Oftentimes psychology perceives man’s deepest needs but fails to provide sufficient solutions to the problems. I discovered an example of this last year during my college psychology course. As I was reading the textbook, I stumbled upon a fascinating, yet troubling, psychotherapy treatment called “rebirthing”. My textbook briefly defined the steps of rebirthing as, “Reenacting your own birth, screaming, having body parts manipulated” (1). Supposedly, this treatment is supposed to, “promote attachment and reduce traumas remaining from birth,” (1). The textbook also mentioned that this treatment is not considered to be scientifically sound.
Although very controversial, rebirthing is common enough to gain the attention of large organizations like the National Center for Biotechnology Information and WebMD.
At its best, rebirthing seems strange and nonsensical. At its worse, it is deadly. A ten year old girl died of asphyxiation after a 70 minute brutal session of rebirthing therapy where her therapists tried to simulate the birth experience. (2)
While this treatment seems to be causing more harm than good, it is attempting to address a fundamental human need. We all need a fresh start.
While reenacting one’s own birth is completely ineffective, there is a way to become completely brand new, irrespective of age. But this solution is not mental – it is spiritual. God recognized our need to be made new when He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins.
In the Gospels, Jesus even uses the terminology “born again” to describe the drastic transformation He offers all people. In John chapter three, Jesus is approached by a leader of the Jews named Nicodemus. Nicodemus wants to know more about Jesus and the way to salvation. Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3 that, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, startled, argues that no one can literally be born again. Jesus responds in John 3:5, saying, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus was obviously not talking about physical rebirth, but a spiritual renewal.
Rebirthing treatment is addressing one of the most fundamental needs of human beings – the need to be made new. In a way, psychotherapists have realized a fundamental truth that we have known for thousands of years. We really do need to be born again. We need to completely eradicate the scum of our old man and become a new creation as 1 Corinthians 5:17 says. While psychology may have recognized the issue, only Jesus can give people the chance to be born again. Psychology was on track in theory but mistaken in method. Nothing in this natural world can bring about a new start. Only spiritual transformation through Jesus can make people new.
1) Grison, S., Heatherton, T., & Gazzaniga, M. (2017). Psychology in your life (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Norton Publishing.
2) Josefson, D. (2001). Rebirthing therapy banned after girl died in 70 minute struggle. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1174742/