Frank Minirth & Paul Meier

General Teachings/Activities*

-  None of the so-called Christian psychologists are so blatantly committed to Freudian ideas as are psychiatrists Frank Minirth and Paul Meier. They once liberally dispensed these Freudianisms at their 25 owned and operated Minirth Meier New Life [psychiatric inpatient] Clinics (Dallas, Texas being the main clinic, with 24 other branch clinics nationwide, with a total of 6,500 beds, charging $1,000 or more per day, employing in total over 600 doctor/therapist staff members); there were also 55 outpatient units. The clinics averaged about 500 inpatient admissions and about 7,500 outpatient visits per month. (See the last section of this report for the account of the unwinding of this empire.) Through the many so-called "Christian help books" they have authored; through their monthly publication Today's Better Life (formerly Christian Psychology for Today); over the radio airways on a daily, call-in radio program; and in the classroom at Dallas Theological Seminary where they had been adjunct professors on the faculty, they have very cleverly masqueraded their discredited Freudianisms as "Christian," twisting the Word of God to make it fit their preconceived, unproven, psychoanalytic opinions, and have, thereby, gained widespread acceptability. (See the last section of this report for the latest on the split-up of the Minirth-Meier team. The MMNL Clinics are now controlled by Steven Arterburn, the founder of New Life Clinics, except for the Dallas Clinic, which has been renamed the Minirth Clinic. Paul Meier is off writing novels and other things.)

-  What is the purpose of the MMNL clinic radio broadcast? Insiders from the Minirth-Meier group have reported that their radio broadcasts were viewed by the owners as infomercials designed to draw paying clients into the therapeutic net. One former M&M speaker freely admitted that program topics were chosen on the basis of how many beds were empty at the clinics. If they needed more patients, they would do programs on addictions and depression, for example. This was verified by a close relative of the head of psychiatry at the Minirth-Meier New Life Clinics. The relative said, "My [relative] asked me if I knew why they [Minirth-Meier therapists] took their patients back into their childhood. I said no. Then he laughed and said, 'Because the longer we can keep them in their past, the longer we can keep them in therapy. And at $100 per session, we want to keep them in therapy as long as possible.'" This, from a group that claims their purpose is to help hurting people find healing for their minds through psychiatry.

-  A 4/93 Christianity Today article ("The Therapeutic Revolution: How Christian Counseling Is Changing the Church," pp. 24-32) gives us some insights concerning the backgrounds and thinking of Frank Minirth and Paul Meier:

"Meier attended ultra-fundamentalist Bob Jones University, a fact he is not eager to advertise today. By the end of his years at BJU, fundamentalism had begun to lose its grip on him. He wanted to write a book, to be called Practical Christianity, that would introduce a faith cleansed of unnecessary rules and guilt, a faith that helped people rather than burdened them ... [p. 30] Meier and Minirth chose psychiatry because they thought it would be a prestigious platform for their faith. ... They decided that the key need was a trained pastorate. ... 'Both of us had job offers for $100,000 a year, but we felt we could do more good at Dallas Theological Seminary.' [p. 31] Meier, no longer doing therapy, has returned to a long-term love of his: biblical prophecy. ... Minirth and Meier both say that integrating Scripture and psychiatry was easy for them ..." (p. 32). (Emphases added.)

-  Minirth & Meier believe in the widely discredited "medical model," which treats people as victims with "diseases" rather than as sinners with sinful behavior; this is evidenced by their statements that everything from anxiety and depression to love of one's own spouse, is or can become addictive. To Minirth & Meier, there apparently are no sins for which an individual is independently responsible, but rather every "problem behavior" is an illness just as surely as is heart disease, diabetes, and pneumonia. And what is the solution for these "diseased" behaviors? -- "Christian" psychoanalysis, of course. (The medical/physical analogy goes something like this: since we wouldn't have a gall bladder removed without a trained physician, then we surely wouldn't attempt to raise children without the psychological professional.)

-  Minirth & Meier's idea concerning depression has two parts: "brain chemicals" and Freudian-based notions of "repression" and "denial." Unfortunately for the followers of Minirth & Meier, "repression" and "denial" are based upon widely discredited and unsubstantiated Freudian theory (as well as finding no place in Scripture), and their repeated claim that holding grudges causes depletion of certain "brain chemicals," thereby resulting in depression, is totally without scientific merit.

-  Minirth & Meier repeatedly attempt to Biblicize Freud's idea of the "unconscious" by quoting such passages as Jeremiah 17:9, Proverbs 21:1, and Psalm 139:23-24, in which they simply equate the "heart" with the unconscious (with no Biblical exegesis, of course). For example, from their first book together in 1978, Happiness Is A Choice, p. 97:

"Jeremiah 17:9 is the key to Christian psychiatry: 'The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?' The prophet Jeremiah is saying that we humans cannot fathom or comprehend how desperately sinful and deceitful our heart is -- our unconscious motives, conflicts, drives, emotions, and thoughts." (Emphasis added.)

Without so much as an explanation, we're told that Jeremiah is talking about the "unconscious" mind. This is a cavalier assumption that ignores that the heart in Old Testament usage refers to all that man is within, including his reason and will. One has to believe in the Freudian "unconscious" mind to find it in Scripture. They give a similar twist to Proverbs 11:14 ("Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory."):

"Some people (especially in the lower middle class) poke fun at getting professional counseling ... but this ridicule is the product of their own naiveté and defensiveness. Getting guidance from a knowledgeable Christian pastor or professional counselor can bring about victory over life's seemingly overwhelming stresses. To obtain and apply to one's life good-quality Christian psychotherapy is synonymous with discipleship" (p. 98). (Emphasis added.)

A proverb meant to speak to the issue of the quality of political leadership becomes a justification for "Christian" psychiatric counseling, and psychiatric counseling (i.e., psychotherapy) becomes equated with discipleship! They even argue that Proverbs 21:2 ("All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart") provides evidence for "unconscious" defense mechanisms. And since they believe that repressed anger (e.g., holding a grudge) causes depression, their prescribed therapy is Freudian "ventilation" (the verbal expression of anger onto the casual agent of the depression). (Not only is there no Biblical evidence whatsoever for such a notion, even secular studies reveal that the practice of ventilating anger is extremely harmful.)

-  With their teachings on the Freudian "unconscious" as background, Minirth & Meier have easily made the application to the "codependent" movement. (For a thorough understanding of the "codependency" heresy sweeping the church today, see 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency/Recovery Heresies, by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1991, 247 pages; the material in this section was drawn from this source.) In their 1989 book, Love Is A Choice (which is highly recommended by Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary), Minirth & Meier argue that the cause of codependency is unmet emotional needs, which they then describe as unfilled "love tanks," and that all problems related to codependency can be traced to not having been loved enough, or in the right way, as children. But the person doesn't really know that's the reason because he has "repressed" the hurt and "denied" that he didn't get enough love. This whole idea matches the Freudian invention of an "unconscious" which drives behavior, with its "ego-defense mechanisms" (including repression and denial) and the Adlerean unconscious need for self-worth.

Therefore, rather than addressing the problems found in sinful relationships from a solely Biblical perspective, Minirth & Meier view everything through the colored glasses of psychological theories, which are merely the theories and wisdom of men -- and unredeemed men at that. Should not one expect better from professing Christians who claim, in their own words, to "spend four hours every day studying the Scripture"? One would think that studying the Scripture four hours a day would lead to more confidence in Scripture rather than confidence in the opinions of men such as Freud.

-  The psychobabble coming from the Minirth-Meier Clinic's "Christian" call-in radio program would be humorous entertainment were it not so tragic in the havoc wrought in the lives of unsuspecting Christians. In a program aired on 12/10/91, Drs. Hemfelt and Meier spent over half of the one hour program in an analysis of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. They closely examined the character of Ebenezer Scrooge, determining that Scrooge was a suffering "codependent" who was miraculously cured in one night when the Ghost of Christmas Past visited Scrooge and showed him that he was "a discontent, a negaholic, addicted to money, and suffered from interpersonal relationship difficulties" (all of which were supposedly caused by the childhood trauma of Scrooge losing his mother at a tender age, his father then turning emotionally against him, rejecting him, and then shuttling him off to boarding schools, thereby effectively abandoning him rather than unconditionally accepting him).

Hemfelt warns listeners that Christians, unlike Scrooge, cannot expect to be cured or healed of codependency in a few hours one evening, but rather will need a "mechanism of recovery," such as the Minirth-Meier Clinic, where the staff tries to "duplicate the Scrooge Experience," which "sometimes takes five days at a care clinic, or a week or so in the hospital [at a cost of approximately $2000-$5000 per week!], or several weeks or months of committed outpatient counseling," where "the same kind of miraculous transformation can occur."

Drs. Minirth, Meier, Hemfelt, et al., obviously give little weight to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of true believers. Even if one were to experience a "complete" and "absolute" cure, as Scrooge apparently does in Dickens' story, the best the partially-healed Christian ("I may not ever be perfectly healed from my codependency") can ever hope for (according to M&M) is "regular scheduled maintenance ... to sustain these changes," which "may require some ongoing counseling, the use of a support organization such as Codependents Anonymous, etc."

-  The organization "Fundamentalists Anonymous" is based upon the idea that conservative Christianity (i.e., believing that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God) is a serious, debilitating addiction. Amazingly, in their book Love Is A Choice, Minirth & Meier have listed this anti-Christian organization at the end of the book with the following recommendation: "Seek them out locally." [!!!]

-  One of the most blatant errors (some would say blasphemies) of Minirth & Meier is their attempt to equate Freud's idea of the "id," "ego," and "superego" with the Apostle Paul's teaching in the New Testament on the "old nature," the "will," and the "conscience," respectively. In actuality, the id/ego/superego concept, with all its psychosexual gratification underpinnings, was contrived by Freud precisely because he rejected God's truth about man, not because there was a correspondence between Freudian theory and Biblical truth, as Minirth & Meier would like us to believe. This is a classic example of what so-called Christian psychologists never seem to tire of attempting to do -- they impose godless, anti-Christian ideas onto the Bible, all the while claiming a special calling of God.

-  Someone once said that Eastern religions would come to the West as psychotherapies. Using a mantra is now being embraced by so-called "Christian" therapists to help their clients relax. In the Summer of 1991, the Minirth & Meier Clinic's monthly publication, Christian Psychology Today, changed its name to Today's Better Life. In the premier issue, Frank Minirth authored an article entitled "Relax: A Prescription for Relieving Anxiety" (pp. 54-59), in which he made the following incredulous statements (Emphasis added.):

(a) "Often when we counsel anxious patients, we teach them to use a repetitive phrase to help them unwind. We suggest they say the same words over and over whenever they catch themselves worrying ... At the first hint of anxiety, before the symptoms multiply and conquer you, try breathing deeply, and slowly. Each time you exhale, repeat the same phrase. What words work best? It doesn't matter" (p. 55). [To us this sounds like the incorporation of Hinduistic mantras into Christianity! How does this line up with Phil. 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God?" Paul says, when you are anxious, pray. And Jesus said, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matt 6:7). Could Minirth's recommended repetition be the kind against which Jesus spoke?]

(b) "Anxiety and depression build because people don't air their feelings daily. We psychiatrists tell our patients to ventilate their anxiety" (p. 56). [Freudian ventilation therapy. This is simply opinion based upon their faith in the Freudian adaptation of the hydraulic model of energy. Only now, Minirth is applying the model to anxiety as well as to anger. Nevertheless, the theory has been discredited.]

(c) "The most effective approach to overcoming anxiety is a multipronged plan that blends positive praying with positive thinking, followed by positive action" (p. 57). [PMA therapy.]

At the end of his article, Minirth gives "Eight Ways to Control Anxiety," and not one of them is prayer! (p. 56). Again, strange oversight for a man who claims to study Scripture four hours a day.

-  In late 1994, Wally Vanderzwaag, station manager at WJTG, Ft. Valley, Georgia, related the story of Scott and Liesa Rogers. The Rogers family, who were friends and listeners to WJTG, have undergone the most traumatic, horrific experience in their lives due to alleged false accusations brought against them by the Minirth Meier New Life Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia. (For a detailed account of their testimony, please reference the video A Family Betrayed. All the facts regarding this case are also established by hard copy documentation and sworn affidavits. To obtain a copy of the video A Family Betrayed, call 1-800-729-9829. The video does have a warning on it saying: "Contains explicit materials.")

At the beginning of the video, John Scott Rogers tells about listening to a Minirth Meier New Life Clinic radio program on his car radio on March 15, 1994. During the broadcast, Rogers stopped his car and called the Minirth Meier New Life Clinic because the program invited listeners to call in, and because the remarks made on the program had precipitated some personal concerns. Specifically he relates, the statement was made on the program that those who are abused as children grow up to be abusers. Rogers knew he had been abused as a child and, as a result of listening to the program, now wondered if that would turn him into an abuser. He called for information and prayer, but what followed was a nightmare for Scott Rogers and his family.

In the video, Rogers describes step by step from that one fateful phone call to allegations against him of child sexual abuse. During the phone call to the Clinic, Rogers expressed concern that had been prompted by the program, since he had suffered many severe beatings as a child. He told the woman from the Clinic that he did not ever want to do to his children what had been done to him. The woman from the Clinic proceeded to ask him his name, phone number, address, and if he carried health insurance. After he told her the name of his insurance carrier, she insisted that he immediately check himself into a Minirth Meier New Life in-hospital treatment program. When he expressed concern about the cost ($1,000 per day with a minimum stay of 14 days!), she told him his insurance would pay. He assured her that he had never abused his children, but when he resisted the idea of entering their in-hospital psychiatric treatment, she threatened to call the authorities and report him for child abuse!

The Clinic did report Scott Rogers to Georgia authorities, accusing Rogers of sexually abusing his three year-old son. After a more than two month ordeal, Scott Rogers was exonerated by the State of Georgia's Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). DFCS spent hours of evaluation with him and his family, versus twenty minutes by phone with the Clinic. (Reported in the Sept/Oct PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter.) [This is not an isolated Minirth-Meier horror story. See the 10/91, D Magazine article, "The Seduction of Gloria Grady," pp. 45-49, 66-71, for a similar family tragedy brought on by the counseling of a Minirth Meier Clinic in Dallas.]

-  There are countless horror stories from people like the Rogers, who have been treated at the MMNL clinics by non-Christian psychiatrists and therapists as well as professing Christians. Marriages have been destroyed, families torn apart by unbiblical therapy. One woman who believed she was maltreated had been advised by a criminal prosecution specialist that the MMNL clinics should be turned over to the FBI and the FCC. She wrote, "I include Dr. James Dobson (founder, Focus on the Family) in my complaint because it was due to his promotion of the clinics on his religious radio program that my family and I deemed them trustworthy." She said, "After hearing the Minirth-Meier Clinic's nationwide program on our local non-profit radio station state that their clinics are run by Christian doctors and counselors, and hearing Dr. Dobson promote them on his radio program, I went to their West Coast clinic for a week in July '89. This clinic, we later learned, was directed by a Moslem physician."

-  Space does not permit the critique of each and every Freudian theory and therapy that Minirth & Meier have attempted to "Christianize." Suffice it to say that they have attempted to Christianize much of what Freud taught in the areas of personality types and disorders; personality formation; child care; sexual identity; anxiety, anger, and guilt; the defense mechanisms of repression, projection, and denial; depression; the unconscious; etc.; etc.; etc. And we haven't even attempted to detail their unbiblical teachings borrowed from other schools of psychology (e.g., the humanistic psychological concepts of self-love, self-image, and self-worth, borrowed from the likes of such anti-Christians as Adler, Maslow, and Rogers).

We can only echo the words of medical doctor Hilton P. Terrell, writing the foreword comments to the Bobgan's critique of Minirth & Meier in Prophets of PsychoHeresy I -- "No amount of well-intentioned refinement of deadly doctrines will make them clean for use by Christians. Though gems are usually found in coal mines, Christians who go fossicking for gems of God's truth in psychoanalytic coal mines will usually emerge empty-handed and filthy. Professional and non-professional Christians of discernment should avoid the dangerous system completely."

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

As of 2/26/96, the Minirth-Meier radio show was airing on upwards of 200 stations. But now something was missing here. Where was Paul Meier, Dr. Minirth's longtime partner? Or Stephen Arterburn, whose New Life Clinics merged with Minirth-Meier in 1994 (to form Minirth Meier New Life Clinics -- MMNL)? Where were the callers from Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., or the familiar 800 number? The new show is now officially called "The Minirth Clinic," but gone is the network of radio stations and the nationwide chain of 80 clinics. As of 3/96, the program is aired only in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Likewise, the name Minirth Clinic appears on just two buildings, one in Dallas and one in D.C. The tension created by scandals and financial pressures seems to have claimed the Minirth-Meier-Arterburn partnership as its most prominent victim.

A spokeswoman for MMNL, which will not change its name despite the departure of the doctor with lead billing, insists the split was amicable: "People think there must have been a big blowup, but it's really not anything like that," said Pamela McCann from MMNL's headquarters in Richardson, TX, "It's very hard for doctors to work within a corporate setting, and obviously there's no way to get away from that in a company this large. Dr. Minirth wanted something specifically his own that he could control. Basically, they figured out a way to give him what he needed." But events over the past two years suggest that the split was more than just a case of corporate claustrophobia.

MMNL's woes began 3/15/94 with the John Scott Rogers case [see details in report above]. Claiming that he had been improperly accused by an intake counselor with no psychiatric training, Rogers sued MMNL for slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Worse yet for the clinic, the case was picked up by broadcaster Vic Eliason [a gross psychologizer in his own right], who publicized it widely on his network of 240 radio stations. Strains in the Minirth-Meier-Arterburn partnership began to appear at this point.

Soon after the Rogers case gained national prominence, Minirth dropped off the daily radio show. Throughout late-1994, Minirth carried on an active correspondence with Eliason and other broadcasters, seeking to reassure them of the organization's ministry orientation and Biblical foundations. In the end, Minirth would "flatly and categorically deny all allegations of improper conduct." Throughout the increasingly nasty battle of open letters that raged through 1995, Arterburn took over as spokesman while Minirth disappeared completely.

Minirth's next statement did not come until late February of 1996, after he had left MMNL and struck out on his own. But the controversy has taken its toll. Clinics no longer run waiting lists. The radio network has dropped to 104 stations from a high of approximately 220. A new series of radio spots for an MMNL affiliate doesn't ever mention the Minirth-Meier name. And, of course, the departure of a founding partner will continue to raise questions in the public's mind. Given the total dominance of the MMNL organization, the answers to those questions could well determine the future of the entire field of "Christian" psychiatry. (Adapted and/or excerpted from a 1996 article in World magazine, "Personality splits -- Minirth of Minirth-Meier fame breaks off amid controversy.")

Further Note: Steve Arterburn filed suit against Frank Minirth in the Superior Court of the State of California in Orange County. In his action against Minirth, Arterburn was seeking damages in excess of $550,000. The file on the case indicates that Arterburn's complaint was for defamation, "slander per se," and that "a jury trial [is] demanded." Arterburn alleged that Minirth said the following words to at least Dr. Paul D. Meier and Nancy R. Brown (Meier's sister): "He [Arterburn] is a murderer and adulterer." It is stated in Arterburn's complaint that Minirth's statements exposed Arterburn to "hatred, contempt, ridicule, and obloquy" and impugned Arterburn's integrity both personally and professionally. Arterburn contended that Minirth's statements were slanderous and jeopardized Arterburn's financial livelihood, which included book revenues and speaking engagements. Arterburn reported that he had received during the prior year $500,000 in book revenues and over $50,000 for speaking engagements. Thus, Arterburn was seeking over $550,000 in damages. [Minirth admits that he had a private conversation between himself and Meier, wherein Meier questioned the propriety of Minirth's decision to terminate the contract between New Life Treatment Centers Minirth-Meier Clinic. Minirth responded to the effect that Arterburn's judgment and actions were being affected by his previous actions, by his own admission in nationwide print, in getting a woman pregnant out of wedlock and then being responsible for her having an abortion. Minirth admits that his statement was true and was based upon and was a reference to Arterburn's own admissions to nationwide audiences (in 1/94) that he had committed adultery and had been responsible for an abortion, which in his own words and in the Christian community is the killing (murder) of an unborn child.] The suit was dismissed. Arterburn claimed that he never intended to get money from the suit or to drag Minirth into court. (Reported in the Nov-Dec 1996, PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter. )

* Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of Minirth & Meier's teachings would be Prophets of PsychoHeresy I, pp. 221-334, (Critiquing Paul Meier and Frank Minirth), by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1989, 360 pages; and Prophets of PsychoHeresy II, pp. 239-247 (Reissued as James Dobson's Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology). Unless otherwise stated, all quotes and excerpts used in this report come from these two sources. (Prophets of PsychoHeresy I is now out of print; however the chapters from the book covering Minirth and Meier are posted on the Bobgan's web site.)

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 1/97