Nuns and Midshipmen


Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson

4 July 2001

?????? Carl Rogers, along with Abraham Maslow (a Frankfurt School guru), became famous in the early 1960s for promoting a humanistic or 'third force psychology.' They were the forerunners of today's therapeutic education movement. Both were well-schooled in the sensitivity training methods of small-group encounters developed by Kurt Lewin in the U.S. and the Tavistock Institute in Britain.

??? In 1965, Rogers circulated a paper? entitled, 'The Process of the Basic Encounter Group,' which drew the attention of the Mother Superior of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) order of nuns in Los Angeles, CA. This innovative order conducted a retreat in which 'all community rules were suspended.' Outside psychologists conducted a 'teach in.' According to E. Michael Jones ('Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns: Sensitivity Training, Psychological Warfare and the Catholic Problem,' Culture Wars, pp. 25, October 1999) "The results of this sort of innovation were predictable. After allowing the psychologists in, the nuns became aware of 'how dictatorial superiors were and in turn how dependent, submissive and helpless nuns were when it came to working with the outside world.'"

?????? As a result of this experiment, hundreds of nuns (out of the 590 in the order) asked to be dispensed from their vows. In a period of just a few years, Carl Rogers had destroyed the IHM order and the 90 schools at which the nuns taught. The sensitivity training sessions had separated them from their religious discipline and plunged them into a 'renewed' religious order, which meant "we were together constantly, talking endlessly and intensively ... about love and hope and philosophy." All of this "intensely emotional talk" about "great thinkers and modern psychology" inevitably led to sexual feelings, which inevitably led to sexual activity, which inevitably led to a religious crisis when it became apparent that the nuns were acting in ways which were incompatible with the vows they had taken."

?????? A few fell in love with and eventually married their 'facilitator' psychologists, outsiders as well as priests of the same cloth.? Many others turned to lesbianism. Hundreds of other nuns simply became confused, frustrated, and morally lost.

??? The confused nuns naturally went to their priests for guidance.? But the priests had been indoctrinated by the same psychologists who were working their magic on the nuns. The priests refused to pass judgment on the nuns' sexual exploits and said that it was up to them to decide for themselves whether their actions were right or wrong.

?????? In one instance, the priest was himself a psychologist who had been brought into the order to facilitate the very encounter groups which were the catalyst for the sexual activity which was causing the problem. Rogers' experiment destroyed the IHM order.

?????? It was apparent that the perpetrators knew that the encounter groups would be toxic to the IHM nuns. They knew that, once the mother superior gave the order to conduct the experiment, the hierarchical authority of the order would ensure that the nuns would be at the complete mercy of the clinical psychologists -- both outside and inside the Catholic order. In fact, after a lecture at Sacred Heart in 1962, Abraham Maslow noted in a diary entry that the talk had been 'successful,' and that 'They shouldn't applaud me. They should attack me. If they were fully aware of what I was doing, they would attack.'

?????? Maslow's and Rogers' technique included "...interpersonal therapeutic growth-fostering relationships of all kinds which rest on intimacy, on honesty, on self-disclosure, on becoming sensitively aware of one's self -- and thereby of responsibility for feeding back one's impression of others, etc. -- that these are profoundly revolutionary devices, in the strict sense of the word -- that is, of shifting the whole direction of a society in a more preferred direction. As a matter of fact, it might be revolutionary in another sense if something like this were done very widely. I think the whole culture would change within a decade and everything in it."

?????? After the implementation of encounter groups became widespread in the Catholic Church, where it literally destroyed the orders which experimented with it, "the nuns all wanted to leave their orders and have sex, although not always in that order." A sign of this potency was the conversions that followed Rogers' workshops. "A Catholic priest took part in a five-day workshop in the 1960s, then left the priesthood to study psychology with Rogers, who had been his group facilitator. It happened repeatedly."

?????? The priest may not have noticed it, but both Maslow and Rogers were involved in the sexual engineering of behavior. "Catholic religious [persons] who were expected to lead ascetic lives while at the same time being told that love was the reason for their asceticism, were now experiencing the 'love' they had always talked about in previously abstract and rarefied terms, and they were for the most part unhinged by the experience? [cognitive dissonance in the extreme]. The effectiveness of the encounter group was based on the deliberate violation of the sexual inhibitions, which made everyday life possible. When the inhibitions dropped, the emotion which flooded in to fill the vacuum seemed a lot like the love which Christians were supposed to practice on their neighbors, when in point of fact it was more akin to unfettered libido, which could now be used by the facilitator as the energy which brought about the social engineering they desired."

?????? So, there you have a concrete, detailed, and well-researched example from the past wherein clinical psychologists, schooled in the latest psychological warfare techniques (encounter groups, sensitivity training, and cognitive dissonance), destroyed a part of an American institution 'in order to save it.'

?????? Why should it be surprising that the same therapeutic techniques are being used today to destroy our military institutions? To be more specific, why should we be surprised that the same techniques are being used on midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy?

?????? In fact, this is the case. Just substitute the midshipmen for the nuns; the Executive Department company officer supervisors (Lieutenants and Captains) with advanced degrees in 'behavioral science' for the priests, the civilian PhDs in 'ethics' from Yale or Harvard for the 1960s Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslows, and the Superintendent (the primary enabler) of the Academy for the Mother Superior who let the infestation work its way into the order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

?????? Instead of using philosophy, sensitivity training and encounter groups to attack the nuns' vulnerable 'sexuality' within the sheltered confines of the convent, the present day New Age 'revolutionaries' are using the same tools and a New Age 'ethics' (in the even more sheltered and hierarchical confines of a military environment) to undermine the sole reason for having a military academy -- to hone a 'warrior ethos' in an officer corps which will fight and win America's 'just wars.'

?????? In order that you might see this for yourself, rather than being told, just read the following article from the Washington Post (25 October 1999, 'Test of Character: U.S. Naval Academy Analyzes Personality types to Slow Dropout Rate,' by Amy Argetsinger). Read it and weep. But more importantly, read it and compare; read it and think, read it and, for God's sake, ACT!

Begin text of Washington Post article:


Test of Character:

U.S. Naval Academy Analyzes Personality Types to Slow Dropout Rate


Amy Argetsinger

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, October 25, 1999; Page B01

For generations, it's been a fact of life at the U.S. Naval Academy: As many as 10 percent of the eager young men and women who arrive in Annapolis to begin their officer training quit before the year is over. Scores more drop out before their four years are done.

"He just wasn't meant for this place," officials would say, removing the student from their rosters. Or: "She didn't really want to be here."

But at a time when the armed forces are struggling to attract and keep talented young people, academy officials are no longer willing to view such defections as regrettable but inevitable. And to better understand why some students thrive in the rigorous military environment while others flee, officials have gone back and analyzed 14 years of midshipmen's scores on a popular but controversial "personality typing" test. And they've come up with some startling insights.

The good news: They say they can now predict which students -- whether "extroverts" or "introverts," "thinkers" or "feelers" -- are most likely to drop out.

The bad news: Some of those dropouts might have made great admirals.

Now, academy officials are making small adjustments in their once-rigid program to help students over personality challenges that once might have ended a brilliant military career before it started.

"You don't want to coddle them. This is the military environment they're going to see the rest of their lives," said Glenn Gottschalk, the academy's director of institutional research. "What we're saying now is, 'Don't throw in the towel the first time they look like they don't conform.' "

Gottschalk acknowledges that "plebe summer" -- the seven-week boot camp-style initiation marked by constant yelling from drill instructors and endless group marches -- seems to be particularly trying for students who by nature are quiet and introspective. They drop out in disproportionate numbers. Yet those very traits are highly valued by the Navy on submarines or in intelligence work.

Take Matt Vernon's plebe-year hallmate, for example. He wanted to be a submariner, and he probably would have done well in that confined, stressful environment, judging by the amount of time he spent in his room studying and working on his computer. Yet his seeming passivity didn't play well with his superiors.

"He would always volunteer to take people's duties, but he did it in a low-key way so he wasn't getting the credit," said Vernon, 24, an extroverted senior from Las Vegas. Frustrated by his mediocre grades on military performance reviews, Vernon's friend dropped out near the start of his sophomore year.

Such are the casualties at a school where "sink or swim" could be the motto and spit-polish perfection is the goal. Even when the plebe summer initiation period ends, midshipmen find themselves in a college environment alien to any civilian student -- mandatory meals, evenings scrubbing the bathroom, weekends confined to campus.

"To get through here, you need a strong personality and a good sense of humor," said Christy Kercheval, an 18-year-old plebe from Houston, who said she has had to rein in some of her natural exuberance since coming to Annapolis. "This is not a normal life."

Character and personality have always been scrutinized and debated at the Naval Academy, which traditionally has valued such traits as self-confidence, risk-taking, derring-do and fierce loyalty. The hallmarks of Navy heroes, such characteristics also were found in the midshipmen whose cheating and carousing brought scandal upon the school in the mid-'90s.

An oft-cited example of this paradox is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), now running for president. During the Vietnam War, he was the tenacious jet pilot who withstood six years of torture and isolation in a prison camp. At the Naval Academy, he was the rules-breaking party animal who graduated near the bottom of his class.

Now, with this deeper scrutiny of personality types, the academy is undergoing what one observer calls a "behavioral science revolution." A new masters program for the young officers who supervise midshipmen is steeped in studies of human behavior and interpersonal dynamics. And a freshman-year leadership class that once focused on management techniques and inspiring tales of Navy daring was revamped this year with a strong infusion of psychology.

The goal is self-awareness but also a heightened sensitivity toward others. "If you don't know your people, you can't be a leader," said Lt. Douglas Marlow, a clinical psychologist who teaches the class.

It is in this class that freshmen first discuss their results on the famous Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. Designed by a mother-daughter team of psychologists more than 50 years ago, the test draws on the tenets of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist, to categorize people based on how they interact with others, process information and make decisions.

Typical questions include "Are you easy to get to know, or hard to get to know?" and "Do you cherish faith in things that cannot be proved, or believe only those things that can be proved?" The results then purport to show whether the taker is an extrovert or introvert, sensory or intuitive, a thinker or feeler, and a judger or perceiver.

While scorned by many psychologists, the test has gained tremendous popularity in management and counseling circles. The academy's analysis of its test results, given to freshmen during their first week, shows that the military college environment may be friendlier to one type of student than


For example, most midshipmen are Sensory-Thinking-Judgmental types who thrive on the discipline and order. They're often considered the born administrators and leaders, sometimes referred to as the guardian or duty fulfiller types.

They make up only about 15 percent of the general population but account for 33 percent of the people who choose to enter the Naval Academy. Yet they make up only about 15 percent of the voluntary dropouts.

In contrast, Feeling-Perceptive types -- creative, empathetic -- make up about 35 percent of the general population but only about 17 percent of the brigade. But chafing under the regimentation and dispirited by the constant criticism, they make up about 30 percent of the dropouts.

"They leave in plebe summer," Gottschalk said. "For them, it's 'What do you mean I have to stand at attention? What do you mean I have to cut off my beard?' "

Introverts, meanwhile, make up only about 33 percent of the brigade but more than 55 percent of the voluntary dropouts.

Paul Roush, a retired Marine colonel and former leadership and ethics professor at the academy, said that studies of test results from the Pentagon's war colleges show that fewer than 20 percent of admirals and generals are personality types other than the forceful thinker-judgers.

"But that's probably not for the best," Roush said. "You're probably better off having some other types as well" in upper leadership.

Gottschalk also believes Myers-Briggs results may shed some light on women's low application and high attrition rates. Women make up only about 18 percent of the student body, and about 17 percent drop out.

He notes that while most women are Feeling-Perceivers, those who choose to come to the Naval Academy are mostly Sensing-Thinking-Judgers -- just like the guys. The typical Naval Academy man, he theorizes, is baffled by these intense, competitive women.

"He sees the women here and says, 'She isn't like my mother, she isn't like my sister.' He either treats her as one of the guys, or he treats her like some kind of freak."

In the Myers-Briggs worldview, there is no right or wrong type. Every type has its strength: Feelers are empathetic and considerate, perceivers are adaptable and able to make quick decisions. Academy officials insist that every type has a place at Annapolis. So they are taking small steps to accommodate and encourage students of the various personality types, in hopes of reducing the dropout rate.

Athletic coaches are being taught about the personality types and are being encouraged to match plebe team members with upper-class mentors of a similar personality type. Starting next year, all company officers will be told their midshipmen's Myers-Briggs classifications. Academy officials may even alert them to the "at-risk" personality types and urge them to reach out to those students.

Yet Daniel Druckman, a psychologist and professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University who has studied the use of Myers-Briggs, cautions that it would be "dangerous" to base administrative decisions on results of the tests, which he says force test-takers to pick extremes that may not fit their actual preferences.

"We're being stereotyped," he said. "It can become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy." Many social scientists are highly skeptical of the Myers-Briggs test, saying there is little peer research to confirm its findings.

Indeed, the academy community -- many of them Extrovert-Sensing-Thinking-Judgers, Gottschalk notes, and typically averse to "touchy-feely" stuff -- may be reluctant to fully embrace the quasi-science.

Lt. Monica Mitchell, an officer who supervises a company of about 140 midshipmen, analyzed Myers-Briggs data for her master's degree last year but would rather not know her students' categories. "I don't want to prejudice my interactions with them," she said.

Gottschalk and other academy officials emphasize that they are moving slowly with personality typing. They say it will never be a consideration in admissions or promotion decisions -- there is no personality type, they say, that does not belong at the academy.

Company officer Lt. Philip E. Kapusta has on file the Myers-Briggs ratings of all 138 midshipmen he supervises. He was surprised to realize that the top-ranking freshman in his company is an Introverted-Sensing-Feeling-Perceptor -- the quiet, sensitive type that often drops out.

"You have to broach this carefully," Kapusta said. "You don't want to tell people, 'You're doomed to fail.' "


ゥ Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

End of Wash. Post Text.

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