Counseling and Psycho-Babble
Words of Life!
Volume 6, Number 1
by Dr. Ed Bulkley
Editors' note: Those of you who are familiar at all with the teaching ministry of Word of Life are at least somewhat aware of the emotional and spiritual dangers associated with so much of modern psychology.
A recent issue of The Biblical Counselor, a publication of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, addressed one aspect of this question in a very insightful way. We are grateful for the permission of the author, Dr. Ed Bulkley, to republish this article here for you.
The article originally appeared in September, 1994. --FGZ
After I spoke at a men's retreat in Nebraska, a weary-looking husband came up and asked to talk. He related a story that has become all too familiar to me. His wife had gone into therapy with a Christian psychologist because of a general feeling of depression. During the months of counseling that followed, she gradually became colder and angrier toward her husband.
"Now her therapist had her convinced that she has some thirty separate personalities inside," he said. "She's getting worse as time goes along, and I owe the therapist more than $2,000. What can I do?"
A student at Dallas Theological Seminary called my office and asked, "Dr. Bulkley, can you recommend a biblical coun-selor for me in Dallas? My friend's wife was referred to a Christian psy- chologist and she has been convinced that she has multiple personalities. It's ruining their home. All they offer here is psychological counseling and I'm convinced what she needs is biblical counseling."
A woman in California told me that she had been convinced by a therapist that she was suffering from MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) and SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse). Under the guidance of her church-referred counselor, she "remembered" that her father had abused her sexually when she was a child. During the three years that followed, the relationship with her parents was destroyed, she accused her husband of sexually molesting their daughter, she left her church, lost her house, and finally her business. Unable to pay for continued therapy, she found that her psychologist would no longer see her.
"I praise God I ran out of money" she said to me. "Otherwise, I would still be trapped in the horrible lie!" She told me that it had taken almost a full year after ending therapy for her to realize that none of the things she had "remembered" under the guidance of a Christian psychologist had ever happened.
A couple in Colorado Springs wrote me a letter explaining how their daughter had falsely accused them of sexually abusing her when she was a child. The book that triggered her "discovery" -- The Wounded Heart -- was written by a Christian psychologist from Denver who travels the would preaching a gospel of victimization in a sincere attempt to lead suffering Christians to victory.
The American Disease
The "recovery" of repressed mem-ories of childhood sexual abuse and Multiple Per-sonality Disorder seem to go hand in hand. Stories like those above have been repeated thousands of time in America. Only the names and details very. It is worthy of note that Multiple Personality Disorder seems to be uniquely American -- at least for the time being. It is rarely diagnosed elsewhere, but as the literature on MPD spreads across the globe, so will the disease.
Incredible as it may seem, MPD is being promoted and fostered by Christian books such as Uncovering the Mystery of MPD by James G. Friesen (Here's Life Publishers, 1992). He admits that MPD is a recently discovered disease since it was virtually unknown in 1977, yet he seems to believe that it is now rampant.
Part of accepted treatment for repressed memories and MPD is to give suspected victims books that explain the symptoms and behaviors they are supposed to exhibit. What a remarkable coincidence that soon thereafter, the newly informed patients begin acting out according to the script.
Hopeful signs, however, are now emerging as people who were once firmly convinced of their victimization have begun to recant their claims of having been sexually abused and are now accusing their psychotherapists of an equally hideous from of abuse -- the creation of false memories.
How False Memories Are Created
The prevailing view in Christian counseling today is that to be healed of the wounds of the heart, a person must return to her past under the expert guidance of a trained counselor so that she can re-experience and understand her pain and trauma, thereby gaining insight and power to "work through" the issues. I use the feminine pronoun intentionally because this disease is overwhelmingly diagnosed among women.
The therapist leads the patient into a near-hypnotic state and begins probing for dream images that might reveal childhood abuse. If no memories occur spontaneously, the therapist begins to suggest possible events and interpretations. After a time, the counselee is convinced she was abused and has vivid "memories" that often include Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA).
Under the sort of therapy, thousands of suffering Christian women are being convinced that they were so horribly abused as children that their memories have been repressed in a self-protective cocoon. Like a toxic waste dump, these memories leak psychic poison into their subconsciouses so that they cannot function normally. That is why they have weight problems, or can't hold onto a job, or can't maintain a marriage, or can't relate to their children, or -- the list can go on forever.
Other therapists take the concepts of repressed memories and SRA to a new depth by adding the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder. This theory holds that one's inner suffering becomes so unbearable that the personality of the patient literally fragments into several separate beings, each of whom had an independent will, personality, and mental process.
Each Personality Must be Saved
I have spoken with people across America who have relatives who have been diagnosed as having MPD. It is interesting to note that once the patient understands how the charade works, the number of personalities that emerges can be unlimited --30, 40, even 80 distinct entities. One caller recently told me that her sister's therapist had identified 128 separate personalities!
Furthermore, current "Christian" therapy holds that each of the personalities must receive individual treatment. Some Christian therapists go to far as to teach that each personality must receive Christ independently of the other personalities within!
It doesn't seem to matter that there is not the slightest shred of scientific proof that multiple personalities exist. The only thing in the Bible that even comes close to MPD is demonic possession, and in that case, psychotherapy will be no more effective in producing healing than were the sons of Sceva in Acts 19.
A False Theory
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the theory of repressed memories is absolutely false. A Denver newspaper reported that "at least 80 Colorado therapists have been accused of brainwashing clients into falsely believing they were sexually abused as children." Magazine article and books are now coming out exposing false memories for what they are.
So many parents have been falsely accused of abusing their children that there is now an organization dedicated to provide them with information and comfort. Having begun only a few years ago in Philadelphia, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has grown to thousands of families who claim that they are the true victims of therapeutic abuse.
The theories of repressed memories and MPD are powerful tragic examples of fad therapies, driven by media attention, the desire to be on the cutting edge of new psychological breakthroughs, and completely unbiblical concepts. In spite of the growing evidence that "repressed"memories of childhood abuse and MPD are fabricated by therapy, "Christian" counseling has jumped onto these psychological bandwagons enthusiastically. One Christian psychologist tours America hosting seminars on recovery from sexual abuse. Thousands of women have paid hundreds of dollars each to listen to theories of how one's wounded heart can be healed through confronting and harassing the supposed abusers.
He evidently has more invitations than he can fill, for he has "franchised" his seminar and other therapists are now spreading his recovery doctrines in seminars across the country.
What a disaster! Instead of finding the peace that God offers through the Scriptures and His divine power, Christians are being offered counterfeit solutions that lead them back into pain, sin, bitterness, and defeat.
Colossians 2:8 reminds us, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ (NIV)." (Ed Bulkley is the author of Why Christians Can't Trust Psychology, Harvest House: 1993.)