Page 2, 11th August 1950

11th August 1950
Page 2

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Locations: Kingston, Dublin


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aust,-With reference to the present controversy on the subject of psychology, I have nowhere found such apt and fruitful remarks on the subject than in the account given by Ciretta Palmer, the well-known American journalist, of her own conversion. She was received into the Church by Mgr. Fulton Sheen, the author of the excellent book Peace of Soul. Having explored thoroughly the fields of sociology and psychology she writes: ," It was all a very great waste of time, except for the fact that it taught me what shallow and unsatisfactory results arrive if materialist scholars ignore man's association with a personal God. For when atheist scientists attempt to study man, they undertake an intellectual absurdity. Man studied as a creature separated from the God who is constantly communicating with Him, can never be understood."

She records the words of a swami of the Vedanta religion; " You of the West have goodwill and a great desire to help each other. You are constantly taking up activities whose purpose is the accomplishment of good. What you do not knowwhat we of the Orient could teach you, is that one cannot perform suece.ssful surgical operations with a dirty knife."

The pretentions of psychiatrists are based on their claim to be able to treat the mind scientifically. The term scientific is, however, wildly inappropriate in this connection. The mind is inseparable from the soul, therefore all the psychiatrists have "dirty knives" for the operations which they seek to perform. They are a pseudo-priesthood, assuming dictatorship of the minds foolish or unfortunate enough to consult them; dictatorship which will almost inevitably relate to the " things that belong to God." As Gretta Palmer puts it: "That is the wryest tragedy of the modern world today; that most of our good works and the things our social conscience asks us to do are futile. . . Man, unaided, is a cruel, unsympathetic and unreliable friend."

It is not possible to deal with the tragedies of the human soul by docketing and ticketing the move

ments of the mind. There is no healing in psychiatrists or in their elaborate nonsense whatever names tliley choose to give it. To attempt to treat such minds as conglomeratibns of different mechanisms and to ignore the human dignity of the people to whom those minds belong, is neither Christian nor scientific.

Gretta Palmer draws her conclusions with commanding clarity.

"And so all converts find in time that the patent medicines for the soul have failed as they will always fail. The short cut to perfection I was looking for was never found. The science of society ' turned out to be a ridiculous contradiction in terms, for science measures things. and man, having a soul is immeasurable. Every man has freewill, and it is hedged about with Godly safeguards through which no propaganda barrage can penetrate. Every man will always retain the God-given privilege of running amock or becoming a saint, no matter how you try to press him into a mould. Man will escape you whenever you attempt to force him into a mould. Man will escape you wherever you attempt to force him into any human arrangements.

"The God we worship is the God who is within us, and nothing can be closer than that. I know now the source that I was seeking when asked: Where does it come from. this light in the eyes of the combat soldier? ' It comes from God."

G. FIRANCOISE PRICE. 17 Pembroke Park, Dublin, Sue-Dr. Burns has replied to the main objections of Mr. Farrell to c.artain aspects of Modern Psyc,ho!Ay. I now propose to deal with those that remain unanswered.

Few of my colleagues would concur with the quotation ascribed to Sir Percy Nunn, denying the concept of responsibility, nor do they encourage children to be undisciplined. "Soft Psychology" is, in my experience, the prerogative of a few crank " Progressive Schools" and some misinformed lay persons who have confused self-discipline with no diecipline.

As for Dr. Stott's statement that delinquency represents an escape from an emotionally intolerable situation, this may appear to take no account of free will, but he devotes a section of his book to this very point, suggesting a modus vivendi for the moralist and the psychologist, The moralist emphasises responsibility which, whether a fact or not (this he does not attempt to adjudge) is a necessary postulate for practical purposes; the psychologist tries to provide good human relationships, the lack of which have led to the breakdown. Thus, he says, the two may "eat grass together.'

I did not call a teacher " less civilised " because he believes in the

limited efficacy of corporal punishment." I said that it is a less civilised method which R.C. teachers are too prone to use. War is a less civilise ° method of settling a dispute than arbitration and the Church teaches that we should try all other

methods first. The same is surely true of our dealings with wayward children. In both cases, since "perfect love casteth out fear " is it not more civilised (or interchangeably, more Christian) to induce moral behaviour by an appeal to rational motives based on good relationships, both human and Divine, rather than to those based on the instinctive motive of fear that can he as easily induced in a dog ?

Orphanages: if the Home sets out to group the children in family-size units with a permanent mother substitute, they have a good chance of developing normally. Even in a Catholic Home with daily Mass we can't rear children in a way that does not cater for their basic human needs, and expect God to work a miracle.

Intelligence and Social Class: Briefly, intelligence is largely a function of heredity: better paid lobs usually require more brain. hence poorer classes are, broadly speaking, of lower average intelligence. This has been experimentally proved be

yond all doubt. See any Tenable book on the distribution of intelli gence. especially those by Cyril Burt.

Finally, in defence of my profession. I would suggest that Catholics arc so used to being misrepresented that they spare a little tolerance for the maligned psychologist.


18 Crescent Road, Kingston-on-Thames.

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