Mormon Psychohistory : Psychological Insights into the Latter-day Saint Past, Present, and Future
Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought
Joseph Smith espoused open-mindedness and toleration of differences of opinion, values which the author states are sometimes subscribed with limits in today's Church. He examines Church history from the perspective of psychologist Abraham Maslow's theory of motivational needs. Even though the Church underwent severe persecution during the earliest years, the emphasis on higher order needs co-existed with the expected needs to survive. After the Joseph Smith period, the energies and focus of the Church shifted toward survival and safety to the detriment of the higher order needs of self-actualization and self-transcendence. Although the time of persecution is generally behind the Church, the author argues that Church leaders still maintain a siege mentality. In Maslow's pyramid of needs, the Church is in an era of searching for belonging and esteem; trying to fit in with mainstream Christianity. The feminists and intellectuals who are targeted as threats to society by middle-of-the-road mainstream America have also been similarly perceived by Church leaders. The author, believing that the Church is at a crossroads, offers some alternative directions that he wishes Church leaders would take. He believes that the Church should re-emphasize the higher needs that were initially advocated by Joseph Smith, an action that could take the members toward the direction of greater spiritual growth.