Help for Catholics
SIR,-Mr. Farrell accuses
Modern Psychology of being materialistic, rejecting the concept of a spiritual and immortal soul, and a personal God. The pur
pose of psychology is to study human thought and behaviour by scientific arid empirical methods and it is not concerned with theology or ethics. When ready for my degree in psychology (in company with two Dominican nuns) 1 rarely encountered any ideas that were out of harmony with Catholic teaching. The great exception is the school led by Freud for whom religion was an
obsessional neurosis, Yet even in the case of Freud. if we except his speculations on Religion and consider his concept of the unconscious and other findings of an empirical nature, we can find much to serve our Catholic purposes. The trouble is that opponents of psychology, Catholics and others, tend to equate all psychology with Freud and all Freud with Black Magic and irreligion.
In the more specialised field of modern Child Psychology. the main emphasis is on the paramount importance of the family, and the need of the child for love, apprecia. tion and security.
We in Child Guidance Clinics find that the seriously delinquent child Comes in almost every case from ,a home where he has been deprived Of love or from a Home where he has been one of a crowd and has never had the loving individual care of one adult. We believe love to be an essential need for proper emotionel and moral growth. How well this fits in with Catholic teaching, which goes a step further and explains why this should be so! The Love of God, which is the mainspring of the moral life, is surely learned first by the analogy of the love of the parent. Even as Our Lord became Man so that " We may be drawn by Him to the love of things unseen,' so do children first learn goodness as a way of pleasing the loved parent and thence are led to practise virtue as a means of pleasing the Heavenly Parent. This is God's method, and if a child grows up without the love of parents it is most difficult to lead him to the love of God. (A child with a stunted mind cannot understand much about his Creator, and one with warped emotions may understand, but perhaps cannot very easily love or believe that he is loved.
As for Freewill and self-control, we know as Catholics that the child has freewill and that some idea of niorality is present in all of us. Yet the " I.ight that enlighteneth every man " can be dimmed by environmental factors, and the merciful way is to study, try to cure and forestall such tragedies. This 1 believe to be the logical CathoItc follow-up of modern Child Psychology, rather than to rest content with demanding more punishment and over stressing responsibility in these cases. Of course, much petty crime is not of this nature and should be treated by parents and teachers as naughtiness and punished accordingly. Certainly, some cranky psychologists may he found to disagree with this, but that is no worse than for some selfrighteous Catholics to ignore the other type of delinquency. 1 should point out that Child Guidance is not confined to the treatment of delinquency. There are the nervous, the anxious, the dull witted, the odd, end even the normal child whose emotional and intellectual needs are studied by the psychologist.
It is my experience (these words cannot be interpreted as the prologue to a dogmatic statement) that Catholic educators are slow to accept these ideas, not because they are discriminating between true and false psychology. but owing to a notion that all psychology is either superfluous if one has the Faith. or false unless the Psychologist is a Christian. Much that has been discovered by non-Christians is of value and only waits its completion in the light of Faith, as shown en the case of the affection-starved child, K. RORK.E.
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