Science in Christian Perspective
Implications of Freudianism for American Social Work*
RAYMOND R. HERJE**
Professional social work has adopted Freudianism as the basic framework within which it attempts to understand and help people. The Freudian theory of man is a composite of naturalistic philosophy and empirical theorizing. Social work is confronted with problems when it incorporates either aspect of this composite. By adopting the naturalistic outlook, it comes into conflict with Conservative theology and other nonnaturalist philosophy. This problem is compounded by the fact that most social work is practiced under public auspices. The increasing criticism directed toward Freudian theory from within the scientific community has also provided anxiety to a profession so heavily rooted in this psychological tradition. Fundamental changes are needed.
With all due respect for the Law which created and preserves this great tradition, the recent decision can hardly be interpreted to imply that the Court was addressing itself to a new and threatening alliance between religion and the state. No, the American citizen need not be too concerned about religion's invading contemporary education. For, practically speaking, this threat has been removed-perhaps too far removed for the public good.
The threatening factor in public education is not the illegal alliance of religion with the state, but the bold and legal alliance of non-religious philosophy with the state. In fact, our public institutions of learning have become a privileged sanctuary for non-religious, and often anti-religious, philosophy!
Strangely enough, the laws which were designed to separate religion and the state have contributed rather directly to this situation. For while such laws effectively screened out "religious" philosophy from the doors of the state, they did not serve to screen a-religious and other sectarian philosophies from its abode-for such philosophies are not easily subsumed under the ordinary criterion of "religion." These other philosophies-naturalism, empiricism, pragmatism, positivism, humanism, etc.-which are just as sectarian and aggressive as religion, have been freely propagated throughout our public institutions of learning.
For lack of a better term, this unofficial Weltanschauung of contemporary public education may be termed scientific naturalism. Generally speaking, this philosophy forms the background into which the particular sciences have been integrally woven. Physics, biology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc.-all, in varying degrees, have been profoundly influenced by this philosophy. Social work provides no exception to this generality; in fact, it provides excellent illustrative material along this line.Social Work and the Freudian Composite
The understanding of human behavior as found in contemporary professional American social work is an integral composite of naturalistic philosophy and "science." The primary source of this composite, as it exists in contemporary social work, is the Freudian psychoanalytic tradition. The remaining parts of this essay will be devoted to an analysis of several of the philosophical implications of contemporary social work. The term "philosophical implications" is used in a broad sense to include the metaphysical, scientific and pragmatic implications. Inasmuch as contemporary professional social work education has chosen to prescribe a predominantly psychoanalytic orientation in terms of which it hopes to understand and help mankind, this essay will give special attention to the philosophical implications of this frame of reference. Before analyzing the Freudian composite, a brief elaboration concerning the relation of social work to psychoanalysis is in order.
No single term can be found which more accurately characterizes modern social work than Freudianism, Generally speaking, the Freudian psychoanalytic tradition (including neo-Freudianism) forms the basic viewpoint within which modern professional social work understands the humanity it serves. Statements and studies by social workers and others have amply substantiated this assertion.
As early as 1926 psychoanalysis had begun to make its impact on social work. In that year Dr. Marion Kenworthy addressed the National Conference of Social Welfare with a paper entitled "Psychoanalytic Concepts in Mental Hygiene." Dr. Kenworthy concluded her address by stating, "It is through the contribution of the psychoanalytic school to mental hygiene that the understanding of the root beginnings and processes of the neuroses, psychoses, criminal careers, and other problems of adjustment have been made" (14, p. 223).
In the Social Work Year Book (1941) Florence R. Day noted:
Social casework moved rapidly to identify itself with the psychiatric and psychoanalytic sciences, seeking what they had to offer in explaining psychological dynamics (9, p. 519).In 1950 Hertha Kraus stated:
The contribution of psychiatry and psychoanalysis to casework is too well known to call for a detailed statement. Its concepts have helped caseworkers increasingly to understand human behavior, to recognize its deeper meaning (16, pp. 139, 14o).In 1954 Arthur Miles wrote:
American casework theory and practice has been dominated by the principles of Freudian psychology . . . by 1940 deviation from it was looked upon by some as heresy
The psychoanalytic explanation of personality has ~een* the only explanation of personality that has had wide acceptance among social workers (20, p. 214).
In 1959 Ruth M . Butler, assisted by eighteen panel members from various schools of social work, undertook a content analysis of materials written between 1952 and 1956 concerning the social work human growth and behavior sequence. This analysis was done by a careful scrutiny of " . . . course outlines, examinations, assignments to students, and lists of required readings" (6, p. 11). Materials from thirty schools were examined. Among other things they found:
Freud's theory (with one school excepted) was used with such emphasis as to suggest that it constituted a theoretical base required for developing an understanding of human personality on which to base social work practice (6, p. 13).
A study completed in 1960 further illustrates the in fluence of Freud on social work. When 144 professional social workers were asked which of fourteen personality
*This is a revision and expansion of "The Implications of Freudianism" published in M;nnesota Welfare, Spring 1961. It grows out of the author's M.A. thesis at Oberlin College.
**Mr. Herje is a Probation Officer in the Department of Court Services, Hennepin County, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
theories influenced their clinical thinking the most, 133 cited Freud as the major influence upon their clinical thinking. It was interesting to note that social workers were significantly more Freudian than the psychiatrist and psychologists surveyed by the same study (8).In 1961 Selma Fraiberg wrote:
For nearly forty years psychoanalysis has been a major influence in the development of social work theory and practice and has supplied the basic psychology taught in the schools of social work. It has become so much a part of the fabric of social work theory that we cannot easily identify many elements of our theory that are not directly borrowed from psychoanalysis (12, p. 196).
Within the next ten years over twenty thousand professionally trained social workers will graduate from the sixty schools of social work in America. Most of these graduates will move into key positions in public and private welfare agencies. Since the principles, policies and practices of these agencies will be increasingly modified by the leadership of these professionals, it is imperative that a better understanding be gained of this profession to which has been entrusted the welfare operation of the public and private social agency.The Metaphysical Component of Freudianism
Freudian psychology is integrally interwoven with the scientific naturalistic Weltanschauung. What, then, is scientific naturalism? Scientific naturalism asserts there is only one kind of reality, totally describable in terms of spatial-temporal entities and their causal interrelation. Scientific naturalism denies that nature is derived from or dependent upon mindistic or supernatural entitiessince there are no such entities. Metaphysically speaking, scientific naturalism tends to be monistic, materialistic and deterministic. Epistemologically speaking, it limits itself to knowledge based on sense experience and, within this empiricist theory of knowledge, to the scientific aims of description, explanation and prediction. Axiologically speaking, it views values as either subjective or "objective" only in relation to cultural or subcultural mores.
Scientific naturalism can also be discussed in terms of its negations: metaphysically, it negates all dualisms and pluralisms; epistemologically, it negates the validity, or significance, of all theories of knowledge other than the empiricist theory; axiologically, it negates objectivism in values and morals.
Perhaps a restatement of these negations which are logically (in terms of thought) and psychologically (in terms of attitude) implicit in this philosophical movement will prove helpful. Scientific naturalism stands opposed to all forms of classical supernaturalism, all forms of metaphysical and epistemological idealism, mysticism, spiritualism, intuitionism, absolutism, mind-body dualisms, etc. It negates in terms of belief and attitude those views which are held by the majority of people in American society (26).
Freud's ingenious and comprehensive theory of personality was formulated within this scientific-naturalistichumanistic outlook. Insofar as it involved philosophical commitments, it was static and complete; insofar as it was a scientific theory, it was tentative and incomplete. From within this framework, Freudianism attempts to understand man in terms of his origin, drives, conflicts, illusions, etc.
Affirmatively, man is a creature who stands in continuity with, and who must be understood in terms of, his animal life. The influence of the biological theory of evolution on Freudianism is extensive. Many of the terms employed in psychoanalysis have been taken directly from the field of biology-"instincts," "organism," "adaptation," Sexual language such as "anal," "oral," "phallic," "genital," are stages in the "genetic" process. The structural terms, id, ego, superego, while relatively unbiological in flavor, are viewed as crystallizations of the basic libidinal stuff. Freud's theory of neurosis is biologically rooted in the Oedipal situation. All human behavior, from its most symbolic forms to its more simple forms, is directly or indirectly motivated by, and can be understood in terms of, the development of instinctual needs: hunger, thirst, self-preservation, sex. Of course such behavior includes: religious behavior, valuational behavior (ethics, aesthetics), political behavior, philosophical behavior, scientific behavior, and so on.
Negatively, any view of human behavior which is grounded in any other position than that of scientific naturalism is categorically negated. This negation would include, among others, the Hebrew-Christian view of man, the Idealistic view of man, and the Rationalist view of man.
One of the most serious implications of the Freudian tradition along these lines is the fact that this tradition has been particularly hostile to conservative religion (Jewish, Catholic, Protestant). The major Freudian analysts (Fenichel, Alexander, Brill, Hartmann, Reik, Klein, Frenkel-Brunswik, etc.) almost without exception have reduced religion to the status of illusion, understandable only in terms of the believers' unconscious needs. Religious systems are viewed as symbolic behavioral manifestations of unconscious motivation. The religious person thinks obsessively, acts compulsively, thinks magically. and regresses to infantile modes of thought (projects the father figure as the source of the universe). Theology becomes nothing but a pfojective system of the immature man.
It was this sort of thing that David C. McClellend had in mind when he stated, "In intellectual circles psychoanalysis stands in striking contrast to Christianity" (19, p. 5). Anti-religion stems, logically speaking, not from Freudian psychology per se, but from its intimate connection with the philosophy of scientific naturalism.The Conflict Between Social Work and Religion
Scientific naturalism is the basic philosophic position of contemporary social work. The primary source of this philosophic base as it appears in social work is Freudianism. Many social work leaders have been clearly aware of the philosophic implications of Freudianism and have spelled out this implication. In 1934 Phillip Klein noted some of these implications in an article entitled "Social Work":
Social casework represents both historically and analytically the introduction into social work of the scientific mode of thought and specific contributions of such disciplines as psychology, sociology, economics, biology and political sGence. Into the details of actual performance this new spirit brought a displacement of theological, religious and ethical principles, even though in the motivation of the sponsors, and to some extent the practitioners, much of religion and ethics still continue (15, p. 167).
Grace Marcus saw that the Freudian view of man represented an alternative to the traditional view of man:
The reverberations of a scientific orientation so alien to all the speculative systems by which man had attempted to account for his nature and his fate have been far-reaching . . . it involved a deep assimilation of the meaning of the unconscious motives and thoughts, a willingness to relinquish time-honored, essential prejudices about human nature and life (18, P. 129).
In 1941 Robert Waelder envisioned the social worker, with his psychoanalytic viewpoint, as taking the place once occupied by the priest with his theological viewpoint (33, pp. 23-25). Alan Keith-Lucas referred to the philosophical outlook in social work as an example of Humanist-Positivist-Utopian thinking (13). In 1952 Herbert Bisno stated that social work had substituted the ". . . scientific approach for that of the theological and/or magical approach" (3, p. 92). Mr. Bisno documented at length the Scientific-Naturalistic base of social work and further perceptively indicated that this philosophic base was the source of the existing conflict between social work and conservative religious thinking (both Protestant and Catholic). Frank Bruno, the social work historian, also depicted the philosophic base of social work as being naturalistic in character (5, p. 24).
The implication of the contemporary philosophic base of social work has not passed unnoticed by religionists. In 1937 the Rev. Edward S. Pouthier, S. J., stated:
Undoubtedly what may be broadly termed "materialism" and "agnosticism" has today a fairly strong hold on an appreciable section of social casework thought. Its aims and its media, its objectives and plans of treatment are to a large extent purely materialist (23, p. 56).In 1949 Frank L. Weil wrote:
The alienation of church and social work may be attributed in large measure to the fact that training for social work in the established schools of social work, other than those under church auspices, is tied to those social sciences that claim little connection with religious philosophy (34, p. 126).
In 1956 Felix Beisek, S. J., commented that professional (secular) social work ". . . has adamantly shunned religion as a source of knowledge and values. Our profession seems to have a phobia for entering into any kind of positive relationship with religion . . . " (2, p. 86). He continued: ". . . at the present time the theories of Sigmund Freud and Otto Rank are dominant. Neither of these includes man's religious needs or his relationship to God among the totality of influence" (2, p. 89).
Protestants have also commented on social work's entrenchment in naturalism. The increasing concern in this area on the part of Protestants is clearly reflected in a three-volume study of this problem published by the National Council of Churches in 1955:
The controlling ideas in social welfare are more subtle than dollars, and thus more difficult to appraise. Yet these ideas have a Christian and church-related derivation. It is even possible to describe these ideas as a truncated theology for in themselves they are incomplete. During the present century these ideas-about man, society, government, and the like--have become increasingly estranged from the Christian origins of this civilization. With due regards for the signs that these origins are once again being recognized and used, the guiding ideas of social welfare today are predominantly humanistic. It is therefore necessary to see the disparity between this secular understanding of the basis and motivation of social welfare, and a Christian understanding . . . (1, pp. 118, 119).The discussion continues in Volume 11:
In the last few decades the churches-which after all preceded by centuries the profession (social work) in the rendering of social services and in the laying down of ideological basis for social welfare-have seen this field newly defined in almost completely secular (non-church) terms with its own area of operation, a set of theoretical beliefs and a method of training (7, p. 44).
The implication of all this is rather startling, indeed, frightening. Here is a profession which has been given wholesale endorsement in public and private agencies embracing a philosophico-metaphysical outlook which categorically negates the views held by most of the people it serves! Although this philosophy at present is not yet brandished by the rank and file professional, should it be tolerated in its present latent form? If a prayer was voiced in a school of social work, the law of the land could be invoked. When conservative religion is dismissed as a myth, there is no law to invoke.The "Scientific" Component of Freudianism Scrutinized
Freudian psychology is composed of at least five distinguishable components: (1) a theory of personality, (2) a method of investigation, (3) a therapeutic system, (4) a body of evidence; that is, evidence which bears on the confirmation or disconfirmation of the theoretical and practical claims, and (5) a philosophico-metaphysical base in which the forementioned elements are grounded. Having elaborated upon the philosophical implications of Freudianism, the task remains to briefly comment on the remaining components of psychoanalysis.
Anyone familiar with the recent literature concerning psychoanalysis is aware of the growing criticism directed toward the Freudian tradition. Criticism directed toward this tradition is nothing new; however, the source, types and content of the current criticism are quite new and must be taken seriously.
Inasmuch as the theoretical foundation of contemporary professional social work is heavily weighted by an almost exclusively Freudian viewpoint, it would seem reasonable to argue that any douht which might arise concerning the validity and-or usefulness of this psychoanalytic tradition would likewise raise doubt concerning the validity and-or usefulness of the social work profession whose theoretical foundations are predicated on this tradition-and consequently any state institution dominated by this profession.
The purpose of this discussion will be to suggest briefly some of the types, sources and content of this "new criticism," as well as some implications of it. The discussion will be structured in the following manner: (1) First, the components, theory of personality and methodology will be considered jointly. The sources of criticism in terms of which these components will be considered are the source of philosophy of science and the source of scientific psychology. The types of considerations are: logical considerations and empirical considerations. (2) The second part will focus upon psychotherapy. The source of criticism here is that of scientific psychology, and the type of consideration is empirical.
Certain critical considerations concerning the psychoanalytic method and theory of personality become clear only when one places the Freudian tradition in juxtaposition to certain developments in scientific thought. Three basic objections have been raised concerning the scientific status of Freudian theory and method: the first is that the theory is so formulated as to be by its very nature irrefutable; the second concerns the inadequate methods used for establishing the data upon which the theory is based; the third objection is focused on Freud's metapsychology, the speculative conceptions of which are either beyond the range of scientific confirmation or inconsistent with the well-established results of other sciences. Some of these objections are the result of purely logical considerations in scientific thinking, others result from strictly empirical considerations. An understanding of this latter distinction is fundamental.
A statement by Wesley Salmon may serve as useful for clarifying the distinction between philosophical and empirical considerations in scientific thinking:
The distinction between considerations which are in a broad sense logical and those which are empirical is a fundamental one for the philosophy of science; indeed, this distinction constitutes the basis for differentiating philosophy from the empirical sciences. It is the business of the philosophy of science to investigate and explicate the logical criteria a scientific theory must satisfy and, in cooperation with the empirical scientist, to determine whether a particular theory does satisfy them. If it satisfies the logical criteria, it must still pass the test of empirical confirmation. The logical criteria are within the domain of philosophy, but the actual empirical confirmation is not. The collection, evaluation, and interpretation of the evidence is strictly the business of the empirical scientist (28, p. 252).
Having this distinction clearly in mind the next step will be to consider some of the formal requirements of theory-construction. Arthur Pap stated:
It is a truism of scientific methodology that a theory cannot serve as an explanation of observable phenomena unless it is empirically testable, and that it is not empirically testable unless its abstract vocabulary is, directly or indirectly, completely or partially, interpreted in terms of testables (22, p. 283).
This simple truism has proved a stumbling block to much of psychoanalytic theory. Without doubt, the most severe criticism concerning the scientific component of psychoanalysis is that in its classical formulation the psychoanalytic theory of personality cannot even be considered as a scientific theory. This weakness of classical Freudian theory was suggested by Michael Scriven, noted psychological theorist, when he stated that psychoanalysis ". . . is in fact the most sophisticated form of metaphysics ever to enjoy support as a scienti-fic theory" (30, p. 227).
Ernest Nagel, an eminent scholar of the logic of science, and John Dewey, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia university, gave similar expression to such representative dissatisfaction with the more ttheoretical aspects of psychoanalysis. Nagel stated:
. . . the theory (psychoanalytic) does not seem to me to, satisfy two requirements which any theory must satisfy if it is to. be capable of empirical validation ... it must be possible to deduce determinate consequences from the assumptions of theory, so that one can decide on the basis of logical considerations, and prior to examination of any empirical data, whether or not an alleged consequence of the theory is indeed implied by the latter. For unless this requirement is fulfilled, the theory has no definite content . . . (furthermore) at least some theoretical notions must be tied down to fairly definite and unambiguously specific observable materials, by way of rules of procedure . . . for if this condition is not satisfied, the theofy~ can have no determinate consequences about empirical subject matter . . . In respect to both these requirements, however, Freudian theory in particular, seem to me to suffer from serious shortcomings (24, pp. 39, 40).
Without continuing an extended discourse on method, a number of general statements by various eminent authorities in the philosophy of science and psychology concerning the scientific status of Freudian psychoanalytic theory and method may better serve to assist the uninitiated and indoctrinated to the flavor of current thinking concerning this tradition.
In 1941 R. R. Sears of Harvard was commissioned by the Social Science Research Council to prepare a report concerning the evidence for psychoanalysis. In 1943 he published his report, A Survey of Objective Studies of Psychoanalysis, The survey evaluated no less than 166 articles dealing with various efforts to empirically verify Freudian theory. Sears found the evidence inconclusive and said perhaps a dozen other theones would provide as good or better explanations . . . " (31).In 1950 E. G. Boring of Harvard wrote:
We can say without any lack of appreciation for what has been accomplished, that psychoanalysis has been prescientific. It has lacked experiments, having developed no technique for control. In the refinement of description without control, it is impossible to distinguish semantic specification from empirical fact (4, p. 173).
In a similar vein, H. J. Eysenck, professor of psychology at the University of London, declared in 1953:
The answer to the question which forms the title of this chapter-What is wrong with psychoanalysis ?-is simple: Psychoanalysis is unscientific. It is only by bringing to bear the traditional methods of scientific inference and experimentation, that we can hope to reap all the benefits of its founder's genius (10, p. 241).Criticizing methodological procedures, B. F. Skinner remarked in 1956: "Freud's methodological strategy has prevented the incorporation of psychoanalysis into the body of science proper" (32, p. 86).
David Rapaport, one of the staunchest and most sophisticated supporters of psychoanalysis, would seem to concur with respect to the dearth of significant evidence for Freudian psychoanalytic theory. In 1958 Rapaport said:The extensive experimental evidence for the system (psychoanalysis), which would seem to confirm it in terms of the usual criteria of psychological experiments, cannot be considered conclusive in terms of the psychoanalytic theory, since most of the experiments disregard the theory's definitions. The extensive clinical evidence, which would seem conclusive in terms of the system's internal consistency, fails to be conclusive in terms of the usual criteria of science~, because there is no established canon for the interpretation of the clinical observations. Thus only a few observations and experiments (themselves in need of reduplication) offer evidence acceptable both in terms of the theory and in terms of psychology at large (25, P. 143, italics added).
Many of the above statements concerning the evidence (lack of evidence) for Freudian theory have been occasioned by the experimental research on psychoanalytic theory by men such as Dollard and Miller, Mowrer, Piaget, R. R. Sears, and others.
Michael Scriven considered it a "disgrace" to the Freudian tradition that in view of its 50-year history it is still no more than a set of unverified hypotheses. He further stated that there is an "absolute moral obligation" on the part of psychoanalysis to subject its theory and practice to crucial experiment" . . . before encouraging and condoning the further practice of psychoanalysis" (30, p. 226).
Admitting the problem of selection in gathering the above criticisms, the fact remains that a significant group of distinguished psychological theorists are in basic agreement that Freudian theory, at best, is in a prenatal stage with respect to the canons of modern science.
Contemporary criticism has not stopped with a scrutiny of theoretical and methodological aspects of psychoanalysis. In recent years the scientific eye has turned toward an examination of the general field of psychotherapy. The findings have taken a lot of wind from the spinnaker of psychoanalytic therapeutics in its various forms. Indeed, the findings have sent more than one analyst to seek the "favorable" winds of the ZenBuddhist and Existentialist positions.
The empirical status of psychotherapy has been the subject of large numbers of psychological studies during the past decade. This confrontation with fact has not been conducive to a rosy optimism concerning the immediate possibilities of psychotherapy. The fact of the matter is that the first approximations toward the laborious task of building the empirical foundations of psychotherapy have resulted in a sort of disillusioning process to a number of practitioners. The cause of this "therapeutic pessimism" seems to stem mainly from the earlier wishful thinking, and almost magical notions, about the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Such notions still remain intact among the ranks of professional social workers who have only recently hung out their shingle.
As a prescription for the current disease termed therapeutic pessimism one writer suggests that outcome studies be de-emphasized because they " . . . do not explain anything and threaten practitioners because they lead to the conclusion that therapy is ineffective" (27, p. 400). But perhaps such a prescription is inappropriate, considering the nature and extent of the problem.
In 1958 Dr. Bertram Schaffner delivered a presidential address before the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Society. In this address, Dr. Schaffner gave an extended analysis of what he aptly termed "therapeutic pessimism." He discussed the problem in terms of both its causes and results. An extended quotation from this address will clearly convey a mood characteristic of many therapists today.
. . . there are many analysts today deeply affected by what I would call . . . a kind of therapeutic pessimism.
I suppose that by therapeutic pessimism I really mean a group of feelings possessed by an analyst, feelings of uncertainty about psychological theory, uncertainty about psychological illness, about human nature, about human health, uncertainty about therapeutic goals, even uncertainty about what one has the right to call therapeutic success.
It is my observation that gnawing feelings of therapeutic unclarity and inadequacy and helplessness have been quite prevalent. (29, p. 339).
Among the suggested causes of therapeutic pessimism, Dr. Schaffner cited:
They (the psychoanalytic pessimists) have profoundly missed a sense of definition, of precision, of process, such as they feel is available in other sciences . . . it (psychoanalysis) does not seem to be "true to life," that in some ways it fits and in others it does not, that the theory seems to satisfy but in application it somehow lacks psychological realism.
A large measure of insecurity and dissatisfaction among today's psychoanalysts may be traced to too heavy a dose of psychoanalytic ambition, not enough emphasis on the natural difficulties in producing psychiatric change, and not enough solid foundation in the study of human nature and psychology. (29, p. 340).Concerning therapy he emphasized:
. . . too much has been promised too soon . . . most of us are trying to accomplish more therapeutically than we as a profession are really able to do (29, p. 345).
This disillusionment with psychoanalysis is poignantly illustrated by 0. Hobart Mowrer, noted learning theorist and former president of the American Psychological Association:
Psychologists were, as we know, among the first of the outlying professional groups to "take up" psychoanalysis. By being analyzed we not only learned in an intimate personal way about this new and revolutionary science; we also (or so we imagined) were qualifying ourselves for the practice of analysis as a form of therapy. Now we are beginning to see how illusory this all was. We accepted psychoanalytic theory long before it had adequately been tested and thus embraced as a "science" a set of presup ositions which we are now painfully having to repulate.
Despite some pretentious affirmations to the contrary, the fact is that psychoanalysis, on which modern dynamic psychiatry is based, is in a state of virtual collapse and imminent demise (21, p. 302).
As an alternative to what he felt to be a dead-end,
Mowrer suggested a move to agnosticism and a concentration on research, or perhaps an examination of the
existential emphasis in terms of fruitfulness.
In 1959 the noted psychoanalyst, Dr. Kubie, of Harvard stated:
I want to state unequivocally my regret that from the very outset psychoanalysis became a therapeutic instrument, instead of having had the benefit of starting out as an instrument for, and as an object of, basic research in the technique of microscopic psychological investigation, unbiased by therapeutic needs, demands, and urgencies (17, p. 58).
The vitriolic criticism of certain contemporaries concerning psychotherapy is not predicated on the assumption that a science must begin at maturity but rather that the claims of a science must be consistent with the body of evidence upon which it rests. And there is the further implication that the path to scientific maturity is through research.
Two types of outcome studies which have tempered the earlier exorbitant claims of the effectiveness of psychotherapy are: (1) studies comparing the therapeutic effectiveness of various systems of psychotherapy on the same types of problems or patients; (2) studies comparing the results of psychotherapy with a control group receiving no therapy. Concerning the first type, Lewis R. Wolberg stated:
. . . published statistical data, tabulating percentages of cure and improvement and failure, reveal that the results obtained by the various methods of treatment are strik_ ingly similar. Indeed, people seem to be benefited by a, 11 kinds of therapy, by those that have a scientific stamp.of. approval as well as those on the fringe of quackery (35, p. 58).
The several social work studies comparing the therapeutic effectiveness of professionals and non-professionals have resulted in essentially negative findings.
Exemplifying the second type, outcome-evaluation studies by men such as Landis, Denker, Teuber and Powers, R. G. Walker, and E. E. Kelly have proved embarrassing to those who make great claims in the name of therapeutics. Perhaps the most famous of this latter type of outcome study was made by H. J. Eysenck. The Eysenck study, published in 1952, took the percentagerecovery rate of the Landis and Denker studies, i.e., the percentage-recovery rate of neurotics receiving mainly custodial care of the general practitioner, and compared these results with the percentage-recovery rates claimed by psychotherapists (using psychoanalytic and eclectic types of therapy). Using 7,000 cases, Eysenck summarized his study with this revealing statement:
A survey was made of the reports of neurotic patients after psycho-therapy, and the results compared with the best available estimates of recovery without the benefit of such therapy. The figures fail to support the hypothesis that psychotherapy facilitates the recovery of neurotic patients (11, p. 323).
It is in part the findings of these types of studies that shed light on many of the authoritive statements on psychotherapy which appear in the annual publication entitled, Progress in Psychotherapy. For example, Gregory Zilborg stated in 1956:
Psychotherapy is in a state of disarray, almost exactly as it was two-hundred years ago. The difference between two-hundred years ago and today seems to be merely this: Two-hundred years ago we did a lot of things without knowing what we were doing, today we do things and keep screaming from the housetops that each of us knows exactly what he is doing, and that the other does not (36, p. 108).
Admitting the problem of selection of sources involved in a study of this kind, it must nevertheless be admitted that a distinguished group of authorities on psychotherapy would agree that the empirical foundations of psychotherapy are only in the earliest stages of development.
It was argued above that inasmuch as the foundation of contemporary professional social work is weighted by an almost exclusively Freudian viewpoint, any doubt arising about the validity and/or usefulness of this tradition likewise raises doubts concerning the validity and-or usefulness of any profession to the degree its theoretical and practical foundations were predicated on this tradition. It was demonstrated that current scientific analysis of Freudian theory and method indicate that psychoanalysis, at best, offers a questionable methodology and a set of wholly unverified hypotheses. The most severe criticism stated is that, in view of its present formulation, it cannot even be considered as scientific theory. The facts related to the effectiveness of psychotherapy do not indicate that any one theory or technique is superior to any other; serious question has been raised as to whether psychotherapy is effective at all.
Thus it appears, in view of scientific principles of justification, that the theoretical and practical foundations of contemporary professional social work are, at best~ scientifically speaking, of low empirical value.
The Weltanschauung of contemporary public education was asserted to be that of scientific naturalism. It was demonstrated that the contemporary framework of professional social work shares this Weltanschauung. The theoretical and practical claims of Freudianized social work evidences need for some revision. Social work urgently needs a working distinction between the philosophy and psychology of the Freudian tradition; it is perhaps too far out on the Freudian limb now. There is great need for open-mindedness, humility and research in the area of human behavior. And, finally, perhaps it is time that the general public concern itself with legislation directed toward separation of the state from non-religious philosophy~for social work is not unique in its relation to the scientific naturalistic Weltanschauung of public education (cf. 37 for an example).
1. Bachman, T. E., Barnes, R. P., eds., The Churches and Social Welfare, Vol. I: The Activating Concern, National Council of Churches, 1955.2. Beisek, Felix, S. J., "Religion and Social Casework," Social Welfare Forum, 1956.
6. Butler, Ruth M.,
Social Worh Curriculum Study, Vol.
VI, N.Y., Council on Social Work Education, 1959.
7. Cayton, H. R., and Nishi, S. M., eds., The Churches and Social Welfare, Vol. II: The Changing Scene, N. Y., National Council of Churches, 1955.
8. Chance, Erika, et al., "The Effect of Professional Training, Experience and Preference for a Theoretical System upon a Clinical Class Description," Unpublished Study, 1959.
9. Day, Florence R., "Social Casework," Social Work Year Book, N. Y., National Association of Social Workers, 1941.
10. Eysenck, H. J., Uses and Abuses of Psychology, Baltimore, Penguin Books, 1953.
11____, "The Effects of Psychotherapy: An Evaluation," J. of Consulting Psychologists, XVI, 5 (Oct. 1952).
12. Fraiberg, Selma, "Psychoanalysis and the Education of Caseworkers," Smith College Studies in Casework, XXXI, 3 (June, 1961).
13. Keith-Lucas, Alan, Decision About People in Need, Chapel Hill, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1957.
14. KenworthV, M. E., "Psychoanalytic Concepts in Mental Hygiene," The Family, VII, 7 (1926).
15. Klein, Phillip, "Social Work," Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, N. Y., Macmillan, 1934.
16. Kraus, Hertha, "The Role of Casework in American Social Work," Principles and Techniques in Social Casework, Selected Articles 1940-1950, N. Y., Family Service Association, 1950.
17. Kubie, L. S., "PsVchoanalysis and Scientific Method," in Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method and Philosophy, ed. by S. Hook, N.Y., New York Univ. Press, 1959.
18. Marcus, Grace, "Social Casework," Social Work Year Book, N.Y., National Association of Social Workers, 1935.
19. McClellend, David C., Psychoanalysis and Religious Mysticism, Pendel Hill, 1959.
20. Miles, Arthur P., American Social Work Theory, N. Y., Harper, 1954.
21. Mowref, H. 0., "Sin, the Lesser of Two Evils," Amer. Psychologist, XV, 5 (May, 1960).
22. Pap, Arthur, "On the Empirical Interpretation of Psychoanalytic Concepts," in Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method and Philosophy, ed. by S. Hook, N. Y., New York Univ. Press, 1959.
23. Pouthief, Edward S., S. J., "The Philosophy of Catholic Social Work," in Proceedings of the National Conference of Catholic Charities, Washington, D. C.: National Conference of Catholic Charities, 1937.
24. Nagel, Ernest "Methodological Issues in Psychoanalytic Theory," in ~sychoanalysis, Scientific Method and Philosophy, ed. by S. Hook, N. Y., New York Univ. Press, 1959.
26. Riepe, Dale "What Is a Scientific Naturalist at Mid-Century?" J. of Philosophy,
XV, 17 (Aug. 1958).
27. Riess, Bernard, "The Challenge of Research for Psychotherapy," Amer. 1. of Psychotherapy, XIV, 2 (April, 1960).
28. Salmon, Wesley C., "Psychoanalytic Theory and Evidence," in Ps
ychoanalysis, Scientific Method and Philosophy,
ed. by S. Hook, N. Y., New
29. Schaffner, B., "Thoughts About Therapy Today," Mental
Hygiene, XXXXIII, 3 (July, 1959).
30. Scriven, Michael, "The Experimental Investigation of Psychoanalysis," in Psychoanalysis Scientific Method and Philosophy, ed. by S. Hook, N.Y., New York Univ. Press, 1959.
31. Sears, R. R., Survey of Objective Studies of Psychoanalytic Concepts, N. Y., Social Science Research Council, Bul. No. 51, 1943.
32. Skinner, B. F., "Critique of Psychoanalytic Concepts and Theories," Foundations of Science and the Concepts of Psychology and Psychoanalysis, Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1956.
33. Waeldef, Robert, "The Scientific Approach to Casework with Special Emphasis on Psychoanalysis," Principles and Techniques in Social Casework, Selected Articles 19401950, N. Y., National Conference of Social Welfare, 1949.
34. Weil, Frank L., "Cooperation of Church and Social Work," Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work, N. Y., National Conference on Social Welfare, 1949.35. Wolberg, L. R., The Technique of Psychotherapy, N. Y., Grune and Stratton, 1954.
36. Zilborg, Gregory, "Rediscovery of the Patient: An Historical Note," Progress in Psychotherapy, Vol. 1. N. Y., Grune & Stratton, 1956.
37.Meehl, Paul, "'Philosophical Presuppositions of Psychologists," in What, Then, Is Man?, St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1958.