Attitudinal Therapy

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2000
Drs. Ankerberg and Weldon begin a multiple part look at attitudinal therapy, which emphasizes the importance of both mental and spiritual belief to health and wellness. What are the primary books that helped shape these practices?

ATTITUDINAL THERAPY

(from Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, 1996)

An Introduction

Attitudinal “therapy” is an important but often overlooked practice within New Age psy­chology and medicine. It reminds us such psychology and medicine are concerned with more than mere emotional or physical health; they are also concerned with a particular spiritual worldview and its practices. For example, New Age philosophy teaches that the attainment of genuine health is “holistic”—incorporating complementary spiritual beliefs or practices, mental attitudes, and physical therapies.

Attitudinal therapy illustrates what the New Age Movement views as the importance of both mental and spiritual belief to health and wellness.

In one sense, attitudinal therapy encompasses a broad variety of groups and methods, which claim that a particular mental attitude or worldview is important to physical or spiritual health. These would include the Mind Sciences, such as Religious Science (Science of Mind), Unity School of Christianity, Christian Science, and various New Thought religions, which we critiqued in The Facts on the Mind Sciences.[1] There are also schools of psycho­therapy (especially the transpersonal school) and numerous New Age seminars and fringe psychotherapies or practices, such as Landmark Education’s The Forum (formerly est/The Forum), Silva Mind Control, yoga, meditation, and Buddhist psychology, which teach the connection between attitude and health.

One particular form of attitudinal therapy is common to the New Age Movement. Its basic goal reflects the New Age belief that man is inwardly divine. Therefore, being one essence with God, he powerfully molds and creates his own reality. This is also a funda­mental premise of much Western magic, and also Eastern religion and occultism. Man’s greatest problem, therefore, is not sin but ignorance. So he must learn how to manipulate his consciousness in order to perceive “true” reality and mold it according to his wishes. Attitudinal therapy or “healing” provides one key approach to this.

Two of the most popular modern texts on attitudinal therapy were both dictated from the spirit world: Jane Roberts’ best-selling The Nature of Personal Reality: A Seth Book[2] and Helen Schucman’s best-selling A Course in Miracles.[3] These two books have been read by millions of people, and their concepts have influenced millions more. Our analysis will concentrate on Schucman’s text. But because the philosophy of both is related, we will first take a brief look at “Seth.”

“SETH”

The “Seth” books of the late channeler Jane Roberts exert a significant influence in New Age circles. Her publisher, Prentice-Hall, has earned large profits from Roberts’ many books, which has sparked the interest of other publishers to do “channeled literature.” In fact, Tam Mossman, Roberts’ editor at Prentice-Hall, learned to channel an entity called “James,” and he edits a quarterly about channeling.[4]

“Seth” was Roberts’ spirit guide. In Roberts’ books, Seth affirms the following funda‑mental premises of attitudinal therapy: 1) “The real work is done in the mind,” 2) “The innerself brings about whatever results the conscious mind desires,” and 3) “Basically you create your experience through your beliefs about yourself and the nature of reality.”[5] Seth teaches that each person, as a god, literally creates his entire physical, mental, and spiri­tual reality. In harmony with the premise of New Age misapplications of quantum physics, Seth teaches that the material world is not independent of a person’s consciousness. Moment by moment, a person’s consciousness actually creates the world and his or her experience in it Seth explains:

Your experience in the world of physical matter flows outward from the center of your inner psyche. Then you perceive this experience. Exterior events, circumstances and conditions are meant as a kind of living feedback. Altering the state of the psyche automatically alters the physical circumstances.
There is no other valid way of changing physical events…. Your thoughts, feelings and mental pictures can be called incipient exterior events, for in one way or another each of these is materialized into physical reality….
There is nothing in your exterior experience that did not originate within you.[6]

In other words, this world is not the independent, fixed creation of an infinite personal God. It is not something apart from us, though the Bible teaches that it is (Genesis 1:1-51; John 1:1-5). As Seth emphasizes, we are God, and the world is literally and personally our own creation. He offers specific techniques for attitudinal changes that will allegedly give us the ability to demonstrate our godhood by recreating our reality, according to our personal desires. Cultivating altered states of consciousness is particularly important to this:

The methods that I will outline demand concentration and effort. They will also challenge you, and bring into your life expansion and alterations of consciousness of a most rewarding nature.
I am not a physical personality. Basically, however, neither are you. Your experience now is physical. You are a creator translating your expectations into physical form. The world is meant to serve as a reference point. The exterior appearance is a replica of inner desire. You can change your personal world. You do change it without knowing it. You have only to use your ability consciously, to examine the nature of your thoughts and feelings and project those with which you basically agree.
They coalesce into the events with which you are so intimately familiar. I hope to teach you methods that will allow you to understand the nature of your own reality, and to point a way that will let you change that reality in whatever way you choose.[7]

Seth also claims that people must realize that their beliefs about reality “are just that— beliefs about reality, not attributes of it.” Therefore, “You must then realize that your beliefs are physically materialized…. To change the physical effect you must change the original belief—while being quite aware that for a time physical materializations of the old beliefs may still hold.”[8] Here Seth teaches that we have divine abilities. We are gods who instantly create our reality, and we can mold that reality in any manner we choose. This is a funda­mental premise of occult magic.

The relevance of these principles to therapy and healing means that, if we can literally alter physical and mental reality, then this includes the reality of our own minds and bodies. Seth maintains that “… all healings are the result of the acceptance of one basic fact: That matter is formed by those inner qualities that give it vitality, that structure follows expecta­tion, that matter at any time can be completely changed by the activation of the creative faculties inherent in all consciousness.”[9]

Nevertheless, Seth’s theology and moral teachings, not to mention his views on thenature of reality, reveal him to be a lying spirit, an entity the Bible identities as a demon.[10]

Not only does Seth lie about God, moral values, and salvation,[11] he also lies about both the nature of humanity and reality itself. If people had the power Seth claims, there would be some evidence for it biblically and experientially, however, it is evident that people are not powerful gods who literally create the universe. All history demonstrates that all the “consciousness raising” in the world will not alter our personal reality in the manner Seth argues for.

Seth is a liar, but he teaches what millions of people like to hear: that they are gods who have the potential to control, regulate, and literally create reality. Indeed, to one degree or another, this is a fundamental premise of dozens of New Age groups such as Landmark Education’s The Forum (formerly est/The Forum), lifespring, and modern channeling. Nowhere is this desire for godhood better illustrated than in A Course in Miracles, which we will look at in a future article.

Notes

  1. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Facts on the Minds Sciences, Eugene OR, Harvest House Publishers, 1994.
  2. Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality: A Seth Book, New York: Bantam, 1978.
  3. A Course in Miracles, Volume 1, Text, Huntington Station, New York: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1977; A Course in Miracles, Volume 2: Workbook for Students, Huntington Station, NY: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1977; A Course in Miracles, Volume 3, Manual for Teachers, Huntington Station, NY: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1977.
  4. Robert Basil, ed., Not Necessarily the New Age: Critical Essays, New York: Prometheus, 1977, p. 185.
  5. Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality: A Seth Book, pp. 11-12, 64,85; cf. pp. 27,75.
  6. Ibid., p. 10.
  7. Ibid., xxii, emphasis added.
  8. Ibid., p. 75.
  9. Ibid., xxii-xxiii.
  10. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Facts on Spirit Guides, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1988.
  11. Roberts, Seth, pp. 238-242; cf. Ankerberg, Weldon, The Facts on Spirit Guides.

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