I know I said that yesterday was my last post before I go. Well, I have a few more hours and I want to follow up my post of June 5 called Psychology and Religion with a discussion of Dr. Baruch Kahane’s rebuttal to Dr. Moses’ critique of his book in this past week’s paper.
In the rebuttal, titled “The voice of the soul” Baruch Kahane explains that his aim is not to supplant classical psychology with “Jewish psychology” but to extricate the field of psychology from its own dead end. He says that he is working within the classical framework of psychology and sees himself as someone who is working within the field. But particularly someone who is working from within the field is cognizant of its blocks and is seeking a new path.
Kahane asks: Since psychology today draws on other spiritual therapeutic traditions such as Buddhism, why not draw on the richness of the teachings of Judaism? This is what he and his fellows at the Rothenberg center are busy developing. From the standpoint of the model of western man, he says, “there is no room allowed for true dialogue between generations, between different people and even between the various spiritual powers within one person. I am trying to find the source of this incapacity through the chasidic concept of ‘the aspect of existence…’ If the profession itself is seeking this kind of direction, why can I not suggest Judaism as a possible source for fascinating insights?” writes Kahane.
He continues “If the chasidic picture of man is true and precise, isn’t it possible that there will be a connection between this image and the real distress humans find themselves in? When a person comes in for therapy in a state of depression, anxiety or any other distress, is it at all possible for us to try to understand his distress without also mentioning, among all of the voices he is dealing with, the voice of the soul? Is it possible that there is a point here that psychology up until now has ignored and the time has come to start to take it into account?”
He continues and talks about how even in the case of psychopathology, there is a soul in front of us so that a person suffering from schizophrenia is also, underneath it all, struggling to express and make heard the voice of his soul.
Furthermore, he adds, the vocabulary of psychology has had a profound influence on how people think of themselves. Could there not be a further development of man’s self-concept that would contribute positively to culture and society?
I understand Dr. Moses’ fear. It is not just a fear of people supplanting psychology with some kind of newfangled psychological-religious hybrid. It is the fear of losing the firm ground beneath his feet. Where within the framework of psychology is there a firm peg on which to hold these concepts about the soul of man? There cannot be one, because the purely scientific view of man, and the dead end that Kahane is referring to cannot provide a space for it.
On the other hand logotherapy, which is an established, professional approach, does exactly this! It provides the structure and principles of a holistic view of man that incorporates the noetic dimension into the psychological theory and practice itself, thereby providing both the necessary psychological framework as well as the opportunity for a new path in which Jewish concepts can contribute insights, without sliding into nonprofessionalism.
In conclusion Dr. Kahane encourages Moses to join him in this quest because it is Dr. Moses’ quest as well.
All that remains is for me to do the same. I invite you, Dr. Kahane, to join us logotherapists (especially the Jewish religious ones) in our quest because our quest is indeed yours. logotherapy provides the perfect framework for holding the spiritual contributions of Judaism within the bounds of an accepted psychological approach and invites Judaism into the ever-evolving conversation about the nature of man and his healing.