Science in Christian Perspective




From: JASA 18 (December 1966): 127-129.

Deep in the core of the beginnings one demands an-other and of the opposite significance. Even when there is enough energy available to create one particle it may not be formed. Only when the energy is enough to make two particles will one surely be formed and then as one of an electron-positron pair, two particles of opposite charge, one negative and one positive.

There is a restriction to pairs under the restriction of charge conservation. Could we suppose on the basis of this and other symmetries in nature, that symmetry is a law of the universe and that it extends into human existence. Surely we do have the symmetry of growth and decay, life and death, and maleness and femaleness. Do we have the symmetry of right and wrong, good and evil, the acceptable and the unacceptable, the loved and the unloved, the helpful and the helpless, the infinite and the finite. In the purusal of this question may we search out the possible discovery of bow and why the psychotherapeutic process cures.

May I postulate that in all of human existence other-oneness is the single most significant issue. No one person, not one, has any problems with himself alone. Always and only his problems are to establish relationships with another. Of all creatures man is the most responsive and the most sensitive. To the greatest number and variety of stimuli he owns the greatest repertoire of reactions. Mainly though, his stimuli are others and his responses are to them. There are few feelings and emotions and attitudes, sick or well, that are anything but the expressions of interactions between persons.

Whenever and wherever two or more people get together they establish relationships by means of messages; words, facial expressions, gestures, bodily movements, postures, sounds, silences and so on. Whatever one does and does not do, he will define a relationship He cannot avoid defining or taking control of the definition of his relationship with another. By behaving in a helpless manner as well as by behaving authoritatively, he controls his other one. All behavior, including symptomatic, is not only a way one deals with another, but it is also part of an arrangement worked out in implicit collaboration with another one. At least two people, the patient and another one of some significance, must both make a contribution to the establishment of a symptom and each has needs satisfied by it. Parents teach and children learn mental illness. Parents need a sick child and the child reciprocates with his troubles. Man is only a representation of his universe, the most essential ingredient of which is his other one. Man is a homeostat that responds to his environment with a built-in indeteminancy, Self-realization means really other-realization. There are no inside-problems, only between-problems. Existence is irrevocably coexistence. One groans for understanding and recognition from another. One is restless and without peace until he lives in another. As long as one lives he never entirely despairs of the final fulfillment of his need of the unconditional love of another.

All mental illness is some form or degree of placement of an individual under taboo. Some form or degree of absorption in his very puny self makes man

Lee Edward Travis is Dean and Professor, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. Presented at the 21st annual meeting of The American Scientific Affiliation at North Park College, Chicago, August 1966.

  ill. A symptom is an advertisement of the patient's sinful exile. Some form or degree of autism flowers lethal despair, epitome of the insignificant life. All significance in living is rela tional and some form of death will follow its reduction or destruction.

My problem is people. I want them to love me and to stay with me. Sometimes, either they attack me or leave me or both, in that order. Well do I know that I have a share in people's reactions to me, that I invite or licit their love and companionship, and provoke attack or rejection of me. When people love me and abide with me I see that we have established compli mentary relationships. We share ideas and feelings; one gives and the other receives, one teaches and the other learns, one advises and the other follows. We take turns in our roles of mutually helpful people. When I am assaulted or rejected I see that we have established, symmetrical relationships. We behave in a com petitive way, we match forces. The match may end in a draw, or one or the other of us may lose. Always we strive for control, one over the other. Only in a com petitive relationship can illness develop. Probably from the beginning of time people have sensed that all troubles are mutual and that each one is involved directly in the problems of every other one. For me to be well everybody else has to be well and I will be forever concerned that others are well. Mainly I sense my one's illness in his aloneness. The world now has two centers, his and mine; two seeing points, his view and my view. Always this will be basically true, but as though in triangulation we will need to submit depth instead of separateness to our living. Seeing living from two separate modes we will need to contribute perspective to our otherwise separatistic existence.  

The naturally basic condition for the appearance of emotional disturbances is to have two people exist in 
the same place at the same time. In order to avoid nature's course of being able to see the world on ly through his own eyes, each person will need to counter act his natural aloneness and establish his otheroneness. He must learn that nothing is precious save what is he in another and what is another in him. He must learn that he exists only by virtue of another one and can see himself only in another. Every single response of his living must be communication with another per son. Individual being is meaningless. Yet he suffers  in the paradox of his living. In his sovereign inde pendence he must live and love another as himself. In his singularity he must blend into all else or suffer some form of ostracism and hence illness. Each per son is everybody's chore. To insure one there are always two. Self-actualization is meaningful only in its 
evaluation by others, only in comparison. One can never be left alone for another will always be inside him. He can no more escape another than be can escape himself because they are inextricably bound together in his living. In a sense there is neither an intropyschic nor an interpsycbic world but an ever present contiguity of the two worlds in every person. Personhood is peoplehood, the person in relation to another. And reduced to essential significance, rela tions with another one are either good or bad, and bad ones are symptomatic, offering in a crucial aspect an advantage to the patient in gaining control of what is to happen in a relationship with someone else. At its core, evil is destructive, as is every attempt at control of another, as is every symptom. In symmetrical oppo sition to evil or bad is good, a biologically based inner core; weak, subtle and delicate, speaking softly but their persistently of love and life forever. And when one becomes mentally ill others intuitively sense that the trouble is interpersonal and that the communion of fellowship needs to be mended. Usually a ritual is sought and in our day it is called  psychotherapy.

  In our culture a patient must be one who is miser able, unhappy, dissatisfied, and anxious; who is judged by others as exhibiting abnormal or inappropriate behavior; who believes he can be helped by psychother apy and seeks it; one whose trouble is functional or learned; and who can talk. By implication certainly, the patient goes to the therapist precisely because he alone cannot modify sufficiently his own symptomatic behavior By accepting the patient for treatment, the therapist implicitly agrees that outside intervention is essential and that he can offer successful interruption of the patient's sickly behavior. At least in America learn ing theory pervades our thinking about both the acqui sition and the elimination of symptoms. The view of why and how learning and unlearning occur is not always a clear one. Especially is this true in the big area of human problems and their management.  All that enjoys a relatively universal approval by psycho therapists is the thought that whatever is acquired through  living can be eliminated or changed through living, and that psychotherapy can be the kind of living to affect helpful changes in the patient's life. Caution would remind us all of the possibility of irreversible since they can occur only in a certain developmental period which has long since passed and which cannot ever again be re-instituted.

In psychotherapeutic living the therapist elicits the patient's behavior that is to be modified. He may get the sickly responses directly or he may need to pro duce changes in those responses that are keeping the sickly ones covered. Some therapists have the patient engage in free association; others conduct inquiries to provoke the sickly responses and still others empha size an effective therapist-patient relationship as the essential requirement for eliciting bad behavior. When he knows the symptomatic behavior of his patient - thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, acts - then he must eliminate or modify it. How will he do this? This phase of the psychotherapeutic living is the most im precise. A feeling of certainty is growing that to know intellectually the meaning of symptomatic behavior by  both the therapist and the patient is not sufficient to eliminate the symptom. And also evidence is climbing that there need not be a transfer of change in the therapy sessions to the outside world. Always behavior will be a function of the total situation in which it is to occur and the therapeutic living generally will not be encountered outside of therapy.

As we have said, mental illness is brought about by society placing the prospective patient under taboo. His subsequent illness is the fear of his other ones, the fear even of his thoughts and feelings and talk of his other ones. Therapists have proposed that if a patient talks and talks to his benign listener about his thoughts and feelings and memories which always lead to fear, an extinction of the fear will occur. Most of these therapists however, are silent on how this process works. Wolpe proposes that the therapist's extended pattern of empathetic behavior elicits patient responses which are antagonistic to the fear responses and thus prevent their occurence. Rogers argues that under the influence of the therapist's unconditional love the patient will alter his own symptomatic behavior.

Today the therapist generally talks back. He comments, questions, directs the patient's attention, selects areas for discussion, and even passes judgment. But what works and how? Is all behavior controlled by attention and thoughts? Do changes in attention and thought developed within therapy result in changes in behavior both within and without therapy?

In all forms of psychotherapy the patient has been the main focus of interest and study. His history, his diagnosis, his symptoms, his treatment, his cure, all attest to our patient-centered philosophy. Possibly rated second in emphasis has been treatment procedures. Free association, interpretation, instruction, inquiry, and operant conditioning, all are techniques popular in our thinking about what to do with a patient. Are we now realizing that the therapist is the center of the psychotherapeutical process? Do we not really have a therapist-centered therapy instead of a client-centered relationship? No matter about the patient, neurotic or psychotic, or about the techniques, psychoanalysis or operant conditioning; the only matter is the therapist. By his techniques he is not discovering only, or even mainly, but being discovered by the patient. In the therapist's probing be is being probed. By what he says and does and bears and sees be is being found out by his would-be object of study. It is not only important, possibly it is not too important, that the therapist knows his patient. But it is very important that the patient know his therapist. The patient ventures forth into the therapist further and further, shedding as he goes his binding restricting hide to expose sensitive and tender tissues for the gathering of the meaning of being-together. He dares to exchange living; telling and being told, loving and being loved, scolding and being lovingly scolded back. He probes and pries and peeks into the therapist. By every word and look and posture, and by what he does not say or note, the therapist reveals himself for his patient's acceptance or rejection. To the degree that the therapist is not discovered by the patient, to that same degree nothing significant happens in therapy. The patient's only hope is to find an open, discoverable, and absolutely trustworthy therapist. The therapist must be one who can risk complete discovery by another. All a therapist can ever do for his patients is to give them a life, his own, worthy of emulation and adoption. With them he lives mutually-shared private experiences. In the therapist the patient must find one who always takes a very considerable responsibility for himself, that regardless of all mistreatment and limitations placed upon him in the past and in the present he finds some degree of choice remaining open to him, that he attends closely to the raw data of his senses and to his values, that he can make decisions that lead to choices and commitments, that he has enough confidence in his own identity to risk it in new and significant relationships with others and that he experiences deeply his own existence. And with this person, his therapist, he the patient must have his very being. He must become a part of the therapist's way of living during therapy, a student and observer seeking ever to understand the values that guide his therapist in his otheroneness. He should expect to respond to the therapist in terms of sensory-affective-thought responses, in terms of many levels of communication. With the therapist he will have a decisive inner experience of being togetber with a real human being and in the togetherness sensing his own identity and difference. Private worlds of feelings and thoughts will be shared as common possessions. Two lives will be intertwined in a mutually satisfying and significant relationship. The product of the interpersonal context of psychotherapy that brings wellness to the patient's living may be the shedding of his preoccupation with his separate existence and the sublime realization of his oneness with all others. He experiences a unitive consciousness that displaces his customary self-regardful separateness and allows his submersion of his individual self into all else.

Life is proof of the preponderance of re-inforcing and pro-life forces and events in the universe. Wellness partakes of condoned living and thrives under rewarding conditions. Illness partakes of derogated living and thrives under punitive conditions. The round trip from wellness to illness and return may be conjectured as follows: passenger sins against another, from the crying of the infant to murder meets anti-living force or event, punishment, exile experiences feelings of sinfulness, loneliness, withdrawal, anxiety, symptomatic behavior seeks and accomplishes confession and forgiveness secures restitution and restoration to relationship, communication and community living passenger is well again.

The therapist is an important official on this trip. He is the linkage, the coupling, between the patient and all others. In and through him the patient becomes commited to other-oneness and involved in living, open wide for all to see.