Rethink on Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow

In the car from Blackfen to Wonersh yesterday and from Wonersh to Parkminster, from Parkminster to Blackfen today, I have listened to two lectures from the new downloads available from Keep the Faith. They were both very moderate and balanced treatments of controversial topics.

The first was "The Seven Storied Thomas Merton" by Dr Robert Royal. A Trappist Monk, Merton became a celebrity with the publication of "The Seven Storey Mountain." Later in his life, he became very interested in Eastern Mysticism as well as promoting various "right on" causes in the 60s and 70s which have led to him being dismissed by many. Dr Royal is quite frank in his criticism of some of Merton's views but retains a respect for him as an outstanding writer and, with caution, a guide to mysticism.

The second lecture was by William Coulson, entitled "Full Hearts, Empty Heads." Coulson worked with the influential psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1960s and has since repented of the enormous damage that was done within the Church by their introduction of psychotherapeutic techniques in sensitivity groups for healthy individuals. The influence of their thinking has been pervasive in Catholic circles, together with the thought of Abraham Maslow. Coulson has some harrowing accounts of the harm that was done by the promotion of "values clarification" in the classroom.

Coulson is fair and balanced in his assessment of Rogers and Maslow as people, and in the motives of the various projects in which they engaged. Nevertheless, his critique, coming from a "convert" is devastating. The promotion of self-esteem, self-actualisation, values clarification, and sensitivity groups is still quite widespread in centres of learning within the Church so I recommend the lecture if you can afford $1 to download it (priests can register to get all materials free.) If you don't have the opportunity to listen to a lecture, you could try the following articles:

Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns: Sensitivity Training, Psychological Warfare and the "Catholic Problem" (Culture Wars)

We overcame their traditions, we overcame their faith (1994 interview)

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