“There is too much undissolved wrath and punishment in most religions.”
Josuha Liebman, Author of Peace of Mind
Why would the best selling author and Rabbi come to this conclusion?
All one has to do is see how easily he combines religion and Freud. He did this in this quote from Peace of Mind:
We also must realize that no one will punish us for the legitimate expression of self-assertiveness and creative pugnacity as our parents once punished us for our undisciplined temper tantrums.
Following this idea to the end, we can see where he ended up getting the idea that no one is going to punish you, since the entire concept of guilt was based on an internal notion that was created by yourself.
Joshua Liebman then explained these two important points.
We achieve inner health only through forgiveness – the forgiveness not only of others but also of ourselves. He also believed that self-understanding rather than self-condemnation is the way to inner peace and mature conscience.
Here, Liebman sounds more like psychiatrist Carl Jung, who said, “We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
Easily the self help era of the post WWII did a number on the psyche of the people who read this - and why not? They were trying to appeal to a generation of people who had gone through the depression and horrors of a devastating war. They wanted to put all of it behind them and not keep on bringing up the pain of the past. Without guilt or sin, could there be punishment in this world or the next? Their answer was no. Their answer was convenient - and their answer was wrong.
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. He explained guilt this way, as referenced here:
In Civilization and Its Discontents and other writings, Freud equates the unconscious need for punishment expressed in various patterns of self-torment and self-sabotage with the unconscious sense of guilt. But there are cogent clinical and theoretical grounds for distinguishing between genuine guilt and the unconscious need for punishment that serves as a guilt-substitute the function of which is precisely to ward off an unbearable sense of guilt. Whereas guilt embodies the depressive anxiety and the capacity for concern for the other that characterize the depressive position and that motivate the desire to make reparation, the unconscious need for punishment reflects the narcissistic and sado-masochistic dynamics associated with the paranoid-schizoid position. The discontent Freud links with civilization is not a manifestation of guilt but of the self-torment resulting from its evasion. The enlarged capacity to experience and bear guilt that is a mark of civilization reflects the healing, not the deepening, of our cultural malaise.
In a very odd way, Joshua Liebman combined Religion, psychology and self help into the perfect vehicle that allowed people to accept him as an expert in all three areas, while allowing people to accept this new religion as a modern example of how science trumped the archaic religion of our past. How could you feel guilty about a sin you committed if there is no such thing as sin and if guilt was a construction of human nature? You can not. This is the problem. Freud addressed it in his final section (VII) of Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud (1930):
The primary intention of this work is "to represent the sense of guilt as the most important problem in the development of civilization and to show that the price we pay for our advance in civilization is a loss of happiness through the heightening of the sense of guilt" (p.134).
Donald L. Carveth, Ph.D. in his article, “ The Unconscious Need for Punishment: Expression or Evasion of the Sense of Guilt? “ explains that the thesis of this paper is that our discontent in civilization arises not through the heightening of the sense of guilt, but rather through the heightening of the unconscious need for punishment that defends against the sense of guilt. An advance in civilization through a heightening of the capacity to confront and bear guilt leads to a decrease, not an increase, in discontent. Genuine guilt, understood as depressive anxiety or concern, represents not the problem of civilization but its solution. It is the path toward genuine happiness and peace.
In essence, can we develop Peace of Mind through the denial of God and search for the eternal truth through the power of man? Maybe it would be easier for these people to look at what Peace of Mind meant back in the early Church. Here, the best source of Peace of Mind may be found in Paul’s Letters to Philippians.
The early church in Philippi faced at least three types of problems: First, they appear to have faced persecution from those outside the church. Second, they were threatened by the possibility of false teaching similar to that which had infiltrated other churches. And third, they struggled with conflicts between one another in the church.
Philippians 4: 6-9
- Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
- Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
- Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Here you can clearly see that Peace of Mind comes from God - not from man. Make no mistake here. Man is not God. Our greatest peace of mind will come from living the precips of the Church, the teachings of Jesus, and following the commands we have been given. These things have been given to help our peace of mind. Amen