In 1779, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) announced his belief that he had found the great universal cure of both physical and emotional problems. His idea was of an invisible fluid throughout the body called "animal magnetism," that influenced the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of life. Since Mesmer's day, treatment by passing magnets over the body have been discontinued, and has progressed to the belief in "mind over matter." Mesmerism now involves trance- like states of hypnoses, telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance. This is the foundation of the popular "positive thinking" fanatics.
In 1913, John Watson (1878-1958) wrote Psychology As The Behaviorist Views It, defining Behaviorism, an extension of animal psychology based upon Uniformitarianism. He included Mesmerism's ideas of hypnotic suggestion (hypnosis), healing through talking (psychotherapy), and mind-over-matter (positive thinking). Behaviorism contends that mankind, the individual, begins life as a "clean slate," just a whole living organism reacting to his environment. No mind, soul, instincts, native intelligence, special talents, inherited gifts, and no innate emotions are believed to be evident. In other words, according to Behaviorism, man is simply a stimulus-response machine, and his system of behavior is thus built up by the process of conditioning.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and several other psychologists (E11) have invented other forms of psychology that are variants of atheistic Behaviorism. Freudian psychology says, for all practical purposes, that with a good analyst we can lay the blame for our personal problems on anything other than ourselves! Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (1875-1961) damaged confidence in Christianity by directly contradicting the Word of God. Freud considered religious beliefs to be illusions and called religion "the obsessional neurosis of humanity." Jung considered religion to be myth, yet good, because religion could affect human personality. Freud and Jung did not deal in science, but rather in values, attitudes and behaviors. Freud simply "justified" his own idiosyncracies and sexual sin.
Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), who conditioned dogs, later researched his stimulus-response techniques on unwilling soviet citizens with Bektorev. This was by direction of Lenin, with an eye toward developing methods of crowd control, an underlying intention of robbing religion of as much credit as possible, and the ultimate aim of destroying religion completely. Conditioning is a method of learning by which a specific response is continuously given to a specific stimulus until it is learned. It becomes a conditioned reflex or response. The specific stimulus, which can be controlled, can be words, phrases, facial expressions and so on, which through the conditioning process will eventually elicit the specific response, reaction, or behavior.
Pavlov's stimulus-response model of reaction, the "reflex arc," was the foundation for the "operant conditioning" of B. F. Skinner (1904-1990). Skinner took it a step further, putting emphasis on behavior modification. His theory was rooted in evolutionary biology, and not simply mechanical. Skinner said the environment stimulates behavior, and reinforces behavior.
Skinner expanded the Pavlovian stimulus-response model with the stimulus-behavior-reinforcement model. Leaving the simple mechanical response, he specifically contended that responses have evolutionary biological consequences in man, or "survival value," meaning survival of the fittest. Thus, the behavioral response which is successful or rewarding to the individual is strengthened over time (positive reinforcement), and behavior that is not successful or rewarding is eliminated or abandoned over time (negative reinforcement). The environment becomes the source of the stimulus and the reinforcement.
Behavioral engineering is based on Skinnerian circular reasoning, and is rather pointless, as it leaves out God, which is the way out of the loop. But it goes like this: For State controlled man, human freedom is an illusion, and when indulged in often leaves the unsuspecting man prey to many forces; the "liberal" concept of individual freedom actually sacrifices freedom--men cannot control forces of which men are unaware or unsuspecting; "liberalism's" historical task of freeing man from "traditionally repressive agencies" like the state, church, and family does not really gain men freedom--it just leaves control open to others, perhaps the salesman, a demagogue, a cheat, or a bully. Skinner is saying that man (in the form of the State) must control man, as usual, and that control through behavioral engineering, by operant conditioning, is desirable after all. So the "state" wins, and he is back where he started. It sounds like the highbrow double-talk that it is, because the Church and Family are still left out, as in all standard secular theories.
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) developed client-centered therapy, claiming each person is striving toward self- actualization. He stressed warmth and acceptance by others, a support group, and acceptance of one's-self as the way one can "cure" himself.
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) also assumed man to be innately good, and defined a hierarchy of needs that the individual must attain to reach self-actualization. The "needs" of hunger, thirst, sex, and security had to be attained before the "higher" needs of love, esteem, and self- actualization.
Skinner is criticized by many people because his methods violate "free will." Skinner contends, however, that our behavior is controlled haphazardly by our environment--by advertising, teachers, parents, etc.. Skinner contends that by being aware of this conditioning, we can then control our environment. In truth, conditioning could be and sometimes is used beneficially, but one must recognize its limits and abuses. Traditional humanistically based psychodynamic theories contradict Christian teaching, in that a Christian knows man cannot "do it" himself. Strategies for personal change must agree with scriptural patterns for achieving inner peace and wholeness, or they will fail. Man is not the means of his own salvation. And the average man or woman has no control over use of conditioning methods used by secular corporations and governments with massive amounts of money to spend in convincing people of their viewpoint.
Christians recognize that reconciliation to God and relationship with God are only possible through Jesus Christ. Humanism recognizes only man's reconciliation to man being all up to man. In truth, our eternal destiny is dependant on our reconciliation and relationship with God, and that is the only means of attaining our full potential of wholeness, maturity, and fruitfulness. (B19)
Conditioning is, in the hands of unscrupulous individuals, organizations, cults and governments, a method of brainwashing and crowd control. It suppresses free expression and is antagonistic to the basic American enjoyment of unalienable rights. Conditioning is used to train people. Capitalist methods of mass advertising, brainwashing and propaganda, are examples of conditioning. They can lead the unwary to spiritual death.
Robert K. Lewis, Liberty, Missouri, USA