Pat Robertson, Regent University
& the DSM


The above image is part of a full-page ad in an issue of the APA [American Psychological Association] Monitor.1  The ad was placed by Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Notice the Bible and the DSM-IV-TR book together with the message that both are "Good Books." The ad states that "the DSM-IV and the Holy Bible belong together on the bookshelves of any future psychologist who desires to treat the whole person: body, mind and spirit."

The DSM-IV-TR is the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is the official "bible" for identifying and categorizing mental disorders. The DSM provides lists of descriptions of thinking, feeling, or behaving that fit the various diagnostic categories. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals then use these DSM categories to diagnose mental disorders for reimbursement.

"Dump the DSM!"

Psychiatrist Irwin Savodnik’s article "Psychiatry’s sick compulsion: turning weakness into diseases" in the Los Angeles Times targets the DSM and the American Psychiatric Association. Savodnik says:

The association [APA] specializes in turning ordinary human frailty into disease…. The association has been inventing mental illnesses for the last 50 years or so. The original diagnostic manual appeared in 1952 and contained 107 diagnoses and 132 pages, by my count. The second edition burst forth in 1968 with 180 diagnoses and 119 pages. In 1980, the association produced a 494-page tome with 226 conditions. Then, in 1994, the manual exploded to 886 pages and 365 conditions, presenting a 340% increase in the number of diseases over 42 years.

Nowhere in the rest of medicine has such a proliferation of categories occurred. The reason for this difference between psychiatry and other medical specialties has more to do with ideology than with science.2 

Dr. Margaret Hagen, in her book Whores of the Court,3  describes the ubiquitous use of the DSM and how necessary it is to be able to bill and receive payments from third-party providers (p. 77). She says:

[The DSM] provides the civil litigant with literally hundreds of possible disorders, each neatly laid out with the necessary symptoms. It is hard to imagine that anyone could live in today’s society and not be diagnosed with at least one of these many disorders. After all, they include such exotic stuff as smoking cigarettes, having lousy sex, feeling rotten about your life or trapped in your job or marriage, and hating your body because you think you are too fat or too ugly. Anybody out there with low self-esteem?

If you are not Pollyanna-happy—and complain loudly about the fact that you are not—the odds are great that a psychoexpert can and will diagnose a mental problem for you.

Once society has accepted that the hundreds of ways people can be unhappy can all be labeled as specific mental disorders, then the diagnosis of those states of unhappiness, those disorders, becomes the special province of mental disorder experts (p. 250).

It is no wonder that the subtitle of Hagen’s book is The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice.

Paul Genova, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont, made the following remarks in the Psychiatric Times in an article titled "Dump the DSM!":

The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM diagnostic system has outlived its usefulness by about two decades. It should be abandoned, not revised ... it is time for the arbitrary, legalistic symptom checklists of the DSM to go ... the aggregate is an awkward, ponderous, off-putting beast that discredits and diminishes psychiatry and the insight of those who practice it.

Consider the fact that your clinical practice is governed by a diagnostic system that:

• is a laughingstock for the other medical specialties;

• requires continual apologies to primary care doctors, medical students, residents, and the occasional lawyer or judge;

• most of our thoughtful colleagues privately rail against;

• insists upon rigid categories that often serve only to confuse and misinform patients and their clinical workers (sometimes abetted by televised drug advertising);

• is so intellectually incoherent as to raise eyebrows among the well-educated, critical thinkers in our own psychotherapy clientele;

• persuades the world at large that psychiatry no longer has anything of interest to say about the human condition.

If it were within your power to do so, wouldn’t you get rid of this system?4 

Add to all this the fact that there is an absence of an agreed-upon definition for mental health and that "well-trained and well-intentioned therapists often fail to agree on specific diagnoses."5  In their book Making Us Crazy, the authors expound on their subtitle: DSM: The Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorders.

Pairing the truth of the Bible and the flimflam of the DSM as done in the above ad is shameful. The Bible, which is the very Word of God, is indeed true, perfect and good. In contrast, the DSM is the untrustworthy wisdom of men, about which the Bible warns believers in 1 Corinthians 2:4 and other places. The DSM lacks truth, perfection, and goodness. The DSM is a man-made compendium of opinions and guesses, which has expanded since its beginnings to hundreds of mental disorders that are reimbursable. The more human predicaments that are pathologized and included in the DSM, the greater the opportunity for reimbursement.

Insufficiency of Scripture Theology

We say for both biblical and scientific reasons that any problem of living that is normally treated by talk therapy can best be ministered to biblically. Pat Robertson obviously does not believe this. When it comes to problems of living, Robertson has an insufficiency of Scripture theology. Because of this, Regent University offers a "Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)," which is "APA Accredited." Robertson’s ad claims that the Psy.D. program "values the truth God has provided through psychology and scripture." Robertson fails to believe a number of Bible passages, including:

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:3,4).

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

No psychotherapy and no psychotherapist can provide what the Bible promises.

Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth

There are two camps in the field of counseling psychology. The New York Times reporter Benedict Cary, as he began his report on an annual APA meeting, said, "There is a civil war going on in psychology, and not everyone is in the mood for healing."6  The civil war is between the scientific researchers and the practitioners. Between these two camps there is often a vast gulf. In the one camp are the psychological scientific researchers and in the other camp the practitioners. Robertson sides with the practitioners. We side with the scientific researchers, such as Dr. Robyn M. Dawes.

Dawes is a professor in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie-Mellon University. He is a widely-recognized researcher and offers much academic research support for his thesis that professional psychotherapy is a "house of cards" and that psychotherapy and its underlying psychologies are built on myths.

In commenting on Dawes’ book, Dr. Donald Peterson, a professor at Rutgers University, says:

What [Dawes] does show, convincingly, is that a large number of studies designed to examine associations between training for psychotherapy and effectiveness of treatment have failed to show any positive relationships. Results as substantial and consistent as these cannot be explained away, and they cannot responsibly be ignored.7 

In his book bearing the subtitle Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth, Dawes says:

There is no positive evidence supporting the efficacy of professional psychology. There are anecdotes, there is plausibility, there are common beliefs, yes—but there is no good evidence.8  (Italics in original; bold added.)

In his introduction, Dawes says:

Virtually all the research—and this book will reference more than three hundred empirical investigations and summaries of investigations—has found that these professionals’ claims to superior intuitive insight, understanding, and skill as therapists are simply invalid.9 

As an application of the conclusions of the scientific research, Dawes says, "Every state requires that practicing professional psychologists be licensed." Throughout his book and particularly in a chapter on licensing, Dawes makes a strong case for abolishing licensing for professional therapists. He says:

What our society has done, sadly, is to license such people to "do their own thing," while simultaneously justifying that license on the basis of scientific knowledge, which those licensed too often ignore. This would not be too bad if "their own thing" had some validity, but it doesn’t.10 

Based on the abundance of scientific research, only some of which we reveal in our book The End of "Christian Psychology," it is reasonable to recommend that licensing be abolished for those dispensing psychotherapy, because there is no benefit to the public for such licensing. The public is in no way protected by those licensing laws. For the same reasons, insurance companies should cease paying for psychotherapy.

Robertson not only rejects the sufficiency of the Bible to minister to problems of living, but he also rejects the scientific research that brings into question the very program in counseling psychology of which he is so proud.

We see the integration of psychology and the Bible as a form of syncretism. The syncretistic way is an attempt to integrate the Bible and psychology. Those who use both the Bible and psychology are actually involved in syncretism because of the combining of differing and even contradictory religious and philosophical beliefs and practices. Such compromise and resultant idolatry are the fruit of Adam and Eve’s choice of gnosis instead of obedience to God. At the heart of gnosticism is self as god and syncretism.

The "Devil’s Deal"

Few Christians realize the recent origin of counseling psychology. In the book The Practice of Psychology, the author says, "The independent provision of psychological services was virtually nonexistent prior to and during World War II."11  This book reveals that "most psychology departments tended to look down on applied practitioners, feeling the ‘true psychologist’ was the one functioning in an academic setting."12  The book further says:

As late as 1965 the largest higher education complex in the world, the University of California with nine campuses and 19 state universities, graduated only eight doctoral clinical psychologists and the estimate was that the following year there would only be four such graduates.13 

The Practice of Psychology describes what the authors call a "devil’s deal." Academic psychology had struck a "devils deal" by receiving large amounts of "funds that supported many psychology departments" for the purpose of clinical training that resulted in producing a multitude of psychotherapists.14  Since then this little leaven has come to full loaf in higher education throughout America. Eventually Christians were trained in those "devil’s deal" departments as counseling psychologists and subsequently brought that new-found, full-loafed leaven into the Christian institutions, where it thrives today.

And now there is a new devil’s deal similar to the original one that spurred psychology departments into producing practitioners. Students produce income for all institutions. Psychology is one of the most popular majors wherever it exists. With the massive burgeoning interest in clinical (counseling) psychology during the past fifty years in all institutions where it exists, massive amounts of monies are generated for the institutions—thus it is a new devil’s deal for Regent University and all other such institutions.

An Unholy Alliance

We declare that Christians do not need psychological counseling theories or therapies! They do not need to integrate one iota from the psychological way with the Bible. And they do not need an "alternative way"! The biblical way is not an optional alternative. It is the way of truth. The Bible reveals God’s one and only way for being saved, for living the Christian life, and for dealing with problems of living. God has already provided everything that is needed.

Pairing what is truly good (Bible) with what is truly the very wisdom of men about which the Bible warns and promoting it create an unholy alliance. The association of the Bible with the DSM as two "Good Books" is heterodox, to say the least. If Robertson had done such an ad 20 years ago, it would have had strong reverberations in the Christian community and would likely have brought his entire ministry into question.

However, now almost all Christians have swallowed hook, line and sinker the psychological bait that has been trolling through the church. The degradation of the Bible by placing it with the DSM and saying they "belong together" would bother very few Christians today. This is a tragic symptom and major element of the worldliness and ecumenism of the last days’ church that has enveloped practically every facet of Christendom.

Robertson and those at Regent University involved in this amalgamation of psychology and the Scripture have sold their biblical birthright for a mess of psychological pottage. However, Robertson and his Regent University are not the only ones that have sold out the faith once delivered to the saints for the ungodly wisdom of men. Sadly this type of psychology is pandemic throughout the church world.

We pray that many Christians will remain true to the Scripture over the syncretistic way of psychology and that Robertson and others throughout the church world will repent and return to the one truly Good Book.

Notes:

1 APA Monitor, July, 2005. 

2 Irwin Savodnik, "Psychiatry’s sick compulsion: turning weaknesses into diseases," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 1, 2006.

 3 Margaret A. Hagen. Whores of the Court. New York Regan Books/HarperCollins, 1997.

 4 Paul Genova, "Dump the DSM!" Psychiatric Times, Vol. XX, Issue 4.

 5 Herb Kutchins and Stuart A. Kirk. Making Us Crazy: DSM: the Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorders. New York: the Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 1997, p. 53.

 6 Benedict Cary, "For Psychotherapy’s Claims, Skeptics Demand Proof," The New York Times, Aug. 10, 2004.

 7 Donald R. Peterson, "The Reflective Educator," American Psychologist (December 1995), p. 976.

 8 Robyn M. Dawes, House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth (New York: The Free Press/Macmillan, Inc., 1994), p. 58.

 9 Ibid., p. 8.

 10 Ibid., p. 8.

 11 Rogers Wright and Nicholas Cummings, eds. The Practice of Psychology: The Battle for Professionalism. Phoenix: Zeig, Tucker & Theisen, Inc., 2001, p. 2.

 12 Ibid., p. 3.

 13 Ibid., pp. 75,76.

 14 Ibid., p. 4.

(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, March-April 2006, Vol. 14, No. 2)


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