by Robert Brow ( Kingston, Ontario, February 2006


Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) saddled us with the pseudo-science of psychoanalysis. The theory was that the only way to cure patients with psychological problems was by digging into their past to find causes for what was bothering them now.

In an article titled "More and More, Favored Psychotherapy Lets Bygones be Bygones" Alix Spiegel (New York Times, February 14, 2006) describes the huge model shift that has recently occurred. Throughout the twentieth century millions of dollars were wasted as countless patients were analyzed for thousands of hours. Week by week the victims were assured that this or that was the reason for their problem. They tended to become totally dependent on their analyst. And most concluded that there was nothing they could do about living a new life.

Alix Spiegel gives us the very good news that over the past 15 years "returning to the past has fallen out of fashion." The old model of analysis has been replaced by cognitive behavioral therapy (C.B.T. introduced 1965-69 by Dr. Aaron .Beck). The digging up of childhood hurts has been proved to do more harm than good. The model shift now asks the patient to deal with the present. "What is hindering you right now? What can you do to change your thinking in the right direction?" And the good news for patients and insurance companies is that the treatment no longer requires hundred of hours but is said to need only10 to 15 sessions.

How does this model shift in psychiatry relate to the New Testament model of healing? There is no suggestion of a need to dig up the past in the Gospels or the Epistles of Paul and other writers. The whole emphasis is on the future. However much we have been abused and hurt in the past, we are promised the fruit of the Spirit : Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Those qualities might not make us rich, but most miserable people would consider them sufficient for a new start in life.

If that is what we want, these beautiful fruit cost no money, and they are not produced by human effort. At the Last Supper, as he explained about the Holy Spirit, Jesus pointed out that a vine branch does not need to fuss, and struggle, and worry about producing grapes.  If it is outwardly connected with the vine tree, and it is open to the inrush of life-giving sap, the fruit will appear in due course. That is what faith is. "Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me" (John 15:4). And he added "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11).

Why run here and there, and ask for merely human advice, when the Messiah King of kings offers us joy and much more for the asking ?

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