Home » Uncategorized » The Shot Fired Round the World: William James’s Influence on Modern Christian Family Therapies

The Shot Fired Round the World: William James’s Influence on Modern Christian Family Therapies

Greg E. Gifford, MA, PhD Student

ggifford@masters.edu

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In 1869 Harvard would graduate one of its most influential professors and modern day thinkers—William James. William James graduated from Harvard with his Medical Doctorate (MD) in 1869, next to pursue studies in Brazil with the renowned Louis Aggassiz. After returning from his trip abroad, James suffered with serious health issues and bouts of what he termed depression.[1] The significance of this return and his ensuing health conditions cannot be overstated as James would return stateside and accept a teaching position at Harvard in 1872. It was at Harvard that James would shape—maybe even redefine—the world of psychology. Here he would develop anthropological and epistemological theories that gave credence to many modern-day methodologies as will be displayed.

During James’s lifetime psychology became a so-called “science” and that can be directly attributed to his contribution. In his writings given in 1878, James sought to treat psychology and its study “as a natural science.”[2] By this James intends that every natural science has assumed data, which philosophers would need to ideologically tease out. He viewed psychology as having its own data that must be assumed for the process of scientific studies: that data was “thoughts and feelings” and “knowledge.”[3] “Such a provisional body of propositions about states of mind, and about the cognitions which they enjoy, is what I mean by Psychology considered as a natural science.”[4] James is saying that in order to study psychology that certain data and its correlates must be assumed in order to complete his proposed method of study. Furthermore, the very types of the data that must be accepted for the natural study of psychology are thoughts, feelings, and knowledge all of which shape encroach the jurisdiction of the Scripture.

William James has just pivoted from natural sciences, which he had engaged up to this point in his life through medical studies and zoological studies with Aggassiz. Part of the influencing factor in this pivot is that James’s department at Harvard was transitioned from the school of physiology to the school of philosophy.[5] This transition encouraged him to rethink the nature of the study of psychology, which originally he opposed as being unscientific.[6] This transition is of no small importance as James has ushered in a pseudo-scientific era to the study of human behavior. James’s claim of psychology as a natural science became the ideological shot heard around the psychological world.

James has now set the stage for secular anthropological studies, the remnants of which are readily displayed in counseling and therapies today. In fact, James’s anthropology and psychological approach are existent in many therapies—to include the therapies employed by that of Christian counselors and therapists. James fired a shot that would be heard around world of psychology and his impact in attempting to understand human behavior is residual within the modern therapies—especially the behavioral approaches to therapies.

Thesis

            To employ modern behavioral approaches to therapy is to employ the behavioristic anthropology of William James and, in turn, to contradict a biblical anthropology.

Definitions

To understand the intention of the research, first an offering of explanations and definitions will be given.

Anthropology: the study and doctrine of man, to include “the difference physical and cultural conditions of mankind.”[7] Part of the author’s intent is to show that a biblical anthropology precludes behavioristic conclusions. The researcher is using the term anthropology to connote both the study of man and the belief’s one espouses in regards to man. This is a common approach and fits within the same understanding that the below authors would have employed the term.[8]

Behaviorism: the theory that human behavior is fully attributable to physical causes, conditioning, and action. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy clearly states:

Psychology is the science of behavior. Psychology is not the science of mind—as something other or different from behavior. (2) Behavior can be described and explained without making ultimate reference to mental events or to internal psychological processes. The sources of behavior are external (in the environment), not internal (in the mind, in the head). (3) In the course of theory development in psychology, if, somehow, mental terms or concepts are deployed in describing or explaining behavior, then either (a) these terms or concepts should be eliminated and replaced by behavioral terms or (b) they can and should be translated or paraphrased into behavioral concepts.[9]

Behaviorism is summarily both a theory and a practice that focuses primarily on the external factors of man’s behavior.

Contradict: The researcher is employing this term in its common usage as “to imply the opposite or a denial of.”[10] As will be displayed to employ behavioristic methodologies in espousing Jamesian anthropology is to deny a biblical anthropology.

William James’s Influence and Anthropology

It has been stated above that James brought about the so-called scientific inquiry of psychology, yet James knew that this inquiry could not be divorced from philosophical or metaphysical presuppositions. He said, “But I confess that … I have become more and more convinced of the difficulty of treating psychology without introducing some true and suitable philosophical doctrine.”[11] Essentially, James recognizes that this new field that he is attempting to create cannot stand apart from interpretive work by the researcher. Thus, his Psychology as science began with an understanding of the need for metaphysical commitments, but warped into purely materialistic understandings of man—as will be displayed.

During the time of James’s transition to the department of philosophy at Harvard, he transitioned with him a new mindset that would open the door for behaviorist therapies: the mindset was of empirical studies of inner man phenomenon. James believed that the methods of studying psychology could be “(1) experimental method, (2) introspection, and (3) comparative method.”[12] Experimental methodology was preferred because it offered a level of empiricism that left little room for debate. However, James would employ mostly an introspective model of study in his Principles and Writings.[13]

The door had now been opened to a study of man apart from the metaphysical reasons that drive man. William James set the table for his ideological offspring to come and feast, although he would still tinker in metaphysics, religion, emotions, and motivations. He would set the table with his theories of “neurological pathways” and experimental methodology:[14] both of these removing the inner man, non-material aspects of man. Unlike James, though, the ideological offspring of James would seek to formulate purely materialistic and mechanistic anthropological explanations. His first progeny: Edward Thorndike.

The Ideological Offspring of William James

Edward L. Thorndike

Edward Thorndike was an American psychologist who spent the majority of his career teaching for Columbia University in New York. He was born in 1874 to a lawyer father who became a clergyman. Thorndike would be highly educated for his time, attending Wesleyan University in 1895 and Harvard University from 1895-1897. It was at Harvard that Thorndike was introduced to the teachings of William James, even receiving endorsement from James in his study of the behavior of chickens, which was part of Thorndike’s PhD dissertation.[15] James was said to have even housed Thorndike’s chickens in his basement before Thorndike received a fellowship from Columbia, moving there to finish his PhD.

Thorndike would write his PhD dissertation on a work that “was landmark in the history of psychology.”[16] Essentially his work was the beginnings of observation of animal and human behavior. William James encouraged and opened the door for studies like this from Thorndike. James would have taught similar things and encouraged this way of thinking, but it was Thorndike who created a clear theory of learning that set the stage for behaviorism.[17]

It is said of Thorndike that he “is perhaps the most influential of all American psychologists. His on work in animal learning helped establish comparative psychology as an experimental science and created the field of psychology that became known as the experimental analysis of behavior.”[18] What William James did was set the stage for the study of human behavior. His ideological offspring—Edward Thorndike—took the next logical step and sought to explain that behavior from a purely behavioristic and humanistic perspective.

Thorndike’s natural and man-centered approach to human behavior can be seen in the following comments:

A man’s nature and the changes that take place in it may be described in terms of the responses—of thought, feeling, action and attitude—which he makes, and of the bonds by which these are connected with the situations which life offers. Any fact of intellect, character or skill means a tendency to respond in a certain way to a certain situation—involves a situation or state of affairs influencing the man, a response or state of affairs in the man, and a connection or bond whereby the latter is the result of the former.[19]

Notice what is glaringly absent from Thorndike’s statements: any mention of the immaterial components of man. He has reduced all of man’s nature and actions into two over-arching categories: (1) responses, and (2) the bonds that connect these responses to life situations (which is a Jamesian perspective of man). These observations led to the development of his Law of Effect and Law of Exercise. “The law of effect states that practice alone will not generate an association: the pairing of stimulus with response must be followed by a consequence or effect. … According to the law of exercise, associations are strengthened with practice and weakened without practice.”[20] The subtle shift of anthropology and the origins of behavior of man are evident in Thorndike’s theoretical suggestions for human behavior. This shift in beliefs in regards to anthropology set the care of people on a trajectory that was bigger than what Thorndike could have anticipated. It now allowed for change to be seen in entirely physical and environmental capacities.

Of note is that Thorndike’s theories began to shift from animal sciences to a newly coined term and field, Educational Psychology. “During the first fifteen years of the twentieth century, Thorndike moved from animal psychology to education, in part because of his interest in applying his general laws of learning to school learning and in part because more jobs were available in teacher education programs.”[21] Thus came a landslide of writings by Thorndike during this time that greatly shaped the field of educational psychology: Educational Psychology, The Fundamentals of Learning, and The Human Nature Club. All of these works further advanced a certain anthropology that held to strong emphasis on the purely naturalistic observations of anthropology and behavior change. Thorndike even rebuked a metaphysician, saying that:

A metaphysician could argue that every connection is (1) between some external state of affairs and some total status of the person, or (2) between some one total status of the person and the sequent status, or (3) between external state of affairs plus total status of the person and sequent status of the latter or of both. However true this may be, it is a useless and harmful habit to treat persons as unanalyzable wholes when one is studying the fundamentals of behavior and learning [emphasis added].[22]

Is it possible that Thorndike sought explanations for behavior in purely naturalistic capacity? Is it possible that in seeking to study anthropology that Thorndike left out important considerations for what makes people do what they do? It seems that his sharp rebuke of non-observable factors evidences that Thorndike divorces significant reasons for why humans do what they do from his observations. Thus, the—perhaps unintentional—birth of behaviorism took place.[23]

It was now just one generation after William James introduced the idea of psychology as a natural science and his ideological progeny has solidified the naturalistic perspective of human behavior. However, James’s influence is not confined to Thorndike; he also encouraged the writings and ideologies of another prominent behaviorist—Clark Hull.

Clark L. Hull

Clark Hull was born in 1884 to a farming family in Akron, New York. He would go to college only to be forced to stop his studies in mining engineering after a bout with polio temporarily paralyzed one of his legs. During his recovery there was much debate in Hull’s life over the next direction and his vocational pursuits. It was also during this recovery process that Hull would be exposed to the writings of William James’s Principles of Psychology.[24] He said, “Psychology seemed to satisfy this unique set of requirements [wanting to be in philosophy but not too involved in social requirements]. Accordingly I made a preliminary survey of the subject by studying about fourteen hundred pages of William James’s Principles of Psychology.[25]

This reading seemed to have been a profitable time for Hull, as he would later go on to hold teaching positions at the University of Wisconsin and Yale, both involving classes or research in psychology. In fact, Hull would finish his career at Yale working in the Institute of Psychology as a research professor. It there that Hull became convinced,

That psychology is a true natural science; that its primary laws are expressible quantitatively by means of a moderate number of ordinary equations; that all of the complex behavior of single individuals will ultimately be derivable as secondary laws from (1) these primary laws together with (2) the conditions under which the behavior occurs; and that all the behavior of groups as a whole, i.e., strictly social behavior as such, may similarly be derived as quantitative laws from the same primary equations.[26]

The words of Hull sound strikingly familiar to that of William James as James, too, claimed that psychology is a “natural science.” This conclusion by Clark and James led both to behaviorist anthropology as they sought to explain human behavior in purely observable or material capacities.

Clark Hull’s anthropology can best be understood through his work, Principles of Behavior. In this work, displays behavioristic understandings of human motivation, human behavior, and change within human behavior. He ascribes motivation to needs, stating that the motivation of a species is derivative from a “prerequisite to optimal probability of survival.”[27] Meaning, a person needs something for survival and that is what encourages them to do what they do.

The components of behavior for Hull are quite straightforward:

The processes of organic evolution have produced a form of nervous system in the higher organisms which, under the conditions of the several needs of this type, will evoke … a considerable variety of movements each of which has a certain probability of terminating the need. This kind of activity we call behavior (emphasis added).[28]

Here is how Hull views behavior: it is a meeting of the need (or instinct) for optimal probability of survival. Behavior mechanistically flows from responses to needs, thus if one can change the need they can change behavior. Environment, stimuli, and reflexes would serve an important role in Hull’s anthropology as he has now leveled the playing field of behavior to purely mechanistic approaches to man.

Hull’s model for change of behavior is based on “primary reinforcement and secondary reinforcement” including the number of reinforcements.[29] Essentially now Hull has elevated the study of psychology as a natural science and has sought natural explanations to why people do what they do. His theories, beginning with his natural science position on psychology, have led him to espouse a behavioristic anthropology. This anthropology is nothing particularly new since Thorndike, his Columbia-professor peer, was teaching the same behavioristic view of man. In both of their theories of man, one sees the anthropology of their ideological father—William James. It will be displayed how these men perpetuated the anthropology of William James and how the ripple continue forward in Marriage and Family Therapy. But first, there is one more ideological progeny of William James that must be noted: John B. Watson.

John B. Watson

John B. Watson is credited as being the founding father of behaviorism.[30] He was born in in South Carolina in 1878 and educated at Furman University, and later at the University of Chicago where he would receive his PhD in 1903. While at the University of Chicago, Watson was exposed to and learned from John Dewey who was another contemporary of William James. In fact, it was Dewey and James that would collaborate to develop the new, progressive theory of truth known as “pragmatism.”[31]

Although Watson was the first to use the term behaviorism, it was James who set the table for Watson’s thinking. This is evidenced in Watson’s description of behaviorism:

Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist’s total scheme of investigation (emphasis added).[32]

What Watson may or may not realize is that Williams James said the same thing in 1890—twenty-three years before Watson’s observation. Watson is not the father of behaviorism, he is the assimilator of behavioristic thought. He was the one to introduce the terms, but James was the one to introduce the ideas.

It might be of little surprise then that the anthropology that Watson suggests is an outworking of Jamesian anthropology. Watson, too, affirmed that the “so called ‘higher-thought’ processes” of man were developed in the muscular act. He said, “The scheme of habit which James long ago described—where each return or afferent current releases the next appropriate motor discharge—is as true for, thought processes’ as for overt muscular acts.”[33] One must note that the writings of James are influencing the thoughts of Watson and that in his iconic Behaviorist Manifesto, he is affirming the teachings of James. Specifically, the Jamesian perspective of the development of habit as being conditioned upon neuro-pathways.[34] As the researcher displayed above, James set the table for someone to come and develop a mechanistic anthropology. He probably did not know that Watson would carry the torch of his anthropology.

One can see now that the influence of Jamesian ideologies and anthropologies have permeated through leading thinkers and professors in various fields. One can see that in James’s desire to solidify psychology as a natural science now too he opened the door for man-as-machine; that door was walked through by Thorndike, Hull, and Watson—with Watson receiving the credit of behaviorism. There is one more direct ideological progeny of Williams James that cannot go unnoticed—Burrhus Frederic Skinner.

Burrhus F. Skinner

B.F. Skinner was a leading psychologist with a prolific secular career. He was born in 1904 in Pennsylvania to a lawyer ffamilyather and pursued his early studies in English literature. It was after becoming disenchanted with his writing skills that he read John B. Watson’s Behaviorism and decided to pursue his studies, again, but this time in psychology at Harvard. Skinner received his PhD from Harvard before taking teaching positions in Minnesota and Indiana after which he returned to serve as the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University around 1948. He was a notorious thinker, receiving the National Medal of Science from President Lyndon Johnson, and also received the Gold Medal of the American Psychological Foundation. Although He was trained in literature, he took special interest in psychology in his graduate studies, ultimately creating his own version of behaviorism.

It is of no minor significance that Skinner studied at the institution that William James spent most of his career. James would have left around ten years before Skinner would have arrived for studies. However, the ideologies of James are apparent in the developing ideologies of B.F. Skinner. The first connection is to that of William James’s influence over John Watson, which Skinner read before pursuing psychological studies. The next is the ideological perpetuation that would have lived on throughout Harvard. Both of the connections display that Skinner inherited and advanced a Jamesian anthropology.

The form of behaviorism that B.F. Skinner created was essentially what could be termed environmentalism, even though he preferred the term radical behaviorism. In his idea of radical behaviorism, Skinner was not only arguing for the importance of behavior, but for the source of behavior as being from a person’s environment. He said,

The position can be stated as follows: what is felt or introspectively observed is not some nonphysical world of consciousness, mind, or mental life but the observer’s own body. This does not mean, as I shall show later, that introspection is a kind of physiological research, nor does it mean and this is the heart of the argument that what are felt or introspectively observed are the causes of behavior.[35]

What Skinner is seeking to do is to show that he believes introspection is not a sufficient explanation about the causes of behavior.[36] The reason for this belief is that Skinner is drawing into question the ability of a person to observe persons. He states that the observer is, in fact, observing “his own body.” The reason this is important is because Skinner, like James, is suggesting that there is an entirely material reason for why people do what they do (i.e., “the observer’s own body; see above quote).

So it must be said that Skinner is not bringing into question the importance of the immaterial feelings, emotions, sensations, and so forth; Skinner is bringing causation of those mental life phenomenon to the foreground. This is where he builds his argument for radical behaviorism. He says, “The environment made its first great contribution during the evolution of the species, but it exerts a different kind of effect during the lifetime of the individual, and the combination of the two effects is the behavior we observe at any given time [emphasis added].”[37] This is a radical statement, but perhaps not for the reasons that Skinner intended. What he is suggesting is that the reason a person does what they do is because of the environment in which find themselves: “People are extraordinarily different in different places and possibly just because of the places.”[38] He has even made a shift in the behavioristic approach to man, whereas, up to this point in Watson’s and James’s behaviorism the importance and reality of feelings and emotions were greatly recognized.

Skinner, to his credit, recognizes the shift that he is making. He clarifies in his writings that in regards to defending behavioristic shortcomings that potentially he has destroyed what was meant to be saved. “In answering these charges I may seem to have ‘abandoned the very basis of behaviorism’, but what I have abandoned are the vestiges of early statements of the position, subjected to various elaborations and criticisms over a period of some sixty years.”[39] He is right. He has abandoned what James sought to develop as Skinner now makes a shift to the environment of man.

This led to his technology of behavior and his extreme emphasis on the environment of man. His logical conclusion in developing his technology of behavior is to the environment of man. Skinner states clearly that, “what we have learned from the experimental analysis of behavior suggests that the environment performs the functions previously assigned to feelings and introspectively observed inner states of the organism.”[40] The reader must see the transitions taking place within the behavioristic ideology: (1) James argued psychology to be a natural science, and for behavior as being nothing more than the accumulation of habits via neuro-pathways, (2) Thorndike, Hull, and Watson all developed their varying positions of behavior based on entirely natural observations, and (3) Skinner has now said that environment is the main causal factor for all that man does (i.e., thus the term radical behaviorism). James’s ideological progeny perpetuated his anthropology as seen in Table 1.

 

   William James

 

Clark Hull (Yale)

 

Edward Thorndike (Columbia)

 

John B. Watson

(Johns Hopkins)

   

B.F. Skinner (Harvard)

These men were directly responsible for:
·      Behaviorism

·      Educational Psychology

·      Family Behavior Therapy

·      Behavioral Marital Therapy

·      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

·      Behavioral Parent Therapy

·      Environmentalism

·      The Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction

·      Operant Conditioning

 

Table 1: James’s Influence on Modern Christian Family Therapies

James, probably unbeknownst to himself, started a naturalistic understanding of man by teaching that psychology is a natural science. Table 1 displays how James’s idea that psychology is a natural science led to a revolution of anthropology. He opened the door for naturalism, and behaviorism soon followed. Now, Jamesian anthropology has perpetuated through James’s ideology progeny as seen in both their teaching positions/institutions and the corresponding therapies. James’s ideological offspring’s contributions in advancing the development of behavioral therapy have long outlived them. Moreover, Christians have now accepted entirely secular methods of helping people, and thus have consequently employed counter-biblical Jamesian anthropology.

An Overview of Christian Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral Parent Training

This is a behavioral therapy in which parents are taught how to:

  • Increase desirable child behavior,
  • reduce children’s misbehavior,
  • improve parent-child interactions, and
  • bring about a positive family atmosphere.[41]

The method of this therapy is based off of seemingly scientific observation of past interactions.[42] This therapy is taught through having a parent learn the behavior of their child, while watching and listening to the circumstances, response of the child, and result of the child’s actions. After doing so, the parent is taught specific skills for “improving their child’s behavior.”[43]

“Specific skills often taught include praise, positive attention, administration of rewards and privileges, rule-setting, ignoring, reprimands, withdrawal of privileges, and time-out.”[44] The parent then employs these methods in order to get the desired result from the child. The skill of Behavioral Parent Training is designed to help the parent to understand which method to employ and when. The warning lies in that “even the most effective skill used at the wrong time or in the wrong way will not promote wanted changes in behavior.”[45]

One can read between the lines of the development of this theory and see that there has been a purely materialistic or naturalistic perspective of what make children do what they do. In observing interactions of a parent to child, or vice versa, a therapist can be correct in what they are seeing. However, the issue lies in that a therapist fails to see why the child is doing what they are doing. A family behavior therapist should observe the behavior of children to their parents however to stop at this point is to employ a Jamesian understanding of man, which is contradictory to Scripture.

Behavioral Marital Therapy

Behavioral Marital Therapy, sometimes known as Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy is “an empirically validated approach that integrates the twin goals of acceptance and change as positive outcomes for couples in therapy.”[46] Andrew Christiansen, who is a UCLA clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Washington, developed Integrative Behavioral Couples therapy. He has enumerated the process for this therapy as found in his book, Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy: A Therapist’s Guide to Transforming Relationships. In this book, he describes IBCT as being primarily four sessions of listening and assessment, followed by 20-24 sessions of treatment.[47] During the assessment phase, the therapist is seeking to synthesize all that has been said and provide treatment to this couple. This means that the therapist is looking for things like “verbal, physiological, and behavioral variables, the assessment of marital dysfunction includes a variety of procedures designed to evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of a relationship in terms of partners’ interactional behavior.”[48] The assessment phase is designed around a behavioral anthropology as the therapists seeks to observe primarily the “interactional behavior” of the couple.

Moving from the assessment phase, the therapist then moves to offer a plan for treatment. During this time the therapist is still basing their assumptions off of the actions of their clients, with the therapist offering “a conceptualization of the major themes in the couple’s struggles, the understandable reasons why the couple has these struggles, how their efforts to resolve the struggles so often fail, and how therapy can help.”[49] The difficulty of this is that the therapist is employing a method of helping people based off of their anthropology. For instance, of Behavioral Marriage Therapy it is said by Neil Jacobson that:

First, whether the terms “reward” and “punishment” are defined by observers or by the spouses themselves, distressed couples engage in far fewer rewarding exchanges and greater punishing stages than nondistessed couples. … Distressed couples are no more likely to reciprocate positive behavior than are nondistressed couples, and in fact may even be less likely to do so.[50]

The therapist wants to identify the reward and the punishment in order to promote reciprocity. For the IBCT therapist, the therapist also has a failsafe in that if the emotionally evocative methods of treatment fails, they “may also use some of the well-known, change-oriented, prescriptive strategies of traditional behavior therapy.”[51] Meaning, if the attempt to persuade change does not work, the therapist directs for simple change of behavior.

The remnant of James’s anthropology in IBCT/BMT is evidenced in the purely scientific approach that IBCT/BMT takes towards couples and their problems. It is deduced that a therapist can, in fact, observe what the couple is experiencing and then provide a clear articulation of why that is true. Furthermore, the goal of IBCT/BMT is the idea of reciprocity; reciprocity being the certain lawfulness that defines certain successful relationships. Therapy is simply an attempt to get each spouse to see the benefits of delivering rewarding behaviors to their spouse.[52] The Jamesian anthropology of behavior modification is the goal of BMT/IFCT.

The Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction and Dialectical Family Therapy

Both Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction and Dialectical Family Therapy are other forms of behavioral treatment. Treatment of sexual dysfunction is directly designed to “restructure maladaptive behavior patterns and cognitions regarding sexuality.”[53] This therapy entails entirely the focus of treatment for sexual problems with behavioral changes, sexual techniques, and sex education.

Individual DBT, however, “is a principle-driven, behavioral treatment (Linehan, 1993a,b) that typically includes weekly individual sessions, weekly group skills training, therapist consultation meetings, and some form of behavior generalization (such as brief telephone-skill coaching between sessions), all with the aim of replacing maladaptive behaviors with skillful, effective ones.”[54] Dialectics is the idea that a person must accept life as it is in order to be successful. This is done through advantageous behavioral changes that promote the positive behavior.

What both of these therapies have in common is that they have a similar anthropology. Both of them see the behavior of a person as what is necessary for change. William James opened the door for an anthropology to be viewed in entirely in naturalistic terms, and now the treatment of sexual dysfunction is seen through an entirely material method by some. Likewise, DBT is a means of having people replace maladaptive behavior with entire emphasis on new behavior. The means of accepting life comes through behavior change.

Family Behavior Therapy

Family Behavior Therapy is an umbrella term for therapies that focus on the family unit and are seemingly empirical in their methods and evaluations.[55] FBT is an amalgamation of behavioral therapies that seeks to vet itself with so-called empirical validation of effectiveness. Its methods are to employ educating the family, practice certain behavior functions (i.e., communicating), problem solving, and operant conditioning—all based off of empirical validation by those who employ it.[56]

Again, FBT has aspects that are seemingly laudatory: functioning families and the training of families in certain practical areas, like communication or problem solving. However, what undergirds FBT is the same thread of anthropology that William James started. Specifically, empiricism is the mantra of FBT practitioners, which originated in James’s claim that psychology is a natural science. Now, FBT can be practiced with an entirely empirical and naturalistic view of man. The Jamesian view of man is evidenced in the heavy empirical approach to the care for man.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A final therapy that owes its origination to William James and his ideological progeny is that of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy was articulated and developed by Aaron Beck, and is a form of talking through the problem and changing the behavior of people so as “to modify dysfunctional thinking and behavior.”[57]

Aaron Beck has developed a dynamic view of helping people that is directly attributable to his time at Yale at which point he studied under the influence of Clark Hull. It was Clark Hull who developed his Principles of Behavior after reading William James’s Principles of Psychology. It was James who encouraged Hull to pursue psychology, and Aaron Beck has direct connections to Clark Hull. Again, it is evidenced that the ideological progeny of William James—Aaron Beck—has cultivated a prominent methodology that has been widely accepted by Christian Marriage and Family therapists. The Jamesian anthropology is broader and deeper than most Christian family therapists are aware. Furthermore, the acceptance and employment of these methodologies in counseling families is to accept an Jamesian anthropology, which contradicts Scripture.

Biblical Analysis of Jamesian Anthropology

Epistemic Authority

Every psychology possesses an epistemological authority from experience, to scientific observation, to the writings of others, and et cetera. One of the key behavioristic epistemological authorities is the authority of scientific observation and its so-called authority and explanatory capacity over human existence. This is what James argued, and this is what led to a secularization of anthropology. However, a Christian worldview finds Jamesian anthropology to be incompatible with a biblical anthropology, beginning with the authority by which one views man.

A Christian worldview is one that must be committed to the epistemological authority of Scripture over experience and scientific methodology. This presupposition is foundational to the teachings of Scripture and inherent in a right anthropology.[58] In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He says, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). He connects the epistemological authority as being God’s Word. One theologian said, “The difference is significant, for this statement encourages us to think of the Bible not simply as being ‘true’ in the sense that it conforms to some higher standard of truth, but rather to think of the Bible as being itself the final standard of truth.”[59] There is no question for the believer of whether scientific theory/observation or Scripture is authoritative,[60] because for one to be hermeneutically consistent, they must be committed to the epistemological authority of Scripture. And this is a point of departure for behaviorists, especially James and his ideological progeny.

Behaviorists make seemingly plausible observations in regards to human nature, but these observations are built on faulty presuppositions. It is through Scripture that one sees clearly the world that God created. “By your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9) is the way the psalmist would describe the illuminating function of this epistemological authority: it is only through God’s Word a person can truly understand human nature (1 Cor. 2:14). This is so because God’s Word “enlightens the eyes” (Ps. 19:8). This leaves a behavioristic approach to psychology and anthropology as being incompatible to the Christian worldview in its presuppositions, since a Christian worldview espouses the epistemological authority of Scripture as final over human experience and scientific observation.

Anthropology

Soulical versus Material. Although epistemological authority is perhaps the single-most incompatibility of behaviorism from a Christian worldview, another glaring incompatibility is the anthropology of behaviorists. A natural degradation of man flows from faulty presuppositions and thus, observations of man are skewed from their very beginning. However, a Christian worldview has an upward view of mankind that sees redemption from the effects of sin and restoration to a place of nobility as the trajectory for believers.[61] This redemption primarily consists in the understanding that man is both material and immaterial.

From the Genesis 1 account of God breathing into man the “breath of life,” the Christian worldview of anthropology is that man is primarily an embodied soul.[62] Consequently, man is, and must be seen as a soulical being from a Christian worldview, and that distinctive is quite foreign to behaviorists. Consistently throughout Scripture man is reminded that he no longer is to focus on the outward of the seen but on the inward and eternal, as God does (2 Cor. 4:15-16). Jesus states the importance of the soul as being more valuable than the entire world (Matt. 16:26), and Paul says at the point of death a believer will be separated from his body and their soul present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1-10).

Moreover, the entirety of redemption is focused on the soulical nature of people, making redemption about the recovery of lost souls, not bodies. Bodies will, in fact, be restored (i.e., all nature longs for redemption [Rom. 8:21, 23]), but souls are bought back because of their fall into sin according the Genesis 3 account. To rearrange the nature of man is to rearrange the purpose of man, and the hope for man.

A behaviorist misses the immaterial component of anthropology, which, in turn, causes a fault that is irrevocably damaging to the behavioristic perspective. Physiological influences, environments, and stimuli are all influential aspects of what encourages people to do what they do. However, from a Christian worldview one must see that people do what they do because they have an inner man that is overflowing into outer man behavior (Mark 7:23; Prov. 4:23).[63] Looking at the outer man behavior is observing only the tip of the iceberg of the nature of man—behaviors do not change the heart of man, they only reveal it (Jer. 17:1-7). This focus on the material component of man will miss one of the most intrinsic parts of a Christian worldview about man: man is a sinner.

There is a sense in which behaviorists have overlooked another vital aspect of biblical anthropology according to the Christian worldview: that aspect is that man is a sinner, with a constant inclination to that which is evil. Romans 3:10 indicates that, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (vv. 10-11). One quintessential oversight of behaviorists is that all humans are sinful—Romans 8:8 says none in the flesh can please God. This may not seem pertinent in a secular, humanistic environment until one clarifies that a person will always do that which transgresses against a God, who has provided directives for life. Therefore, a behaviorist would place heavy emphasis on the stimuli and environmental conditions in which one learns behavior. However, Scripture would put an emphasis on the inward inclinations that lead people to certain behaviors—not vice versa. For instance, Proverbs 4:23 clearly paints the inner man as being the source of all behavior: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”[64] Total depravity connotes that this distortion has affected all of man’s being to such an extent that he has no inherent power of recovery left to restore himself to harmony with God, and that this is the case with every member of the race.[65] Moreover, this is something that starts in the heart of man and progresses outward towards behavior.

The line of argumentation from a Christian worldview is that a soulical understanding of man must also articulate the sinfulness of man. Therefore, man does have internal inclinations that are, apart from God, always inclined towards that which is evil. Environment, stimuli, habits, or classic conditioning are not responsible for the actions of man—it is their sinful heart (Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:23). This understanding of man fences in the presupposition of man as being a soulical, sinful creature, something which is foreign to the behaviorist.

Image Bearers. Due to the behaviorist oversight of man as created, soulical beings, they miss that all mankind is an image-bearer of the nature and character of God,[66] one of the most rudimentary aspects of man-as-creature. And as image bearers, man is given insight into the reasons he does the things he does (i.e., he is created this way; see above comments); man cannot reduce all actions to conditioning, habits, or environments (Mark 7:23-25), and lastly that a Christian cannot be a behaviorist if they are truly image-bearers. As an image-bearer, which Scripture teaches explicitly, a person must recognize that God is Spirit (John 4:24). In fact, a person’s image-bearing of God is primarily non-material.[67] This image-bearing component of man’s nature makes behaviorism an incompatible worldview by which to see man. As an image-bearer, man is implicitly and explicitly responsible for the way that he represents the true Image. Leading the discerning believer to note one more incompatibility of the Christian worldview with the behaviorist worldview: human responsibility.

Human Responsibility. If one were to read the works of William James’ perspective of motivation or B.F. Skinner’s view of the role of environment the would notice something is absent from these writings and that is the responsibility of humans. In fact, Skinner goes as far to state that environments can determine the character of people.[68] Wonderfully absent in these men’s perspective is the responsibility of man as it pertains to man’s environment.[69] A Christian worldview says that a person does wrong things because he wants wrong things (Matt. 12:34; Mark 7:23; Jer. 17:9; James 3:11), not because he is in wrong environments.

The important clarification is that a Christian worldview states that all the actions of man are derivative from the inner man (i.e., soul, heart, bosom) and that man will give an account of those actions (Heb. 9:23). Immediately after providing the source of words, Jesus reminds the hearers of His time that “every person will give an account for the idle words they speak” (Matt. 12:36). Did Jesus not understand what James and Skinner were to later observe, that environment and behavior would shape a person and make a person? That thought is not compatible with the truth of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. Rather, man will give account for everything that he does and is being held accountable even for the way that he responds to environmental influences, external stimuli, and habitual influences.

A Christian worldview does not minimize or ignore the potency of environments and behavior, but it does not maximize them, either. Mankind is responsible for his actions, even in the midst of terrible environments and recalcitrant habits from years of practice. Environment does play a very important role in the Christian worldview. In fact, Paul warns that a believer should avoid being unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:4) and also that that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). The Bible is not ignorant to the influences of environment, but never cites environment as causation.[70]

Cause vs. Influence. One last clarification, although a thorough discussion on the Holy Spirit could be warranted, is that mankind is responsible for their actions. A few instances of this are revealed clearly throughout Scripture. For instance, Joseph was a man who was sold into slavery, betrayed by his family, forgotten by his friends, accused by his boss’ wife, and yet repeatedly saw that God was using these negative environmental occasions to accomplish His purposes (Gen. 50:20). Joseph had a human right to be bitter and retaliatory from a human perspective, yet we see that he recognizes God brought these things into his life to as part of God’s plan for Joseph’s life. They were very influential occasions in his life, but they were not determinative causations of his own conduct. In fact, we see that Joseph repeatedly did what honored the Lord despite his environment.[71]

One last example of human responsibility is the passage of 2 Corinthians 5:10, which says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Paul focuses his life on pleasing God because he knows one day he will give an account to God for everything—including the way he responded to negative environments. A behaviorist misses the fact that a person is, and will always be responsible for their actions. Yes, environmental considerations are important in the Christian worldview, but they are not determinative. In fact, in the face of negative environmental influences (i.e., “evil”), God calls people to do good (Rom. 12:18-21). Though environment is evil, God provides the grace to do what is right, and all will be held accountable (1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 9:27). Behaviorism shirks responsibility, but a Christian worldview restores responsibility while recognizing environment is influential, just not determinative. The balance is not to minimize environment, but rather to recognize that environment only influences—it never causes.[72]

Conclusion

William James fired an ideological shot that would change the future of the care of souls. His desire to see psychology be recognized and pursued as a natural science has come to fruition, and the damages of this mindset are still perpetuating themselves. From James to Hull, Thorndike, Watson, and Skinner have come a family of behavioral counseling and therapy. As has been displayed, to employ modern behavioral approaches to therapy is to employ the behavioristic anthropology of William James and, in turn, to contradict a biblical anthropology.

The importance of what has been displayed in this paper surpasses the observations of contradictory anthropologies. What matters most about what James accomplished is that he divorced the study of man from what God says about man. He allowed for anthropology and psychology to become secular, thus the behavioral therapy movement that followed in his wake. The danger of what James did serves as a warning for modern day carers of souls: to make psychology an entirely natural and materialistic science is to truncate an accurate and biblical anthropology. Furthermore, it predisposes those engaged in the care of souls to divorce what God says about man from what can be observed about man. In practicing psychology as a natural science, one then engages methods that are secular and, ultimately, unbiblical.

Does psychology have no room for empiricism? No. Empiricism has right and warrant in all scientific pursuits, but epistemic authority can only be assigned to Scripture. The Christian who grants authority to empiricism or the scientific method will follow in the footsteps of William James who allowed for the door to open in regards to secular pursuits of the care of man. Should the care of man be pursued with diligence, exactness, accountability, or even verifiability? Sure, as best as possible, but the authority of anthropology must always be assigned to Scripture—not science. William James is an illustration of what happens when one puts their epistemic authority in science and the ensuing dangers for those who employ his anthropology in counseling.


 

 

 


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[1] Ruth Anna Putnam, ed., The Cambridge Companion to William James (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 1.

[2] William James, Writings, 1878-1899 (Cambridge, MA: Library of America, 1992), 11.

[3] William James, Writings, 1878-1899, 12.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James (Chicago, IL: Nelson Hall, 1974), 12.

[6] “First, that there is no such thing as a science of psychology and second, that W.J. is an incapable” were the words of James after submitting his first draft of Principles of Psychology (12). Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James

[7] David A. Statt, A Concise Dictionary of Psychology (London: Routeledge, 1998), s.v. “anthropology.” Cf. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 439. Charles Ryrie, Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1999), 225.

[8] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James (Chicago, IL: Nelson Hall, 1974), 11, 66.

[9] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu, n.d.), accessed September 28, 2016, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/behaviorism/#1. Cf. George Posner’s description in Analyzing the Curriculum (McGraw Hill, 2003), 65. Posner argued for the behaviorist as not only arguing for what behaviors contribute toward learning but also what are the desired outcomes of those behaviors.

[10] Merriam-Webster, (accessed February 23, 2017), https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contradict, s.v. “contradict.”

[11] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James (Chicago, IL: Nelson Hall, 1974), 18.

[12] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James, 14-15.

[13] Ibid., 15.

[14] William James taught a reductionistic perspective of neurology in that the nervous system “is well understood today to be nothing but a machine for receiving impressions and discharging reactions preservative to the individual of his kind” (16) in William James, Writings, 1878-1899, 16. This neurological belief system is best evidenced in his lecture on “Habits” (137-151). One can see how this set the stage for a ‘re-programming of the neurological machine’, as it were, and leading towards behaviorism.

[15] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey (London and New York: Routeledge, 2001), 234. See William James’ lectures and writings during this time period, Writings, 1878-1899 (New York, NY: The Library of America, 1992). Williams James could be considered the father of modern behaviorism due to his naturalistic posture of man, but it was Edward Thorndike who will develop James anthropology. Cf. Robert Maynard Hutchins, ed., Great Books of the Western World (Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc, 1952), v-vi.

[16] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey, 234. “In addition to being the first psychology dissertation to use animals as subjects, it introduced an experimental methodology that today seems so obvious that it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of his contribution.” Cf. his dissertation which was in regards to: “the experiments were on the intelligent acts and habits of a considerable number of dogs, cats, and chicks. The method was to put the animals when hungry in enclosures from which they could escape (and so obtain food) by operating some simple mechanism by turning a wooden button that held the door, pulling a loop attached to the bolt, or pressing down a lever” (818) in Edward Thorndike, “Some Experiments on Animal Intelligence,” Science 7, no. 181 (1898): 818–824.

[17] William James, Writings, 1878-1899 (New York, NY: The Library of America, 1992), 15. Cf. James’ work on habits and their corresponding influence of man, during which James began to distinguish the physical from the immaterial. “He [referring to Thorndike] laid the methodological and philosophical foundation of the behavioral psychology of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner” in Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey, 233.

[18] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey (London and New York: Routeledge, 2001), 233.

[19] Edward Thorndike, Educational Psychology: Briefer Course (New York: Teacher’s College, Columbia University, 1919), 1. It was Thorndike who developed a stimulus-response theory that ended up laying the foundations for later developments in environmentalism, to include that of B.F. Skinner, About Behaviorism (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974). “The environment made its first great contribution during the evolution of the species, but it exerts a different kind of effect during the lifetime of the individual, and the combination of the two effects is the behavior we observe at any given time” (17). This talk is also reminiscent of James’s beliefs on neuro-pathways, cf. William James, Writings, 1878-1899, “Habits,” 139.

[20] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey (London and New York: Routeledge, 2001), 235.

[21] Ibid., 235. Also cf. D.A. Dewsbury, “Triumph and Tribulation in the History of American Comparative Psychology,” Journal of Comparative Psychology 106 (1992): 3–19.

[22] Edward Thorndike, The Principles of Teaching Based on Psychology (New York: Sieller, 1913).

 

[23] Note, it was James B. Watson that first used the term “behaviorism” but it was Thorndike who first studied behavior from a naturalist perspective. Furthermore, it was James’s ideologies that Thorndike and Watson were simply developing.

 

[24] Clark Hull, Clark L. Hull: A History of Psychology in Autobiography (Worcester, MA: Clark University Press), 143–162.

[25] Frank A. Beach, Clark Leonard Hull (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1959), 127.

[26] Frank A. Beach, Clark Leonard Hull (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1959), 129.

[27] Clark Hull, Principles of Behavior (New York: Appleton Century Crofts, 1943).

[28] Ibid., 68.

[29] Cf. his chapters on “primary reinforcement, secondary reinforcements,” and “aHa the Number of Reinforcements” in Clark Hull, Principles of Behavior (New York: Appleton Century Crofts, 1943), 68-123.

[30] Cf. John Watson, Behaviorism (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1958).

[31] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James, 35. This was not a direct, professional collaboration but as is represented in Dooley’s work, often a sparring that helped further develop the ideologies of James.

[32] John Watson, “Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It” (Saylor.org, 1913), http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Watson/views.htm.

[33] Ibid., 15.

[34] Cf. footnote #14, William James, Writings, 1878-1899, 137-51.

[35] B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974), 17.

[36] By introspection, Skinner is referring to consideration of feelings, sensations, ideas, and other “features of the mental life” B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism, 16. He is suggesting the current understandings of mental life are not objective, therefore radical behaviorism is not discounting the mental life but rather questioning “the nature of the object observed and the reliability of the observations” B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism, 16-17.

[37] B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism, 17.

[38] B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 1979), 185. Skinner was arguing for an environmentalist perspective, citing Robert Owen saying, “clear grasped and taught that environment makes character and that environment is under human control [emphasis added],” B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, 185. He also said, “[Freedom and dignity] have formulated the task in such a way that they cannot now accept the fact that all control is exerted by the environment and proceed to the design of better environments rather than of better men” (82).

[39] Ibid., 248.

[40] Ibid., 248.

[41] Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, “ABCT Fact Sheets,” accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.abct.org/Information/?m=mInformation&fa=fs_PARENT_TRAINING.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, “ABCT Fact Sheets,” 1.

[45] Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, “ABCT Fact Sheets,” 1.

[46] American Psychological Association, “Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy,” accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310904.aspx.

[47] Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, “About IBT,” Accessed February 25, 2017, http://ibct.psych.ucla.edu/about.html.

[48] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy (New York: Brunner/Mazel, n.d.), 563.

[49] Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, “About IBT,” Accessed February 25, 2017, http://ibct.psych.ucla.edu/about.html.

[50] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy (New York: Brunner/Mazel, n.d.), 562-63.

[51] American Psychological Association, “Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy,” accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310904.aspx.

[52] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy (New York: Brunner/Mazel, n.d.), 582.

[53] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy, 594.

[54] Dialectical Behavior Therapy, “Dialectical Behavior Therapy—Family Skills Training,” dbtselfhelp.com, accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/family_skills.html.

[55] “Although social learning theory was the major theoretical base for the earliest proponents of this approach, recent developments have incorporated a much broader set of paradigms derived from social psychology … . The key thread that binds these diverse perspectives is a demand for continual empirical challenge.” Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., The Handbook of Family Therapy, vol. 2 (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1991), 65.

[56] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., The Handbook of Family Therapy, vol. 2 (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1991), 80-84.

[57] Aaron Beck, “What is CBT?,” The Beck Institute, accessed February 25, 2017, https://www.beckinstitute.org/get-informed/what-is-cognitive-therapy.

[58] Inherent because a right anthropology, as will be displayed, understands that the one conducting seemingly objective scientific observation will be a person who is infected by the effects of sin. This infection renders the would-be observer as jaded, and unable to objectively see what is truly taking place. Please see the below section, “Total Depravity.”

[59] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 83. Cf. John MacArthur, The Scripture Cannot be Broken (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

[60] John MacArthur, “The Sufficiency of Scripture,” The Master’s Seminary Journal, 15/2 (Fall 2004): 165-174. Psalm 19 makes the argument that there is a difference in authority of general revelation and special revelation, moreover, the difference is that special revelation supersedes general revelation in authority. Epistemological authority is connected to the very nature of the Scripture and a Christian worldview. Warfield argued that the Scriptures were referred to as God’s words, and to disobey God’s words were to disobey God himself. Cf. Benjamin Warfield, “It Says, Scripture Says, God Says,” in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, vol. 1 (Repr. 1932; Nashville: TN, Baker, 2003), 283-332. Louis Berkhof argued that historically general revelation has been seen as insufficient in three primary ways: (1) it does not acquaint man with the only way of salvation, (2) it does not convey to man any absolutely reliable knowledge of God and spiritual things, and (3) it does not furnish an adequate basis for religion. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Repr. 1932; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1996), 132-33.

[61] Erich Sauer, The King of the Earth: The Nobility of Man According to the Bible and Science (n.p.: Create Space Independent Platform, 2013).

[62] This does not and should not denigrate from the body that houses each person’s soul as those bodies are said to be “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). To err in minimizing the body leads one towards Gnosticism or dualism, as noted by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes in The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ (Grand Rapids: Intervarsity, 1989), 266.

[63] David Powlison says, “There is no psychodynamic,’ no motivation pattern, independent of what people are doing with God. Human psychology is theological because human beings are with-respect-to-God creatures. The prime action is in the man-God relationship, not in an encapsulated psyche whose component parts relate to one another according to some supposed pattern.” The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2010), 243. The motivation of a person, again, is that the person is an image bearing person. G.K. Beale said, “At the core of our beings we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue; we either reflect the Creator or something in creation.” G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008), 16.

[64] Cf. Garrett, Duane A. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 14. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993.

A.W. Pink noted, “Total depravity connotes that this distortion has affected all of man’s being to such an extent that he has no inherent power of recovery left to restore himself to harmony with God, and that this is the case with every member of the race.” Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in the Scriptures: Man’s Total Depravity (Logos Bible Software, 2005), 123. This is not to say that man as is bad as he can possibly be, but rather that all man is oriented towards sin in his fallen state. Louis Berkhof helpfully clarifies when he says, “Negatively, it does not imply: (1) that every man is as thoroughly depraved as he can possibly become; (2) that the sinner has no innate knowledge of the will of God, nor a conscience that discriminates between good and evil … . Positively, it does indicate: (1) that the inherent corruption extends to every part of man’s nature, to all the faculties and powers of both soul and body; and (2) that there is no spiritual good, that is, good in relation to God, in the sinner at all, but only perversion,” L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 246–247.

[65] Ibid.

[66] “The most distinctive feature of the biblical understanding of man is the teaching that man has been created in the image of God. … So to be faithful to the biblical evidence, our understanding of the image of God must include these two senses: (1) the image of God as such is an unlosable aspect of man, a part of his essence and existence, something that man cannot lose without ceasing to be man. (2) The image of God, however, must also be understood as that likeness to God which was perverted when man fell into sin, and is being restored and renewed in the process of sanctification.” Anthony Hoekema, Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1986). G.K. Beale said, “All humans have been created to be reflecting beings, and they will reflect what they are ultimately committed to, whether the true God or some other object in the created order,” We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008), 22.

[67] Although God is spirit, some physiological representations can be connected to anthropomorphistic insinuations of God (i.e., “Incline your ear” Ps. 17:6; Ps. 34:15-16). This is not to say that God has bodily ears but that God listens, rather.

[68] “People are extraordinarily different in different places and possibly just because of the places” (185) in B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 1979).

[69] Although, it is important to note that Knight Dunlap suggests what is bad, making a moral judgment about homosexuality. And likewise, Skinner paints a vision of the good life as being preservation of the human race. Both are making ethical decisions as to that which is right, but neither emphasize the human’s right to perform that right act. Rather, it is an external stimulus that changes the person, not the person’s change that leads to the outward action. It is quite seductive in that environment and habits are influential but are not causative.

[70] For instance, in both of the stated passages, the concern is that a person will become more and more acclimated to the secular way of thinking. Paul does not shift the blame to the wicked company, but says that the danger is a person will be wooed towards a different ethical persuasion when they are not careful with their company. The puritans used the idea of wicked company as being infectious, and that Satan would use the company of the wicked to encourage a person to be dissuaded from following God—yet the person was still choosing to disobey. Cf. Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2011), 100.

[71] Genesis 39 where he is accused of immoral relationships; Genesis 40 where he interprets dreams and is forgotten; Genesis 50 where he does not repay to his brothers all of the damage that they caused him over his lifetime.

[72] Often times the example of Christ in relation to environment is overlooked. Philippians 2 states that Christ came to a wicked environment and that he was obedient unto death. Hebrews 4:25-26 says that even though Christ was tempted while in this environment, he was still without sin. Perhaps the epitome of negative environments is personified in the crucifixion, yet Christ remained sinless and did not return evil for evil (1 Pet. 2:22-23).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shot Fired Round the World: William James’s

Influence on Modern Christian Family Therapies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg E. Gifford

Dr. Frank Catanzaro CNSLN 7214

February 28, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shot Fired Round the World: William James’s

Influence on Modern Christian Family Therapies

 

 

Introduction

In 1869 Harvard would graduate one of its most influential professors and modern day thinkers—William James. William James graduated from Harvard with his Medical Doctorate (MD) in 1869, next to pursue studies in Brazil with the renowned Louis Aggassiz. After returning from his trip abroad, James suffered with serious health issues and bouts of what he termed depression.[1] The significance of this return and his ensuing health conditions cannot be overstated as James would return stateside and accept a teaching position at Harvard in 1872. It was at Harvard that James would shape—maybe even redefine—the world of psychology. Here he would develop anthropological and epistemological theories that gave credence to many modern-day methodologies as will be displayed.

During James’s lifetime psychology became a so-called “science” and that can be directly attributed to his contribution. In his writings given in 1878, James sought to treat psychology and its study “as a natural science.”[2] By this James intends that every natural science has assumed data, which philosophers would need to ideologically tease out. He viewed psychology as having its own data that must be assumed for the process of scientific studies: that data was “thoughts and feelings” and “knowledge.”[3] “Such a provisional body of propositions about states of mind, and about the cognitions which they enjoy, is what I mean by Psychology considered as a natural science.”[4] James is saying that in order to study psychology that certain data and its correlates must be assumed in order to complete his proposed method of study. Furthermore, the very types of the data that must be accepted for the natural study of psychology are thoughts, feelings, and knowledge all of which shape encroach the jurisdiction of the Scripture.

William James has just pivoted from natural sciences, which he had engaged up to this point in his life through medical studies and zoological studies with Aggassiz. Part of the influencing factor in this pivot is that James’s department at Harvard was transitioned from the school of physiology to the school of philosophy.[5] This transition encouraged him to rethink the nature of the study of psychology, which originally he opposed as being unscientific.[6] This transition is of no small importance as James has ushered in a pseudo-scientific era to the study of human behavior. James’s claim of psychology as a natural science became the ideological shot heard around the psychological world.

James has now set the stage for secular anthropological studies, the remnants of which are readily displayed in counseling and therapies today. In fact, James’s anthropology and psychological approach are existent in many therapies—to include the therapies employed by that of Christian counselors and therapists. James fired a shot that would be heard around world of psychology and his impact in attempting to understand human behavior is residual within the modern therapies—especially the behavioral approaches to therapies.

Hypothesis

To employ modern behavioral approaches to therapy is to employ the behavioristic anthropology of William James and, in turn, to contradict a biblical anthropology.

Definitions

To understand the intention of the research, first an offering of explanations and definitions will be given.

Anthropology: the study and doctrine of man, to include “the difference physical and cultural conditions of mankind.”[7] Part of the author’s intent is to show that a biblical anthropology precludes behavioristic conclusions. The researcher is using the term anthropology to connote both the study of man and the belief’s one espouses in regards to man. This is a common approach and fits within the same understanding that the below authors would have employed the term.[8]

Behaviorism: the theory that human behavior is fully attributable to physical causes, conditioning, and action. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy clearly states:

Psychology is the science of behavior. Psychology is not the science of mind—as something other or different from behavior. (2) Behavior can be described and explained without making ultimate reference to mental events or to internal psychological processes. The sources of behavior are external (in the environment), not internal (in the mind, in the head). (3) In the course of theory development in psychology, if, somehow, mental terms or concepts are deployed in describing or explaining behavior, then either (a) these terms or concepts should be eliminated and replaced by behavioral terms or (b) they can and should be translated or paraphrased into behavioral concepts.[9]

 

Behaviorism is summarily both a theory and a practice that focuses primarily on the external factors of man’s behavior.

Contradict: The researcher is employing this term in its common usage as “to imply the opposite or a denial of.”[10] As will be displayed to employ behavioristic methodologies in espousing Jamesian anthropology is to deny a biblical anthropology.

William James’s Influence and Anthropology

It has been stated above that James brought about the so-called scientific inquiry of psychology, yet James knew that this inquiry could not be divorced from philosophical or metaphysical presuppositions. He said, “But I confess that … I have become more and more convinced of the difficulty of treating psychology without introducing some true and suitable philosophical doctrine.”[11] Essentially, James recognizes that this new field that he is attempting to create cannot stand apart from interpretive work by the researcher. Thus, his Psychology as science began with an understanding of the need for metaphysical commitments, but warped into purely materialistic understandings of man—as will be displayed.

During the time of James’s transition to the department of philosophy at Harvard, he transitioned with him a new mindset that would open the door for behaviorist therapies: the mindset was of empirical studies of inner man phenomenon. James believed that the methods of studying psychology could be “(1) experimental method, (2) introspection, and (3) comparative method.”[12] Experimental methodology was preferred because it offered a level of empiricism that left little room for debate. However, James would employ mostly an introspective model of study in his Principles and Writings.[13]

The door had now been opened to a study of man apart from the metaphysical reasons that drive man. William James set the table for his ideological offspring to come and feast, although he would still tinker in metaphysics, religion, emotions, and motivations. He would set the table with his theories of “neurological pathways” and experimental methodology:[14] both of these removing the inner man, non-material aspects of man. Unlike James, though, the ideological offspring of James would seek to formulate purely materialistic and mechanistic anthropological explanations. His first progeny: Edward Thorndike.

The Ideological Offspring of William James (10 Pages)

Edward L. Thorndike

Edward Thorndike was an American psychologist who spent the majority of his career teaching for Columbia University in New York. He was born in 1874 to a lawyer father who became a clergyman. Thorndike would be highly educated for his time, attending Wesleyan University in 1895 and Harvard University from 1895-1897. It was at Harvard that Thorndike was introduced to the teachings of William James, even receiving endorsement from James in his study of the behavior of chickens, which was part of Thorndike’s PhD dissertation.[15] James was said to have even housed Thorndike’s chickens in his basement before Thorndike received a fellowship from Columbia, moving there to finish his PhD.

Thorndike would write his PhD dissertation on a work that “was landmark in the history of psychology.”[16] Essentially his work was the beginnings of observation of animal and human behavior. William James encouraged and opened the door for studies like this from Thorndike. James would have taught similar things and encouraged this way of thinking, but it was Thorndike who created a clear theory of learning that set the stage for behaviorism.[17]

It is said of Thorndike that he “is perhaps the most influential of all American psychologists. His on work in animal learning helped establish comparative psychology as an experimental science and created the field of psychology that became known as the experimental analysis of behavior.”[18] What William James did was set the stage for the study of human behavior. His ideological offspring—Edward Thorndike—took the next logical step and sought to explain that behavior from a purely behavioristic and humanistic perspective.

Thorndike’s natural and man-centered approach to human behavior can be seen in the following comments:

A man’s nature and the changes that take place in it may be described in terms of the responses—of thought, feeling, action and attitude—which he makes, and of the bonds by which these are connected with the situations which life offers. Any fact of intellect, character or skill means a tendency to respond in a certain way to a certain situation—involves a situation or state of affairs influencing the man, a response or state of affairs in the man, and a connection or bond whereby the latter is the result of the former.[19]

 

Notice what is glaringly absent from Thorndike’s statements: any mention of the immaterial components of man. He has reduced all of man’s nature and actions into two over-arching categories: (1) responses, and (2) the bonds that connect these responses to life situations (which is a Jamesian perspective of man). These observations led to the development of his Law of Effect and Law of Exercise. “The law of effect states that practice alone will not generate an association: the pairing of stimulus with response must be followed by a consequence or effect. … According to the law of exercise, associations are strengthened with practice and weakened without practice.”[20] The subtle shift of anthropology and the origins of behavior of man are evident in Thorndike’s theoretical suggestions for human behavior. This shift in beliefs in regards to anthropology set the care of people on a trajectory that was bigger than what Thorndike could have anticipated. It now allowed for change to be seen in entirely physical and environmental capacities.

Of note is that Thorndike’s theories began to shift from animal sciences to a newly coined term and field, Educational Psychology. “During the first fifteen years of the twentieth century, Thorndike moved from animal psychology to education, in part because of his interest in applying his general laws of learning to school learning and in part because more jobs were available in teacher education programs.”[21] Thus came a landslide of writings by Thorndike during this time that greatly shaped the field of educational psychology: Educational Psychology, The Fundamentals of Learning, and The Human Nature Club. All of these works further advanced a certain anthropology that held to strong emphasis on the purely naturalistic observations of anthropology and behavior change. Thorndike even rebuked a metaphysician, saying that:

A metaphysician could argue that every connection is (1) between some external state of affairs and some total status of the person, or (2) between some one total status of the person and the sequent status, or (3) between external state of affairs plus total status of the person and sequent status of the latter or of both. However true this may be, it is a useless and harmful habit to treat persons as unanalyzable wholes when one is studying the fundamentals of behavior and learning [emphasis added].[22]

 

Is it possible that Thorndike sought explanations for behavior in purely naturalistic capacity? Is it possible that in seeking to study anthropology that Thorndike left out important considerations for what makes people do what they do? It seems that his sharp rebuke of non-observable factors evidences that Thorndike divorces significant reasons for why humans do what they do from his observations. Thus, the—perhaps unintentional—birth of behaviorism took place.[23]

It was now just one generation after William James introduced the idea of psychology as a natural science and his ideological progeny has solidified the naturalistic perspective of human behavior. However, James’s influence is not confined to Thorndike; he also encouraged the writings and ideologies of another prominent behaviorist—Clark Hull.

Clark L. Hull

Clark Hull was born in 1884 to a farming family in Akron, New York. He would go to college only to be forced to stop his studies in mining engineering after a bout with polio temporarily paralyzed one of his legs. During his recovery there was much debate in Hull’s life over the next direction and his vocational pursuits. It was also during this recovery process that Hull would be exposed to the writings of William James’s Principles of Psychology.[24] He said, “Psychology seemed to satisfy this unique set of requirements [wanting to be in philosophy but not too involved in social requirements]. Accordingly I made a preliminary survey of the subject by studying about fourteen hundred pages of William James’s Principles of Psychology.[25]

This reading seemed to have been a profitable time for Hull, as he would later go on to hold teaching positions at the University of Wisconsin and Yale, both involving classes or research in psychology. In fact, Hull would finish his career at Yale working in the Institute of Psychology as a research professor. It there that Hull became convinced,

That psychology is a true natural science; that its primary laws are expressible quantitatively by means of a moderate number of ordinary equations; that all of the complex behavior of single individuals will ultimately be derivable as secondary laws from (1) these primary laws together with (2) the conditions under which the behavior occurs; and that all the behavior of groups as a whole, i.e., strictly social behavior as such, may similarly be derived as quantitative laws from the same primary equations.[26]

 

The words of Hull sound strikingly familiar to that of William James as James, too, claimed that psychology is a “natural science.” This conclusion by Clark and James led both to behaviorist anthropology as they sought to explain human behavior in purely observable or material capacities.

Clark Hull’s anthropology can best be understood through his work, Principles of Behavior. In this work, displays behavioristic understandings of human motivation, human behavior, and change within human behavior. He ascribes motivation to needs, stating that the motivation of a species is derivative from a “prerequisite to optimal probability of survival.”[27] Meaning, a person needs something for survival and that is what encourages them to do what they do.

The components of behavior for Hull are quite straightforward:

The processes of organic evolution have produced a form of nervous system in the higher organisms which, under the conditions of the several needs of this type, will evoke … a considerable variety of movements each of which has a certain probability of terminating the need. This kind of activity we call behavior (emphasis added).[28]

 

Here is how Hull views behavior: it is a meeting of the need (or instinct) for optimal probability of survival. Behavior mechanistically flows from responses to needs, thus if one can change the need they can change behavior. Environment, stimuli, and reflexes would serve an important role in Hull’s anthropology as he has now leveled the playing field of behavior to purely mechanistic approaches to man.

Hull’s model for change of behavior is based on “primary reinforcement and secondary reinforcement” including the number of reinforcements.[29] Essentially now Hull has elevated the study of psychology as a natural science and has sought natural explanations to why people do what they do. His theories, beginning with his natural science position on psychology, have led him to espouse a behavioristic anthropology. This anthropology is nothing particularly new since Thorndike, his Columbia-professor peer, was teaching the same behavioristic view of man. In both of their theories of man, one sees the anthropology of their ideological father—William James. It will be displayed how these men perpetuated the anthropology of William James and how the ripple continue forward in Marriage and Family Therapy. But first, there is one more ideological progeny of William James that must be noted: John B. Watson.

John B. Watson

John B. Watson is credited as being the founding father of behaviorism.[30] He was born in in South Carolina in 1878 and educated at Furman University, and later at the University of Chicago where he would receive his PhD in 1903. While at the University of Chicago, Watson was exposed to and learned from John Dewey who was another contemporary of William James. In fact, it was Dewey and James that would collaborate to develop the new, progressive theory of truth known as “pragmatism.”[31]

Although Watson was the first to use the term behaviorism, it was James who set the table for Watson’s thinking. This is evidenced in Watson’s description of behaviorism:

Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist’s total scheme of investigation (emphasis added).[32]

 

What Watson may or may not realize is that Williams James said the same thing in 1890—twenty-three years before Watson’s observation. Watson is not the father of behaviorism, he is the assimilator of behavioristic thought. He was the one to introduce the terms, but James was the one to introduce the ideas.

It might be of little surprise then that the anthropology that Watson suggests is an outworking of Jamesian anthropology. Watson, too, affirmed that the “so called ‘higher-thought’ processes” of man were developed in the muscular act. He said, “The scheme of habit which James long ago described—where each return or afferent current releases the next appropriate motor discharge—is as true for, thought processes’ as for overt muscular acts.”[33] One must note that the writings of James are influencing the thoughts of Watson and that in his iconic Behaviorist Manifesto, he is affirming the teachings of James. Specifically, the Jamesian perspective of the development of habit as being conditioned upon neuro-pathways.[34] As the researcher displayed above, James set the table for someone to come and develop a mechanistic anthropology. He probably did not know that Watson would carry the torch of his anthropology.

One can see now that the influence of Jamesian ideologies and anthropologies have permeated through leading thinkers and professors in various fields. One can see that in James’s desire to solidify psychology as a natural science now too he opened the door for man-as-machine; that door was walked through by Thorndike, Hull, and Watson—with Watson receiving the credit of behaviorism. There is one more direct ideological progeny of Williams James that cannot go unnoticed—Burrhus Frederic Skinner.

Burrhus F. Skinner

B.F. Skinner was a leading psychologist with a prolific secular career. He was born in 1904 in Pennsylvania to a lawyer ffamilyather and pursued his early studies in English literature. It was after becoming disenchanted with his writing skills that he read John B. Watson’s Behaviorism and decided to pursue his studies, again, but this time in psychology at Harvard. Skinner received his PhD from Harvard before taking teaching positions in Minnesota and Indiana after which he returned to serve as the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University around 1948. He was a notorious thinker, receiving the National Medal of Science from President Lyndon Johnson, and also received the Gold Medal of the American Psychological Foundation. Although He was trained in literature, he took special interest in psychology in his graduate studies, ultimately creating his own version of behaviorism.

It is of no minor significance that Skinner studied at the institution that William James spent most of his career. James would have left around ten years before Skinner would have arrived for studies. However, the ideologies of James are apparent in the developing ideologies of B.F. Skinner. The first connection is to that of William James’s influence over John Watson, which Skinner read before pursuing psychological studies. The next is the ideological perpetuation that would have lived on throughout Harvard. Both of the connections display that Skinner inherited and advanced a Jamesian anthropology.

The form of behaviorism that B.F. Skinner created was essentially what could be termed environmentalism, even though he preferred the term radical behaviorism. In his idea of radical behaviorism, Skinner was not only arguing for the importance of behavior, but for the source of behavior as being from a person’s environment. He said,

The position can be stated as follows: what is felt or introspectively observed is not some nonphysical world of consciousness, mind, or mental life but the observer’s own body. This does not mean, as I shall show later, that introspection is a kind of physiological research, nor does it mean and this is the heart of the argument that what are felt or introspectively observed are the causes of behavior.[35]

 

What Skinner is seeking to do is to show that he believes introspection is not a sufficient explanation about the causes of behavior.[36] The reason for this belief is that Skinner is drawing into question the ability of a person to observe persons. He states that the observer is, in fact, observing “his own body.” The reason this is important is because Skinner, like James, is suggesting that there is an entirely material reason for why people do what they do (i.e., “the observer’s own body; see above quote).

So it must be said that Skinner is not bringing into question the importance of the immaterial feelings, emotions, sensations, and so forth; Skinner is bringing causation of those mental life phenomenon to the foreground. This is where he builds his argument for radical behaviorism. He says, “The environment made its first great contribution during the evolution of the species, but it exerts a different kind of effect during the lifetime of the individual, and the combination of the two effects is the behavior we observe at any given time [emphasis added].”[37] This is a radical statement, but perhaps not for the reasons that Skinner intended. What he is suggesting is that the reason a person does what they do is because of the environment in which find themselves: “People are extraordinarily different in different places and possibly just because of the places.”[38] He has even made a shift in the behavioristic approach to man, whereas, up to this point in Watson’s and James’s behaviorism the importance and reality of feelings and emotions were greatly recognized.

Skinner, to his credit, recognizes the shift that he is making. He clarifies in his writings that in regards to defending behavioristic shortcomings that potentially he has destroyed what was meant to be saved. “In answering these charges I may seem to have ‘abandoned the very basis of behaviorism’, but what I have abandoned are the vestiges of early statements of the position, subjected to various elaborations and criticisms over a period of some sixty years.”[39] He is right. He has abandoned what James sought to develop as Skinner now makes a shift to the environment of man.

This led to his technology of behavior and his extreme emphasis on the environment of man. His logical conclusion in developing his technology of behavior is to the environment of man. Skinner states clearly that, “what we have learned from the experimental analysis of behavior suggests that the environment performs the functions previously assigned to feelings and introspectively observed inner states of the organism.”[40] The reader must see the transitions taking place within the behavioristic ideology: (1) James argued psychology to be a natural science, and for behavior as being nothing more than the accumulation of habits via neuro-pathways, (2) Thorndike, Hull, and Watson all developed their varying positions of behavior based on entirely natural observations, and (3) Skinner has now said that environment is the main causal factor for all that man does (i.e., thus the term radical behaviorism). James’s ideological progeny perpetuated his anthropology as seen in Table 1.

 

   William James
 

Clark Hull (Yale)

 

Edward Thorndike (Columbia)

 

John B. Watson

(Johns Hopkins)

    B.F. Skinner (Harvard)
These men were directly responsible for:
·      Behaviorism

·      Educational Psychology

·      Family Behavior Therapy

·      Behavioral Marital Therapy

·      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

·      Behavioral Parent Therapy

·      Environmentalism

·      The Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction

·      Operant Conditioning

 

Table 1: James’s Influence on Modern Christian Family Therapies

James, probably unbeknownst to himself, started a naturalistic understanding of man by teaching that psychology is a natural science. Table 1 displays how James’s idea that psychology is a natural science led to a revolution of anthropology. He opened the door for naturalism, and behaviorism soon followed. Now, Jamesian anthropology has perpetuated through James’s ideology progeny as seen in both their teaching positions/institutions and the corresponding therapies. James’s ideological offspring’s contributions in advancing the development of behavioral therapy have long outlived them. Moreover, Christians have now accepted entirely secular methods of helping people, and thus have consequently employed counter-biblical Jamesian anthropology.

An Overview of Christian Behavioral Therapies (12 Pages)

Behavioral Parent Training

This is a behavioral therapy in which parents are taught how to:

  • Increase desirable child behavior,
  • reduce children’s misbehavior,
  • improve parent-child interactions, and
  • bring about a positive family atmosphere.[41]

The method of this therapy is based off of seemingly scientific observation of past interactions.[42] This therapy is taught through having a parent learn the behavior of their child, while watching and listening to the circumstances, response of the child, and result of the child’s actions. After doing so, the parent is taught specific skills for “improving their child’s behavior.”[43]

“Specific skills often taught include praise, positive attention, administration of rewards and privileges, rule-setting, ignoring, reprimands, withdrawal of privileges, and time-out.”[44] The parent then employs these methods in order to get the desired result from the child. The skill of Behavioral Parent Training is designed to help the parent to understand which method to employ and when. The warning lies in that “even the most effective skill used at the wrong time or in the wrong way will not promote wanted changes in behavior.”[45]

One can read between the lines of the development of this theory and see that there has been a purely materialistic or naturalistic perspective of what make children do what they do. In observing interactions of a parent to child, or vice versa, a therapist can be correct in what they are seeing. However, the issue lies in that a therapist fails to see why the child is doing what they are doing. A family behavior therapist should observe the behavior of children to their parents however to stop at this point is to employ a Jamesian understanding of man, which is contradictory to Scripture.

Behavioral Marital Therapy

Behavioral Marital Therapy, sometimes known as Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy is “an empirically validated approach that integrates the twin goals of acceptance and change as positive outcomes for couples in therapy.”[46] Andrew Christiansen, who is a UCLA clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Washington, developed Integrative Behavioral Couples therapy. He has enumerated the process for this therapy as found in his book, Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy: A Therapist’s Guide to Transforming Relationships. In this book, he describes IBCT as being primarily four sessions of listening and assessment, followed by 20-24 sessions of treatment.[47] During the assessment phase, the therapist is seeking to synthesize all that has been said and provide treatment to this couple. This means that the therapist is looking for things like “verbal, physiological, and behavioral variables, the assessment of marital dysfunction includes a variety of procedures designed to evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of a relationship in terms of partners’ interactional behavior.”[48] The assessment phase is designed around a behavioral anthropology as the therapists seeks to observe primarily the “interactional behavior” of the couple.

Moving from the assessment phase, the therapist then moves to offer a plan for treatment. During this time the therapist is still basing their assumptions off of the actions of their clients, with the therapist offering “a conceptualization of the major themes in the couple’s struggles, the understandable reasons why the couple has these struggles, how their efforts to resolve the struggles so often fail, and how therapy can help.”[49] The difficulty of this is that the therapist is employing a method of helping people based off of their anthropology. For instance, of Behavioral Marriage Therapy it is said by Neil Jacobson that:

First, whether the terms “reward” and “punishment” are defined by observers or by the spouses themselves, distressed couples engage in far fewer rewarding exchanges and greater punishing stages than nondistessed couples. … Distressed couples are no more likely to reciprocate positive behavior than are nondistressed couples, and in fact may even be less likely to do so.[50]

 

The therapist wants to identify the reward and the punishment in order to promote reciprocity. For the IBCT therapist, the therapist also has a failsafe in that if the emotionally evocative methods of treatment fails, they “may also use some of the well-known, change-oriented, prescriptive strategies of traditional behavior therapy.”[51] Meaning, if the attempt to persuade change does not work, the therapist directs for simple change of behavior.

The remnant of James’s anthropology in IBCT/BMT is evidenced in the purely scientific approach that IBCT/BMT takes towards couples and their problems. It is deduced that a therapist can, in fact, observe what the couple is experiencing and then provide a clear articulation of why that is true. Furthermore, the goal of IBCT/BMT is the idea of reciprocity; reciprocity being the certain lawfulness that defines certain successful relationships. Therapy is simply an attempt to get each spouse to see the benefits of delivering rewarding behaviors to their spouse.[52] The Jamesian anthropology of behavior modification is the goal of BMT/IFCT.

The Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction and Dialectical Family Therapy

Both Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction and Dialectical Family Therapy are other forms of behavioral treatment. Treatment of sexual dysfunction is directly designed to “restructure maladaptive behavior patterns and cognitions regarding sexuality.”[53] This therapy entails entirely the focus of treatment for sexual problems with behavioral changes, sexual techniques, and sex education.

Individual DBT, however, “is a principle-driven, behavioral treatment (Linehan, 1993a,b) that typically includes weekly individual sessions, weekly group skills training, therapist consultation meetings, and some form of behavior generalization (such as brief telephone-skill coaching between sessions), all with the aim of replacing maladaptive behaviors with skillful, effective ones.”[54] Dialectics is the idea that a person must accept life as it is in order to be successful. This is done through advantageous behavioral changes that promote the positive behavior.

What both of these therapies have in common is that they have a similar anthropology. Both of them see the behavior of a person as what is necessary for change. William James opened the door for an anthropology to be viewed in entirely in naturalistic terms, and now the treatment of sexual dysfunction is seen through an entirely material method by some. Likewise, DBT is a means of having people replace maladaptive behavior with entire emphasis on new behavior. The means of accepting life comes through behavior change.

Family Behavior Therapy

Family Behavior Therapy is an umbrella term for therapies that focus on the family unit and are seemingly empirical in their methods and evaluations.[55] FBT is an amalgamation of behavioral therapies that seeks to vet itself with so-called empirical validation of effectiveness. Its methods are to employ educating the family, practice certain behavior functions (i.e., communicating), problem solving, and operant conditioning—all based off of empirical validation by those who employ it.[56]

Again, FBT has aspects that are seemingly laudatory: functioning families and the training of families in certain practical areas, like communication or problem solving. However, what undergirds FBT is the same thread of anthropology that William James started. Specifically, empiricism is the mantra of FBT practitioners, which originated in James’s claim that psychology is a natural science. Now, FBT can be practiced with an entirely empirical and naturalistic view of man. The Jamesian view of man is evidenced in the heavy empirical approach to the care for man.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A final therapy that owes its origination to William James and his ideological progeny is that of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy was articulated and developed by Aaron Beck, and is a form of talking through the problem and changing the behavior of people so as “to modify dysfunctional thinking and behavior.”[57]

Aaron Beck has developed a dynamic view of helping people that is directly attributable to his time at Yale at which point he studied under the influence of Clark Hull. It was Clark Hull who developed his Principles of Behavior after reading William James’s Principles of Psychology. It was James who encouraged Hull to pursue psychology, and Aaron Beck has direct connections to Clark Hull. Again, it is evidenced that the ideological progeny of William James—Aaron Beck—has cultivated a prominent methodology that has been widely accepted by Christian Marriage and Family therapists. The Jamesian anthropology is broader and deeper than most Christian family therapists are aware. Furthermore, the acceptance and employment of these methodologies in counseling families is to accept an Jamesian anthropology, which contradicts Scripture.

Biblical Analysis of Jamesian Anthropology

Epistemic Authority

Every psychology possesses an epistemological authority from experience, to scientific observation, to the writings of others, and et cetera. One of the key behavioristic epistemological authorities is the authority of scientific observation and its so-called authority and explanatory capacity over human existence. This is what James argued, and this is what led to a secularization of anthropology. However, a Christian worldview finds Jamesian anthropology to be incompatible with a biblical anthropology, beginning with the authority by which one views man.

A Christian worldview is one that must be committed to the epistemological authority of Scripture over experience and scientific methodology. This presupposition is foundational to the teachings of Scripture and inherent in a right anthropology.[58] In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He says, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). He connects the epistemological authority as being God’s Word. One theologian said, “The difference is significant, for this statement encourages us to think of the Bible not simply as being ‘true’ in the sense that it conforms to some higher standard of truth, but rather to think of the Bible as being itself the final standard of truth.”[59] There is no question for the believer of whether scientific theory/observation or Scripture is authoritative,[60] because for one to be hermeneutically consistent, they must be committed to the epistemological authority of Scripture. And this is a point of departure for behaviorists, especially James and his ideological progeny.

Behaviorists make seemingly plausible observations in regards to human nature, but these observations are built on faulty presuppositions. It is through Scripture that one sees clearly the world that God created. “By your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9) is the way the psalmist would describe the illuminating function of this epistemological authority: it is only through God’s Word a person can truly understand human nature (1 Cor. 2:14). This is so because God’s Word “enlightens the eyes” (Ps. 19:8). This leaves a behavioristic approach to psychology and anthropology as being incompatible to the Christian worldview in its presuppositions, since a Christian worldview espouses the epistemological authority of Scripture as final over human experience and scientific observation.

Anthropology

Soulical versus Material. Although epistemological authority is perhaps the single-most incompatibility of behaviorism from a Christian worldview, another glaring incompatibility is the anthropology of behaviorists. A natural degradation of man flows from faulty presuppositions and thus, observations of man are skewed from their very beginning. However, a Christian worldview has an upward view of mankind that sees redemption from the effects of sin and restoration to a place of nobility as the trajectory for believers.[61] This redemption primarily consists in the understanding that man is both material and immaterial.

From the Genesis 1 account of God breathing into man the “breath of life,” the Christian worldview of anthropology is that man is primarily an embodied soul.[62] Consequently, man is, and must be seen as a soulical being from a Christian worldview, and that distinctive is quite foreign to behaviorists. Consistently throughout Scripture man is reminded that he no longer is to focus on the outward of the seen but on the inward and eternal, as God does (2 Cor. 4:15-16). Jesus states the importance of the soul as being more valuable than the entire world (Matt. 16:26), and Paul says at the point of death a believer will be separated from his body and their soul present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1-10).

Moreover, the entirety of redemption is focused on the soulical nature of people, making redemption about the recovery of lost souls, not bodies. Bodies will, in fact, be restored (i.e., all nature longs for redemption [Rom. 8:21, 23]), but souls are bought back because of their fall into sin according the Genesis 3 account. To rearrange the nature of man is to rearrange the purpose of man, and the hope for man.

A behaviorist misses the immaterial component of anthropology, which, in turn, causes a fault that is irrevocably damaging to the behavioristic perspective. Physiological influences, environments, and stimuli are all influential aspects of what encourages people to do what they do. However, from a Christian worldview one must see that people do what they do because they have an inner man that is overflowing into outer man behavior (Mark 7:23; Prov. 4:23).[63] Looking at the outer man behavior is observing only the tip of the iceberg of the nature of man—behaviors do not change the heart of man, they only reveal it (Jer. 17:1-7). This focus on the material component of man will miss one of the most intrinsic parts of a Christian worldview about man: man is a sinner.

There is a sense in which behaviorists have overlooked another vital aspect of biblical anthropology according to the Christian worldview: that aspect is that man is a sinner, with a constant inclination to that which is evil. Romans 3:10 indicates that, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (vv. 10-11). One quintessential oversight of behaviorists is that all humans are sinful—Romans 8:8 says none in the flesh can please God. This may not seem pertinent in a secular, humanistic environment until one clarifies that a person will always do that which transgresses against a God, who has provided directives for life. Therefore, a behaviorist would place heavy emphasis on the stimuli and environmental conditions in which one learns behavior. However, Scripture would put an emphasis on the inward inclinations that lead people to certain behaviors—not vice versa. For instance, Proverbs 4:23 clearly paints the inner man as being the source of all behavior: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”[64] Total depravity connotes that this distortion has affected all of man’s being to such an extent that he has no inherent power of recovery left to restore himself to harmony with God, and that this is the case with every member of the race.[65] Moreover, this is something that starts in the heart of man and progresses outward towards behavior.

The line of argumentation from a Christian worldview is that a soulical understanding of man must also articulate the sinfulness of man. Therefore, man does have internal inclinations that are, apart from God, always inclined towards that which is evil. Environment, stimuli, habits, or classic conditioning are not responsible for the actions of man—it is their sinful heart (Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:23). This understanding of man fences in the presupposition of man as being a soulical, sinful creature, something which is foreign to the behaviorist.

Image Bearers. Due to the behaviorist oversight of man as created, soulical beings, they miss that all mankind is an image-bearer of the nature and character of God,[66] one of the most rudimentary aspects of man-as-creature. And as image bearers, man is given insight into the reasons he does the things he does (i.e., he is created this way; see above comments); man cannot reduce all actions to conditioning, habits, or environments (Mark 7:23-25), and lastly that a Christian cannot be a behaviorist if they are truly image-bearers. As an image-bearer, which Scripture teaches explicitly, a person must recognize that God is Spirit (John 4:24). In fact, a person’s image-bearing of God is primarily non-material.[67] This image-bearing component of man’s nature makes behaviorism an incompatible worldview by which to see man. As an image-bearer, man is implicitly and explicitly responsible for the way that he represents the true Image. Leading the discerning believer to note one more incompatibility of the Christian worldview with the behaviorist worldview: human responsibility.

Human Responsibility. If one were to read the works of William James’ perspective of motivation or B.F. Skinner’s view of the role of environment the would notice something is absent from these writings and that is the responsibility of humans. In fact, Skinner goes as far to state that environments can determine the character of people.[68] Wonderfully absent in these men’s perspective is the responsibility of man as it pertains to man’s environment.[69] A Christian worldview says that a person does wrong things because he wants wrong things (Matt. 12:34; Mark 7:23; Jer. 17:9; James 3:11), not because he is in wrong environments.

The important clarification is that a Christian worldview states that all the actions of man are derivative from the inner man (i.e., soul, heart, bosom) and that man will give an account of those actions (Heb. 9:23). Immediately after providing the source of words, Jesus reminds the hearers of His time that “every person will give an account for the idle words they speak” (Matt. 12:36). Did Jesus not understand what James and Skinner were to later observe, that environment and behavior would shape a person and make a person? That thought is not compatible with the truth of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. Rather, man will give account for everything that he does and is being held accountable even for the way that he responds to environmental influences, external stimuli, and habitual influences.

A Christian worldview does not minimize or ignore the potency of environments and behavior, but it does not maximize them, either. Mankind is responsible for his actions, even in the midst of terrible environments and recalcitrant habits from years of practice. Environment does play a very important role in the Christian worldview. In fact, Paul warns that a believer should avoid being unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:4) and also that that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). The Bible is not ignorant to the influences of environment, but never cites environment as causation.[70]

Cause vs. Influence. One last clarification, although a thorough discussion on the Holy Spirit could be warranted, is that mankind is responsible for their actions. A few instances of this are revealed clearly throughout Scripture. For instance, Joseph was a man who was sold into slavery, betrayed by his family, forgotten by his friends, accused by his boss’ wife, and yet repeatedly saw that God was using these negative environmental occasions to accomplish His purposes (Gen. 50:20). Joseph had a human right to be bitter and retaliatory from a human perspective, yet we see that he recognizes God brought these things into his life to as part of God’s plan for Joseph’s life. They were very influential occasions in his life, but they were not determinative causations of his own conduct. In fact, we see that Joseph repeatedly did what honored the Lord despite his environment.[71]

One last example of human responsibility is the passage of 2 Corinthians 5:10, which says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Paul focuses his life on pleasing God because he knows one day he will give an account to God for everything—including the way he responded to negative environments. A behaviorist misses the fact that a person is, and will always be responsible for their actions. Yes, environmental considerations are important in the Christian worldview, but they are not determinative. In fact, in the face of negative environmental influences (i.e., “evil”), God calls people to do good (Rom. 12:18-21). Though environment is evil, God provides the grace to do what is right, and all will be held accountable (1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 9:27). Behaviorism shirks responsibility, but a Christian worldview restores responsibility while recognizing environment is influential, just not determinative. The balance is not to minimize environment, but rather to recognize that environment only influences—it never causes.[72]

Conclusion

William James fired an ideological shot that would change the future of the care of souls. His desire to see psychology be recognized and pursued as a natural science has come to fruition, and the damages of this mindset are still perpetuating themselves. From James to Hull, Thorndike, Watson, and Skinner have come a family of behavioral counseling and therapy. As has been displayed, to employ modern behavioral approaches to therapy is to employ the behavioristic anthropology of William James and, in turn, to contradict a biblical anthropology.

The importance of what has been displayed in this paper surpasses the observations of contradictory anthropologies. What matters most about what James accomplished is that he divorced the study of man from what God says about man. He allowed for anthropology and psychology to become secular, thus the behavioral therapy movement that followed in his wake. The danger of what James did serves as a warning for modern day carers of souls: to make psychology an entirely natural and materialistic science is to truncate an accurate and biblical anthropology. Furthermore, it predisposes those engaged in the care of souls to divorce what God says about man from what can be observed about man. In practicing psychology as a natural science, one then engages methods that are secular and, ultimately, unbiblical.

Does psychology have no room for empiricism? No. Empiricism has right and warrant in all scientific pursuits, but epistemic authority can only be assigned to Scripture. The Christian who grants authority to empiricism or the scientific method will follow in the footsteps of William James who allowed for the door to open in regards to secular pursuits of the care of man. Should the care of man be pursued with diligence, exactness, accountability, or even verifiability? Sure, as best as possible, but the authority of anthropology must always be assigned to Scripture—not science. William James is an illustration of what happens when one puts their epistemic authority in science and the ensuing dangers for those who employ his anthropology in counseling.


 

 

 

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[1] Ruth Anna Putnam, ed., The Cambridge Companion to William James (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 1.

[2] William James, Writings, 1878-1899 (Cambridge, MA: Library of America, 1992), 11.

 

[3] William James, Writings, 1878-1899, 12.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James (Chicago, IL: Nelson Hall, 1974), 12.

[6] “First, that there is no such thing as a science of psychology and second, that W.J. is an incapable” were the words of James after submitting his first draft of Principles of Psychology (12). Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James

[7] David A. Statt, A Concise Dictionary of Psychology (London: Routeledge, 1998), s.v. “anthropology.” Cf. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 439. Charles Ryrie, Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1999), 225.

[8] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James (Chicago, IL: Nelson Hall, 1974), 11, 66.

[9] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu, n.d.), accessed September 28, 2016, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/behaviorism/#1. Cf. George Posner’s description in Analyzing the Curriculum (McGraw Hill, 2003), 65. Posner argued for the behaviorist as not only arguing for what behaviors contribute toward learning but also what are the desired outcomes of those behaviors.

[10] Merriam-Webster, (accessed February 23, 2017), https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contradict, s.v. “contradict.”

[11] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James (Chicago, IL: Nelson Hall, 1974), 18.

[12] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James, 14-15.

[13] Ibid., 15.

[14] William James taught a reductionistic perspective of neurology in that the nervous system “is well understood today to be nothing but a machine for receiving impressions and discharging reactions preservative to the individual of his kind” (16) in William James, Writings, 1878-1899, 16. This neurological belief system is best evidenced in his lecture on “Habits” (137-151). One can see how this set the stage for a ‘re-programming of the neurological machine’, as it were, and leading towards behaviorism.

[15] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey (London and New York: Routeledge, 2001), 234. See William James’ lectures and writings during this time period, Writings, 1878-1899 (New York, NY: The Library of America, 1992). Williams James could be considered the father of modern behaviorism due to his naturalistic posture of man, but it was Edward Thorndike who will develop James anthropology. Cf. Robert Maynard Hutchins, ed., Great Books of the Western World (Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc, 1952), v-vi.

[16] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey, 234. “In addition to being the first psychology dissertation to use animals as subjects, it introduced an experimental methodology that today seems so obvious that it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of his contribution.” Cf. his dissertation which was in regards to: “the experiments were on the intelligent acts and habits of a considerable number of dogs, cats, and chicks. The method was to put the animals when hungry in enclosures from which they could escape (and so obtain food) by operating some simple mechanism by turning a wooden button that held the door, pulling a loop attached to the bolt, or pressing down a lever” (818) in Edward Thorndike, “Some Experiments on Animal Intelligence,” Science 7, no. 181 (1898): 818–824.

[17] William James, Writings, 1878-1899 (New York, NY: The Library of America, 1992), 15. Cf. James’ work on habits and their corresponding influence of man, during which James began to distinguish the physical from the immaterial. “He [referring to Thorndike] laid the methodological and philosophical foundation of the behavioral psychology of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner” in Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey, 233.

[18] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey (London and New York: Routeledge, 2001), 233.

[19] Edward Thorndike, Educational Psychology: Briefer Course (New York: Teacher’s College, Columbia University, 1919), 1. It was Thorndike who developed a stimulus-response theory that ended up laying the foundations for later developments in environmentalism, to include that of B.F. Skinner, About Behaviorism (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974). “The environment made its first great contribution during the evolution of the species, but it exerts a different kind of effect during the lifetime of the individual, and the combination of the two effects is the behavior we observe at any given time” (17). This talk is also reminiscent of James’s beliefs on neuro-pathways, cf. William James, Writings, 1878-1899, “Habits,” 139.

[20] Joy A. Palmer, Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey (London and New York: Routeledge, 2001), 235.

[21] Ibid., 235. Also cf. D.A. Dewsbury, “Triumph and Tribulation in the History of American Comparative Psychology,” Journal of Comparative Psychology 106 (1992): 3–19.

[22] Edward Thorndike, The Principles of Teaching Based on Psychology (New York: Sieller, 1913).

 

[23] Note, it was James B. Watson that first used the term “behaviorism” but it was Thorndike who first studied behavior from a naturalist perspective. Furthermore, it was James’s ideologies that Thorndike and Watson were simply developing.

 

[24] Clark Hull, Clark L. Hull: A History of Psychology in Autobiography (Worcester, MA: Clark University Press), 143–162.

[25] Frank A. Beach, Clark Leonard Hull (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1959), 127.

[26] Frank A. Beach, Clark Leonard Hull (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1959), 129.

[27] Clark Hull, Principles of Behavior (New York: Appleton Century Crofts, 1943).

[28] Ibid., 68.

[29] Cf. his chapters on “primary reinforcement, secondary reinforcements,” and “aHa the Number of Reinforcements” in Clark Hull, Principles of Behavior (New York: Appleton Century Crofts, 1943), 68-123.

[30] Cf. John Watson, Behaviorism (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1958).

[31] Patrick Kiaran Dooley, Pragmatism as Humanism: The Philosophy of William James, 35. This was not a direct, professional collaboration but as is represented in Dooley’s work, often a sparring that helped further develop the ideologies of James.

[32] John Watson, “Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It” (Saylor.org, 1913), http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Watson/views.htm.

[33] Ibid., 15.

[34] Cf. footnote #14, William James, Writings, 1878-1899, 137-51.

[35] B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974), 17.

[36] By introspection, Skinner is referring to consideration of feelings, sensations, ideas, and other “features of the mental life” B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism, 16. He is suggesting the current understandings of mental life are not objective, therefore radical behaviorism is not discounting the mental life but rather questioning “the nature of the object observed and the reliability of the observations” B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism, 16-17.

[37] B.F Skinner, About Behaviorism, 17.

[38] B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 1979), 185. Skinner was arguing for an environmentalist perspective, citing Robert Owen saying, “clear grasped and taught that environment makes character and that environment is under human control [emphasis added],” B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, 185. He also said, “[Freedom and dignity] have formulated the task in such a way that they cannot now accept the fact that all control is exerted by the environment and proceed to the design of better environments rather than of better men” (82).

[39] Ibid., 248.

[40] Ibid., 248.

[41] Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, “ABCT Fact Sheets,” accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.abct.org/Information/?m=mInformation&fa=fs_PARENT_TRAINING.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, “ABCT Fact Sheets,” 1.

[45] Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, “ABCT Fact Sheets,” 1.

[46] American Psychological Association, “Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy,” accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310904.aspx.

[47] Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, “About IBT,” Accessed February 25, 2017, http://ibct.psych.ucla.edu/about.html.

[48] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy (New York: Brunner/Mazel, n.d.), 563.

[49] Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, “About IBT,” Accessed February 25, 2017, http://ibct.psych.ucla.edu/about.html.

[50] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy (New York: Brunner/Mazel, n.d.), 562-63.

[51] American Psychological Association, “Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy,” accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310904.aspx.

[52] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy (New York: Brunner/Mazel, n.d.), 582.

[53] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., Handbook of Family Therapy, 594.

[54] Dialectical Behavior Therapy, “Dialectical Behavior Therapy—Family Skills Training,” dbtselfhelp.com, accessed February 25, 2017, http://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/family_skills.html.

[55] “Although social learning theory was the major theoretical base for the earliest proponents of this approach, recent developments have incorporated a much broader set of paradigms derived from social psychology … . The key thread that binds these diverse perspectives is a demand for continual empirical challenge.” Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., The Handbook of Family Therapy, vol. 2 (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1991), 65.

[56] Alan Gurman and David Kniskern, eds., The Handbook of Family Therapy, vol. 2 (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1991), 80-84.

[57] Aaron Beck, “What is CBT?,” The Beck Institute, accessed February 25, 2017, https://www.beckinstitute.org/get-informed/what-is-cognitive-therapy.

[58] Inherent because a right anthropology, as will be displayed, understands that the one conducting seemingly objective scientific observation will be a person who is infected by the effects of sin. This infection renders the would-be observer as jaded, and unable to objectively see what is truly taking place. Please see the below section, “Total Depravity.”

[59] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 83. Cf. John MacArthur, The Scripture Cannot be Broken (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

[60] John MacArthur, “The Sufficiency of Scripture,” The Master’s Seminary Journal, 15/2 (Fall 2004): 165-174. Psalm 19 makes the argument that there is a difference in authority of general revelation and special revelation, moreover, the difference is that special revelation supersedes general revelation in authority. Epistemological authority is connected to the very nature of the Scripture and a Christian worldview. Warfield argued that the Scriptures were referred to as God’s words, and to disobey God’s words were to disobey God himself. Cf. Benjamin Warfield, “It Says, Scripture Says, God Says,” in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, vol. 1 (Repr. 1932; Nashville: TN, Baker, 2003), 283-332. Louis Berkhof argued that historically general revelation has been seen as insufficient in three primary ways: (1) it does not acquaint man with the only way of salvation, (2) it does not convey to man any absolutely reliable knowledge of God and spiritual things, and (3) it does not furnish an adequate basis for religion. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Repr. 1932; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1996), 132-33.

[61] Erich Sauer, The King of the Earth: The Nobility of Man According to the Bible and Science (n.p.: Create Space Independent Platform, 2013).

[62] This does not and should not denigrate from the body that houses each person’s soul as those bodies are said to be “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). To err in minimizing the body leads one towards Gnosticism or dualism, as noted by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes in The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ (Grand Rapids: Intervarsity, 1989), 266.

[63] David Powlison says, “There is no psychodynamic,’ no motivation pattern, independent of what people are doing with God. Human psychology is theological because human beings are with-respect-to-God creatures. The prime action is in the man-God relationship, not in an encapsulated psyche whose component parts relate to one another according to some supposed pattern.” The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2010), 243. The motivation of a person, again, is that the person is an image bearing person. G.K. Beale said, “At the core of our beings we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue; we either reflect the Creator or something in creation.” G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008), 16.

[64] Cf. Garrett, Duane A. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 14. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993.

A.W. Pink noted, “Total depravity connotes that this distortion has affected all of man’s being to such an extent that he has no inherent power of recovery left to restore himself to harmony with God, and that this is the case with every member of the race.” Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in the Scriptures: Man’s Total Depravity (Logos Bible Software, 2005), 123. This is not to say that man as is bad as he can possibly be, but rather that all man is oriented towards sin in his fallen state. Louis Berkhof helpfully clarifies when he says, “Negatively, it does not imply: (1) that every man is as thoroughly depraved as he can possibly become; (2) that the sinner has no innate knowledge of the will of God, nor a conscience that discriminates between good and evil … . Positively, it does indicate: (1) that the inherent corruption extends to every part of man’s nature, to all the faculties and powers of both soul and body; and (2) that there is no spiritual good, that is, good in relation to God, in the sinner at all, but only perversion,” L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 246–247.

[65] Ibid.

[66] “The most distinctive feature of the biblical understanding of man is the teaching that man has been created in the image of God. … So to be faithful to the biblical evidence, our understanding of the image of God must include these two senses: (1) the image of God as such is an unlosable aspect of man, a part of his essence and existence, something that man cannot lose without ceasing to be man. (2) The image of God, however, must also be understood as that likeness to God which was perverted when man fell into sin, and is being restored and renewed in the process of sanctification.” Anthony Hoekema, Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1986). G.K. Beale said, “All humans have been created to be reflecting beings, and they will reflect what they are ultimately committed to, whether the true God or some other object in the created order,” We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008), 22.

[67] Although God is spirit, some physiological representations can be connected to anthropomorphistic insinuations of God (i.e., “Incline your ear” Ps. 17:6; Ps. 34:15-16). This is not to say that God has bodily ears but that God listens, rather.

[68] “People are extraordinarily different in different places and possibly just because of the places” (185) in B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 1979).

[69] Although, it is important to note that Knight Dunlap suggests what is bad, making a moral judgment about homosexuality. And likewise, Skinner paints a vision of the good life as being preservation of the human race. Both are making ethical decisions as to that which is right, but neither emphasize the human’s right to perform that right act. Rather, it is an external stimulus that changes the person, not the person’s change that leads to the outward action. It is quite seductive in that environment and habits are influential but are not causative.

[70] For instance, in both of the stated passages, the concern is that a person will become more and more acclimated to the secular way of thinking. Paul does not shift the blame to the wicked company, but says that the danger is a person will be wooed towards a different ethical persuasion when they are not careful with their company. The puritans used the idea of wicked company as being infectious, and that Satan would use the company of the wicked to encourage a person to be dissuaded from following God—yet the person was still choosing to disobey. Cf. Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2011), 100.

[71] Genesis 39 where he is accused of immoral relationships; Genesis 40 where he interprets dreams and is forgotten; Genesis 50 where he does not repay to his brothers all of the damage that they caused him over his lifetime.

[72] Often times the example of Christ in relation to environment is overlooked. Philippians 2 states that Christ came to a wicked environment and that he was obedient unto death. Hebrews 4:25-26 says that even though Christ was tempted while in this environment, he was still without sin. Perhaps the epitome of negative environments is personified in the crucifixion, yet Christ remained sinless and did not return evil for evil (1 Pet. 2:22-23).

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"God may be looked upon in an absolute consideration, as he is in himself the best and most excellent being, wherein we behold the concurrence of all perfections, the most amiable and beauteous excellences, to an intellectual eye, that it can have an apprehension of." --John Howe, On Delighting in God
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