Answering Sigmund Freud 

Sigmund Freud, Atheist Founder of Psychoanalysis

Quackery Moses and Monotheism
Rebranding Catholic Scandal
Reaction Formation L. Ron Hubbard


Those of us old enough to remember tail-fins can recall a time when Freudian analysis was the very last word in 'scientific' psychology. What ever happened to it? You do not hear so much about it nowadays, except as an export to China. What happened is that the insurance industry found its back-bone and ceased to pay:

  • “A declining number of office-based psychiatrists appear to be providing psychotherapy to their patients, according to a new report. . .
  • “'Yet, despite the traditional prominence of psychotherapy in psychiatric practice and training, there are indications of a recent decline in the provision of psychotherapy by U.S. psychiatrists—a trend attributed to reimbursement policies favoring brief medication management visits rather than psychotherapy and the introduction of newer psychotropic medications with fewer adverse effects,' the authors write.”
  • (Psychiatrists Shift Away From Providing Psychotherapy, ScienceDaily, Aug. 11, 2008).

Can the Chinese really be so gullible? Unlike psycho-active drugs, which at least make people feel better even while sentencing them to an inauthentic life, Freudian analysis does not even make people feel better. Neither does it cure their ills. This is not a new discovery. If Freudian psychotherapy is a cure and not quackery, then why can it not demonstrate its efficacy? Clinical trials have never been able to show that this 'therapy' cures any one. They used to say, 'If psychiatry were a drug, the FDA wouldn't let you sell it.' Back during Freud's ascendancy, in the twentieth century, polite people just weren't supposed to mention that already-known fact, because offended atheists would snarl that the skeptic lacks compassion for the mentally ill. Why else mention that the 'therapy' provided to these unfortunate people did them no good?

What is wrong in expecting an advertised therapy to work? Why did so many people avoid noticing the obvious for so long? Why did the emperor's new clothes impress so many with their gaudiness before they were eventually noticed not to be there? It is good to see medical practice finally catching up to what was known all along, but why did it take so long? Insurance companies do not have to pay for 'therapies' that don't work. So not with a bang, but with a whimper, we are saying 'good-bye' to that atheist mainstay, Freudian psychotherapy. The medical profession is not recruiting successors to men like Dr. Donald Levin:

"Like many of the nation’s 48,000 psychiatrists, Dr. Levin, in large part because of changes in how much insurance will pay, no longer provides talk therapy, the form of psychiatry popularized by Sigmund Freud that dominated the profession for decades. Instead, he prescribes medication, usually after a brief consultation with each patient." (Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy, New York Times, Gardiner Harris, March 5, 2011)

To the extent that 'talk therapy' is wanted or needed, social workers do just as well as the Freudians, and charge much less than this secular atheistic priesthood. The most loyal consumers of Freudian therapy were never the truly sick people, like schizophrenics, who gained no benefit from this 'therapy,' unless they happened to dislike their mother and enjoyed hearing her called a 'schizophrenogenic mother.' The most loyal consumers were the 'worried well,' unhappy healthy people who found a reason to get up in the morning in Sigmund Freud's elaborate, and x-rated, mythology. The anecdotes of successful 'treatment' these believers told keep the whole thing going. Is this process generating atheistic 'scientific' mythologies ever to be an ongoing one? Will this process go on time without end, till Jesus comes, or will thinking people call a halt, and say, 'Go ahead and create mythologies if you like, but please do not call them "science"'?

  • “'Over the 10-year period, psychotherapy was provided in 5,597 (34 percent) of 14,108 visits lasting longer than 30 minutes. The percentage of visits involving psychotherapy declined from 44.4 percent in 1996-1997 to 28.9 percent in 2004-2005. "This decline coincided with changes in reimbursement, increases in managed care and growth in the prescription of medications,' the authors write.”
  • (Psychiatrists Shift Away From Providing Psychotherapy, ScienceDaily Aug. 11, 2008).

Moses and Monotheism

Sigmund Freud wrote a book called 'Moses and Monotheism' in which he explained the origin or religion. The primitive family band of brothers murdered, cannibalized and devoured their father, in order to enjoy the company of his wives, their mothers. You think, dear younger reader, I'm making this up?:

  • “The strong male was the master and father of the whole horde: unlimited in his power, which he used brutally. All females were his property, the wives and daughters in his own horde as well as perhaps also those robbed from other hordes. The fate of the sons was a hard one; if they excited the father's jealousy they were killed or castrated or driven out. They were forced to live in small communities and to provide themselves with wives by robbing them from others. Then one or the other son might succeed in attaining a situation similar to that of the father in the original horde. One favored position came about in a natural way: it was that of the youngest son who, protected by his mother's love, could profit by his father's advancing years and replace him after his death. An echo of the expulsion of the eldest son, as well as of the favored position of the youngest, seems to linger in many myths and fairy tales.

  • “The next decisive step towards changing this first kind of "social" organization lies in the following suggestion. The brothers who had been driven out and lived together in a community clubbed together, overcame the father and according to the custom of those times all partook of his body. This cannibalism need not shock us; it survived into far later times. The essential point is, however, that we attribute to those primaeval people the same feelings and emotions that we have elucidated in the primitives of our own times, our children, by psycho-analytic research. That is to say: they not merely hated and feared their father, but also honored him as an example to follow; in fact each son wanted to place himself in his father's position. The cannibalistic act thus becomes comprehensible as an attempt to assure one's identification with the father by incorporating a part of him.”
  • (Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, pp. 131-132).

  • “The memory of the father lived on during this time of the "brother horde." A strong animal, which perhaps at first was also dreaded, was found as a substitute. . .The relationship to the totem animal retained the original ambivalency of feeling towards the father. The totem was, on the one hand, the corporeal ancestor and protecting spirit of the clan; he was to be revered and protected. On the other hand, a festival was instituted on which day the same fate was meted out to him as the primaeval father had encountered. He was killed and eaten by all the brothers together.”
  • (Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, pp. 132-133).

  • “The next step forward from totemism is the humanizing of the worshipped being. Human gods, whose origin from the totem is not veiled, take the place previously filled by animals. Either the god is still represented as an animal or at least he bears the countenance of an animal; the totem may become the inseparable companion of the god, or, again, the myth makes the god vanquish just that animal which was nothing but his predecessor. . . Matriarchy was followed by a restitution of the patriarchal order. The new fathers, it is true, never succeeded to the omnipotence of the primaeval father. There were too many of them and they lived in larger communities than the original horde had been; they had to get on with one another and were restricted by social institutions. . . The next step, however, leads us to the topic that interests us here: the return of the one and only father deity whose power is unlimited.”
  • (Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, pp. 134-135).

It should come as little surprise that this howling atheism appealed especially to the like-minded. Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair described the membership of her group as follows: "O'Hair described the society's membership as living mostly in small communities across the nation. . .For reasons she could not explain, the largest percentage of members by occupation consisted of medical doctors. Veterinarians came next, with a 'good number' of psychiatrists." (The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair, by Brian F. LeBeau, p. 144).

As the great man explained, this paradigmatic act, the murder of the father by the primaeval brother-horde, the foundational experience of an infant humanity, tended to get repeated, for example in the communal murder of Moses (who knew?):

  • “The great deed and misdeed of primaeval times, the murder of the Father, was brought home to the Jews, for fate decreed that they should repeat it on the person of Moses, an eminent father substitute. It was a case of acting instead of remembering, something which often happens during analytic work with neurotics. They responded to the doctrine of Moses which should have been a stimulus to their memory by denying their act, did not progress beyond the recognition of the great Father and barred the passage to the point where later on Paul started his continuation of primaeval history. It can scarcely be chance that the violent death of another great man should become the starting point for the creation of a new religion by Paul. This was a man whom a small number of adherents in Judea believed to be the Son of God and the promised Messiah, and who later on took over some of the childhood history that had been attached to Moses.”

  • (Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, p. 143).

This laughable drivel used to be solemnly taught in American universities. One might have thought the whole system an April Fool's prank, except that these people were deathly in earnest about it. Freud's theories halted the progress of studies into medical treatment for the mentally ill for several generations, indeed propelled the field backwards during that dark period: "One of the most remarkable facts about schizophrenia is that researchers in the mid-nineteenth century were closer to the truth regarding its causes than were researchers in the mid-twentieth century. . .Incredibly, one hundred years after Brigham, Browne, Maudsley, and their colleagues were discussing insanity as a brain disease, their psychiatric offspring were investigating insanity as a product of bad mothering or mislabeling. In no other area of medicine — perhaps in all of science — did research go backwards for as far or as long as it did in psychiatry." (Surviving Schizophrenia, E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., p. 158).

Sigmund Freud is not the first nor will be the last of the atheists quacks to delve into soul-cure. Will Sam Harris and his 'moral experts' succeed in stimulating as much laughter as did Sigmund Freud, or will they finish in second place?:

No doubt this sequence of events: the brother-horde cannibalizing the father and appropriating his wives,— happens often enough that the principle of Uniformitarianism urges us to adopt it. This principle requires that things must have happened in all cases in the past as they now commonly happen. It is the main argument for denying the historicity of miracle stories. Since family groups are often observed to cannibalize and devour the patriarch at present, this undoubtedly must have happened in the past, also, or else we would violate the condition of uniformity. Hmmm. . .how often does this actually happen. . ?

Or perhaps that atheist mainstay, Darwinian evolution, can help us here: no doubt it aids the prospering of the 'selfish gene' for people to kill and eat their own relatives, thus reducing the likelihood of shared genes finding expression. This explanation has the helpful feature that it inverts their usual explanation for altruism. Darwinian evolution favors the survival of 'just so' stories, that they cohere and make sense is optional; they seem to survive just fine without doing so.

Or perhaps you have to be using the same drugs as the atheists to read this kind of stuff with a straight face. Sigmund Freud was a great enthusiast for the drug cocaine early in his career; when, or if, he ceased using is anyone's guess. Does anyone have a better explanation?

The affirmative evidence offered in favor of this great advance in the understanding of religion is the well-known fact (!) that little boys live in fear of a.) being cannibalized, and b.) suffering castration. Now what could spark these fears, but the guilty conscience inherited from a bloody crime committed thousands of years ago? How fear and guilt for an ancient crime are passed down is somewhat obscure,— some say Freud was a follower of Lamarck,— but that's OK since the crime is as imaginary as the fear and guilt. Mass guilt and inherited guilt are difficult legal concepts (not just impossible biological ones); these contemporary little boys, who fear the penalty, have committed no crime. Perhaps, if I may be pardoned a jaunt into analysis, as a Jewish child, Freud had internalized the taunts the anti-Semites flung in his face.

Given Freud's penchant for this type of theorizing, the wonder is that society not only did not confine him to an asylum, but actually placed him in charge of the asylum.


Given Freud's hysterical, even, dare one say, pathological aversion to religion, it may come as a surprise to find he takes his place within a certain religious tradition, albeit an aggressively anti-God tradition, which has sought to find in antinomianism a path to salvation:

"Freud's background had deep roots in Jewish heretical thought — religious and philosophical thought in rebellion against the merest shadow of Mosaic law. The mystic, Jacob Frank (1726-1791), for example, had expounded the doctrine of the holiness of sin. 'Through sin, salvation would come. From the great sinning would emerge a world in which there would no longer be sin.'" (Rousas J. Rushdoony, Freud and Religion, Kindle location 558).

Perhaps Freud's greatest innovation lies in creative packaging and marketing: who had ever suspected that the Kabbalah, a medieval recreation of ancient gnosticism, was actually 'science'? Sad to say, if you can sell this stuff as 'science,' what couldn't you sell?

The seventeenth century false Messiah Sabbatai Sevi did not start out preaching antinomianism, as best I can determine. However, once he fell into the hands of the Turkish Sultan, it was brought to his attention that conversion to Islam was the best option for someone in his position, and so he did that. He apostatized. Thereupon his 'prophet,' Nathan of Gaza, began a very elaborate and involved theological defense of the concept of a 'fallen' Messiah, of salvation through sinning, that 'the way down is the way up,' etc. This ongoing religion,— Sabbatai Sevi found successors in Jacob Frank and others,— became involved with staging orgies and similarly edifying conduct. As to lifestyle, they might best be likened to the 'hippies' of Vietnam-era America. This is not traditional, normative Judaism, but rather a sub-current of Kabbalism. American Supreme Court justice Louis D. Brandeis was of Frankist heritage, though his continuing adherence, if any, was so lukewarm as not to excite alarm. Jacob Frank followed Sabbatai Sevi down the apostasy trail, though it turns out Polish Catholics cast a more doubtful and suspicious eye upon their newly minted brethren than do Turkish Muslims.

The Frankist/Sabbatarian program for the descent into sin sought to restore the lost integrity of the 'broken vessels,' thus healing creation. The idea that sin is good for you, healthy even, a prophylactic against neurosis and every other bad thing, is not original with Freud, but in its first presentation, by Nathan of Gaza, it was not presented as 'science.' It came to be rebranded as such, and has fatally entered our culture as something people still 'know,' or, if you please, that 'medical science has discovered,'— even though you can't get your insurance company to pay for Freudian analysis any more.

In the nineteenth century, the 'chattering classes' were very much taken with the idea of 'science.' While the majority of the populace in the West, and many insightful thinkers, remained Christian, academia became entranced with materialistic naturalism. Two Jewish thinkers of that era, both of whose interests were more in line with traditional religiosity,— Karl Marx was taken with the idea of a Messianic era, Sigmund Freud with the Kabbalistic paradigm that 'the way down and the way up are one and the same,'— repackaged and rebranded their voluminous contributions as 'science.' Young people nowadays may have a hard time believing it, but when I was a young person, both of these all-enveloping cosmic systems were taken very, very seriously, as science, by intelligent people, even though neither successfully cleared the initial hurdles set out by scientific methodology: Marxist economics had no predictive value, Freudian psychotherapy no therapeutic value. How gullible can people be?:

The church's reluctance to embrace Freud, with his wild, paganish antinomianism, they explained as being just like what they did to Galileo: ". . .so that they become necessarily opponents of all intellectual and moral progress. The church opposed Galileo and Darwin; in our own day it opposes Freud." (Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? Kindle location 776, Why I am not a Christian).

Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

Over some years the newspapers uncovered a vast priest child abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, which in some venues, like the Irish orphanages, reached monstrous proportions. At the height of this scandal, approximately 4% of priests were pedophiles; the Catholic Church has since taken measures to detect and remove these predators from the priesthood:

  • “These different methods both yielded the same statistic: approximately 4% of Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been accused of the sexual abuse of a youth under the age of 18.”
  • (John Jay Report, 2.2 Summary results: Prevalence of Sexual Abuse of Youths Under 18 by Catholic Priests and Deacons.).

John Everett Millais, The Parables of Our Lord, Leaven

What was most shocking about this scandal was not the number of priests involved, though that is very high: ". . .the total number of Catholic priests and deacons in the United States who have been accused of sexual abuse of children is 4,392." (John Jay Report, 2.2 Summary results: Prevalence of Sexual Abuse of Youths Under 18 by Catholic Priests and Deacons.) What was most shocking was the response of the Catholic hierarchy to the allegations made against these priests: they just moved them around, from one place to another, presumably to avoid detection.

Or is that really all they did? Did they not rather follow, with disastrous results, the best 'scientific' advice they could obtain about how to deal with these men? If the latter, then why has there been no calling to account for this catastrophic advice? The first 'expert' who failed the victims was Sigmund Freud. When he began treating women who manifested hysteric symptoms in Vienna, these women all told him the same story: 'I was raped by my father, or step-father.' Had Sigmund Freud been more scientifically oriented, he might have made the induction: there is a positive correlation between a history of child sexual abuse and the manifestation of hysteric symptoms. But he made the deliberate choice to disbelieve their stories. In canonical Freudian psychology, when a woman says, 'I was raped by my father,' the analyst is supposed to interpret this to mean: 'I fantasized that I had sex with my father.' This is called the Electra Complex, and it's one of the pillars of that system. She wants to be raped, but it never actually happened. So the first offense by Freud against justice for victims of child sexual molestation was this: A tendency to disbelieve the victim's story.

The second point is, unwarranted and unjustified sympathy for the perpetrator over and above the victim, because he is 'sick.' The analogy between sin and sickness is a very old one, in fact it's in the Bible. It is a multi-faceted likeness; sin is really very much like a sickness in many ways. Sin-sickness is progressive; when left 'untreated' it gets worse, until it ultimately destroys its victim. So we read, "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" (Jeremiah 8:22), and "When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:17).

But there is one point at which this otherwise serviceable and flexible analogy breaks down, and that is the one point which accounts for its modern popularity: we don't blame sick people, because 'it's not their fault.' Many categories of sex offenders, including pedophiles, were reclassified as 'sick people' and progressive-minded people thenceforward viewed them with sympathy rather than anger or disgust. This was not the Christian temper of forgiveness: it offered not pardon but exoneration, 'He couldn't help it, he's sick, he needs help.' This was said about rapists and pedophiles by people who felt they were showing how 'enlightened' they were by saying so, and this view of the matter tended to drive sentences down. From the time Freudian psychology took hold in this country in the 1920's, sentences for sex crimes began to trend downwards. Many people even felt it was barbaric and unenlightened to send these people to jail at all, because they are 'sick' and they need to be 'treated.'

The third point is, ineffective proposals for cure. 'Quack' cures can cause real harm when their futile pursuit prevents the sufferer from seeking a real cure. People used to say, back in the hey-day of Freudian psychotherapy, that if psychotherapy were a drug the FDA would not let you sell it, because it was never able to demonstrate any clinical efficacy in the trials that were done. People who said they valued 'science' nevertheless continued to believe in Freudianism, though it had been proved ineffective! But the fact that they had never once done so did not discourage the psychotherapists from promising gullible customers that, yes, of course they could cure pedophilia, just as successfully as they cured all other mental disorders.

But they never actually cured anyone of anything; Freudian psychotherapy was a 'quack' therapy in the purest sense. For instance they used to tell schizophrenics, people with a very real and very severe mental disorder, 'You had a schizophrenogenic mother, that is why you are a schizophrenic.' They felt it was very important to get people to accept their story as to why they were the way they were; this was part of the 'cure.' So if they persuaded the schizophrenic that his mother had made him crazy, this was a victory, a breakthrough. But it didn't make him any better. Freudianism was not so much overthrown as it was by-passed, when the pharmacists finally began to offer hope to sick people like schizophrenics, by offering therapies that actually worked. The Freudians had mocked the search for drug therapies as a hold-over from the barbaric, backward past of their discipline. People had always looked for drug therapies for mental illness, back from the time of the ancients with their hellebore. That approach turned out to be the most promising, even 'modern' if you will.

One of the things the Catholic hierarchy did in the U.S. was to bring pedophile priests to an institute in New Mexico where they received psychotherapy. Now people only refer to that as 'shuffling them around,' because isn't it past being obvious that if you get a pedophile to sit down and talk about his childhood, that isn't going to stop him from molesting children? Since this therapeutic approach yielded no results at all, it was just the same as moving people around. Imagine if the Catholic hierarchy had been told: this is an offense with an extremely high recidivism rate. There is no cure known to the psychiatric profession. Though Roman Catholicism, a hierarchical church, tends to over-value clergy over against laity, I expect they would have acted differently if they had understood these facts, and they are facts. But this is not what they were being told by the men in white coats. They were told: 'We can cure this.' This was pure quackery, and its victims are the children.

When Freudian psychotherapy was in vogue, its constituency was not so much people with real psychiatric disorders, for whom it offered nothing, but the 'worried well,' for whom it offered much the same attractions and rewards as a religious cult. In fact it is actually very difficult to distinguish Freudian psychotherapy from a religious cult. Like Scientology, it claims to be 'science' or 'medicine,' but not because its insights were ever derived from any research program. Rather their principles were derived from the poetic and visionary insights of the founder. If you asked a Freudian, 'How do you know that,' the answer was not a study some researcher had conducted at some time, but a page number where the master had said it. Yet the system greatly appealed to some people. Much of Freud's vocabulary came from classical myth. He presented a very dense and complex system of mythology, which took a long time to learn, but after mastering it some people felt it added an extra dimension to their experience of life. It was very 'deep.'

However, in spite of the popularity of this system in academia and in the mainstream media, a lot of people did not like it at all. They responded with 'Harrumph.' And indeed you have to wonder why the audience hearing this system expounded did not burst out laughing. There was a big 'gross-out' and 'ick' factor, because everything was referred back to childhood sexuality. To Freudians repression was the original, and perhaps only, sin. Many Christian folk did not like it for that reason. But the Catholic hierarchy did like it, presumably because it was tinselly bright, shiny and new. They bought it, and did what the Freudian psychoanalysts told them to do with their pedophile priests, and because nobody much believes in it any more, they look like they did nothing.

Other churches have unwittingly sheltered child molesters; one thinks of the brilliant gospel song-writer James Cleveland, who incomprehensibly wrote beautiful music while his home life revolved around raping an under-age boy. Yet no other church suffered a comparable metastasizing sickness spreading from locale to locale. What was different about the Catholic church? There was a smoldering fire, a homosexual counter-culture within the Roman Catholic priesthood, on which the 'modern, progressive' psychoanalysts who were now running the show poured the gasoline of Freudian psychoanalysis, with its tendency to foster narcissism and myth-making in the 'patient,' who no longer thinks of himself as a bad person, but as an immensely interesting one. In recent years the Catholic Church has succeeded in turning the situation around, it would appear, because the rates of child molestation have dwindled down below the 'background' rate of the 1950's.

When the 'enlightened,' Freudian attitudes detailed above came into prominence, the pedophile priest clique entered into their Golden Age. To sum up: the 'enlightened' people, the men in white coats, the 'experts,' after Freudianism hit town, tended to disbelieve children's tales of sexual abuse. Freud's whole system rested upon reconfiguring these stories as wished-for fantasies; it is the child's sexuality which is being expressed by telling them, not the abusive pedophile's. Many people,-- police, members of the jury,-- still retained enough common sense to get convictions of pedophiles in the courts, but they were swimming against the 'expert' tide. The Freudian 'experts' were the ones telling people, 'You should not believe these stories.'

Just imagine what would happen if some stray theory exploded in popularity, which held as one of its tenets, 'Reports of stolen cars are usually made up.' When you call the police and tell them your car was stolen, they laugh in your face. Now to be sure, reports of car theft are sometimes false, because 'victims' may be committing insurance fraud, or may have forgotten where they parked. But if you got a lot of people to disbelieve reports of car theft, this would be the same thing as decriminalizing auto theft. No one would believe you when you complained of it, so nothing would be done. The pedophiles benefited from this. They also benefited from the sympathetic tears the 'enlightened' people shed on their behalf: 'They're sick, they can't help it,' because even if the small-town police they ran into didn't care what the white-coated 'expert' said, the offender would still benefit from the trend toward lighter sentences that was going on that whole while.

So the pedophile priests went to town. Maybe they even recruited others into their group, because the times were very favorable for them. The times ceased to be favorable when the victims' voices were finally heard. Even in the godless world the 'sexual revolution' was beaten back at two fronts, by the victims of child sexual abuse who explained that it meant, not liberation, but a stolen childhood, and by the feminists who whacked everyone on the head who expressed any sort of sympathy for a rapist. I don't know how many of the accused priests bought into the 'sexual revolution,'— David 'Mo' Berg's Children of God cult caught that wave, with predictable harm to children,— but the preceding course in Freudian psychology had created the perfect storm. Just as auto theft rates would spike if you convinced people not to believe owners filing complaints, so the rates of this offense spiked when credence and sympathy went over to the perpetrator rather than the victim. Fortunately the pendulum has swung back the other way. The best defense the Roman Catholic Church could have mounted was, not to swing with the world's pendulum, but to cling to the solid rock, and to make a stand on God's word, which certainly never taught Freudianism. The Catholics, who believe in moral accountability, have apologized; the Freudians, who do not, have not. There is plenty of blame to go around for this tragedy, and it is difficult to fathom why certain participants are Teflon-coated.

Reaction Formation

The paradigm of experimental science expects that investigators will form a hypothesis which predicts a certain outcome, then look to see whether what was predicted is what happened. But sometimes a theory will come along which is so powerful that it predicts, either a given outcome, or its opposite, or some third thing. This is Freudian psychotherapy. The process which produces the opposite of the original impulse, as predicted by Freudian theory, which process may or may not come into play, is called "Reaction Formation." If the emotion or impulse originally produced causes anxiety, the ego derails or sidetracks the offending impulse by conjuring up its opposite. Say the original, anxiety-producing impulse is 'hate;' the ego produces, by way of contrast, 'love' in its place.

You thought I was kidding? This theory solemnly prognosticates, either a.) Hate, or b.) the opposite of Hate, namely Love, or c.) some third thing, like maybe Indifference. Predictions like that, needless to say, are confirmed 100 per cent of the time.

A theory that predicts everything that could possibly happen: a given result, its opposite, or some third thing,— is so powerful it is best to handle it using the glove-boxes designed for manipulating plutonium. Darwinian evolution is another one of these super-powerful theories. Because it 'predicts' literally everything that could possibly happen, it cannot be disconfirmed. Whatever in the world actually happens, they can 'explain' it. If the contrary happens, they can 'explain' that too: that's "Reaction Formation." It is actually better to advance scientific theories that can be disconfirmed, because theories like these can also be strengthened by evidence, unlike the super-powerful ones which are impervious to evidence.

What a blessing that this quack's prescriptions have been discarded. His ambitions succeeded for a time, but not forever. And make no mistake, he was ambitious in the same way as Sam Harris is ambitious. . .but it's all for our own good!: "Think how impossible human society would be if everyone had his own particular multiplication table and his own private units of weight and length. Our best hope for the future is that the intellect — the scientific spirit —reason —should in time establish a dictatorship over the human mind." (Sigmund Freud: Civilization and Die Weltanschauung, 1918). Fortunately the dictatorship of quackery proved a passing phase. It would have roused more confidence in the profession, however, if it had not been left to the insurance companies to free us of this imposture.

  • “The last contribution to the criticism of the religious Weltanschauung has been made by psychoanalysis, which has traced the origin of religion to the helplessness of childhood, and its content to the persistence of the wishes and needs of childhood into maturity. . .The final judgment of science on the religious Weltanschauung, then, runs as follows. While the different religions wrangle with one another as to which of them is in possession of the truth, in our view the truth of religion may be altogether disregarded. Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. But it cannot achieve its end. Its doctrines carry with them the stamp of the times in which they originated, the ignorant childhood days of the human race. Its consolations deserve no trust. Experience teaches us that the world is not a nursery.”
  • (Sigmund Freud: New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Lecture XXXV, A Philosophy of Life).

L. Ron Hubbard

Science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard developed a set of therapies for the solution of psychological problems following a very similar methodology to that followed by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. He put together various techniques that seemed to work (seemed to him at any rate); this clinical experience, it was claimed, justified the system, which incorporated a very elaborate, almost baroque mythology. So why are the two latter figures acclaimed as discoverers, while L. Ron Hubbard was despised as a quack, except amongst his own little band of followers? The only difference I can see is their taste in literature. L. Ron Hubbard was a low-brow hack, while Freud and Jung sprinkled references to Greek mythology throughout their writings. If Hubbard's categories had been given Greek names instead of outlandish sci-fi ones, one fears and suspects he would have been lionized along with the others.

Return to answering Atheism...

Like Sigmund Freud, atheist Ayn Rand created a cult of personality around herself. The soap-opera narrative of this cult, with its heresies, defections, self-criticism, and loyalty and devotion, sounds a lot like the Freud cult. As libertarian Murray N. Rothbard, briefly a member of the cult, described it,

"For not only was the Rand cult explicitly atheist, anti-religious, and an extoller of Reason; it also promoted slavish dependence on the guru in the name of independence; adoration and obedience to the leader in the name of every person’s individuality; and blind emotion and faith in the guru in the name of Reason." (Murray N. Rothbard, The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult).

It's a good thing that the thrifty insurance companies rescued the people from this degrading illusion, but why was it left up to them?

  • “The number of psychiatrists who provided psychotherapy to all of their patients also declined over the same time period, from 19.1 percent to 10.8 percent. 'Psychiatrists who provided psychotherapy to all of their patients relied more extensively on self-pay patients, had fewer managed-care visits and prescribed medications in fewer of their visits compared with psychiatrists who provided psychotherapy less often,' the authors write.
  • “'These trends highlight a gradual but important change in the content of outpatient psychiatric care in the United States and a continued shift toward medicalization of psychiatric practice,' they conclude.”
  • (Psychiatrists Shift Away From Providing Psychotherapy, ScienceDaily Aug. 11, 2008).

The baroque mythology promoted by Freud and his disciples was always deeply degrading to humanity, and its points of conflict with the Biblical teaching that human beings are made in the image of God need hardly be stressed. Freud himself certainly had no illusions that his system was in any way compatible with theism. This makes it deeply ironic that one of the last bastions where something like Freudianism survives is in the form of 'reparative therapy,' a therapeutic approach to curing homosexuality which follows in its outlines the Freudian paradigm, for instance in the assumption that childhood adaptations to a family gone wrong are the generative cause of all unwanted tendencies, and that the patient's devotion to a god-like Guru-therapist will lead to healing. This form of Freudianism survives because it is promoted by some Christian authorities, oddly enough.

Young people today might be amazed to learn the grip this pseudo-scientific cult had on the thought-life of generations of Americans. Many amongst the intelligentsia gave their lives over to it. It bamboozled the medical establishment completely. Why was this quack therapy the standard of care for so long? Why was the fact that it helped no one not noticed nor thought important? Or if it does help some one, why is the medical establishment moving away from it? The insurance industry has pulled the plug on it. While some people,— for instance those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder,— do benefit from the attention of a sympathetic listener, that benefit is fully realized if the 'ear' is attached to a social worker. . .if not a waitress. For the listener to be trained in the arcana of the Freudian system provides no additional benefit. The insurance companies are not depriving anyone of needed 'therapy' by turning off the money spigot. Younger readers can scarcely imagine how deeply devotees of the Freud cult imposed upon the credulity of the public, and for how long this went on. If these people had indeed, as they claimed, discovered the secrets of life, then why does their eager sharing of their esoteric lore provide no benefit to the patient? Freudian psychotherapy is a notable entry in the history of quackery, to be classified in the prominent, and still growing, department of atheistic, 'scientific' quackery.

One might like to think that they have learned from this debacle and now recommend to the public only those therapies which can be proven to work. It would be nice to think so. But unfortunately they just go from victory onto victory. When they persuaded school districts to give children prizes just for breathing and maintaining a stable body temperature, on grounds that a healthy 'self-esteem' would set them up for success in life, was there any science behind it? "But did it work? It was only after decades of promoting self-esteem that academic psychologists got around to asking this, the most important question of all. Had it delivered on its promises?. . .what they discovered was relatively simply and straightforward. It hadn't delivered and it didn't work." (Glynn Harrison, Ego Trip: Rediscovering Grace in a Culture of Self-Esteem, p. 18). Let the buyer beware.

What does it feel like to look back on a lifetime of misspent effort because you bet on the wrong horse? Certainly those who commit their cause to Christ need not fear the winds of fashion, into which those who trust to the vagaries of atheism fling themselves head-long. One able remedy to quackery is free inquiry. Oddly accused of wishing to ban thought, how else can religion rid itself of nonsensical human inventions like Freudian analysis?: "And indeed the ban which religion has imposed upon thought in the interests of its own preservation is by no means without danger both for the individual and for society." (Sigmund Freud: Lecture XXXV, A Philosophy of Life.) Freud's own quack remedy had a go at banning thought for nearly one hundred years, but ultimately over-stayed its welcome.

The program that has displaced Freudian quackery, big pharma's direct interventions into brain chemistry, has the beneficial property that it works, at least some of the time. Lithium for manic-depressives, or as they are now called, 'bi-polar,' looks close to being a cure. And this is a very old approach after all; the ancients looked to 'hellebore' to cure mental disorders. The error into which this approach sometimes slides is to assume that brain chemistry is a closed system, which receives no input from the mind. Chemical imbalances in the brain, they allege, cause mental disorders, whose resultant thought patterns are no more than a magic lantern show put on by these autonomous chemical process. To show the mistake, let's look at several simple cases. In our present instantiation we are physical creatures who think with our brains. The spirit cannot always soar above the mess of tangled proteins in a brain dissolving into dementia. But consider: a patient given a sugar pill, a placebo, who believes the medication will help him, is likely to improve; real changes in brain chemistry, and even basic physiology, will result from a null input. Consider a woman, hearing a garbled report that her beloved child has died in a bus crash. She collapses on the floor in inconsolable grief, replaced instants later by elation as she learns the bus that fell off the mountain road was not the camp bus carrying her son, but another one carrying retirees. Sports fans gathered around a transistor radio, listening to the account of the big game between bursts of static, jump with joy when they learn that State has won the big game on a buzzer-beating basket. But wait — his foot was out of bounds! Now they are down in the dumps. These instantaneous transitions from elation to despair are not unaccompanied by changes in brain chemistry; that is how we feel, in this present order of things. But the brain chemistry is not leading the parade, it is following. One modern approach growing in popularity is cognitive behavioral therapy, a secularized version of the power of positive thinking. They resurrect the old common-sense nostrums we were told to discard, like that 'if you think cheerful thoughts you will be happy.' What could make more sense after all, and why wouldn't depressed people give it a try. While this program does not work wonderfully, it should not work at all if reductive materialism were correct and brain chemistry runs inexorably on its rails unless directly impeded with 'in-kind' intervention.

Unfortunately, some people reason that, if we are to show compassion to the mentally ill,— and certainly we should, if only because there but for the grace of God go you or I,— then we should also encourage them to patronize whatever quack therapy is in vogue at the present moment, even if it can be demonstrated that it will not help them, as is the case with Freudian therapy. The error should be apparent. The study of Freudian therapy should pass over into the realm where it belongs, cult history, rather than its current miscategorized location as science.