The Old Testament Joseph and the Modern Natural Therapist


In the world of art, there has been a burgeoning recognition of the work of many untrained artists. Sometimes they are called folk artists, or “primitive” artists, or even outsider artists when the artist has some sort of history of emotional distress. Though their technical skill usually does not approach that of formally trained artists, their creativity and emotional impact can, and does. Often, there is religious, spiritual, or mystical inspiration and content.

Similarly, before the advent of the modern trained mental healthcare professional over the last century, there were also untrained emotional healers, or natural therapists as I call them. Sometimes they were called shamans. Every culture seemed to be able to identify such individuals, although they could also be less visible at times. These natural therapists would have a higher than normal degree of empathy, caring, and ability to communicate what was needed to help another person.

Come to think of it, even Sigmund Freud could be thought to be an outside, or natural, therapist. Trained as a neurologist, Freud ventured into the internal unknown of the mind to create the field of psychoanalysis. He analyzed his own dreams, used the metaphor of archeology for the depths to be found in one’s mind, and developed such new therapeutic techniques as free association, anonymity, and interpretation. Not surprisingly, given this subjective study, Freud turned out to be wrong about some of his theories and findings. Over time, the field of psychoanalysis has tended to ossify, and is much less prominent nowadays.

Though many other important examples can be found in literature and history, for my ancestors I find the Old Testament (Torah) Joseph to be a model of a natural therapist. Read the story, or even see the popular play or videos of the story, but here is one very brief summary. Joseph was a younger, favored brother of his father Jacob, who gave Joseph “a coat of many colors”. His jealous brothers threw him into a pit, he was sold and brought to Egypt as a slave, put in prison, became a successful interpreter of Pharoah’s distressing dreams, attributed his success to God, was able to successfully plan for drought and climate change, and came to be able to forgive his brothers in a forerunner of the Truth & Reconciliation process.

In real life, of course, there are many everyday natural therapists that we never hear about, but are so important for the well-being of society. For me, and others with whom she came into contact, my wife was the one. Believe it or not, I was not only voted “most modest” in high school, but “most accident prone”. A series of careless sports injuries and reckless behavior stopped after meeting my future wife and responding to her natural therapy.

Given our current emphasis on not live (on-line) communication, valid concerns about relying on medication, and the need for cost control, more natural therapists are needed. The trick, of course, is finding and identifying them. It is easy enough to be fooled by false promises, reassurance, and overly simplistic self-help strategies. Maybe we need a national registrar of natural therapists, and an award to recognize them. Maybe some of them are right here on this web-site.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


      • Hey Duane,

        In the mental health field I have found that attachment based therapists practicing therapies developed by Diana Fosha and Sue Johnson seems to focus exactly on that. Finally official psychotherapy is waking up to this reality.

        Those practitioners focusing on developing those modalities also seems to be the naturally empathic people that have naturally known all their life that it is love that heals.


        • Malene,

          Thank you for what you had to say on this subject. I will read-up on these folks.

          I have long-thought that we are connected – to self, community, nature and Spirit (God)… and it is through love that we remain connected and strengthen those connections.

          I appreciate what Dr. Dan Fisher has to say about the healing power of one good friend, and I wonder if this can make the difference in someone’s life – having just one person who shows friendship and love during trying times.


          • Hey Duane,

            Yes, it is so obvious, isn’t it? We have had attachment based information for what 60 or 70 years now. For some reason they had all this focus on attachment in babies and children as we realized that they would literally die without touch and attachment. Yet, this was not developed further than to the knowledge of babies. So strange. Thankfully that is about to change, although the attachment based therapies are still seen as “rebellious”.

            Funny thing is – they show better results in both short term and long term studies than most other therapies out there – including CBT. Of course, this isn’t going to make the drug companies a lot of money. And the therapy is usually a little more long term than CBT so the insurance companies wont like it.

            I suspect that will keep the attachment based therapies on the outskirts of their profession for a little while longer.

  1. People on YouTube have sensationalized the phenomenon of hearing sounds all across the globe. They’re also talking about “trumpets”, and I have a thing or two to say about that. I like science’s explanations; that the sounds are produced from the shifting of Earth’s plates, or something like that.

    One commenter said, “When Gabriel’s trumpet blows, we’re all dead”.

    Well, Gabriel’s trumpet (horns, really) did blow – recorded in the 1980’s. The song is said to be based on the experiences of Carl Jung in Africa. The blast from the horns and the chaotic, panic-stricken beating of the drums are terrifying.

    I once read that “Gabriel is the Angel who sits at the right hand of God”. Haha, God listens to Peter Gabriel.

    Wallflower is one of my favorite songs. I wonder what God’s favorite is.

    Yep. We need more natural healers. 🙂

    • I pay attention. I personally like The Heat. Being Native American I understand in small ways the Collective Unconscious. Moving into it and participating in it is not such a scary thing. It’s difficult for most modern people becasue they’re frightened that they will lose their individuality by becoming part of the group.

  2. Interesting post Steve, natural therapists with a dream theme?

    Is the natural therapist an innate capacity within us all perhaps, when we understand the cosmic dreamer within these metaphors of ancient mythology, that you allude to? What prompted you to link Freud with Joseph of Judaic tradition and dream interpretation?

    Are these ancient stories meant to be read on two very different levels? The “I” state of daily survival need which operates in an objective reality of response to the world “out there,” while a second and much deeper level of existential reality operates in response to a inner dream of cosmic oneness?

    Example, is Joseph’s famous coat and its ribbons of color, a metaphor for our existential reality, as a manifestation of Light? Our evolving consciousness, as the Universe perceiving itself? Are we beginning to unveil the secrets of an unfolding cosmic dream, with science discoveries like those taking place at CERN, and Stephen Porges recent discovery of a third branch to our evolved nervous system?

    Are these ancient tribal mythologies and scientific discoveries about cosmic evolution, one and the same, when we view mythology as cosmic metaphor, or dream interpretation, or the spirit of truth? Could discoveries like “The Polyvagal Theory,” help us to truly embody our warm wishes for Universal love and Cosmic Oneness? Are science and spirituality, indeed, converging in this 21st century A.D.?

    Consider; ““Christ is not a man.” – Edgar Cayce.

    “What will you do with this man Jesus of Nazareth ­ Jeshua of Jerusalem, Joshua in Shiloh, Joseph in the court of Pharaoh, Melchi-zedek as he blessed Abraham, Enoch as he warned the people, Adam as he listened to Eve?”

    “Have you not found that the essence, the truth, the real truth is ONE? Mercy and justice; peace and harmony. For without Moses and his leader Joshua (that was bodily Jesus) there is no Christ. Christ is not a man. Jesus was the man; Christ the messenger; Christ in all ages, Jesus in one, Joshua in another, Melchizedek in another; these be those that led Judaism! These be they that came as the child of promise, as to the children of promise; and the promise is in you, that you lead as He has given you: ‘Feed my sheep.’”- Edgar Cayce. From an online article, “ONENESS Toward a Universal Christ” by John Van Auken.

    In the opposing view of psychosis as spiritual awakening, I suggest that “feeding the sheep” is that special ability of the highly sensitive visionary mind, to remind the sheep of “consensus reality,” that there is more to life than the objectively obvious, and a blind faith in consensus reality’s teaching’s

    In my own struggle to interpret this cosmic inner dream which simply will not leave me alone, no matter which way I’ve tried to suppress it. These Christian stories of individual men like Moses, Joseph and Jesus, have become dramatizations of a common universal aspiration? Dramatized stories which capture the zeitgeist (spirit of this age), and meant to be read as aspects of all humanity, in the same way one can interpret elements of a personal dream, as aspects of the whole self?

    The great curse of any age seems to be a blind instinctive judgment of others as “less than,” in an unconsciously driven need to secure a strong sense-of-self? A blind judgement which has driven elitism in every age, just as it does today, in the ivy league towers of an educated priesthood?

    Those worshipers of objective reality who occupy the Temple of a Cosmic Dream House, (the body) as an instrument of divinity, no less true in all the worlds religions? Are Moses, Joseph, Jesus, Muhammad and Siddhartha (Buddha), one and the same when viewed as spirit, as the manifest reality of the Universe within, the Spirit of Truth?

    There seems no doubt that one cannot separate the Christian religion and belief in God, from the mental illness debate in America? Perhaps one could easily suggest it as the “elephant in the room,” as it blinds us to the reality of that word “evolution,” and our ongoing struggle to embody it true meaning?

    Consider what the true spirit of Christianity means though, as a spirit of universal truth;

    “We Christians need to allow Jesus Christ to be bigger than Christianity. As Jesus said (or the Christ spirit with whom Jesus made himself one), “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd,” John 10:16. Jesus said that he taught and did what he was guided to do from God, the Father, within him. And before leaving us to become completely one with God, Jesus informed us that the “Comforter,” the “Spirit of Truth,” would come to us and guide us.

    Of course, not only Christians have to let go of religious elitism. Jews, Moslems, and others have contingents that believe their faith is the only true faith, and all must swear allegiance to their doctrines. As difficult as it may be, Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus, and other religious groups are going to have to allow God to be the God of all people, and open their own hearts to all people. As the psalmist observed, God is everywhere and creator of everyone: “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there thy hand leads me, and thy right hand holds me,” Psalm 139:7-10. Cayce often quoted the passage: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” Deut. 6:4 & Mark 12:29.”

    As one “afflicted,” by this universal spirit of truth within, my own belief is not in God as protective father, but humanity becoming God, as we continue to realize “what we are,” the Universe evolving into a form which acts upon itself?

    The ever emerging reality of an Eternal Now?

    Then again, I am, certifiably psychotic, if your inclined to judge me that way, to enhance your sense-of-self?

    You pose an interesting question too Steve about the potential of an online environment, and its ability to identify healing truths;

    “Given our current emphasis on not live (on-line) communication, valid concerns about relying on medication, and the need for cost control, more natural therapists are needed. The trick, of course, is finding and identifying them. It is easy enough to be fooled by false promises, reassurance, and overly simplistic self-help strategies. Maybe we need a national registrar of natural therapists, and an award to recognize them. Maybe some of them are right here on this web-site.”

    Are we perhaps seeing an emerging spirit of truth, in our new age of super technologies and the ability of the internet to spread the WORD? Does the existential theme of life and its metaphors, remain the same for all ages in time? Are we in fact, still living through the manifestation of “The Book of Genesis?”

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

    What’s a 100,000 years in the life of the Cosmos? A minute, a day, a week, a year?

    What is true perspective, in the spirit of truth, for this age and this human generation?

  3. Kermit/Matt,
    You may want to consider the appropriateness of blogs/comments regarding religions on this site. People are very passionate about these issues and rarely agree leading to non-productive communications. I completely disagree with the statements made in this piece and some of the comments, but it won’t be productive to do the back-and-forth.

    Just a suggestion.

    • There will inevitably be conversations on this site that are uncomfortable for certain people.

      It is true that in many cases discussion of religion does not prove to be productive on the internet. In other places, such discussion thrives and supports people. Here, we are in the business of exploring many marginalized and uncomfortable territories of human experience. We invite civil discussion of whatever topics are raised. As always, we will be responsive to any comments that constitute personal attacks or otherwise shut down the dialogue. If there turns out to be a trend of disruptive and uncivil comments, then we would look at what to do about that.

      In general, I’m not sure that placing topics off-limits is the answer. Failure to communicate and listen to one another is a major cause of the problems this community seeks to address. Here we strive to keep the dialogue as open as possible, only intervening to protect the intention of civil conversation.

    • Thanks for the thought.

      I think, though, that for a full discussion of what are supposed to be the roots of the problems variously called mental illness, etc., we can’t leave out any of the areas of human life that have historically defined and/or ameliorated them. Clergy used to be the people we turned to in sorting out life’s challenges and distresses: I think it could be argued that religion’s loss has been psychiatry (and late-night television)’s gain. Care of the soul has moved from the church to the marketplace. Some people feel that is a net positive. I think that, at the very least, there is much to discuss about that.

      It is true that people will disagree about what the “true” religion is, or the “truth” of any one religion. It’s a certainty that almost any declarative statements made about anything pertaining to faith with rile either sympathy or enmity. But that “religion” or “spirituality” or “practice” is one of the historical if not present or future paths to healing rifts within the self and between the self and others is hard to ignore while still having a full discussion of the options.

      I think the separation of church and state has had some unintended consequences in the secularization of human life, and the consequent loss of institutions that many have found helpful and productive, even given the occasional crusade or inquisition. I might argue that even crusades or inquisitions are not limited to the religious, and can be just as harmful no matter who wages them or what interest they serve.

      I guess the main thing, for me, is as much dialogue (as opposed to monologue) as possible. Any silencing of a topic is a step away from dialogue and toward monologue. I suppose some will find this ironic, given that we have been accused on occasion of silencing people on this website. We would say that we have only done that when we felt that certain trains of thought have had the effect of silencing other ones, and we sought balance.

      I’d like to add that it should not be assumed that a blogger represents the views of the website. We had a discussion, as a matter of fact, about whether to allow bloggers to turn the comment section on or off. We decided that this would only worsen the situation of bloggers appearing to be monolithic or authoritarian. We thought that, if a blogger can’t engage with readers, then this might not be the place for them to blog.

      This is, of course, with the hope and necessity that we can keep the conversation at least civil.

      I think that there is much in this particular blog that could be discussed, and/or argued with. Whether all the statements in it are in fact true, historically or otherwise, is perfectly up for discussion. Some would argue with the characterization of Freud, some with the role of shamans, psychiatrists, clergy, or therapists and how they do what they do. Whether “therapist”, “shaman”, “prophet”, or “scientist” have overlapping or congruent properties is a potentially ripe conversation, though, so I’m happy for the extent to which this blog might provoke it.

      As long as people manage to respect alternate views. It’s all about more dialogue, not less.

    • Interesting conservation reaction, David Ross?

      Historically the great religious teachers have dealt with the nature of our existential reality, offering guidance as to what means to be human. I suggest that the experience of so-called mental illness, begs this very same question, about human nature?

      There is perhaps one word which most encapsulates the core issue of the mental illness debate and the nature of being human, PSYCHOSIS? In regard to this particular word, many in the survivor movement see the parallels between the experiences of the saints and great teachers, with their own experience of psychosis.

      Do we need to explore our rationalizations, which see a creative psychosis as good and acceptable, while viewing any disturbing psychosis as bad and unacceptable. I suggest the only way we can hold this double-bind view, is by refusing to address the internal reality of a continuum of human experience.

      Yet at the very point when lived experience can come into its own, by exploring this core issue of what it is about human nature, which stimulates the experience of madness, we opt to close the feedback loop, in favor of a consensus reality discourse?

      Perhaps what Steve’s comment about natural therapists is fleshing out, is the possibility of bringing the wisdom of lived experience, as a guiding light in online forums which have the power to reach isolated individuals? Moderators who can guide discussion through stormy emotional waters, rather than prematurely shut down debate in the name of civility?

      All the creative individuals who grapple with this existential problem, seem to suggest that the fundamental flaw in Western societies approach, is shutting down the psychosis experience to soon. I suggest we need to try to address this very issue in topics and comments here, which have the potential for a creative breakthrough, if we can get past our natural desire for ease and comfort?


      Schizophrenia as an illness entity does not exist
      The Schizophrenia Concept is harmful because: It mystifies your social and emotional problems and It makes it impossible for you to solve your problems
      A diagnosis of “Trauma Induced Psychosis” should be recognised, as well as other cause related alternatives, like drug induced psychosis, identity induced psychosis etc.

      Mental Health care should be oriented towards: Learning to cope with instead of the suppression of experiences; Analysing the causes of and learning to cope with emotions; Working toward recovery and the development of the person” _ Marius Romme.

      I suggest that this MIA website has the potential to bring some true creativity to the mental illness debate, and perhaps we need to find a way to creatively moderate discussion here?

      • I hope you’re right Batesy. I certainly see a lot of potential with the site too. As you’ve said before it is Ok to disagree and even disagree passionately. I guess I’ve seen many back and forth posts/comments on this site and I hardly see, in my opinion, positive outcomes. Look what happened with Fancher’s piece recently. And what happened to Dr. Keys?

        I guess, for me, it seems dialogue over particularly controversial issues loses something when it’s not done face-to-face. I do enjoy the internet, but communicating via email is limiting and effects a good discussion. Regardless, I accept the decision of the MIA site administrators.

        Thanks for you comments.

  4. The thing about “natural therapist” is that they tend to work for free, from their own position of compassion, or even some of their own condition of need (their survival depends on their acting like free therapist for others, much like Joseph)). In many cases, “natural therapists,” just means supporting a friend through a time of need with wanting or expecting anything in return during that distressing period.

    In former posts, Dr. Moffic, you extol why psychiatrists are the best/most effective/efficient mental health practioners, and go even as far as saying they are the only ones qualified to use the DSM (while I disagree with much content of the DSM and how it is use, I also believe that it doesn’t take 8 years of school to use it competently and many psychiatrists also misuse/abuse it). You talk about the dangers of lay people offering suggestions or doing peer work without consulting a psychiatrist.

    So which is it, do people need a lot of training to be effective “therapists,” or do people need no training? Do we value people’s “natural” wisdom or are we deeply concerned by people’s lack of “expertise.” What happens to natural therapists when you want to create a registrar and professionalize them? I think it may further comodify/privatize feelings/relationships even further than the mental health industry already has.
    What are their licencing requirements/competencies/required experience so that we can differentiate them from those who offer “false promises”?

    I don’t think many people who you think are “natural” therapists want to be on a registrar or want a reward/award. Does your wife want to start working as state-certified natural therapist? I think when she met you, see didn’t see you in terms of pathology, conflicts, negative repetitive patterns, or symptoms, but someone interesting she wanted to get to know. She also seemingly liked you and enjoyed your company enough to marry you, so she also got something out of the relationship. If people supporting each other was helpful/meaningful to you, why push professional intervention that commodifies such relationships of care?

  5. I’ll also add that I found off-putting your description of the art world and “primitive” artists. Not to get into a long and useless debate about what art is in this forum, but saying that somehow some artists are legit/professional/sophisticated and are leaders of the world of art, and folks who do expressive works who are not part of that world lack the “technical skill” of real artists but still produce “emotionally” evocative work comes of as condescending, arrogant, with undertones of classist/racist/colonialist ignorance, however unintended. Especially the notion of sophistication and technical skill being a hallmark of folks in the art world, proxy terms for civilized/controlled, and the notion that emotional/mystical components of art are a hallmark of folk/primitive artists.

    I suppose this does fit into an understanding of the mental health world that somehow lost/forgot the idea that people have been supporting others in distress since the origin of distress in all sorts of novel ways. Professionalization of that support and the kinds of distress it alleviates is a relatively new concept from a social/intellectual tradition tied with colonial power used to demarcate difference between who is civil and who is “primitive,” and used that demarcating power to keep professionals in position where their beliefs/practices/ideas are seen as normal/correct/ahistorical/transcultural and deserving of praise/recognition/payment, while other folks who work to alleviate distress are culture-bound/from a different time/unsophisticated/lack needed tools/lack needed training.

    Just like the “world of art” is actually just one folk tradition of art among many, that happened to have been tied to cultural/political/economic forces that situated it as “real” art and labeling other art folk or primative, so has the mental health industry raise few models of mental health/suffering/care as if it was the best/most true and disregard other concepts of health/suffering/care that have been helpful for some people. The big difference is that Art, no matter how sophisticated, has long been considered a subjective field, while modern mental health is tied with more predictive/”objective” power of science/medicine.It claims scientific/medical legitimacy by extolling the requirements that the leaders of the field study life and physical sciences, that they where special white coats that indicate their intelligence and knowledge, and that their knowledge is more trustworthy and certainly more deserving of payment than folks who lack such study/coats, even though systematically gathered evidence does not lend much support to nosology and and vast majority of the applications of treatments of contemporary mental health practices.

    • Nathan,
      I think the parallel you raise between art and psychiatry is really interesting, and totally valid. I have to say, before I respond to your comment, that it sparked a humorous memory I have about one psychiatrist I used to see back in my early twenties who once told me, “Well, Laura, you see, prescribing medications is really more of an art than a science…”, which, at the time, sent me through the roof, as I was sitting in the office of the “best” psychopharmacologist in the Boston area (whom, I should add, had wonderful art on his walls!). I had asked this psychopharmacologist why I was still so profoundly depressed, suicidal, and “manic”, despite having been put on such a “sophisticated” medication regimen. Of course, I know today that I was struggling with the iatrogenic effects of the numerous psychiatric drugs I was on, but at the time, I believed that these struggles were nothing but symptoms of my very serious and persistent Bipolar Disorder, which was running wild and completely “unresponsive to treatment”. But I digress…

      A debate about art aside, your point about the social power structure that determines what is “legitimate” versus “primitive” and hence, “illegitimate” art is directly applicable to the sociopolitical power structure upon which the DSM and, as I see it, all of psychiatry, has been built. That a room full of white male psychiatrists, who comprised the initial APA ‘Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics’ in 1950, decided arbitrarily and without any science what was considered “normal” and “abnormal” behavior is no different than a person determining that something painted by a “primitive” person is less legitimate than a canvas painted by Monet. At the end of the day, it is paint on a medium, arranged and organized differently, but paint nonetheless. Like you said, it is entirely in our interpretation of that piece of art that its social value, acceptability, and legitimacy is determined. Its utter subjectivity is no different than the diagnostic process in psychiatry, and to the tremendous social, legal, political, gendered, racial, etc. etc. power a psychiatrist wields with each arbitrary label he/she slaps on a human being, forever changing that person’s life, and often without a moment’s hesitation.

      I feel lucky today to see this, after having been entirely in the dark about it for so many years, and on the other side of countless psychiatrists who labelled me “mentally ill”. And I feel even more lucky that I no longer feel compelled to seek validation about my worth as a person by sitting in the customary comfy leather armchair across from psychiatrist after psychiatrist after psychiatrist, their prescription pads in hand, salivating at the chance to figure out what “mental illness” lives inside of me. I know today that my sense of self-worth is the only thing that matters, and that “human” is the only label that holds any validity to me.

      [email protected]

      • Laura,

        Funny you mentioned your psychiatrist saying “…prescribing medications is really more of an art than a science…,” as a psychiatrist I saw said the exact same thing to me when I wasn’t very responsive to medications. It also took me aback, as to me, the comment shows poor understanding of both art and science, and made me seriously question the value of seeing a medical professional for help (as I sought support precisely because I valued science). It eventually led to a lot of anger about putting trust in someone else’s knowledge, as “art” in the sense our psychiatrist used it is not how most folks think of art, but just a prettier word for “guessing game.” He later went on to say “Well of course you have to believe in medications for them to work,” which was more infuriating to me, but that’s another story, but also highlights how these interventions gain false legitimacy by being cloaked in medical/scientific language/settings/practioners, when science, the process in which you can make increasingly accurate predictions about causal phenomena, is absent.

  6. As some repliers have noted, I have tried a blog again, and perhaps one that looks (but to my mind and intention is not) contradictory to prior ones. Rather, I hoped it would seem like an expansion, a hope to find, develop, and recognize the best of all healers and healing, past and present, fictional or not, whether that may be those who are professionally trained or not. And, surely, those who are professionally trained can learn from those who are natural healers.

    No, I don’t want natural therapists licensed (though in some states most anyone can find a license of some sort as a “therapist”) or to become a commodity, but more for us to appreciate and keep in mind what is available. Yes, it is also at the risk of bringing in religion and all the controversy and conflict that can bring. Yes, it is also at the risk of bringing in art and music, where people can have wide opinions. But, at times religion can be healing, art can be healing, and music can be healing, all of which at one time were part of professional healing settings, but hardly ever anymore.

    I only can conclude so far that for the most part the discussion is what I personally had hoped for in participating on this site – expansive, positive, and constructive (even if critical). These replies are so rich, that this is all I can reply for now, but perhaps more later.

  7. “These natural therapists would have a higher than normal degree of empathy, caring, and ability to communicate what was needed to help another person”

    “…Sigmund Freud could be thought to be an outside, or natural therapist.”

    Are you serious???

    Any reasonable analysis of Freud’s interactions with his patients shows him to be an arrogant and despotic abuser of his position of power. And don’t forget he was a pioneer in promoting stimulant drugs (cocaine) as a so-called antidepressant.

    Freud was a coward who ultimately betrayed the trust of his patients, many of whom revealed deep secrets about having been sexually abused as children. Let me explain.

    Freud in his early work with women patients discovered that their symptoms of “hysteria” were closely linked to their revealed experiences of being sexual abused as children, often by fathers or close relatives. Early in his career Freud subsequently developed his Seduction Theory detailing these examples of abuse and their connection to extreme psychological distress. After presenting a paper on this theory to a major convention of colleagues in his field he immediately became isolated and criticzed by his contemporaries. Exposure of sexual abuse, mainly by men, was very threatening to the patriachal order of things in this era; denial was much more preferred by the status quo.

    As a result of this isolation, Freud, in act of betrayal, chose his career over validating the truth of what his patients had disclosed. He soon completely reversed his Seduction Theory and then claimed that his patients had instead only fantasized their abuse. Hence he soon developed his theory of the Oedipal and Electra Complex which implies that the children realy want to have sex with their parents.

    These theories along with other parts of Frued’s work have done great harm to people over the years, especially to women. His theories represent an older version of “blame the victim.” A wonderful account of Freud’s betray in this era has been detailed in Jeffrey Masson’s book. “Assault on the Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory”.

    Freud may have made some contributions to understanding the mind (perhaps the role of the unconscious) but an overall evaluation of his work indicates that he did far more harm than good.

    Dr Moffit should know better. There have been many examples of readers of this blog pointing out how Dr. Moffic is holding on to aspects of the theories of Biological Psychiatry and their related prefessional arrogance. Is there a connection between those views and his uncritical promotion of Sigmund Freud?

    I was attracted to this website by its attempts to combine rigorous science with the true life experiences and rebellious narrative of psychiatric survivors. We can all learn from natural healers and the experiences from native cultures, but it must be ultimately backed up by real life science; the same goes for any objective evaluation of the Bible.

    • “Real” science?

      There is mystery in the science, in the Bible, and certainly in mental health recovery. If we toss mystery out the window, we lose the beauty…

      “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
      – Albert Einstein, What I Believe


      • To clarify,

        Re: Science

        IMO, if conventional psychiatry wants to continue to use what David Cohen, Ph.D. calls “the strongest drugs on the planet” to “treat” mental health conditions, it needs to show us the science; and it cannot, because there is none!

        But for those who are interested in natural recovery, especially those things that are non-toxic, in fact, healing by their very nature, I’m not certain any scientic “proof” is necessary.

        Other than the “proof” of higher functioning, better relationships, building a life… recovery, thriving. These are not “medical” outcomes, but rather life experiences (some would call “spiritual”)outcomes!


        • Duane

          You are correct to say that Biological Psychiatry cannot “show us the science… because there is none.”

          There is no science to back up their disease model of psychological distress or their medication model of recovery because they do not apply legitimate scientific methods.

          Many of Biologicals Psychiatry’s greatest critics from Peter Breggin to others on this blog have exposed how they have not used proper scientific methods by consistently manipulating studies and often deliberately distorting the same facts they themselves have uncovered. This is sham science pursued for profit and self preservation at the expense of the vulnerable.

          Real science is our friend and can be a liberating force for change; it
          can be an additional tool we can wield to make our movement stronger.

          Of course there will always be mystery. Mystery has inspired and motivated scientists like Einstein to seek a way to know the world in a deeper way. We cannot change the world in a more humane direction unless we know how it works, and especially how to transform those institutions that give rise to trauma and other form of severe psychological stress.

          Mystery has also motivated the creative desires of those in the art world. Art cannot be quantified by science because it is “higher than life” in its greatest presentations.

          • Richard,

            We agree.

            Re: “We cannot change the world in a more humane direction unless we know how it works, and especially how to transform those institutions that give rise to trauma and other form of severe psychological stress.”



            Re: Your comments about Frued (earlier on this thread… we agree again. Freud and others during his time experimented on young women who had been sexually molested… Freud’s work with Dora was disgusting. He became aware during his work with her of these molestations, but chose to remain silent… His “theory” was more important than Dora’s well-being. (Against Therapy by Jeffrey Masson).

            I’m not against psychotherapy… In fact, I think it can be quite helpful for many, but his book sheds light on the early days of the field – one that remains corrupt in its power and control.



  8. Steven,
    I’m curious to hear why it is so important to designate these people as “therapists” in the first place, thus medicalizing what is and always has been (as another poster remarked) a fundamentally human thing?

    It makes me think of the years of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy I had during the time I spent as a labelled person. I used to carry the “Skills Training Manual” that Marsha Linehan wrote for “Borderline Personality Disorder” with me like it was oxygen, so convinced that it held everything I needed to be able to successfully “manage” myself and my life. When I glance at it now (which I’ll sometimes do to humor myself), one thing jumps out the most to me. Some of the “skills” it teaches– in fact, the vast majority of them– are such basic human things. Why, on earth, do we have to reclassify them in the clinical realm at all? Why can’t they just remain on the open range of human experience, untainted by clinical language and left to simply roam freely? Meditating is a beautiful human thing! Going for a walk in the woods is a beautiful human thing! Having tea with a friend, or reading a book, or swimming in the ocean are all beautiful human things! Why does psychiatry insist on reclassifying them as “skills”?

    I bring up this example because it aligns with the question I’ve posed for you. You mention that some people have a “higher than normal degree of empathy, caring, and ability to communicate…”. Leaving the question about what you mean by “normal” to the side, this phrase becomes a beautiful description of what it means to be a feeling, thinking, being human with other feeling, thinking, being humans. Why does a person have to become the “therapist”, and thus the expert giving therapy, while the other is by proxy the patient/client/consumer/recipient of said therapy? Why can’t they just remain, in your case, husband and wife, or in other cases, friend and friend, partner and partner, etc.? The second the word “therapist” is added to the mix, even if you put the word “natural” before it (those two words to me are completely paradoxical, which is a topic for another time), the relationship ceases to be mutual and instantaneously becomes hierarchical, based upon the exertion of power and the receiving of that exerted power, no matter how good the “therapist’s” intentions may be.

    There are plenty of things I do in my day to day life that could be labelled as “skills” by a DBT therapist, and there are plenty of relationships I am in which either I could be considered the “natural therapist” or the other person could with me. I choose to ignore these words, because to me, they are 100% arbitrary, irrelevant, and obsolete to me, and, I believe, build destructive and distracting layers over my innate humaness and the innate mutuality I feel with my fellows.

    Steven, I want to thank you for your participation at Mad in America. I think it is really awesome that you continue to post here, despite the fact that your views don’t align with the majority of our bloggers/posters/voices. In my opinion, the more we can all remain at the table with each other, the better our chances of making change. Although the change I wish to see may well be much different from the change you wish to see, much productivity can come from the respectful, open dialogue we all are capable of having together :).


  9. The rich responses continue. I very much appreciate the support for keeping the topics open, but respectful. I am also thankful for supportive or critical comments, again if done with respect. Doing so, I believe, are micro acts of “healing”.

    Just a couple of brief clarifications here. I know I’m a bit careless still with terminology and facts, in an attempt to get to broader issues and points. I’m sorry if that distracts from what I am trying to get across or makes what I say less believable.

    Richard Lewis asked “Are you serious?” No, not completely. I guess the tongue-in-cheek comments about Freud did not come through to some on-line. A hint of my own criticism of Freud was that I said that some of his legacy became ossified.

    Laura Delano asked, why use “therapist” as a term? Actually, I picked it as short-hand and didn’t mean it to refer to professionals; if so, I would have used psychotherapist. Maybe “healer” would be a better term to have used, More encompassing.

  10. Dr. Moffic,

    In your last post, before you went on vacation, you made the accusation that those of us who provide information (links to sources) on safe, slow tapering off medications are “practicing medicine without a license”.

    I disagree.

    Many of us have seen our brothers and sisters injured by withdrawal from psychiatric drugs under the guidance of psychiatrists, who go far too quickly, and we tell each other to go more slowly and safely than their doctors recommend.

    Dr. Peter Breggin has talked about this, and has written a couple of good books on the subject (chapters in several other books).

    While you were on vacation, Dr. Breggin announced the release of his recent publication – Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Families.

    “It’s time for therapists—psychologists, nurses, social workers, family therapists, and counselors—to stop pushing their clients and patients to take psychiatric drugs that cause brain damage, harm the body, and shorten their patients’ lives.” Peter Breggin. M.D. More here –

    This site has links to Tapering Programs and Guides –

    Providing this information to each other is a good thing, and something you and your colleagues need to start doing!


  11. I think Moffic hit the nail on the head by saying that lay people can help folks with emotional crisis just as well as people who have been trained academically. This is also one of the principles of successful social entrepreneurship, that lay people can deliver health care instead of professionals if the project involves enough simplification and training is broken down. However, in mental health, most of the training currently offered is inaccurate or counterproductive, so we might as well start bringing in lay people.

    My blog on the 12 principles of mental health social entrepreneurship, including this “deskilling” process:

    It’s just not sustainable to pay for two people to talk one on one when at least one of the people in the room has seven years of student loans to pay off. Moffic seems to be learning a bit more of our language and concepts, and really, the only glaring error in this post was the use of the word “therapist” instead of “listener” or “problem solver” or “mutual give and take person.”

    It would be helpful if someone on this site would write a “Psychiatric Survivor Language Guide” before I get to it eventually.

    • Corrina,

      IMO, conventioanl, bio-psychiatry has lost all respect (what very little it had) the past fifty years. The psychopharmacological approach was a failure. And it’s over (unfortunately, the mental health community has been slow to read the mem)… Nontheless, bio-psychiatry is finished, dead.

      Psychotherapy may be next. Afterall, counselors, therapists, social workers have wored in tandem with the so-called “doctors” for decades – falling, hook-line-and-sinker for the biological model.. They were duped, nonetheless, cause great harm.

      Where do we go from here? Toward the types of programs and system that you and others on this site recommend…

      That’s where. And that’s good news.



  12. Duane,
    I’m trying to get back to some basic healing principles that can be applied everywhere., including on this site. Maybe then it will be more productive to look at specific attempts at helping, healing, and hurting. But I appreciate your concern over my comments about medication information and prescribing.

  13. Apology very much accepted, Duane. Yes, the comments have been more “healing” this time around. Yes, I was on vacation, but actually stopped blogging here for about two months because prior blogging felt “harmful”. However, I suppose we don’t know what comments have been deleted and not seen (correct me, editors, if that is a wrong assumption).

    To get back to the medication concern in the context of the overall message I am trying to discuss, and perhaps to do so prematurely, I would say this for now about medication information for anybody who wants and needs it:
    -as much information from as many reliable sources as possible should potentially be helpful in any healing potential
    -besides information on the medication, there should be information on how that knowledge was obtained
    -the information has to be understood as well as possible, so that should be tested out as much as practically possible
    -alternative ways of prescribing and stopping medication need to be compared as best as we currently can
    -constructive criticism will help prescribers change their ways more than derogatory criticism
    -alternatives to medication, when they are available and exist, should also be discussed and presented and understood
    -the placebo and nocebo aspects of medication always need consideration

    But, again, my intention in this blog was not to focus in on medication.