Modern psychology can help Catholics
Uyau priest' IT would appear that the suspicion and distrust with which Catholics have in the past surrounded the new psychology is being dissipated and that Catholics now look upon the new teaching as a source of valuable truths.
someone who has not the faith.
The reflection of St. Justin, Martyr in the second century, that all truth is Catholic truth, is spoken as a result of the light " that enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world " is still accepted by the Church today and its latest application has been the still incomplete work of the assimilation of the truths of modern psychology, even though they were first spoken by men who did not share the faith and in cases even mocked it.
T"process of assimilation of the truths of the new psychology of the unconscious which has been going on before our eyes brings before us similar periods of the Church's history.
We are reminded of the second and third centuries when Christians began to philosophise. The early Christians were brought face to face with the works of pagan authors which contained many deep truths.
There was the twofold reaction of Christians that we see today. Some were suspicious of all philosophy and even opposed to it. Others were attracted by the systems of Plato and the Stoics.
As Gilson points out in his "History of Mediaeval Philosophy" it was the philosophising Christians who were on the right side for often it was those who were opposed to philosophy, such as Tatian and Tertullian, who fell away from the faith.
The present day assimilation of what is true in the works of Freud. Adler and Jung reminds us too of the reappearance of the thought of Aristotle in the 13th century. St. Thomas represents those who were attracted by the new ideas while those who condemned him at Oxford in 1277 represent those who are suspicious of all new ideas.
The period of suspicion and distrust came to an end and the ideas of the pagan Aristotle who believed in many gods found an honoured place in the philosophic System of the Scholastics of the Middle Ages.
Assimilation of doctrine
XTEWMAN in his "Essay on Develop. ment of Christian Doctrine" compares the assimilation of doctrine to the assimilation of food by the body. Not all food is assimilated. The unwanted parts are cast out.
The Church assimilates truths. She rejects errors and calls them heresies. lbe mind well formed in the truths of the faith will react as the Church reacts in the rejection of error and in the assimilation of truth.
The truths of the new phychology are of great help to the Catholic priest in his ministry. These truths do not do away with the truths a the psychology of the conscious as expounded by St. Thomas who took them from Aristotle.
The truths of the psychology of the unconscious supplement the truths of the psychology of the conscious and with their aid the priest can help in cases where before he felt helpless.
Scruples and fear
THE author found the I approach from the angle of the new psychology most helpful in the treatment of scruples.
He had never been really successful in helping a sufferer to overcome scruples until he understood that scruples were a veil thrown over one's eyes by oneself, no doubt unconsciously, to blind oneself to the real evil which one wanted to conceal, that scrupulosity was usually allied with an excessive fear of the emotions and the passionate side of human nature which had been rejected as being in themselves destructive.
With younger people the response is usually immediate and the effects lasting. When the sufferer has had to endure the problem to the middle thirties, the cure is less dramatic and much slower.
Mechanism of projection
A NOTHER example of
ri a truth of modern psychology which has been of the greatest help to the author is the description of the mechanism of projection.
A priest sometimes comes acrou a case of a person who has fallen hopelessly in love with another
person in circumstances which exclude the possibility of marriage.
Such a person suffers intensely with a longing for the other which cannot be fully understood unless experienced. Such longing, in the pastoral experience of the author, can be successfully overcome only when the person involved has come to realise that such cases of unrealistic love, love at first sight, all love between the sexes in its beginnings. is largely a projection.
The lover is really in love with something in himself or herself which has been projected into the loved one and is looked on as being part of the beloved.
When it is realised that all such love is largely deception, self deception. immature, the bond of slavery is ready to be broken and the victim begins to be free again.
The author of "Community Journal " published by Sheed and Ward points out bow helpful he found in his own life the explanation of the mechanism of projection.
IT is still very common today to meet people who are strongly infected by Pharisaism, who arc distressed by the slightest involuntary feelings of sexuality who are little disturbed by their failings in charity, who hold a distorted view of life and of the faith, setting up purity above faith, hope and charity in the hierarchy of the virtues.
Such people are always proud but are unaware of their pride.
Modern psychology can bring home to such people that they have been fighting most fiercely in the wrong area. that they have been deceived about the essential evil of the human being, which is always pride and lack of faith, hope and charity. Impurity, too, is a great evil but is secondary in such cases. It clears up when one's attitude to life is rectified, that is when one faces reality and throws oneself into the solution of life's problems, that is, when one grasps the necessity of true humility, faith, hope and love and tries to practise them.
Pledges of fidelity
MODERN psychology 1'1 echoes the teaching of the Church on many points. Its emphasis on the necessity of gradual physic growth parallels the gospel teaching, on a different level, of the slow growth of the supernatural life of the soul. "The seed is the word of God". There is similar emphasis on the necessity of self-knowledge, the necessity of giving oneself to find oneself.
One must not fall into the error of merely psychologising. Modern psychology is no substitute for the faith but its truth points to the faith. To remain on the level of psychology or renounce the faith for psychology would he to abuse these truths and to refuse to follow where they lead,
These truths enable us to know a great deal more about human nature but nothing about God directly. They aid the priest to clear up many of the obstacles to holiness which exist on the humanlevel and which at the same time prevent people from being more fully human.
If we must accept the truths of modern psychology we must also reject its errors. A good grounding in the truths of the faith. an understanding of the limitations and false teaching of the modern psychology as revealed by Catholic critics and especially a serious attempt to keep the commandments will be pledges of our fidelity to the superior truths of the faith.
We shall not then fall victims to the pan-sexualism of the Freudians nor accept the ideas of Jung on God and evil.
Fortunately many books of criticism of Freud and Jung have been published in recent years by Catholics and will be most valuable to the Catholic priest and layman who wishes to learn more about the psychology of the unconscious. Let me mention only ,Fr. Victor White's "God and The Unconscious", the book of Fr. Hostie, S.J. on Jung, Fr. Goldbrunner's " Individuation" and Fr. Nuttin's "Psychoanalysis and Personality ".
Such a development was inevitable for the history of the Church has shown that hers is a system of thought that is eminently capable of assimilating any truth provided it is a truth, even though it has been uttered for the first time by