Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 154:615 (Jul 1997)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“An Insider’s Effort to Blow Up Psychiatry,” Jeffrey H. Boyd, Trinity Journal (1996): 223-39.

Jeffrey Boyd is chairman of psychiatry and chairman of ethics at Waterbury Hospital, which is associated with Yale Medical School. That qualifies him as an “insider” in the area of psychiatry, and this article describes his effort to “blow it up.” As an evangelical Christian, Boyd has become convinced that “the secular mental health movement and Christianity are in competition, attempting to do the same thing, one from a secular and the other from a biblical platform” (p. 227). Specifically, he argues, they are attempting to treat the human soul, but they have radically different perspectives on its problems.

Boyd summarizes the Christian perspective in the following way: “We carry within us God’s breath and image. We rebel against our Creator and assert our alleged independence, a sin which is encouraged by the vast majority of secular therapists. The God-human relationship is central to a biblical self-concept, and that relationship can only be restored if we accept Jesus’ substitutionary suffering. Our soul must be nourished by repentance, prayer, Scripture, and worship. But most important, we somehow survive death, and we will face a Judge” (p. 230). By contrast, the “central goal of psychotherapy” is “to promote autonomy, to maximize the potential and growth of the individual, to encourage the hidden aspirations of the person. That is why therapists ask, ‘How do you feel about that?’ and never ask, ‘How does God feel about that?’ “ (pp. 230-31).

Some of these criticisms have been voiced before, but Boyd’s position as “an anti-psychiatry psychiatrist” who is opposed to the “naturalistic assumptions underlying most of the secular mental health movement” (p. 235) gives him an unusual perspective. He does still work as a psychiatrist, and he closes the article by offering two examples of his counseling method. It would have been helpful had he included more comments about his approach and the possibility of integration (or “plundering the Egyptians,” to use Larry Crabb’s phrase). There are already so many counseling models available that most new additions serve only to highlight the uncertainty of the enterprise, but perhaps Boyd will help point the way to something better.

Interested readers might also consult his book, Reclaiming the Soul: The Search for Meaning in a Self-Centered Culture (Cleveland: Pilgrim, 1996).

Robert A. Pyne

“Hellenistic Philosophies and the Preaching of the Resurrection (Acts 17:18<...

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