The Brave New World of Medical Psychology

Paul Dean

        A debate has been raging in the Christian, counseling world for some time now. It concerns the difference between secular counseling, Christian counseling, and biblical counseling. Secular counseling is a catch-all term used to describe the over three-hundred models of psychological counseling extant in the United States today. Christian counseling is essentially the same as secular counseling with Scripture sprinkled in here and there. Biblical counseling relies upon the sufficiency of Scripture in that in God’s Word we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).

        While some would disagree with our distinction between Christian and biblical counseling, it is nevertheless a reality. Lest anyone be too upset at this characterization, the presuppositions, principles, techniques, solutions, and counsel in Christian counseling are grounded in contemporary social and psychological theory. The Scriptures only get a nod and generally take a backseat to those psychological principles as the Scriptures are said to be insufficient for helping those with psychological problems. The Scriptures are sufficient for salvation but not solving our problems in the here and now. We live in a world that is too complex and our problems are too complex. So it is said by those who endorse Christian counseling. These presuppositions become all the more alarming when we see the general direction the secular, psychological world is taking us.

        The major emphasis in counseling today is the prolific distribution of psychotropic medication. While biblical counselors have been saying for years that this practice is dangerous for a number of reasons, it is only now becoming public that some of these medications actually cause suicidality in many persons. Yet, in this Brave New World of ours, most would rather drug us and keep us comfortably numb rather than truly help us. Of course we do not imply that pushers of psychotropic medication are intentionally cruel. Most indeed want to give relief to their patients and simply don’t know what else to do. On an evolutionary worldview, we are simply matter in motion. We have no soul, only brain. If we don’t function right, according to them, the problem is not spiritual but physiological. Thus, the answer must be medication, even if doctors admit they have no idea what the medication does.

        But the problem I truly want to address here is not the difference between psychological and biblical counseling, or the practice of medicating indiscriminately per se. The real issue is the worldview in which psychology is grounded. It is that same worldview which enables the Royal Dutch Medical Association to conclude that doctors ought to have the right to kill patients who are not ill but who are nevertheless judged to be “suffering through living.” We no longer have to spend money on medicating them, we can simply kill them. We can simply put them out of their misery like a horse with a broken leg or an old dog that can’t walk anymore.

        According to, while patients could formerly request euthanasia if they had a “classifiable physical or mental condition,” they may now be euthanized for simply being “tired of life.” The current law does not require a medical condition for euthanasia, but only that a patient is “suffering hopelessly and unbearably.” Jos Dijkhuis, the emeritus professor of clinical psychology who led the study said, "In more than half of cases we considered, doctors were not confronted with a classifiable disease. In practice the medical domain of doctors is far broader … We see a doctor's task is to reduce suffering, therefore we can't exclude these cases in advance. We must now look further to see if we can draw a line and if so where."

        Note that it is the professor of clinical psychology who champions the cause of the patient’s right to die, or should we say, the doctor’s right to kill. Doctors take an oath to do no harm. Defining that oath is ever more slippery in an ever more postmodern world. Moreover, only when human beings are seen as no different from animals can we treat the taking of life in such a cavalier fashion. Life is cheap on an evolutionary worldview.

        Let me end where I started. If we as Christians embrace the idea that the Scriptures are not sufficient to meet our spiritual needs here and now; if we believe that Christians simply suffered helplessly for eighteen hundred plus years until Freud came along; if we believe Christ is sufficient to save but not sufficient to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16); if we believe that we are to farm out what the Puritans called soul work to the psychologist (who doesn’t believe in a soul even though psychology comes from two Greek words referring to the study of the soul: psuche logos); or if we believe our problems are all physiological (brain) and not spiritual (soul); if we don’t believe that wanting to die because we are tired of life is a sinful response to our circumstances; if we don’t believe Christ can give us hope in the midst of those circumstances; then we do need psychotropic medication to fix our problems, or at least mask them, as all doctors agree that medication does not fix our problems. Again, they don’t even know what the problem is; it is still a big guess. That leads me to say that when a person becomes so miserable with life that the medication won’t even perk him up or even him out, then putting him out of his misery becomes a viable answer. What else would we expect from an evolutionary worldview?

        We live in a day when psychologists and medical personnel alike advocate a culture of death. Doctors will continue to do no harm, unless of course they can’t make you feel better. As the headline reads, “Doctors may now kill perfectly healthy adults.” It’s not enough that we kill perfectly healthy babies when a woman doesn’t want to take responsibility for her actions, now we will kill perfectly healthy adults when they don’t want to take responsibility for their feelings.

        “Stupefied by soma, and exhausted by a long-drawn frenzy of sensuality, the Savage lay sleeping . . . he awoke . . . then suddenly remembered—everything. ‘Oh, my God, my God!’ He covered his eyes with his hand . . . ‘Savage!’ called the first arrivals, ‘Mr. Savage!’ There was no answer. The door of the lighthouse was ajar. . . .They pushed it open. . . Just under the crown of the arch dangled a pair of feet. ‘Mr. Savage!’ Slowly, very slowly, like two unhurried compass needles, the feet turned towards the right; north, north-east, east, south-east, south, south-south-west; then paused, and, after a few seconds, turned as unhurriedly back towards the left. South-south-west, south, south-east. . . 1

[1] Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, pp. 176-177.