Playing the Indian Card

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Why Grandfather Killed Himself

Freud, Jung, and other early psychoanalysts

A friend of mine comes from a prominent Toronto family. No, you would not know the name, but prominent.

His grandfather, a doctor, killed himself under psychiatric care. So did both his great uncles. His father, also a doctor, ended his days drugged up on lithium, staring at a TV screen all day in his small apartment.

This led us rather naturally to a discussion of the value of psychoanalysis. He too is under analysis. It is what the rich do. So, given this track record, how has it all really been working out for them?

He insists it all depends on the analyst. Yes, the psychiatrists who treated his father, his grandfather, and his great uncles didn’t do any visible good, and probably did harm. But he has found a good analyst. After all, there are good analysts and bad analysts, just as there are good and bad priests.

I maintain that there is a difference.

Firstly, flaws in the personal character of a priest do not affect his ability to perform his duties as a priest. Protestants rarely understand this, but the sacrament of confession, for example, unlike an analysis, works regardless of the sins or incompetence of the priest. Nothing relies on the priest’s knowledge or good character. This is not so for psychoanalysis. An analysis succeeds or fails based on the personal character, understanding, talents, and abilities of the therapist. Therefore, at best, the system, if there is any real system here, is badly flawed.

Moreover, I believe that the problem is not just with the abilities or character of individual therapists. I say that psychotherapy is wrong in its most fundamental assumptions, so wrong that harm will be the usual outcome, and help the exception.

For example, Freud made it all the fault of the victim in the first place. It is all about his hidden wish to kill his father and couple with his mother. Yet the real problem is more probably his father’s wish to kill him and his mother’s wish to couple with him. Or, if not that, the analyst will tell him that his real problem is that his children want to kill him, whereas the real problem is that he wants to kill his children.

How is that likely to turn out?

That is like going to see a doctor, and instead of giving you medicine, he gives you poison.

My friend reports the results of his father’s first “family” therapy session. He was just a child at the time. The psychiatrist assembled family in the living room, and addressed them:

“Do you know what’s wrong with this family? You don’t love your father enough.”

Odd, that, because my friend’s experience of his childhood was of an utter lack of affection from his parents. His brother, also a friend, agrees.

How in any case can the child be responsible for teaching his parent how to express affection?

How can it be the pre-pubescent child who has the sexual feelings?

How can it be the vulnerable child who contemplates murder?

It is hard to believe Freud did not get it backwards deliberately.

More fundamentally, “psychology” is, literally, knowledge of the soul. “Psychotherapy” means healing of the soul. How can you claim knowledge of the soul when you deny it exists? How can you heal a thing you think is not there?

For Freud was ultimately a complete materialist. Materialism is the name of the game for psychiatry. That is why all psychiatrists are “physicians”: literally, experts on the body. It is an attempt at a materialistic replacement for religion, a sort of cargo cult of science. Granted, Jung, unlike Freud, was not entirely a materialist, or hinted at not being; but he was a gnostic, a philosophy that was disproved a couple of millennia ago. Both were looking through the wrong end of the telescope, and with it trying to see the angels on the head of a pin. A materialist appreciation of the mind or soul is a contradiction in terms.

My friend’s grandfather killed himself while in psychiatric hospital. First he tried to do it with an overdose; that failed. So he took the knife sent to him with his dinner, expertly cut an artery in his leg, and bled to death.

According to his letters, he was convinced that he had committed “the one unpardonable sin—and the penalty is death.” Although he was Anglican, in the weeks before he killed himself, he had been pleading to talk to a Catholic priest. The authorities at the psychiatric hospital, being proper physicians and materialists, of course ignored this.

I suspect his life could have been saved if he had. He said he had committed the (an?) unpardonable sin, and the penalty was death. A priest could have set him straight. Priests are the authorities on sin, not doctors. Besides, it seems obvious that what he wanted and felt he needed was the Catholic sacrament of confession—he did not ask for an Anglican priest. Had he gotten it, he probably would not have felt he had to execute himself. He could have gotten absolution.

There is only one unpardonable sin. That would be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 12:30-32: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy. But the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against theSon of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."

Mark 3:28-30: "Truly I tell you, all sins and blasphemies will be forgiven for the sons of men. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin. He said this because they [the Pharisees] were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit’."

Luke 12:8-10: "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."

The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, which would have been current at the time of grandfather’s suicide, explains “to sin against the Holy Ghost is to confound Him with the spirit of evil, it is to deny, from pure malice, the Divine character of works manifestly Divine.”

Chillingly, this might sum up psychiatry as a whole. A patient comes in saying he is in communication with the spirit world. The analyst says he is suffering from hallucinations, delusions. He is insane.

Did I mention that this man, my friend’s grandfather, the suicide, began his career as a psychiatrist? And abandoned it at the top of his profession for another, unrelated, branch of medicine?

Might he have realized, on experiencing “mental illness” himself, or even before this, that he had blasphemed and drugged to oblivion something that was actually from God? Or even driven another to suicide rather than accept the spiritual source of their visions?

Of course, he might also, in his work as a physician or psychiatrist, have been otherwise guilty of somebody’s murder.

This is, after all, not too improbable for a doctor. How many doctors have killed, even if not intentionally: out of negligence or incompetence, if not in cold blood… and one cannot rule out killing in cold blood, either.

Murder is not the unforgivable sin in Catholicism. But it is the most serious sin, next to treason, in civil law. Our suicidal doctor might not have grasped the difference. In Catholicism, all sins are punished by death--”the wages of sin is death.”

Either way, he could have used a priest. While the sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, St. Augustine explains that it is only unforgivable if persisted in until death: this is what gets you into hell. It can be absolved, as can murder, in the confessional. The fact that grandfather already obvious felt deep contrition means, in Catholic theology, that he already was provisionally forgiven, pending a full confession when possible. Had he seen a priest, he might have been consoled, he might not have retained any felt need to execute himself.

Psychology/psychotherapy is a modern attempted “scientific” replacement for religion. One that does more harm than good. In part, by preventing people who need to and are called to from going to see a priest.

Korean mudang

One striking example, that I first realized while in Korea: in Korea, people who in North America would be pronounced psychotic, looked at with contempt, and drugged into oblivion, instead become shamans. They live normal lives and pursue their calling of reporting for others on affairs in the spirit world. They have the power to, in turn, cure others with both chronic physical complaints and mental difficulties.

Shamanism is not the ideal approach to mental illness. It has its own problems. If it did not, it would not have been supplanted almost everywhere two thousand years ago by the great universalist religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism. Yet even so, primitive as it is, it is still clearly vastly better at handling mental illness than is modern psychiatry.

Why was shamanism replaced throughout Europe within a few hundred years by Christianity? According to those writing at the time, mostly because of Christianity’s remarkable ability to cast out demons.

To cast out demons.

Now what do you suppose that means? What were those demons, and where are they now?

I fear we are now seeing them flooding back… That rough beast Yeats saw once in dream is slouching to Bethlehem to be born. We have no idea yet what we are letting ourselves in for, because we have not seen the like for two thousand years.

Psychotherapy, Nazism, Communism, feminism, abortion, postmodernism, and growing numbers of “mentally ill.” The downward ride has perhaps just begun…

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