We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, May 12. 2010
From a genetic standpoint, why is mental illness so common?
- The wiring is very tricky. Lots of teensy tiny wires, all tangled up.
From Robin of Berkeley's The Left's Unbearable Darkness of Being:
- If you are over 18 and haven't learned that life is tragic, you may have a learning problem.
From Had Enough Therapy, Victims No More.
- Most of our problems are of our own creation - often unwittingly. That was just one of Freud's insights - borrowed from the ancient Greeks, of course.
- The attitude is similar to what is summed up by the AA aphorism "Feelings aren't facts."
Get a Helmet
Dr. Lastname, a psychiatrist blogger, wants you to know that life is hard: I know, you’ve got lots of feelings about what you can’t change and you’d prefer to ask why rather than accept what you consider as defeat. But here’s th
Weblog: Negative Railroad
Tracked: May 21, 06:52
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
I approve of the "F*ck Feelings Manifesto." The unofficial motto of my family is "etlay itway opdray." Good WASPs, we are.
Dr. Bliss ... "Why is mental illness so common?" If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.
I have long believed that the ridiculous amount of psych meds used in this country is due to the notion that it is somehow normal to be happy all the time.
It is not in the least bit normal, and to be happy in certain situations is downright psycho in itself.
It is ok to be sad, to be depressed within a reasonable degree, to grieve, to maintain. We were not designed to run around yipping in ecstasy 24/7.
Funny how modern people recoil in horror at the idea of original sin, but casually embrace the notion that most of us are biologically incapable of a happy life without drugs.
Not, frankly, that we're capable of a happy life WITH drugs. The people I know who are on antidepressants aren't happy. They're just fuzzy -- too fuzzy to make any meaningful changes in their lives. Or too fuzzy to keep complaining about anything, so life becomes more comfortable for the people who have to interact with them, as long as they're not that interested in real contact. The fact that their relationships with the people around them are on that level provides a more persuasive explanation for their unhappiness, for my taste, that any supposed biochemical disorder.
(snip from JR Nyquist's essay "A Short Philosophy of History")
"Jung relates the story of a schizophrenic patient standing at a window, blinking into the sun. Jung asked what the patient was looking at. The patient replied, "Surely you see the sun's penis -- when I move my head to and fro, it moves too, and that is where the wind comes from." Jung admitted that he didn't understand the patient's delusion. Four years later, Jung was reading a book on ancient mythology that included the following passage: "...The path of the visible gods will appear through the disc of the sun, who is God my father. Likewise the so-called tube, the origin of the ministering wind. For you will see hanging down from the disc of the sun something that looks like a tube."
How could a schizophrenic have seen, in the disc of the sun, ancient symbolism referred to in an obscure Alexandrian text?
(close snip, read more at link)
Stuart Schniederman's suggestion that the psychology industry promotes victimhood to lure patients into therapy is idiotic. The talk show world and certain books promote a victim centric-view of life, but this is not fundamentally how psychologists see the world.
Certainly there are cases of victimhood that damage people psychologically--chronic sexual abuse and some traumatic experiences. But there are many other life difficulties that have nothing to do with victimhood. Most of the work we do falls into the latter category.
Problems arising from victimhood is only a small part of the training of psychologists. As you point out, psychoanalytic theory suggests that most problems are of our own making, part and parcel to the human condition. Beyond psychoanalysis, positive psychology doesn't focus on victimhood at all. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is neutral on the subject of victimization. Family systems has identified patients, meaning the "problem person" isn't really the problem and that problems arise from efforts to keep the system in equilibrium--nothing to do with victimhood.
I can't help but wonder if it's Stuart Scheiderman who is actually the self-promoter in this in this scenario, denigrating psychotherapy to persuade his readers that coaches can provide everything they need. Schneiderman also plays to the denial that is intrinsic to the human condition. That denial drives an anti-therapeutic, anti-introspection cultural undercurrent based upon universal anxiety about the darker recesses of the human psyche.
1) Schneiderman's point is not just that victimhood is psychotherapy's preferred cause, but that it inherently creates a culture and dynamic of victimhood. And that this is in the therapists' long-term interest.
2) Not so fast with lumping cognitive and other "coping" approaches with traditional psychotherapy. The cognitive approach was greeted by the traditional psychological community with all the warmth of a Pennsylvania Quaker who happened to stray into Puritan Boston.
Now that cognitive approaches have proven their worth - and their usefulness as insurer's and HMOs demand more proof of efficacy - they are grudgingly embraced.
That in no way legitimizes traditional "deep analysis" approaches - or the omniscient snobs who practice it. Which brings us to...
3) The psychological community has done a terrible job establishing scientific efficacy, and an even worse job at ensuring a basic level of professionalism.
I am not the only consumer who has encountered psychologists whose advice was worthless - or outright harmful - due to their own limited view and emotional game-playing.
This is paralleled by the idiotic, highly politicized pronouncements of the APA - and a similar politicized atmosphere in most Psychology departments.
one wonders if the psych drugs in some cases provide a diversion for whatever the patient is attacking his or her self with. You know, a substitute problem, clinical, quantifiable, programmatic and anything but the "amorphous entity".
I don't have time to fisk the whole thing, but let's just consider the central contention that "a culture and dynamic of victimhood" is in the therapist's long-term interest.
That's nonsense. People don't seek therapy because they think of themselves as victims. In the simplest terms, they seek therapy because they are suffering, often quite intensely. Therapy is, for many, a last resort, and not something they take up because the culture makes them feel like a victim. The segments of American society that carry the victimhood label (eg. African-Americans, latinos) are not big seekers of psychotherapy, even when therapy is free in a setting such as a college campus. Persons with strong victim identities are often quite averse to therapy because they don't want to give up their victim identity.
The persons who do show up for therapy may be severely depressed, suffering from crippling anxiety or botching up every relationship in their lives. They are there because they are suffering and because they are, in many cases, screwing up their lives and they want to do something about it.
Now certainly some people who have been victimized seek therapy, but they seek therapy because they are suffering terribly, not because they carry the status of victim. As I noted earlier, the segments of our society that carry the label of victim are not motivated to seek therapy because of that label. Quite the opposite, in many cases. They don't want to look inside themselves. They don't want to know.
There are two sides to every human being and two sides to our culture. A part of us wants to know more deeply and more honestly and a part of us doesn't want to know. Paralleling individual ambivalence, parts of the broader culture encourage interior investigation and psychological insight, and parts of the culture are actively averse to it. To speak of the culture as a therapeutic culture is to deny the anti-therapeutic undercurrents of the culture. These anti-therapeutic currents are as strong as the therapeutic currents. There's a yin and yang, a constant tension between wanting to look and wanting to close our eyes.
The mundane insight is to label the culture therapeutic or anti-therapeutic, but taking either position alone is to deny what is essentially true about all of us, that we have mixed feelings about looking at disturbing aspects of our experience. The deeper wisdom entails a recognition that we are more complex, that we have dynamic interior lives, ambivalence and interior conflicts. And so does the culture.
I have received valuable help from two different therapists over the last 35 years, one a psychiatrist and one a psychologist. But neither of them prescribed drugs for me. I hold good psychotherapists in high esteem; it's just the fashion of prescribing antidepressants that I question.
"I am not the only consumer who has encountered psychologists whose advice was worthless - or outright harmful - due to their own limited view and emotional game-playing."
That sounds like you're claiming superiority of perspective because you've been victimized. This is what is so interesting about us human beings. It can be helpful for us to understand that we might argue one thing without realizing that the opposite expresses itself as well.
Good depth therapy is helpful to examining the undercurrent tensions and contradictions that lead us to defensive positions that can be destructive both to ourselves and to others. Depth therapy is a collaborative self-investigation. We all have major blind spots that we would do well to explore. That isn't easy. Not everyone is up to the challenge. That goes for patients and therapists. But there are riches to be discovered when we are able to see that we are much more than the surface of our thoughts.
I spent some time reading all the f*cked feelings blog, and basically they have a "Spock" approach.
Don't have feelings (or of you do, ignore them). Set up a logical course in life. Find a partner who has good qualities, and ignore any feelings - good or bad - that would detract you from this goal.
This is the logical end of CBT - to become a Vulcan and eliminate feelings. The past does not matter, feelings do not matter, do all all things towards a rational goal that makes sense.
And this is one way to life life. Any parent arguing with a teen going through emotional throws and making bad decisions that is going to hurt them has experienced this same thought: "You are in emotional throws and you are going to make bad decisions".
But this is what makes being human - and living life - interesting. If we all became Spock we would have well structured lives - and be bored to death. Might as well be robots.
So in the end, whle the smug author of f*cked feelings is interesting and has good input, his overall philosophy is not to "live" life, but to manage it. That is the safe route, but it will make people go to their grave without ever have lived.
"Life is a comedy for those who think... and a tragedy for those who feel. "