Sunday, September 23, 2018

Comments by Chris H

Showing 34 of 34 comments.

  • A a study for this?

    its hard to maintain any sort of exercise regime when you are feeling relatively well given all the competing demands on time and energy – exercise or any sort of behavioural activation is the opposite of what it means to be depressed – add in the side effects of various prescribed drugs, a job that sucks the life force out of you, zero community, relative poverty etc and really is it surprising that its hard?

    surely ‘treating depression’ is just focusing on a set of symptoms while leaving the causes and many others besides lurking.

    I wonder has anyone had any experience with the power threat meaning framework? seems to be an attempt to recontextualise people after all the so called treatments seek to reduce the irreducible to an internal issue amenable to change via will power

  • apologies if some of what I said last night seemed a little annoying Shaun – note to self don’t engage in online discussion after more than 2 drinks.

    I agree with you that few people now would feel able to share with trusted friends and family and neither would many people feel they had time or confidence to simply listen and be present. However this is not because of some lack of relevant expertise but more a product of the cultural disorders that we live with – what did people do before ‘services’ and look at the evidence we’ve had 100 yearsish of clinical psychology, longer with psychiatry and we have dozens of drugs – hundreds of talk therapies – and yet things are clearly getting worse, suffering increases year in year out – much like hysteria at the turn of last century was the common cold of the age now depression is meant to be – you have a better chance of recovery from psychosis or so called schizophrenia in the third world than in the first – how can this possibly be?

    we have all been trained to give our power away to the experts – oddly at the same time many people when consulting other experts in medicine for example we might well have done some homework and come with informed questions – mostly not so with psychotherapy – its mysterious, maybe this is all to do with how embedded and revered its become within the culture – or normalized – at least in the west – and now the talk of ‘evidenced based’

    There are plenty of cultures that would see talking to a stranger outside of the community/family as nuts, and others still that would feel talking it over and ‘expressing and reliving trauma’ also unhelpful and possibly harmful.

    it seems the massive efforts over the years from the west to go help in disaster zones say the Indonesian Tsunami likely cause more harm than good- Ethan Watters outlined this well in his book Crazy like us – he documents the arrogance of western therapists and therapy agencies descending on the country bringing their supposed modern scientific tools and techniques to enlighten the indigenous people- sure some of this was done with genuine care but so much was also seen as an experimental zone whereby self interest was the main interest to study and try out their wares on a disaster zone. most could mot speak the language or had any clue to the local customs and cultural norms and assumptions that were utterly different to their own – individualism over collectivism, the language of trauma etc but they dove in anyway so sure of themselves.

    It just seems to me that we’ve got many cultural disorders that are left largely in the dark by therapy because we are all looking at personal disorder or in some way just helping the person to adjust to their situations – not see beyond into the powers shaping and controlling us all and reposition the limitations of the individual in this context – while perhaps at the same time exploring how collective change happen, the history of grass roots movements to bring us what we take for granted today – at least in the services I know this would never be touched beyond the superficial because we’re all educated in personal disorder ‘ I have depression’ etc – ‘I need help’ so in this way services consciously or not reinforce these cultural assumptions of individual fault and personal responsibility to change self, to adjust

    the mantra of the modern worker seems to be ‘you’ve just got to get on with it’ and while we all struggle to get on with it, suffering increases year in year out.

    so me and you Shaun are part of a system that helps to maintain not change the status quo so we’re all vulnerable to more harm than is needed.

    self interest ties us all to this toxicity – i’m a ‘consumer’ have a mortgage, have wants and desires constantly stimulated by cultural disorders etc.

  • I see what you mean Shaun and its probably a bias from me to listen only to respond – do tell me about your experiences with EMDR? just before if even some of these are right then its a wonder we can communicate at all https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    I have also had experiences – some telling experiences are when i’ve got a sense of a good alliance I will ask for honesty from the person about their open views about what we did – I recall asking this of a person at the end processing ‘installation of future template’ etc this session would have looked like a text book treatment success, suds gradually lowering, emotional soothing, narrative moving from anxious stress to distant, calmer not as bothering etc.

    This person explained they thought it did nothing at all but what they did find useful was the chance to speak some truth to someone deeply curious and caring for them in a relatively safe space. This could be done by family, friends, the broader community – if we had communities and time to engage each other more compassionately in cultural possibilities that created better conditions for trust and cooperation to flourish.

    I think David Smail had it right when he said all any therapy can offer is some comfort, clarification and encouragement but these are all transient and suffering can heighten once the talking and listening, waving your arms around stops – and yes for some lost souls this can be a life and death connection but on the whole are we helping to placate and mystify, minimize and emphasize according to our models and formulations rather than help with expanding outsight into the political and class awareness, media studies and ideologies, the way mental health industries shape the cultural narrative about what is and is not mad or abnormal – this from a largely white middle class american mans view – already throughly biased and blinded by the cult of the individual the super hero the self starter, biased to extroversion and social Darwinism, Benny Hinn putting fire on pastors, just access your deep well of will power and force your will on the immensity of all that is .

    now I wonder if you had heard these words spoken in the context of a first therapy encounter – what model might you use to treat me?

  • are these the words of a believer ,’I can say that I’ve seen people quickly start feeling better about their trauma and/or themselves after doing as little as one session with a light bar. I think EMDR out of all the interventions I’ve learned is the most promising for delivering on it’s promises of long-term symptom relief.’
    imagine that ‘one session with a light bar’
    did you train with the real Yoda?
    I’ve a friend that swears bruises have materialised and dematerialized during processing – I love the benny hinn side kick = fire on ya! ‘tapping in resources’ thats right you can just tap em in – well I can do it for you cheers me right up

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKAI8Yqa2bs

    hail from which star system have you traveled?
    we’ve got trauma creep, in fact we’ve got the insatiable creeping psychiatry defining he landscape we haven’t imagined yet

  • Hi Shaun – yes sadly it does seem that in our alienated fear filled world that therapy for some people might be useful some of the time in some ways depending on the context and what is on offer.

    Alas its mostly at least in my experience short term therapy and I think sometimes it might cause more harm than good – take for example those suffering as you have suffered with childhood trauma – this might have been multifaceted and the persons current circumstances might also be horribly harmful to them and so they are referred to IAPT for say counselling, EMDR, CBT, EFT etc. These suffering people often with decades of trauma and ongoing major stress will be offered around 10 x 50 minute sessions. less than half a day in someones life to address a lifetimes suffering.

    is this not unethical? dangerous? gross false advertising?

    people are often just beginning to feel that they can say more than they may have said to anyone before and its time to leave – we’re told by management that people can re refer and they often do and the cycle continues.

    I also don’t think it necessarily takes a profound trauma to crush esteem because many people if not most of us are suffering what I think of as millions of paper cut trauma’s – family lives being witness to parents being broken down by their awful jobs, ships passing in the night, financial battering, poor housing, a school system that cares not a jot about each person’s possibility but only in targets, image and feeding our young through the sausage machine of the system soaked with comparisons, pressure and stress. zero community life, lack of meaning, loss of contact with nature, self and others, constant and relentless advertising and consumer culture with its illusions and manipulations and images of happiness and success. The cult of the individual and delusion of the hero the self made man the me me me mantra.

    Then when crushed and confused send us to therapy, drug us, label us – all focused on the individuals supposed maladaptive self – no one has time to take a wide angle zoomed out approach helping the person place their tiny lives in this broader cultural disorder context soaked through with powers so vast its hard to comprehend – so its all about the persons disorder and how we experts can somehow help them and delude ourselves to get on with it.

    When can we start to diagnose and treat the many cultural disorders all around us?, to see more clearly that if we take a beautiful flower and place its roots in turds, its leaves in pitch dark then pour feed on it we are not really helping except maybe helping to maintain the status quo and the killing of possibility.

  • Thank Steve i’ll check the book.

    This idea of insight is interesting. it seems to be at the centre of most therapeutic approaches, the desire to invoke in someone the all important ‘ah ha moment’ as if this can somehow make change happen or follows from it.

    When I reflect on my own experiences and the years of working with many others insight seems a mystery-Observing my own life and the glimpses of the lives of the people I see, it seems clear that we often have clear awareness or insight into an issue of great harm, be it a relationship, attitude, behaviour, belief, situation etc – we can also reflect on it, talk about it, describe it to others,sing songs about it and yet continue with predictable certainty to repeat it – until somehow it changes – once change (if change happens at all) happens our minds automatically populate a story for the change, often a story about something we have done, an act of will, but is it?

    or is it more that things, happenings (life) happen to and through us but are not directed by us at all – the age old free will conundrum seems to be leaning more towards determinism – I sometimes see life and what happens to us as seeming random and mostly luck – ‘I’ appear to be here to bare witness to what is.

    reminds me of some couples conselling I had many years ago that I partially remember.

    I used to think an insight I gained during this therapy was key in what seemed like my decision to end the marriage – but when I step back from this and consider the massive complexity of influences external and internal most of which is completely and utterly beyond my awareness I wonder how can it be? – I recall the therapist accurately paraphrasing my words back to me and this seeming to me like an ‘ah ah moment’ and a decision made to walk away. While it of course influenced me, given the weight of all other influences was it not insignificant? but maybe the esteem I had for therapy at the time imbued it with meaning and power and the cultural reverence for therapy created a story for me.

    who knows hey.

  • agreed the more human and connected the better – and yes connections and or the lack of connections is the major theme of Johann Hari’s last book titled lost connections and I think its certainly a major issue – we have such potential and if our needs for connections currently missing were met would we really need a mental health industry?

    I wonder have you any book recommendations Steve that helped in your journey to change? or is there a recommended books section on the site?

    these have all helped me

    By David Smail – Power, Interest and Psychology: Elements of a Social Materialist Understanding of Distress

    The Origins of Unhappiness: A New Understanding of Personal Distress

    By Paul Maloney The Therapy Industry: The Irresistible Rise of the Talking Cure, and Why It Doesn’t Work

    By James Davies Cracked

    by Ethan Watters Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the Western Mind

    be well

  • Hi Steve, thanks but I wish it wasn’t so! Buying into the entire industry/ system is hard not to do – I must admit when I first began reading the critical perspectives and reflecting critically on my own work it was really hard to do. However once my head was lifted from the deep sand of training and constant association with believers I could not put it back.

    Its quite a lonely place to be because I often share articles and ideas from this site and other places at work and hardly anyone is willing or has the time to engage in a discussion. Reminds me of a quote, something about it being difficult to get people to understand something when your wage depends on not understanding it. I actually had one supervisor some years ago tell me he is pleased there’s such a thing as ‘mental illness’ because it keeps him in a job.

    It seems many mechanisms like self interest and the power of conformity ties us to so much cultural toxicity its staggering to me – i’m pleased you managed to escape it Steve.

    I do what little I can to help those I see but I stress its so very little – The thank you cards and letters I get from people while appreciated serve to remind me of just how disordered the culture is.

    I think it is sad that so many people can be so thankful for so little and time and time again people minimize their own prolonged hidden heroic courage in the face of overwhelming adversity that would have crushed me to pulp. Instead they are full of thanks for something they believe I have done.

    The cultural esteem and powerful story of talk therapy and the industries drugs and labels serves to help in this personal minimization by creating a narrative or a sort of dot to dot picture to colour in- the culturally induced crushing of self esteem ensures these stories are often believed in – while many people have no one they can turn to for trusted solidarity many people do but feel unable to share because they understand that those family members and friends are also suffering.

    So we are encouraged to turn instead to we ‘mental health professionals’ we ‘experts’ ‘therapists’ ‘traumatologists’ ‘psychotherapists’ ‘counselors’ it all sounds so reassuring so certain and technical.

    yet behind the welcoming smile of the expert is a human being, someone probably suffering or soon to be suffering and just as lost and in need of support, solidarity and compassion as everyone else.

  • I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the various discussions at the end of this article – while at times some of it has seemed a little confrontational I think its mostly been quite respectful and shows a range of feelings and perspectives.

    I have worked for many years across various mental (ill) heath services in various roles including my current role as a therapist although personally speaking I dislike the title therapist and think of what I do more as a temporary compassionate helper – I also think that if we had cultures whereby human wellbeing was front and centre, with people actually having time to care and share with each other these roles would be a thing of the past.

    Long before clinical psychology spawned the hundreds of ‘talk therapies’ we now have we had human beings harming and helping each other, its just what we do, if we have the time/energy to care that is.

    Caring like almost everything else has been turned into commodity to be bought and sold, someones job – Jobs cause huge harms to the majority but where is the debate on these harms? – the massive Gallup poll done a few years ago covering hundreds of countries and millions of peoples attitude to working life revealed that only 13% of people are enjoying their work – for the rest they say are ‘sleep walking’ through their days disengaged, bored understimulated, numb others still actively hate their daily grind. Not that we needed such a poll, its quite obvious if you just allow yourself to reflect on your own work history and listen to what others say about work.

    it seems to me that it is quite easy for people within services/roles that have been elevated to relatively respectful if not revered positions to also inflate what they believe they can achieve through talking/listening to someone. Training, supervision and associating with other therapists just reinforces these beliefs and I’ve met many a therapist with almost god like beliefs in what they do – after all we are constantly told to ‘trust the model’ and ‘sell’ what we do with absolute belief that it works – ‘research says’ ‘NICE guidelines say’ etc.

    Therapy as an activity usually takes place within a consulting room model devoid of context beyond the persons own limited story of self/world, biased and blinded by culture and a therapeutic industry that essentially tells us its not the world but our interpretation of the world that is at fault and all you need to do is harness some will power to change.

    Furthermore most of the mental (ill) health workers I know are themselves suffering with various levels of burnout and major stress because services are more like production lines of suffering – especially in the UK with IAPT.

    All anyone cares about in IAPT is ‘outcome measures’ meaningless scores on two self assessment measures the PHQ9 and GAD7- no matter if you are crushed by the culture if enough people pleasing can be stimulated in session and you score below ‘clinical’ then we have winner and you are now in ‘recovery’ another empty term, for how can you recover from the cultural disorders that impact us all to differing degrees throughout our lives.

    Its also worth remembering that therapists themselves are no better equipped than anyone else to cope with life stress and cultural disorder – get the right or wrong conditions in life and we also suffer just the same as anyone else and no prior knowledge of theory or techniques will help us much.

    This stress is clearly evident in services daily – spend just a few moments listening to therapists and you will often hear judgments that this or that person has a personality disorder or comments like how do they expect to get better if they aren’t doing their homework or taking their medications etc.

    That word medications is something I think we really need to stop using along with anti depressants and anti psychotics -and the disgusting personality disorder label – it seems whenever we use these terms we perpetuate a harmful myth and contribute to free advertising for drug companies and personal pathology – they are drugs, that sometimes help and it seems to me more often than not hinder and harm.

  • 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 https://b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/f49406d81b9ed9c977_p1m6ibgje.pdf 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?

    namely:
    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 https://b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/f49406d81b9ed9c977_p1m6ibgje.pdf

  • 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
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Connections-Uncovering-Depression-Unexpected/dp/1408878682/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530180332&sr=1-1&keywords=johan+hari+lost+connections

    and on the subject of power you might enjoy these
    Power, Interest and Psychology: Elements of a Social Materialist Understanding of Distress
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Interest-Psychology-Materialist-Understanding/dp/1898059713/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530179439&sr=8-1&keywords=david+smail+power+interest

    Psychology and Capitalism: The Manipulation of Mind

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Psychology-Capitalism-Manipulation-Ron-Roberts/dp/1782796541/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530179501&sr=1-1&keywords=ron+roberts

    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

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu5CxJnZqGs&t=1s

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Therapy-Industry-Irresistible-Talking-Doesnt/dp/0745329861/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530025757&sr=8-1&keywords=the+therapy+industry

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1627345280/?coliid=I250WNQ6HG0T1H&colid=2ISQ48VSYRFBD&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

    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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu5CxJnZqGs

    #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 …
    http://www.youtube.com

  • 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
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Therapy-Industry-Irresistible-Talking-Doesnt/dp/0745329861

    Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Sides of Science and Therapy
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1627345280/?coliid=I250WNQ6HG0T1H&colid=2ISQ48VSYRFBD&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

    Psychology Led Astray: Cargo Cult in Science and Therapy
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1627346090/?coliid=I21SOZUPHNMHCB&colid=2ISQ48VSYRFBD&psc=0

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

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Interest-Psychology-Materialist-Understanding/dp/1898059713/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528397862&sr=1-1&keywords=david+smail+interest

    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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0Fi32LbXHA

  • 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 https://www.nature.com/news/over-half-of-psychology-studies-fail-reproducibility-test-1.18248 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 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Therapy-Industry-Irresistible-Talking-Doesnt/dp/0745329861

    This fellas work is also great – this could heve been written last week http://www.davidsmail.info/talk96a.htm
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Interest-Psychology-Materialist-Understanding/dp/1898059713

    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 http://neweconomics.org/2010/02/21-hours/

    be well people