PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

 

Lenten retreat reflection: Day 21 - Psychology vs spirituality

It took me sometime to gather my thoughts on the topic for the day because it's one of those topics that proved to be highly contentious between me and some friends. Here's the provocative quote:

"Psychology may help somewhat, but it cannot bring about inner transformation."

The two contending camps at the time had opposing views, not really polar or diametric in opposition but nonetheless enough to trigger a volley of potshots via emails. In other words, a veritable word war. One side said psychology is not necessary in the path to transformation and spiritual growth; it is even dangerous, as in keeps the person stuck in navelgazing, in selfish dwelling on one's issues in life. Spiritually, alone, is what's necessary, the proponents insisted. The other side said no, no way, psychology is important, very important; we are not saying it is all we need, but that it is an important component of and complement to spirituality.

There's no question where I sided. I went for Team B: psychology + spirituality are not mutually exclusive, they can be made into friendly bedfellows. I followed this synthesis throughout my journey to wholeness because I thought it's far more sensible. Praying everything away, I thought, can be used wrongly as a shortcut to growth; religion can be used as an opiate, to escape reality. Who else knew this well than me who used religion to prop up my good-boy image, to satisfy my family's, relatives', and society's expectation of me as the first-born son, mild-mannered kid, and consistent honor student and topnotcher in school?

But I also knew the pitfalls of too much psychology. The other side was right in that psychology can be used to enforce one's selfish view of the world, to be blunt about it.

With these contradicting views, I came to a synthesis on my own: Psychology can only be helpful if it is used inside Christianity/spirituality. Outside of it, it can be easily abused to stay stuck in one's issues for unnecessarily long years and never move from there. This way, the past can always be used as an alibi. I think psychology is the invention of God himself; after all, to quote an author, He is the best psychologist.

I'm glad Fr. DuBay mentioned this difficulty in the faith walk. To tell the truth, however, psychology, at least the technical knowledge of it, isn't really necessary if one's spirituality is grounded and honest and intent in the first place, for true spirituality has a top-notch psychology built in it.

In plain words, if we are really honest with God, and patient with His gentle, silent ways, we are subjecting ourselves to the best psychological help around, because, among other things, we would be humble enough to seek His help through others. We will all be like the psalmist, whose heart and soul is totally bare before the Lord, no denials, no defenses, no brilliant rationalizations and convoluted alibis, no spiritual blocks, a spiritual state that is very hard to achieve without mentors and models, but unfortunately, only the state necessary if we are to "freely give (our sins) to and freely receive" from the Lord, to quote Henri Nouwen.

Those who mistakenly believe that psychology is unnecessary probably were just unable to articulate their position adequately, but they could also be trying to tread the easier path, trying to escape the painfully hard work ahead.

They would have been right, though, had they insisted that true spirituality means not just psychological soundness or wholeness, but far more than that, thanks to God's grace, God's initiative.

Comments:
as a psych major i have to heartily agree with your conclusion. psych may be useful to a degree but as Christians we know that until one "gets it right" with God no amount of psychoanalysis or psychological "treatment" will work. it *is* both fun and instructive, though, to try and understand our own and others' psychology... the things that make us tick. it also helps me achieve, at times, some level of tolerance or at least sympathy/empathy for those i dislike, when i know a bit of their psychological background, i.e., what led them to become the people they are today, esp. if they're obviously bitter or hurting or angry....
 
yeah. psychology is important. but only if handled well. it can be easily abused/exploited kasi
 
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

Archives

01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004   02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004   03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004   04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004   05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004   06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004   07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004   08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004   09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004   10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004   11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004   12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005   01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005   02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005   03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005   04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005   05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005   06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005   07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005   08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005   09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005   10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005   11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005   12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006   02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006   03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006   04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006   05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006   06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006   07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006   08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006   09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006   10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006   11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006   12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007   01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007   02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007   03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007   04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007   05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007   06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007   07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007   08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007   09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007   10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007   11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007   12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008   01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008   02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008   03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008   04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008   05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008   06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008   07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008   08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008   09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008   10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008   11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008   12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009   01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009   04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009   05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009   06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009   07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009   08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009   09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009   10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009   11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009   01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010   02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010   03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010   04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010   05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010   06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010   07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010   08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010   09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010   11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010   01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011   02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011   03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011   04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011   05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011   06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011   07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011   08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011   09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011   10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011   11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011   12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012   02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012   03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012   04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012   05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012   06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012   07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012   08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012   09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012   10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012   11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012   12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013   01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013   02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013   03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013   04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013   05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013   06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013   07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013   08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013   09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013   10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013   11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013   12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014   01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014   02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014   03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014   04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014   05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014   06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014   07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014   10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014   11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014   01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015   03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015   04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015   05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016   07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016   08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]