From Daniel Mackler: “I became a psychotherapist and I became really deeply involved in the mental health field. I started reading scientific literature of psychology, of psychiatry, the psychology of mental illness (so-called mental illness), of diagnosis, of the use of medications . . . however what I realized . . . was so much of it was not science at all, it was bullshit, it was full of holes . . . I realized I had a curiosity that was greater than the people who were writing these papers . . . More and more in the mental health field when I’ve kept my curiosity alive, when I kept asking questions and I kept, especially, asking questions to myself as I read the things that I was told were true when I heard other mental health professionals talk, and when I worked in mental health facilities, especially, listening to bigshot psychiatrists and psychologists, I realized: Huh. What they’re saying often does not add up. And when I would ask critical questions — and I don’t mean in a nasty sense or an argumentatively confrontational sense, simply questions in which I was allowing my curiosity free reign and I was trying to figure out if they had blind spots in their arguments, basically I was practicing good science — what I saw again and again was that they didn’t like it. They were threatened by it, they felt attacked by it. And it was like, I realized they were beholden to their lack of curiosity; they were beholden to their lies.
. . . I wasn’t making almost any friends in the mental health field with therapists because they didn’t like my line of questioning. However what I realized is that in my job as a therapist, my ability to question, really to be curious and to ask questions based on my curiosity, and to follow my questions, was something that so many of my clients loved. They really appreciated it. Here was someone who was modeling reflection, modeling looking into them, really trying to figure out where they came from, why they were the way that they were, not saying, ‘Go on medications, and do this, the science backs it up’ or ‘You have a genetic problem, therefore you have a brain problem, therefore you need to take medications and accept this diagnosis’ — I wasn’t saying this, because I didn’t see evidence for it; it wasn’t proven to me. However what I had seen again and again is that when people really engaged their curiosity in looking at themselves, trying to figure out who they were, figure out their story, figure out what their relationship was with their parents once upon a time, create their own narrative, not accept the narrative that was told to them so many times along the way — what I found is that people really could change, and people could become empowered in a whole different way.
Now that’s not to say all of my clients liked that — because I realized there were some people I worked with when I was a therapist who . . . didn’t like being really asked questions, they wanted to be told what should they do, they wanted their pain to go away, and they didn’t want to have to look inside — because what I realized is, not infrequently when people really started looking inside, especially early on, it was incredibly painful. And this brings me back again to my parents. I really think the reason that they weren’t fundamentally curious is it was too painful. Because there are consequences to being curious, there’s consequences to asking questions: real conclusions sometimes are not easy to bear. Sometimes the bullshit that the science field puts out, the bullshit of the mental health field, the bullshit of biology — it’s easy to stomach, it’s comfortable. It’s comfortable to come up with the same conclusions that everyone has come up with along the way, or just maybe to tweak those conclusions a little bit to look like you have a unique perspective on life. It’s easy to follow the rules. It’s easy sometimes to close your eyes and to not think . . . I think often this is the way of the world: curiosity is dangerous. Galileo was dangerous. Copernicus was dangerous. These people are dangerous to the Establishment. And most fundamentally, I think the really curious child is dangerous to the Establishment of the family system — the lies of the family system.”
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