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Psychology As Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship [Paperback]

By Paul C. Vitz (Author)
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Item description for Psychology As Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship by Paul C. Vitz...

This is a virtually rewritten second edition of New York University Professor Paul Vitz's profoundly important analysis of modern psychology. Vitz maintains that psychology in our day has become a religion, a secular cult of self, and has become part of the problem of modern life rather than part of its resolution.

Publishers Description
A trenchant analysis of modern psychology -- an enterprise that Paul Vitz maintains has become a religion, a secular cult of self, now part of the problem of modern life rather than part of its resolution. Virtually rewritten, this second edition of the original 1977 text takes into account much of what has happened in the field of psychology during the past seventeen years. Two completely new chapters are also included -- one on education and "values clarification" and the other on New Age religion.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   173
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 6" Height: 0.57"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 7, 1995
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0802807259  
ISBN13  9780802807250  

Availability  0 units.

More About Paul C. Vitz

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Paul C. Vitz is professor emeritus of psychology at New York University. His other books includeSigmund Freud's Christian Unconscious and Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism

Paul C. Vitz currently resides in Greenwich Village, in the state of New York. Paul C. Vitz was born in 1935.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Consciousness & Thought
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Psychology

Christian Product Categories
Books > General Interest > Other Religion > Occult, Demonology & Witchcraft

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Reviews - What do customers think about Psychology As Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship?

Same Vitz, different day  Nov 24, 2006
In the mid 60s I had Paul Vitz as a psychology prof for three semesters at NYU. In those days he was a flag-waving atheist and Skinnerian behaviorist. If any students might challenge him on that, he would not only use his position at the podium to make a scathing spectacle of them in front of the whole class, but also to issue veiled threats that they could flunk the course if they persisted. Now he promotes Catholicism with comparable bile. Same Vitz, different fundamentalism.
Religion or science?  Jan 6, 2006
Reviewer Helms misses the point, it seems to me. Dr. Vitz correctly identifies psychology as social science as no science at all, but a belief system. (Vitz clearly distinguishes experimental and social psychology and exempts the scientific experimental type from his critique).
The Christian model of man as a creature fallen from his relationship with his creator into a pit of self offers a solution: reunion. The humanist's solution to man's unhappiness is a stronger self, or a self submitting itself with other selves to a greater self (the state, etc.). The Christian ideal, if followed, leads to peace. The humanist's leads to conflict ("will to power", one self or state vs another self or state).
For all the talk of the damage done in the name of religion, the mishief has come not from religion of man submitting him-self to his creator and its rules, but from the arrogance of self-righteousness. The isms of the 20th Century had nothing to do with religion involving God. 200 million people were killed in the struggle for humanist utopias. The religion of self and the ideologies it spawns (Dostoevsky: socialism is a Tower of Babel without God, e.g.) had its chance and failed miserably.
Science is simply a search for truth through observation and when done honestly is self-correcting. Religion is a faith-based search for truth. If psychology continues believing in the value of self- confidence, esteem, assurance, worth, help, realization, actualization, determination, sufficiency, etc., in spite of observable evidence of the anti-human results of their promotion, is it sclence or a belief system? Dr. Vitz's book does an excellent job showing us that distinction.
Very good book for genuine & intellectual persons  Sep 30, 2005
"Psychology As Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship"

A very good book to read. Would be best read by those with (minimum) high school intelectual background. The book covers more on the misleading 'sef-centred/help' psychology which are very prevalent nowadays, along with it's potential negative/destructive effect to the society as a whole.

Since before 1980, in the book, the writer proposed some social & moral [degeneration] model/scheme which would be expected to happening in modern society beyond 2000 due to the 'Selfist Psychology'. Most of the scientific predictions made there are coming into existence today, along with its negative effects.

Best Regards:
Just More Desperate Science Bashing By the Religious Right..  Apr 25, 2005
I don't know where to begin deconstructing this idiotic book. Although the author certainly did his homework, detailing the history of Psychology with great accuracy, its entire premise is without merit. The oldest enemies of Science have always been Christians, and this book is just another attempt to reconcile the superstitious beliefs of Christianity with the FACTS Christians are presented with every day which refute their beliefs. And PLEASE don't start with that tired old argument of "Psychology is just a bunch of theories." From the heliocentric solar system, to gravity, to the origins of life on our planet, to the Big Bang, EVERYTHING is just theory...but we still have electricity, internal combustion engines, medicine, and countless other scientific marvels that make our lives incalculably more enjoyable and fruitful than they would be if we simply followed the Bible's explanations. Vitz is simply adding Psychology to Christianity's long list of the persecuted (Copurnicus, Galelio, Blacks, Gays, Women, etc., etc.)

Religion/Science battles aside, the whole idea of Psychology being a religion is preposterous. Religion is a philosophy based upon blind acceptance, not facts. Psychology is a SCIENCE, a totally different philosophy which requires tentative acceptance of the simplest correct explanation for an event based upon observation, AND willingness to accept new explanations when evidence suggests we are wrong. Religions are designed to be static, and their followers never admit to having "changed the rules," even though they often do so to fit their own needs as people become less and less naieve (read as "more and more educated").

In short, this book is ridiculous propaganda from a Right-Wing Conservative Christian who has written numerous books in an attempt to fend off the ensuing doom of his own superstitious beliefs. It's a "if you can't beat 'em, bash 'em" mentality that drives this author, and anyone with even a cursory understanding of Psychology will resist the temptation to buy this waste of paper.
What religion will we teach in public schools?  Jan 2, 2004
Paul Vitz attempts to expose psychology for what it really is, i.e., religion. He begins by giving the reader a brief biography on the fathers of the modern psychology movement along with some of their theories. The opening chapter was dry reading but I suppose necessary as a historical backdrop. My interest peaked when I immediately recognized Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow since I was forced to study them for 26 years while in the military. Vitz also discusses Carl Jung, Erich Fromn, and Rollo May as being significant contributors to the movement.
Vitz quickly transitions into explaining the concept of self-esteem which he promotes as the center of the entire selfism movement. This became important to me as it seems no matter where you turn, a lack of or poor self-esteem appears to be the cause of every ill known to mankind. For a movement to be so widespread to the point where psychology has been woven into the gospel message, Vitz says that the self-esteem concept has "no clear intellectual origins." That's a surprising claim considering the impact selfism has had on academia and the practice of counseling.
Vitz states that self-esteem should be understood as an emotional response and not a cause. He says it is a reaction to what we have done and what others have done to us. High self-esteem is a desirable feeling to have (like happiness), but the feeling itself isn't the cause of anything. In trying to obtain a feeling of self-esteem, the only successful way is to do good to others or accomplish something. In so doing, you'll get all the self-esteem you want. However, the downside is people begin to pursue happiness as a far greater goal than the goal of obtaining personal holiness.
Not only is selfism a self-defeating goal for the Christian, Vitz goes on to make the case that it is also simply bad science and a warped philosophy. The little clinical evidence that does exist is mostly based on empirical observations and doesn't stand the test of solid scientific problem solving. He exposes flaws in each step of the process, from stating the problem, forming and testing the hypothesis, to testing the conclusion. He also identifies several philosophical contradictions and in some cases, actual misrepresentations. The spread of this bad science and faulty philosophy is believed by the author to have contributed to the destruction of families. Additionally, the entire recovery group mentality convinces the person with "low self-esteem" that their ills are due to trauma inflicted on them in the past. Recovery group therapy strokes the patient with self-pity thereby convincing the clients are victims. Once labeled, the "victim" now assumes the attitude of victimhood.
Values clarification has become the model taught in schools and begins with the assumption that man is naturally good. Since the developers of values clarification reject moral teachings, Vitz claims that if responsible adults, i.e., teachers, don't promote good values then someone else will. Providing a permissive environment supposedly nourishes the child by granting satisfaction for the child's desires and interests. However, this philosophy is bankrupt because kids will assume the values of irresponsible sources in lieu of responsible ones. This combined with the aforementioned teachings has produced a society of victims where everyone is pointing to blame someone else for their misfortunes.
Vitz takes three chapters to present a Christian analysis and criticism of humanistic self-theories. He gives the credit to our educational system for the transformation of our society into a culture of pure selfism. He notes that the New Age movement has many founders, but Abraham Maslow's theories have been the most influential. Vitz argues his Christian critique within a historical framework and the impact it has had on the evolution of our society. Unfortunately he gives scant attention to biblical references for his position, but does show how the selfism heresy affects teachings on depression, idolatry, and suffering. He closes his work with the observation, "never have so many people been so self-conscious, so aware of the self as something to be expressed...., the self has become an object to itself." (I think this may make the case that self-esteem has become a new barometric indicator to the question everyone asks, "How are you doing today?")
Overall, Vitz's book uses a cerebral approach in attempting to prove that self-worship is simply a religion. Biblical counselors looking for material to help their counselees break free of a selfish worldview of life will be disappointed. Then again, Vitz didn't write his book for that purpose. Moreover, he provides a wealth of information and a refreshing argument against those who say, "You can't teach religion in public schools." This leaves the reader with an irony: it's not a question of should we or should we not teach religion in public schools, but instead, what religion will we teach; selfism or Christianity?

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