Saturday, July 21, 2018

Comments by Chris H

Showing 22 of 22 comments.

  • how can the study demonstrate that any personal practice can prevent depression? has it found the cure for human greed, ego, power abuses? the unintended consequences of planned government policy? for media bias and control? for crushing school systems? for jobs and work that crushes daily, people into to a shadow of themselves, to mass debt? to poisoning food systems? to advertising….

  • ‘expectable responses to distressing life events that signal a need for rethinking one’s life and recalibrating one’s self-perceptions and emotions’.
    just like baking a cake?
    what harms are associated with individual therapy ?
    does it pacify people?
    does it redirect legitimate anger?
    does it mystify and obfuscate the causes of distress?
    does it have time to explore the ‘unintended consequences of political, economical, class, ideological, media policies?
    does is pathologise the individual?
    do some ‘therapies’ actually encourage the person to seek out prescription drugs
    does it help normalize, and reduce the irreducible and therefore help them and us to accept the unacceptable
    does it often involve a therapist suffering just like most everyone else does but having to paste the face on just like a clients narrative tells of their own exhaustion with their own social facade
    does it conspire with the government to get people off benefits and back to a job that will slowly or quickly harm them in many ways
    psycho-compulsion anyone? harm or help? explain
    does it reduce human distress down to a set of pointless scores on self assessment measures?
    luckily for us as long as you score below clinical it matters not that you’re life experience with cultural disorder is crushing you, apparently you’re in recovery. you’re welcome.

  • Thanks Shaun, I used to consider those aspects you mention be the merits of therapy and perhaps that does happen for some people some of the time but short term quick fixes are in my experience completely and utterly oversold in the culture. It seems to me any gains are apparent while you have someone (hopefully) compassionately listening to you but once this is over things quickly return to normal – unless the person has adequate access to resources and power and these are usually the people that need therapy least of all.
    take care

  • Hi Shaun – I agree we must be able to ask questions of ourselves but changing ourselves significantly is another matter and requires access to resources and power.

    I suspect if we were to really delve into the reasons for the examples you gave such as road rage or mass shootings we would see much more clearly that it is not individual malfunction, such as disordered thoughts or attitudes that somehow just need evaluating and correcting but would highlight instead a systems failure within the culture – we need to take an outside in approach and zoom out of our lives to help us see beyond the obvious and into the hidden – people are suffering in a multitude of ways sometimes obvious quite often not obvious but suffering in the form of many paper cut harms that accumulate over time and we often ignore, distract or dissociate from and therapy hides us from.

    for me its not about blaming society but looking at how it shapes us all.

    Going back to the ideas of CBT and its assertion that there are these things called ‘common thinking errors or distortions’ surely we need to be asking what is influencing such ‘common’ conflicts and seek to change the causes in the culture or at least be honest about them, not heap the stressed person with responsibility to bend themselves into some fantasy rational self monitoring selector of correct cognitions and attitudes after we tell they they are suffering with ‘depression, OCD, GAD, PD’ and on and on.

    I would love to know what forces in the culture, family life, the economy, political philosophy, ideology, media, class are contributing to the development of these interactive expressions of suffering.

    a little like offering drugs to people drugs that might subdue, suppress or make you less bothered about things previously bothering but do nothing to confront the problem but instead helps to hide it – Being bothered about what bothers us is precisely what we need to do in solidarity with others if we are ever to create a world that meets human needs.

    Be Well Shaun

  • Hi Shaun – these are interesting aspects about us as human beings and our conduct that you bring up.

    When I read your words and the language of ‘responsibility’ and ‘not accepting reality’ etc I am reminded of the age old and unresolved debate regarding free will. After listening to thousands of stories over the years and observing myself living alone for around a decade I often wonder about this.

    When I consider the vast array of influences and powers shaping me and the world around me (most of which are out of my awareness) I am often left wondering just where does this ‘free will’ emerge from?

    My conscious thoughts are utterly out of my control, my behaviors very often feel automatic as does my speech and even this conversation we are having. however it feels like I am driving this but is it more that I can observe, reflect and think about it all and while this seems to give me some element of control its mostly just happening to and through me – I don’t know?

    When I look within there is no one place where ‘I’ exist but rather ‘i’ am a vastly complex collaboration of internal and external influences that somehow produces this unique human being.

    I did not chose my family, the country I was born in, when, the political system, the class, the intelligence (or not!) that I am bundled with, the opportunity that comes (or doest) come my way, I could go on but you get the picture I am sure.

    Luck seems to be a sort of magic we all dance with – BUT we live at least in the west in cultures infused with the image of the hero, the self starter, the, self self, self – the community the collective the collaborative is reduced – yet human beings have only managed to harness parts of the worlds potential by working together.

    Consider our totality – we are a vast collaborative effort of trillions of cells – none of which ‘we’ can control or direct in any way and when they fail we fail.

    now the system around us is open to change and the system as is affords certain groups an abundance of opportunity and freedom while crushing it for many- changing systems has to be a collaborative effort.

    its not necessarily about blindly blaming the ‘system’ or getting angry at it but observing and discussing how the system and its powers operate and being honest about our individual attempts to change ourselves rather than identify and seek to change in collaboration with others the system.

    It seems we are like a beautiful flower grown in the conditions for life and thriving then planted out in the dark on rubbish soil and when we whither, suffer and diminish, we try and talk to the flower and pour artificial feed in the form of therapy and its ‘tools’ onto it. perhaps this gives the flower a temporary but ultimately futile perk. suffering is massively increasing year in year out, suicide up, human misery up – this must and has to change.

    we need to work together to create the conditions for life to flourish we have all the possibility and tools we need but we have poverty of access hence the power of the system as it is to maintain divide and conquer

  • Thank you Shaun- I wonder who decides when someone is ‘Refusing to accept things as they are’ and surely being ‘stuck in unhappiness, bitterness, anger, sadness’ is absolutely necessary because those powerful emotions are also channel for change through direct action.

    Sadly many people experience legitimate but often misdirected anger and are not helped to understand the broader rational for their anger but are most often directed towards something like an ‘anger management course’ or a ‘low self esteem course’ or some individual therapy where they can learn to ‘manage’ themselves and simply get on with it – my main point of concern is that the mental health system we have appears to be fundamentally obfuscating and colluding with cultural/systemic disorder and power abuses and is also defusing possible collective actions to bring change to the system not each person’s own supposed gains. Sadly this anger is being cynically used by the ruling class to further hide the gaze from themselves and misdirect the anger by scapegoating other groups of ordinary people so we fight with each other – it seems divide and conquer is in full swing

  • what we need to reduce burnout is not more psychological interventions but a full and proper fight back from workers to ensure the mass sickness of jobs that harm people in myriad ways is challenged and changed – everything else is simply a way of getting us to accept our lot – had mindfulness and all the rest of the therapy industry been around when children were stuck up chimneys and thrust down mines we would never have had the fight back we had giving us an 8 hour work day that is in desperate need of being reduced dramatically again – how can wellbeing be achieved while working the average full time job – its just about impossible – this is an idea worth fighting for and a basic income to compliment it

  • Hi Shaun F – thank you too for your thoughts, ideas and respectful communication.

    I must say I find the idea of radical acceptance quite frightening as I do industrial systems of therapy like IAPT in the UK.

    I find myself pondering the thought, if we had these ideas/systems so firmly embedded in the culture and largely aimed at the working classes earlier in our history would we have what we have today?

    A history of working class struggle where ordinary people stood up against the government and their class position and made demands to absolutely NOT accept the rubbish conditions and servitude they and their children suffered in – these brave, courageous people did not just ‘get on with it’ but fought and died in the streets so we might have such things as an 8 hour work day, time for recreation and rest, and so our children would not be stuffed up chimneys and thrust down mines – so we might have some basic benefits like holiday pay and sick pay, the right to vote etc.

    no these people did not have what I can only think of as a major play into the hands of power ‘radical acceptance’ or considering themselves to be disordered and in need of therapy –

    NO these people knew that in order to change things for the better they must change the world and this can only be done in radical solidarity with others not some futile attempt to simply change yourself to just ‘get on with it’

    This is a sickness at the heart of our culture and looked at from this angle individual therapy is certainly holding us back. as are the labels and the drugs – we’ve now reached the stage where we are begging to be labeled, drugged and therapised in order to delude ourselves into some personal/individual gain in the form of perverse incentives or scraps from the table in the form of benefits or just to be left alone.

    Why aren’t we as therapists helping people to see and connect with the structural abuse and the gross limitations of changing our individual selves and offering people encouragement and support to get together to change the world? David Smail might argue because of self interest.

    maybe this could be a place to start

  • Hi Shaun – thank you for your thoughts.

    When you said ‘Therapy does not prevent social problems like poverty, discrimination, wealthy inequality, war, and government corruption’ I found myself in full agreement and then found myself wondering how individualistic therapy located in cultures biased towards extroversion, soaked in images of the hero and personal responsibility actually serves power to maintain the toxic status quo?

    Take CBT as an example with its declaration that it is based more in the here and now and basically claims the world is okay but your thinking, attitudes and beliefs are the issue.

    The models are all reliant on the language of psychiatry GAD, PSTD, Depression, OCD etc and also, like biological psychiatry reduces the world and its systemic causes of harm to mere triggers for some hypothesized personal pathology – then after reducing the irreducible and therefore hiding the real causes of suffering it converts it into a mission of personal responsibility to do your homework, self monitor and simply select the correct thoughts and emotions from a sort of illusion of rationality.

    EMDR is just another form of exposure therapy that is often hard for people to do and I also think the idea that we can just ‘tap in resources’ like a ‘safe place’ or ‘wise benefactor’ etc is ludicrous – what we get is usually clients people pleasing – i’ve asked plenty of people about the processing aspect of EMDR and from the outside in, it would have looked like a textbook success reduced affect, lowering SUDS etc but most tell me it did nothing = what they do value and find useful is sharing their story with someone compassionately interested in it, something any of us could do for each other if we had cultures that helped rather than hindered human connection.

    on the point of connections you might enjoy this book
    Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions

    and on the subject of power you might enjoy these
    Power, Interest and Psychology: Elements of a Social Materialist Understanding of Distress

    Psychology and Capitalism: The Manipulation of Mind

    be well

  • Hi Shaun F, I wonder, perhaps longer term therapy might be helpful for some people some of the time especially where a trusting relationship has been developed but short term therapy seems to have been completely oversold in the culture. Having said that if we lived in healthy cultures with healthy relationships etc I am sure therapy would seem ridiculous.

    We just need to consider the evidence -we’ve had around 100 years of clinical psychology and the hundreds of ‘talk therapies’ it has spawned – we’ve had much longer with psychiatry and we’ve also got dozens prescribed drugs – after all this ‘evidenced based’ practice have we better wellbeing? improving wellbeing? less suffering?

    clearly not year in year out suffering increases – we now live in cultures where the largely culturally induced issue of depression is now our common cold and this is just accepted like its to be expected.

    Most therapy offers people a place where after say 6- 25 x 50 minute sessions with a therapist you are expected to become good self monitoring robot able to sift through the vast complexity of influences and powers that constantly surround us in order to choose the correct thought for the correct emotion and behavior – in fact we’re not expected to sift through the vast complexity but to somehow just pretend it doesn’t exist and just come back to reducing the irreducible your ‘thinking errors’ these might seem like errors but are they really?

    if we add in the complexity that therapy ignores, obfuscates or plays lip service to then surely they are reflections of our disordered world and unless and until we foster not insight but outsight we shall all remain vulnerable to more suffering than is needed.

  • I think questioning the opening statement ‘There is extensive evidence suggesting psychotherapy is effective for a wide-range of mental health concerns’ would demonstrate that this is not true – there are many critics of the poorly controlled, unreproducible, rubbish research out there here are a couple

    there are many others – how can any therapy really help beyond what David Smail suggested of comfort, clarification and encouragement – mental health problems are not personal issues but meaningful results of a disordered culture/experiences

  • self assessment questionnaires seem an almost total waste of time to me – in the production line of suffering known as IAPT in the UK they routinely use the PHQ9 and GAD7 two measures that measures nothing more than someones best guess at how they may or may not be feeling in a given subjective moment of time – near useless, yet these measures are how the service deems someone to have received a ‘successful treatment’ an empty notion for an empty measure for if your life is falling apart around you and you score ‘below clinical’ on these measures you have been successfully treated and are now in ‘recovery’ another empty term yet these same empty measures are also lined to continued service funding and are the driving force behind the mass burnout of staff as all anyone has time to care about are these useless self assessment measures.

  • very much agree with this piece we have a mental (ill) health system that does little but obfuscate where the real disorders lie namely in our culture through the misuse of power, ideology, class, jobs people hate and are harmed on mass by, debt, zero community, fear, mass distractions and many other cultural harms.

    The mental (ill) health system is also seriously bad for the health of those working within it and burn out is increasing especially in the UK’s ridiculous IAPT service that is a nonsense of target driven short terms sticking plasters – the entire industry has oversold it self so now we have people convinced they have this or that disorder and coming to services looking for ‘techniques’ and ‘tools’ to somehow magically manage away the cultural disorders already mentioned – no wonder distress and suffering are massively on the increase we are looking in the wrong place for the causes of our suffering and most ‘therapeutic’ approaches take these causes and reduce them to mere triggers for some hypothesized personal pathology – madness

  • Thanks for those links Brett. In my experience working in the mental (ill) health field for many years and attempting to ‘treat’ people with phobias and all manor of trauma using CBT, EMDR and just being present with people as well as talking with many colleagues, it is clear that these issues are hard to resolve and people most often drop out because they cannot tolerate it.
    Not to mention the chaos and complexity that is often currently present in our lives beyond the comforting confines of any therapy room. From all of my years of working with people attempting to help, people tell me they most value having someone to share parts of their story, with someone truly and compassionately interested in them and their distress and who doesn’t burden them with judgement.
    This could be done by a good friend or family member IF we were living in healthy cultures where people actually had some time, energy and resources to care properly for themselves, others and their (none existent) communities.
    But they/we don’t because most are trapped in jobs that harm and that most hate, mass struggles with debt, family breakdown, and so on – most are running ever faster to either stand still or actually go backwards in life and insecurity and uncertainly are increasing everywhere as the current political ideology crushes more and more people.
    It is interesting to note that one of the features of so called PTSD is that it is aid to bring about a state of ‘pathological’ fear and uncertainty about the world – it could be argued that this is not pathological but actually quite accurate and it is WE well-adjusted people to a profoundly sick society that are actually quite dissociated and distracted from the reality of massive and growing uncertainty and fear and the sheet volume of systemic threats around us.
    Perhaps the traumatised are seeing the world and its many, varied and often random threats with a new sharper clarity but this is intolerable to both them and us. Like the research that shows the mildly depressed (whatever that means) have a more accurate view of the world than those considered ‘normal’.
    I am sure for some people exposure when tolerated is helpful but for how long for given the issues with our disordered cultures? do people really have a discrete disorder called OCD or are we seeing reactions to the world and seeking to ‘treat’ this set of experiences might bring some temporary relief but leaves us all vulnerable to harm because its utterly missing the context and system we operate in.

    I agree that EMDR is pseudo scientific but there again many critical psychologists tell us the entire field of clinical psychology is pseudo scientific and is driven more by fashion, fad and self interest than any sort of science – just a look over the history of the field and that of psychiatry clearly shows the nonsense that has been upheld as the ‘gold standard’ treatment of the age.

    Take CBT the marriage of two not so long ago utterly opposed ideas where behaviourists would have said the cognitive/psychological cannot be measured or seen. We know we are largely rubbish at introspection, we story tell automatically and fabricate to fill in the gaps and we are largely a mystery to ourselves and each other. yet insight based therapy is mostly what we have – the main insight for me is that we have little insight into our selves and others.

    It seems quite clear to me that the mental (ill) health system looks almost exclusively at the individual as having a disorder – rather than seeing US as reacting quite understandably and meaningfully to a disordered world.
    So do we need to stop looking within at hypothesized personal pathology and look without to make the world a place we can actually thrive in? .

    We’ve had many decades of psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology and each year suffering increases massively. Something is very wrong with this picture.

    Maybe you’ve heard of this critic? his books are interesting and this interview is useful

    #056 – Why Psychotherapy is Bullsh*t (Dr. William Epstein)
    In today’s episode Dr. William Epstein joins us to explain why he believes psychotherapy is not only ineffective and possibly even harmful, but why it is little more …

  • Hi Brett there are some really good books analyzing the research thats often poorly controlled, biased and cannot be reproduced – several good books are:
    The Therapy Industry: The Irresistible Rise of the Talking Cure, and Why It Doesn’t Work

    Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Sides of Science and Therapy

    Psychology Led Astray: Cargo Cult in Science and Therapy

    Power, Interest and Psychology: Elements of a Social Materialist Understanding of Distress

    exposure therapy can be useful, if the person can actually tolerate it but a significant majority can’t.

  • the article states ‘The latest findings of the Tavistock Adult Depression Study (TADS) show that 44% of depressed clients who were provided 18 months of weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy no longer met the criteria for a depressive disorder two years after treatment ended, compared to 10% of those receiving standard short-term problem-solving therapies, or medications’

    however after 18 months or just 6 sessions our lives are constantly changing and in many ways and the overwhelming majority of this change happens far away from any therapy room – perhaps the elements of any psychotherapy mentioned by David Smail of comfort, clarification and encouragement might have been helpful but to put it all down to a few hours talking in a room is to grossly oversell.

    Where are these people with a neat issue like ‘major depressive disorder’ it seems to me that our experience is closer to a vast and unknowable weather front constantly moving and changing even if we ourselves can’t grasp the change – most of our experience seems beyond awareness – im reminded of the iceberg metaphor – its amazing to me that we’ve managed what we have given the bias and blindness we all have.

    It seems that suffering like everything else changes and suffering is a normal and natural response to life experiences, not a sign of a disorder more a response to disorder in the culture full of meaning and confusion.

    It seems we need some adversity to grow and problem solve but much of the cultural level disorders stemming from government policy, economy, education, advertising, class, re food industry, drug industry, etc sulting in poverty real or relative , harmful jobs, family breakdown, community breakdown, substances issues, physical issues, insecurity, stress, physical health issues, dependence etc can and should be healed by valuing life on earth and compassionate policy that honors this overwhelming mystery we call life.

  • The mental health system including the psychotherapy industry is disordered and seems to do more harm than good – just helping to hide the misuse of power is a pretty nasty unintended consequence – not to mention pathologising people for suffering with seems more accurately like cultural experience disorder

    just come across this ex therapist explaining why he is an ex therapist
    nice honesty

  • Just to echo some of the other comments – to identify correctly the harmful nonsense of biological based labels within psychiatry is great – however to assert there are scientific talk therapies is to psychologise social/cultural distress and falsely represent the talk therapy industry.

    We’ve had around 100 years of clinical psychology and its spawned hundreds of talk therapies many now make claims of being science based or evidence based with the RCT often held up as the gold standard – yet the RCT has been shown to be useless for talk therapies for many reasons like mind small sample sizes and the myriad confounding variables you simply cannot control for and that an effective placebo is impossible to find – then there is the massive issue of reproducibility Bruce Wampold in the great psychotherapy debate basically states that there is little difference between the ‘therapies’ and what is useful are three marginally helpful aspects namely the alliance, some structure and getting the person to do something between sessions.

    Again after 100 years of this you’d think perhaps we might be seeing human beings getting better, wellbeing increasing etc but the opposite is true very soon the WHO predicts that the cultural disorder of depression currently re-framed as personal pathology will be the biggest cause of suffering on earth.

    Self interest is really harming us all on a massive sale – this is a great book to summarize the issues with psychotherapy

    This fellas work is also great – this could heve been written last week

    We need to come together as human beings point to what is wrong and seek collective action to change it – we’ve been surrounded by ‘experts’ for so long we have almost lost the ability to feel and think with clarity. One thing that might help is to drastically reduce the time most of us spend at repetitive boring, stressful jobs that bend people out of shape and make community and caring almost impossible

    be well people