David Langness, writer for Baha’i Teachings, examines the history of psychology, how it relates to religion, and how they can improve your life.
There are people who don’t practice any particular type of religion and instead, believe in science. But there are also those that abide by the principles of psychology to achieve a happier and better life instead of solely looking to religion.
Psychology is the field of science that aims to understand individual personalities, minds, and behaviors. And millions of people worldwide now uses its principles especially psychotherapy to explore and explain their personalities and solve some of the common problems that religion can’t address. Thus, for most of these people, psychology replaced actual religion. It cured psychological and mental problems, becoming a seemingly magic pill or panacea, and a secular cult of any individual.
Psychology is a relatively new field in science and medicine, which came into being during a similar time period to the Baha’i Faith. And just like most starting religions, psychology was also considered a form of belief and even a practice of witchcraft several centuries ago. But because of the contributions of early scientists and psychology experts like Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Wundt to this discipline, psychology became an essential part of science and human health today. Through the years and decades, this discipline proved that it can really help people live a happier and better-adjusted life.
So which one do you practice and helps you live a better life, psychology or religion?
Psychology and religion can work as a team
To the question above, you may favor one over the other. But amidst the seemingly contradicting principles and views, several religious and psychology advocates try to highlight the actual complementary relationship between the two. For experts, it’s not really a choice between psychology and religion because the two could actually work hand-in-hand or harmoniously together. In fact, religion and spiritual growth is now a consideration for humanistic, transpersonal, and positive psychology.
Psychologists like Abraham Maslow, Viktor Frankl, Carl Rogers, R.D. Laing, and Rollo May are among those who acknowledge the contributions of religion towards achieving a better and healthier psyche. And perhaps the most prominent and vocal of such views is Carl Jung.
In one of his works, Carl Jung writes: “I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success of money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning. If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears.”