Marvin Olasky
Octavious Bishop, 37, did not need a television to learn about gangsters, pimps, and prostitutes: He only had to look out his window. Growing up without a dad in poor areas of Milwaukee, Memphis, and Houston, with gangs all around him, prisons or coffins were his likely resting places.

But he had two things going for him: a belief in a big God and a coach who believed in a big player. Bishop grew up going to church and kept growing, hitting 6 feet 5 inches and 320 pounds by his senior year in high school. He became an offensive tackle on The University of Texas Longhorns and had brief stints with the Oakland Raiders and the Atlanta Falcons, until a broken leg cut short his career.

Now he has an NFL alumni plaque at his office in a suite of the Austin-based NeuroSensory Centers of America, where he is doing research that will be the basis of his Ph.D. dissertation. Here he faces a different kind of challenge: How to integrate his strong Christian beliefs and his sharp scientific inclinations.

Bishop introduced me to Kendal Stewart, chairman and chief medical officer of the company. Stewart has been looking at neuro-immune disorders that include migraines, anxiety, depression, ADD, and post- concussion syndrome. He believes that methyl folate, dopamine, and other chemical deficiencies are major culprits. Other researchers have different explanations, but Stewart provides evidence that if we get the right pharmaceutical combination, we can go far.

Stewart's theories are one indication of how psychology has changed over the years. In the 18th century Jonathan Edwards preached about anxious adults rightfully depressed about their sin. In the 19th century Dwight Moody evangelized depressed adults who needed a spiritual boost. In the 20th century Sigmund Freud and his pupil Carl Jung emphasized the need to confront the negative thoughts embedded in us early on.

As Jung put it, "It is not by looking in the light that we become luminous, but by plunging into the darkness." Freud asked patients to look into the darkest reaches of their childhoods and discern why they felt guilt or shame. Those who were too obstinate or lazy to pump out the darkness would drown in it as they projected their own faults onto others.

Later in the century, Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Rollo May further developed humanistic psychology. Fromm studied the Talmud but moved away from Orthodox Judaism when he was 26. Rogers, once an altar boy with a Pentecostal mom, emerged at 20 with a degree in doubt. May graduated from Union Theological Seminary. Paul Vitz's Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship (1977) critiqued those theorists and the way their beliefs functioned as alternative religions.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit
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