Sunday, May 08, 2005

LISTEN UP (final part)

Precisely because the work of Carl Rogers and other humanistic practitioners had such a deep and lasting effect on all walks of life it is important to understand what made it tick. Abraham Maslow was one of those practitioner/innovators who came to see, earlier than Rogers, that self-actualization can develop in both positive and negative directions. Maslow died in his middle sixties a rather remorseful man, as he finally recognized some of the massive flaws in their beliefs; he saw, for example, that when Rogers left science behind he had “swapped his belief in an objective realm of goodness and truth for the idea that what feels good really is good, at least in the personal sphere, as long as it is sincere.” (See W. R. Coulson, below). A couple of things that were wrong: (1) Rogers didn’t know how to say limiting phrases like “No, that is wrong, you can’t do that”, and (2), he had insisted on treating “normal” people. It is unclear if Rogers personally knew much about abnormal psychology or psychopathology, but he clearly wasn’t going to wait for patients to come from specialized groups as did most of his clinician peers. Since he felt everybody needed release from religious and cultural restriction, everyone became fair game. Virtually no one was saying, nor do I say now, that Rogers was a bad man; he may in fact have been something worse, a good man gone wrong –and that is bad.

To further his “therapeutic” ideas he called his efforts “client-centered”, to avoid “patient-centered”, but borrowed a key analytic concept from Freud’s work, which seemed to indicate that one is likely to be neurotic or crazy when resistance towards external moralistic demands or one’s libidinal impulses are repressed. He then pasted this blanket “diagnosis” on everyone in sight; it was pasted on the members of Catholic communities who had been led in droves into curious participation by misguided educators. And sure enough these people were repressed --but they were supposed to be! Instead of receiving help in deciding on, or living with, their principles, the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary in L.A. were soon enthusiastic in becoming “self-realized”; by the middle 60’s this largest sisterhood had literally ceased to exist. They had all broken their Holy vows, a few had changed orders but many had given up celibacy to engage in homo- or heterosexual encounters.

This information is now well known (see also: Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns: by E. Michael Jones, Ph.D. --Originally published in a book, Libido Dominandi; Sexual Liberation and Political Control –South Bend. St. Augustine Press, 1999). During the 1960’s William R. Coulson was a research associate to Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow at Western Behavioral Sciences institute in La Jolla, California. He co-edited a 17 volume series on humanistic education with Rogers and helped him organize the country’s first program of facilitator training. Coulson himself later became deeply regretful of their “psychology” and indicated it was his belief that probably many of the sexual crimes by Catholic brothers or priests perpetrated upon children could be directly traced to effects of those encounter-group experiences in the 60’s. The dangers of permissiveness in practice is the theme of a paper given at a conference in 1995 entitled “You Can’t Do That: When Compassion Calls For Telling the Truth,” by W. R. Coulson, Ph.D. --in Collected Papers from the NARTH Annual Conference, Saturday, 29 July 1995. While a book of Rogers entitled The Emerging Person: Spearhead of the Quiet Revolution –in which he stated “homosexuality, bisexuality, and sexual freedom are given far greater social acceptance”, according to Coulson “Carl Rogers’ daughter and a diseased nun {a student IMH nun who contracted two sexually transmitted diseases} and an educator who was in the process of courting arrest had become heroic, along with others of their self-actualizing kind;… Not only was his daughter Natalie’s marriage in trouble at the time, her brother’s was too. The life commitments of the only two children Carl and Helen Rogers had were dissolving. The whole enterprise was imperiled –the future of the Rogers family including the future of six grandchildren.” The point here is not that these things couldn’t ever happen, but they happened to three people who had offered the world marital counseling and who were in the pursuit of proving their solution to life itself was a superior one. Carl and Helen Rogers had been married 54 years but they too faced divorce. As Coulson put it, “…the need had arisen for Rogers to defend against the claim that such a (moral) law is to be obeyed, or that it is even real. His children, his people, his tribe, the only tribe he had, were breaking it simultaneously”.

Long before his death in 1987, however, Rogers too began to cool some of his enthusiasm. As early as 1971 Coulson wrote that Rogers had “felt obliged to defend too many young victims… Finally this personal admission was heard in a tape recording circulated from La Jolla in 1976:

I started this damned thing and look where it’s taken us. I don’t know where it’s taking me. I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen next…And where’s it going to carry us? And did I start something that is in some fundamental way mistaken and that may lead us off into paths that we will regret…?”

It appeared the “quiet revolution” was losing it’s battle. His nemesis, moral values, was beginning to enter the fray as a refreshing back-lash. Some good things came out of the 50’s and 60’s, such as the Civil Rights movement, but Humanistic Psychology was not one of them. Stiffened moral fiber in the form of improved ethical and professional standards, with more stringent licensing laws and practice regulations in almost all the states, followed on the horror stories of past malfeasance.

I hinted earlier that Rogers may have helped unwittingly to bring ordinary religious issues back into psychotherapy; today the availability of Christian counseling is commonplace, and Christian, or Biblical and Theistic psychology is practiced and studied in our universities. Note a recent paper titled Scientific Psychology and Christian Theism by Harold D. Delany and Timothy F. Goldsmith of the University of New Mexico, 5/7/2005. This is an excellent short history of psychology and clearly shows that Biblical aspects of human psychology are now important issues –“hot”, you might say. And yes, we are being heard!

1 comment:

DNK said...

Wow! This brings it all together. I hope this gets lots of viewings as it is very important!