I am all in favor of people – myself included – examining their beliefs and their character. I would not however do it – nor recommend that others do it – according to beliefs that are not true. And I have seen that in most of what I have encountered.
There were some people who were pushing on me the Alfred Adler's concept of adequacy and “adequacy striving.” I have found nothing useful in Adler's psychology at all. It would pathologize everything that has taken humanity from caveman to man on the moon. No man is an adequate match for a tiger, nor should he strive to be an adequate match for a tiger. Man outdoes the tiger using superior methodology. Similarly Bill Gates is not an adequate physical match for an inner city gangster or a Muslim terrorist, but he has accomplished much more.
There were people who were pushing on me Sigmund Freud. I have found much that is very wrong with Freud's ideas. He mistook memories of childhood sexual abuse for erotic fantasy and used it to claim that children are in love with parents of the opposite gender, and that love in adulthood is transference of that love. At that time there were few single-parent households and fewer homosexuals to study; now there are plenty of them. And what we see again and again is that girls raised by single mothers, guys raised by single fathers, homosexuals raised by the parent of the opposite gender, and people without either parent in their upbringing, fall in love just as readily as do people who have been raised in nuclear families. Since there is no transference figure in such situations, these feelings cannot be transference. Furthermore, since these feelings are of the same character as those developed by people who have been raised in nuclear families, these feelings cannot be transference either.
With New Age, I have found a lot of useful ideas. However the central claim – that everyone is responsible for everything that happens to them – is obviously wrong. These people do not owe their situation only to themselves. They also owe it to the parents who raised them; the teachers who educated them; the scientists whose work is under all their prosperity; the government, military and police that protect them; both business and labor equally; and of course the intellectuals and Freemasons whose work has given to them their liberty. Misappropriation of credit is not the same thing as responsibility, nor is reminding them of such things the same as failure thereof.
What we see with personality psychology is a very destructive form of intellectual fascism. If it “narcissistic” to seek great success, have ideas different from those around you, or want a passionate relationship, then America owes most of what it has to its narcissists, as does most of the rest of the world. If you are pathologizing what made your country great, then do not go around claiming that you are out there benefiting your society. You are destroying what made it great in the first place. As for the “sociopathic” disorder, what we see contradicts most basic rationality. If people are responsible for their actions then anyone – including a “sociopath” - can act rightfully; and if some people are evil and can only be evil whatever they do, however hard they work and whatever work they do on themselves, then people are not responsible for their actions. The idea that someone can be made criminal by virtue of his personality is the Orwellian institution of crimethink. This then is used to create a de facto totalitarianism from which people are not free even within the privacy of their minds. Not even the Soviet Communists could come up with a more invasive totalitarianism.
Now if one is to let someone into one's life – or a mindset into one's mind – then one has to exercise discretion as to what it is of which one partakes. I would not recommend for anyone to let into their heads something that is destructive. For someone who has, and has suffered for it, the solution is to refute the mentality; and I heartily recommend these refutations to those who have partaken of such beliefs.
Is everything that has come out of psychology and New Age wrong? Not at all. Even the conservatives who reject psychology as a pseudo-science use it constantly in marketing and management. It is however wrong to partake of beliefs that are wrong. And within the preceding mentalities, most is wrong.
It says in the Bible that the world's wisdom is foolishness to God. Whether or not you believe in God, it does not take the Bible to show the foolishness of these attitudes. I started out as a militant atheist, but I have found much greater wisdom in the Bible than I have in these beliefs. For one thing, Christ says that any sinner can be redeemed. And that is a much more humane – and more rightful – attitude that some people, such as these so-called sociopaths, are damned for life.
Or that Bill Gates is inadequate. Or that John Keats wanted his mommy. Or that taking credit for a state of conditions made possible by others is personal responsibility. Or that it works in your society's best interests to snuff out the very kind of people who have been responsible for its greatest accomplishments. Or that imposing crimethink is consistent with American values.
If someone is going to push onto people a wrongful set of beliefs, then it is to be expected that they will be seen through eventually. This is the case both with deliberate conmanship and intellectual error. Adler may have believed what he wrote sincerely, but that does not make his work right. It is obviously and transparently wrong. Same with Freud and any number of others.
It is valid to expect understanding and tolerance; and I extend the same to many people, including those whom others refuse to tolerate at all – such as, for example, these damn “narcissists” and “sociopaths.” It is not however valid to expect tolerance for lies. Anything that is based on a lie is going to come crashing down eventually; and it is in no way responsible, rational or valid to construct social covenants upon rackets – whether again such be the result of intellectual error or deliberate conmanship.
Now any number of people in psychology and New Age were good enough chaps. Most thought that they knew what they were talking about; and some of them did. But even among the ones that did, most committed errors. I do not believe in tossing out psychology as a pursuit, as some conservatives recommend. I believe in correcting its errors.
Adler should be tossed out entirely. Freud had some useful insights; but his most famous claims are obviously wrong. Analysis of beliefs – ones held consciously and ones held unconsciously – is a valid pursuit; but the claim that the are the only thing that shapes one's reality isn't. As for personality psychology, even if any of its ideas are valid the use of it has been completely wrong. It is used to suppress the very spirit that made America great, and it is used to impose upon people a de facto totalitarianism.
Now I do not claim characterological superiority to the people whose ideas these are. I do however claim to see where they have gone wrong. This is not a matter of character; it is a matter of intelligence, and I heartily recommend using the same to others.
As for the self-esteem movement, it is a turkey as well. If good self-esteem made good people and bad self-esteem made bad people, then for the bulk of recorded history, when self-esteem was not encouraged, nobody would have been good. And yet there have been many good people at all times, all over the world, living under all sorts of belief systems. It was stated to me by an American woman of World War II generation that self-esteem used to be called conceit. And yet it is their generation, and not the baby boomers who encouraged self-esteem, that is held now in America in highest regard.
Most people have been exposed to some or all of these ideas. I recommend seeing through them. Not everything in psychology or New Age is useless, but many of their central claims are wrong. Do not discard the baby with the bath water. But by all means discard the bath water.