Science in Christian Perspective


JASA BOOK REVIEWS For December 1966
Table of Contents
MAN IN CONFLICT by Paul F. Barkman; Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan Publishing House, 1965, 189 pp., $3.95 hardbound.
Logotheraphy and the Christian Faith by Donald F. Tweedie, Jr.; Grand Rapids, Mich. 1961, 183 pp. $3.95
The Christian and the Couch by Donald F. Tweedie, Jr.; Baker Book House

by Paul F. Barkman; Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan Publishing House, 1965, 189 pp., $3.95 hardbound.

Of the various approaches for bringing about a rapprochement between Christian doctrine and psychology perhaps the least radical and the most unassuming is that which selects a limited set of psychological concepts and a limited set of Biblical propositions and shows that these are in accord; it may even be suggested that, after allowing for differences in vocabulary and frame of reference, the psychological and Biblical authors may be saying essentially the same thing. Dr. Barkman's book is a modest effort in this genre. He is obviously not out to provide definitive answers to intricate and subtle questions, nor is his goal to challenge the intellectual world with penetrating scholarship. He merely wishes to take his readers on "an evangelical Christian tour through human conflicts and the epistle of James on a psychoanalytic buggy."

At this informal, non-tecbnical, and sometimes amusing level, then, Dr. Barkman takes his reader through a 20-page introduction to psychology, theology, and their mutual concerns, followed by 130 pages in which he attempts to demonstrate parallels between psychoanalysis and the book of James. The major purpose of the book seems to be to persuade the intersted layman that psychology, as exemplified by Freudian thinking, has developed understandings of human activities and motivations which can bring clarity and insight to our reading of Scripture. The point is developed in two stages. First, there is a description of a few psychoanalytically-derived concepts including unconscious conflict and aggression, the mechanism of repression, and anxiety as a basis of several neurotic symptom patterns. Along the way Scripture is cited to show how these concepts amplify James' characterization of the "double-minded man." Second, following a slight detour into the question of demon possession, the recommendations given by James for a satisfactory Christian life are shown to be in tune with the ideas of a psychoanalyst about mental health. Dr. Barkman weaves all this together smoothly and cleverly into a rather enjoyable little book.

There are some disquieting features about the work, however. I do not know what detailed criticisms Bible scholars might have about Dr. Barkman's treatment of the passages from James, but I personally found myself frowning at a few instances where I felt the Scriptural interpretation was being stretched a bit to illustrate a psychological point. On the psychological side Dr. Barkman makes a special point of mentioning that his viewpoint is psychoanalytic (deriving from Freud), but nearly all of the processes actually discussed in the book have been so widely accepted by psychologists in general that they scarcely characterize psychoanalysis, while most of the really distinctive features of psychoanalytic theory are not even mentioned. What Dr. Barkman has therefore shown is that the general viewpoint about maladaptive behavior held by most psychologists corresponds at a rather superficial level to that presented by James.

When he is discussing forms of maladaptive behavior, Dr. Barkman is entertaining, informative, and accurate. And there are pasages which are generally quite good, such as the brief section ("Unity of the Personality") on the consistency and predictability of normal and abnormal behavior. On the other hand, his sketchy -and biased treatment of the history of psychology, with its strong implication that psychology would have been better off bad it developed as a philosophical discipline rather than as a scientific one, will irritate most psychologists who understand the historical and philosophical issues. A few of the definitions in the glossary also leave something to be desired either as to accuracy or as to helpfulness.

Taken on its own terms, then, the book should make interesting and somewhat informative reading for the Christian layman. Neither the professional psychologist or the professional Bible scholar is going to learn much from it, and it is unlikely that the book will help resolve the really deep issues dividing contemporary psychology and Christianity. Some Christian readers may increase their toleration for and understanding of the viewpoint and efforts of most psychotherapists; this is probably the limit of what the book will achieve, but it is a worthwhile achievement.

Reviewed by Michael Mecherikoff, Dept. of Psychology, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Logotheraphy and the Christian Faith by Donald F. Tweedie, Jr.; Grand Rapids, Mich. 1961, 183 pp. $3.95

Logotherapy and the Christian Faith is, according to the author's own admission, "directed at no particular group of readers, but rather is a report of a personal inquiry. (Foreword)" Taken in this spirit one could hardly quarrel with the author since the book very definitely leaves such an impression. However, inasmuch as the author has seen fit to subtitle his work, "An Evaluation of Frankl's Existential Approach to Psychotherapy," we may feel justified in evaluating its worth on this score.

The preface of the book, written by Viktor Frankl himself, is strangely vague and reserved. Frankl commends Dr. Tweedie for, "the authenticity of his endeavor (Preface)" and describes him as, "an authority in his field of religious psychology and counseling (Preface)" but fails to comment at all on the quality, value, or contribution of the book.

To this reviewer, perhaps the greatest weakness of the book is the one for which the author himself provides such a nonchalant disclaimer. It does not, indeed, appear to have relevance for any particular readership. It is too abbreviated, incomplete, and jargon-laden to explain logotherapy to the layman and too simple, lacking in integration, critical analysis, or insight to be of much interest to the professional person already familiar with existential analysis.

While the book is not lacking in footnotes, there are many assertions for which documentation might have been very helpful, but which are confidently stated by the author seemingly as though they are well enough accepted to require no further comment. Such a statement, for example, occurs on page 11 where Tweedie simply states, "There is evidence to indicate that there has been no increase in incidence [of mental illness] in the last few years. . . ."

A further limitation of the book inheres in the fact that large sections of the work consist of poorly connected and unintegrated quotes from the original works of Frankl. Most of the quotes do not appear to be sufficiently clear or concise to make the points intended. A more skillful synthesis and integration of the material with fewer ill-fitting quotations might have materially improved the exposition.

Probably the best section of the book is the final chapter, "Logotherapy and the Christian Therapist," in which Tweedie rather skillfully elucidates the various aspects of compatability and agreement which exist between Christianity and existential therapy. However, some will find his judgement of all therapists who do not share his Bible-reading-and-prayer emphasis in therapy a little harsh when he says:

A biblical vocation of psychotherapy can be fulfilled only with the overall therapeutic goal for the patient as a "man of God, thoroughly furnished unto good works." Of course, there are many psychotherapists who are also Christians, and who would disagree with this point of view, but they cannot in the true sense of the word be called "Christian therapists." They are rather of that number among the Christian community whose occupation is both accidental and irrelevant to their professed personal faith. (p. 173)

All in all, while the book certainly fails as an exposition or evaluation of logotheraphy it does have limited usefulness as an example of one Christian's attempt to probe logotheraphy and find something useful for a Christian persepetive on psychotherapy. It also secondarily supplies the reader with a few anecdotal insights into the personality of Franld which were not readily available in other published writings about the theory.

Reviewed by C. Eugene Walker, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Westmont College, Santa Barbara

The Christian and the Couch by Donald F. Tweedie, Jr.; Baker Book House

While the author's first work (Logatherapy and the Christian Faith) was admittedly an account of a personal search, the present volume is intended as, "An Introduction to Christian Logotherapy." The cover states that this second work is a sequel to the first and will be of interest to "pastors, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and all those interested in the nature, preservation, and restoration of mental health." However, a brief examination of the book reveals that this volume, even more than the first, is a highly personal document describing the life, times, and thoughts of Dr. Donald F. Tweedie, psychotherapist.

But assuming that the reader is willing to follow Dr. Tweedie step by step through numerous conversations, luncheon dates, case histories, and acquaintances that he has sustained over the years, what else can the reader expect to discover for his effort?

Most of the first half of the book is occupied with an elementary, highly academic, and generally uninspiring discussion of the nature of man, defense mechanisms, and relatively traditional psychiatric nosology. However, on page 69 Tweedie drops his "bomb." He asserts here - and in various other places in the book -that emotional problems are basically spiritual problems and that true mental health is impossible for the non-Christian. True emotional health is seen as involving adjustment in three dimensions - self, environment, and God (of which the latter is definitely the most important). On the basis of this, Tweedie proceeds to outline a theory of psychopathology in which the only truly healthy individual is the "dynamic Christian." The second most healthy adjustment includes Christians, "who are ill adjusted in . . . horizontal relationships . . . [and whose] present life is a burden to them . . ." Between these two catagories and the two to follow there is a great "gulf analysis. fixed ... [and] this distance can only be traversed by a leap of faith and a mysterious boost of grace." The third most well adjusted group of individuals are the neurotics, psychotics, and persons generally diagnosed that as emotionally disturbed. The fourth catagory and definitely the "sickest" group, "consists of those individuals who are satisfied with themselves and enjoy adequate interpersonal contacts, but who are, in the words of the Scriptures, 'without God in the world.' (p. 70)" Thus, in this grotesque system, the average seemingly healthy individual is really worse off than the diagnosed neurotic or psychotic! Such a nonsensical confusion of Christian salvation with mental health is both inadequate and annoying to the serious student of the subject.

Even Tweedie seems uncomfortable with such a theory. He reflects:

As I reread the above paragraphs, I become painfully aware of two things. In the first place this bierarchial [sic] scale superfically [sic] glosses over some of the major difficulties in the diagnosis of mental illness and presents in static stages...what is essentially a continuum from good to ill mental health. Secondly, it seems to be a patent absurdity which is blind to the practical problems of mental health - a topsy-turvy situation in which the well are sick and the sick are almost  well. (p. 71)

Nevertheless, he says, the Christian "must swallow hard and stand firm. (p. 71)"

Tweedie goes on to develop a number of other ideas throughout the book which seem rather foreign to the present reviewer, including such things as admonitions to use Bible reading and prayer with virtually all counselers (whether Christian or not) since herein lies the only hope of help; and, the view that non-Christian psychotherapists really can't help their patients. However, he grants that God may choose to help some of them in spite of the nonChristian therapist. These discussions are sprinkled with references to the Holy Spirit as the "Great Psychologist" and as a "participant observer" in therapy - attributions of dubious theological and  psychological value, which will probably have the emotional effect, however, of making his book appealing to less sophisticated readers.

The latter part of the book is supposedly devoted to a discussion of the techniques of Christian logotherapy, but there are only a half-dozen paragraphs specifically related to logotherapy. What does appear is a summary of the first few chapter generally found in elementary texts on counseling, which are "Christianized" by quoting Bible verses and Christian authors.

 The case histories which are ostensibly given to illustrate bow the theory works in practice are so abbreviated and incomplete as to be of no help whatever and more often seem to stress the contribution of  hypnosis to psychotherapy than the value of existential analysis.

In the final chaper, Tweedie reiterates some of the crucial points made in the book and assures the reader
he really meant what he says. The final chapter was added because when these ideas were presented orally to audiences some people apparently had trouble believing what they heard.

It is the impression of this reviewer that Dr.Tweedie's book will offer little of value to the professional Christian practitioner of psychotherapy.

Reviewed by C. Eugene Walker, Assistant Professor of Psychology Westmont College, Santa Barbara