Wednesday, February 11, 2015

More on Catholicism and Psychiatry

I recently mentioned Jung on this blog, and I have been glad to discover that there is an excellent new CTS booklet, by Dr Pravin Thevasathan, on the general issue of mental health which provides a thorough introduction into Jung and also Freud.

It is important to note that their incompatibility with the Catholic Faith does not derive from being scientific about mental health, but from being grossly unscientific. Both men extrapolated vast theories about normal psychology from the study of a small number of very disturbed people, and above all from their own hang-ups. Furthermore, their exploration of their own unconscious minds, in Freud's case with the help of cocaine, in Jung's in the context of a deep interest in the occult and 'automatic writing', were taken to give them insights into others'. Things are not, however, as simple as this.

It is good to see that these old frauds are losing their hold over the thinking of the mental health profession; we'll have to wait a bit longer for this to be manifested in popular culture. Their influence has been profound, and it will take a lot to shift it.

Among the merits of the booklet is the summary of Catholic attitudes to mental health before the modern era, which were frequently very positive, and the prudent discussion of how modern psychiatric treatments can work alongside spiritual care.

It can be bought here.

While on the subject of the Catholic Truth Society, it would appear that they have finally allowed their bizzare polemic against Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass, Catholic Traditionalism by Raymond Edwards, to fall out of print.

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  1. I wonder how many of the devotees of the ubiquitous (in Business training) Myers Briggs Type Indicator know that it is based on Jungian psychology?

  2. I recall Frank Sheed recommended an Austrian psychiatrist by the name of Rudolf Allers as a Catholic alternative to Jung and Freud (although, personally, I have never found analytical psychology very helpful in any form).

  3. It does not seem rational or scientific to dismiss Jung and Freud as old frauds or to suggest that their ideas were the product of cocaine or interest in automatic writings. Mr. Reilly may not have benefited from analytical psychology, but clinical experience shows that many people have – at the very least that should give pause for thought.
    Maybe Catholics need to learn that the Catholic Church is not the source of nor the arbiter of all truth, all knowledge in every subject. I would not look to the Church for insights into nuclear physics. Considering how much wacky nonsense religious people – even including the Fathers of the Church – have swallowed, it may not be a reliable guide to the make-up of human beings either. We should be open to truth wherever it is found, and may, if we are open, find developments in science, psychology, cosmology a help in refining our sometimes crude formulations of belief which can be overly tied to obsolete modes of thinking.