Classical Freudian psychoanalysis is atheistic, and so is most psychotherapy today. Even though the brilliant French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan had some familiarity with Catholicism, religion has no part in his psychoanalysis either. His concept of psychoanalysis, which masterfully refined Freud’s ideas, was still a product of natural reason. But Lacan can teach Catholics much about psychology. To put it in a nutshell, Lacanian analysis ultimately shows you that all your identifications with the world are just empty illusions. So you start analysis with your identity like a precious porcelain vase, and you end the analysis as a naked man sitting alone in a pile of broken pottery. So that’s life, you learn, just a pile of illusions. “Go make something of it anyway,” you’re told.
So what does this have to do with Catholicism and Catholic psychologists? Well, read Saint John of the Cross and you will find that his description of spiritual purgation is, in its practical effects, quite a bit like Lacan’s philosophy. The difference between the two, of course, is Christ. Christ leads us outside the box of natural reason. Christ begins where Lacan ends. Lacan leaves us with the stark, bare psychological truth of our broken lives. Christ—and only Christ—can heal the brokenness. And in that gap between Lacan and Christ is precisely where I locate the relation between psychology and religion. Psychology cannot heal us, but it can help us recognize just how broken we really are, and it can help us overcome our resistance to total surrender to Christ. Once we make that surrender, our healing begins. And that is precisely what Saint John of the Cross told us.
Source: Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. at (www.guidetopsychology.com/catholic.html)