With its gimmicks and false promises, pseudo-psychology is ‘not only non-professional but dangerous.…’

Long before there was a discipline called psychology, its principles were applied within the Church, and lightly so. Psychology has helped to improve the educational program of the Church, has offered a base for pastoral counseling, has aided in missionary selection, and has been beneficial in many other ways.

In recent years, an unfortunate romantic haze has developed around the word “psychology.” Books that in the past would not have sold are now very popular; nearly every daily paper has its “Dear——”; radio and television offer a selection of lay, pseudo-professional, and professional advisers, and programs that previously would have flopped gain large followings.

The Church has become just as vulnerable to this gimmick as any other social institution. We now have one-day workshops to “train” counselors, “clinics” to help laymen solve their own problems and the problems of others, and mass meetings in which professionals conduct “family marriage seminars.” But psychology ought not to be used as a mere gimmick or trick to attract crowds; it is a discipline that can help us understand, predict, and treat human behavior. The Church should look seriously at this trend of over-psychologizing, for much of its substance is pseudo-psychology. Perhaps the Apostle Paul, if he were writing to the Church of today, would warn, “Beware of pseudo-psychologists.”

This is not to say that the Church should not address itself to the personal and domestic woes of mankind. Nor is it to say that professionals should not participate in seminars, clinics, and the like. On the contrary, ministers who try to deal with the day-to-day emotional problems ...

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