On the Analysis of Mental Health and Psychotherapy


In this interview with Bernard Guerin, author of How to Rethink Psychology, How to Rethink Human Behavior, and How to Rethink Mental Illness, Guerin discusses his conceptualization of mental health issues as normal reactions to a harmful environment, and examines the implications of this model for the role of mental health professionals and psychotherapists.

“The days of the generalist psychologists, psychiatrists and other ‘mental health’ professionals might actually be over.  They will morph into specialists dealing with common bad environments or contexts which lead to conflictual and ‘locked in’ dysfunctional behaviours. They will have participatory experience in those environments, experience in analysing the complex social strategies involved,  and work with the communities, not ‘on’ them.”

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  1. This is actually quite scary from my perspective. His specialty specialists of the future, I imagine, would prove even more difficult to eradicate than the general specialists of today. Environment is just something you tweak to elicit the behaviors you want, a more involved environment all the time. This complexity ensures job security, but at what costs? I would look more closely at the product which I don’t think entirely fills a need, that is, over and above necessity, it is a luxury that we should be able to dispense with. Were he more critical of marketing practices, when it comes to “mental health”, we might be getting somewhere. Here he is only managing to make that marketing of “mental health” more subtle, and in so doing, more pervasive. The therapist-client relationship, first and foremost, is an economic relationship, and I don’t think there is much question as to who benefits the most from such relationships, and at whose expense.

    We need to de-think “mental illness”. It is all a matter of popping, and escaping from, the clutches of the “mental health” treatment bubble.

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