The Task Is Departure

Just as a reminder, I tend to favor Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis as a model for human psychology.

There are multiple models out there, and no one of them can explain everything. That’s because the human psyche is inexplicable in the first place. The best we can hope for is one or more models to approach the task at hand. We call something a “working model” when it seems to work for certain limited uses. It’s like a model rocket; it’s not a real rocket, but it can teach you something about aerodynamics for flying rockets within the atmosphere. We eliminate some elements of the design process — model rocket engines are highly regulated — and focus on a limited range of questions that aren’t so likely to get us into trouble.

So it is with psychological models. I take the position that you simply cannot understand the human mind very much in the first place. The proper task of psychology is to help people adapt better to their environment. This is part of weakening the Devil’s influence in our lives. I take a functional approach, convinced that anything aimed at assessing the actual inner workings of the human psyche is neither possible nor desirable. We can only do so much, and trying to do too much is a waste of time and resources that accomplishes little good, and probably does more harm. To me, a lot of psychoanalysis comes across as a racket for extracting huge sums from those who have money to waste, and to oppress those who have less money.

When it comes to psychoanalysis, I like reading Thomas Szasz and M. Scott Peck. They both depart from the mainstream significantly, and I find their work productive. For both of them, the issue is helping people get free of their false notions about reality and making their own choices, whatever those choices may be. In other words, it’s not a medical model of “mental health” we pursue, but fundamental moral questions.

In the final analysis, we cannot simply stop being Westerners. What we can do is move to identify the parts of Western Civilization in general, and Anglo-American culture in particular, that conflict with what the Bible says. The task is to draw closer to the Bible and farther from this world. The term “this world” has a pretty specific meaning in the Bible: It’s the mass of fallen humanity without redemption. It’s humanity kicked out of Eden and denied the Tree of Life. It’s humanity munching on the Forbidden Fruit. Redemption is to stop eating the fruit and starting the process of removing the poisons from it. Eating the Tree of Life comes after dying, but in the meantime, we have a huge task of ameliorating the Fall.

As you will see in the continuing Radix Fidem Curriculum series, the question is where you draw your baseline. The biblical baseline of what’s “normal” for humans is not in this world, nor is it possible for this world.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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3 Responses to The Task Is Departure

  1. Jay DiNitto says:

    Thank you for the further reading recommendations 🙂 I don’t read much of psychology because the mainstream, as you’ve said, is just a money-making scheme. There are cranks out there, too, that just take a different approach to separating people from their money. So I don’t know too many to turn to.


  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Another name I can recommend is Thomas Gordon. He wrote the “effectiveness training” series: Parent Effectiveness Training was the first. I benefited from Teacher Effectiveness Training and Leadership Effectiveness Training. There are lots of copies out there still around. The foundation that carries forward his work seems to have embraced Gordon’s attitude, a sort of “take a look, this might work for you.” Gordon’s work rests on the work of Carl Rogers, for whom I bear a guarded approval, same as the other names I listed. They both embrace phenomenology as a primary assumption.


  3. Jay DiNitto says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I may actually want to check out the Teachers one. The idea is far out of my field but I feel like I could benefit from it.


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