Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor


Robert A. James

Mr. Herje's article contains some very provocative and debatable issues. He is to be commended for his painstaking efforts in amassing the great amount of research his article contains. However, I wonder if some of the material, particularly the quotes by those using psychoanalytic theory in their practice, might be understood somewhat differently in their full context. I have the impression social work is set up as a strawman and then demolished by the use of various authorities of differing viewpoints.

. . . the author had a limited view of what social work is and what bodies of knowledge are drawn on by the profession. Psychoanalysis is foundational in the profession's understanding of human psychodynamics; however, sociology, anthropology, and physiology also serve as sources for social work's understanding of man.

The most serious question I would raise is this: If social work no longer relies upon psychoanalysis for a major part of its understanding of man, with what shall we replace it? The author not only finds fault with this theory as a basis for therapy but also would dismiss any form of psychotherapy as therapeutically helpful. He does this on the basis of psychological research which itself is still on a primitive level of sophistication and validity. The author does not state clearly what he conceives the goals of therapy to be. The lack of positive and constructive suggestions is a weakness of the article and leaves the reader wondering how the author practices social work himself. What we have presently is not the best, but it is better than nothing . . 

Finally, I sense a certain amount of fear in the article. The fear seems to be that when we accept parts of a theory we are also obliged to accept the theoretician's own philosophy of life as well, including his views of God, the Church, and Man. This, I believe, is an unfounded fear that only indicates our own sense of insecurity as Christians. What we need is a synthesis of that which is helpful in understanding human dynamics, so that we can treat emotional sickness, and our own personal Christ-centered philosophy of life. As one who has degrees in both social work and theology, I see this as my goal.

Dept. of Neighborhood Clubs Boston Childrens' Service Assn.