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Haigh, S.S. (1943). Faith is the Answer: By Smiley Blanton, M.D., and Norman Vincent Peale, D.D. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1941. 223 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:140-141.
(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:140-141
Faith is the Answer: By Smiley Blanton, M.D., and Norman Vincent Peale, D.D. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1941. 223 pp.
Review by: Susanna S. Haigh
'Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.' Spinoza.
'It should not surprise anyone that the minister and the psychiatrist work toward the same end, that they even join forces as in this book; for in both spheres of activity the problem is essentially the same—to renew faith where faith has been lost; faith in self, faith in fellow men, and faith in God.' Doctor Blanton.
These two quotations at the beginning of the book give an excellent idea of what the two authors, Doctor Blanton, a psychoanalyst, and Doctor Peale, the minister of the Marble Collegiate Church of New York, have attempted, and also show clearly why they have failed. Oil and water do not mix—neither do two completely divergent points of view—earnest as the wish may be to unite them.
This book is the outcome of work in the clinic of the Marble Collegiate Church where 'average' people are helped to overcome their emotional difficulties. In alternate chapters Doctor Blanton and Doctor Peale state the points of view of psychiatry and religion about emotional difficulties. Each chapter begins with a simple explanation of certain psychological mechanisms with brief practical illustrations. Such headings as, 'Hidden Energies of the Mind', 'Fear, Worry, and Anxiety', 'Conscience and the Sense of Guilt', are followed by chapters showing the contribution religion can make to the problem.
The chapters by Doctor Peale are repetitive statements of one theme—a solution to an emotional problem can only come through faith in God. 'Sincere surrender to God's will.' 'To open himself to God and allow the divine energy to flood his receptive spirit.' 'The minute a man says with sincerity to God within him, "You take control", that very minute he realizes the kingdom of God within him and radiant life begins for him.' Although it is stated that understanding of problems is desirable, it is clear that real insight is discouraged, as in 'when the mind is firmly controlled the physical instincts cannot dominate', and 'we need to engage in more physical activity and less introspection if we are to eliminate fear from our lives'. A peaceful emotional solution of one's problems can be achieved only by unquestioning faith.
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