktor Frankl was an extreme, institutional, organic psychiatrist who prescribed drugs, practiced shock treatment and carried out lobotomies! Surely many of these practices are excessive and violent and may be hallachicly questionable, but are allowed to slip through under the guise of "medical treatment"!

A further concern to Torah observant Jews is Jungian Psychology.

Is Jungian Psychology a gateway to cults?

Jung's concept of the collective unconscious led him to incorporate Eastern and Western religions. Are patients undergoing such therapy likely to be introduced to Eastern and other Religions?

Jung is embraced, because he also incorporated 'Religion' into his psychology. Once again 'Religion' and 'Therapy' is the program.

May we generalize this to an abuse of psychotherapy, the influence or conversion of the patient to the therapist's religion, or the opposite, the "dereligionization" of the patient to atheism? It must be noted that many patients are involuntary patients or coerced into therapy and do not have the choice of therapist with appropriate value systems and treatments.

Yidden, We've been fooled!

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