Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Comments by WiseMonkey

Showing 15 of 15 comments.

  • This is the first time finally I am seeing someone raising the issue of letting the consumers of the MH service to be part of the conversation about the services they receive. This should be a no brainer that consumers not only have the right to voice their opinion about products and services they get but also to take part in the decision-making process about the changes ways the services are conducted.

  • Hi Oice,

    Thanks for your comment. I didn’t visit this blog for some time and had no idea someone responded to my comment.

    Yes, I absolutely believe that the premise of therapy is flawed..eh, well, actually, not the official premise which presumes that we, as professionals, are supposed to consult people on their difficult situations or, better say, to give our educated opinion on what’s going on with them and what could be a solution to whatever they struggle with. If the official premise was actually being followed in practice, I would have no problem with it because it has a clarity which leaves no room for deception, meaning that both, a professional and a person receiving a service, are clear about what they are doing what a professional role entails.

    That simple premise, however, is not communicated to students, trainees and interns during their training years. What IS communicated to them is a lot of different opinions from their teachers and supervisors and some of the textbooks on either how to “fix” the client in various ways depending on the teacher’s/supervisor’s personal beliefs. As a therapist, you are suggested either to foster a “holding environment” for clients to blossom or to create a “healing” relationship with them where the illusory “intimacy” will magically heal their old wounds while simultaneously holding our “boundary” when they try to “push” them. At the same time you are supposed to “work through” their transference if you are of psychodynamic persuasion or give them homework and basically tell them what to do, which is basically treating them like kids, if you are a CBT practitioner.

    Only someone who is either a) highly ignorant or b) highly arrogant or c) both can believe that the above methods can truly heal someone. That is not to say that the theories behind those methods have no merit. I think they do. But just trying to use a theory and calling it a “method” is delusional at best. None of our “methods” have been scientifically proven and, yet, we continue to insist that they work precisely as we claim they do.

    That all being said, what psychotherapy practice essentially comes down to in the end is offering people a poor and unhealthy substitute for real friendship, community, belonging somewhere, being involved in things that unfold their creative potential and so on and so forth – all that we naturally need to be healthy on all levels. And, YES, absolutely, it is very unfortunate that our culture, our society doesn’t provide necessary conditions for people to be healthy and to live fulfilling purposeful lives. If such conditions were provided, therapy, as we know it, wouldn’t exist because no one would need it in this shape and form. In fact, it wouldn’t be called therapy at all. Instead, there would be times when people would consult occasionally with professionals, get their take on what’s going on in their life and then do with that information as they please. This would have nothing to do with healing and it would be simply called “psychological consultations”. A relationship with a consultant would be much less emotionally dependent and much more egalitarian than the relationship with a “therapist”. A consultant role is just to give his educated opinion, not to “heal” and for that reason a long-term consulting is never needed. A consultation is rather an occasional event than a continuous regular process.

    If someone truly experienced mental suffering, in that case, there would be specific scientifically established procedures used to help that person to alleviate distress, the procedures that are very specifically defined, the mechanics of which are well-known and the outcomes are reasonably predictable (something like neurofeedback, EMDR, somatic experiencing etc). Those would be much closer to genuine medical procedures than the so-called “treatments” that are currently used in talk therapy.

    Ok, the rant is over. I do go on rants on this subject because of my personal history being in therapy and my professional history of being disappointed by how the profession operates and how cowardly my colleagues are for not speaking out about it. Frankly, I haven’t seen so many disturbed people in any other profession, which is another dirty secret that professionals have kept for many years. It’s time to get out of denial and to face the truth that a significant number of professionals are mentally disturbed and aren’t fit to practice and yet another big number of them would serve themselves and the public better if they chose other occupations.

  • What I’ve learned from my experience being harmed in therapy is that boundaries don’t have to be an artificial concept while the work itself is certainly artificial. In order for the boundaries to come naturally, all the therapist needs is to get clear with him/herself on what their role is and what it is not. That’s all. Boundary will come from that clarity, and since different people may define them differently, boundaries will be different with each therapist, but they will not feel artificial if they come from a deep understanding of the purpose of the work.

    I am saying this because the lack of those “artificial” boundaries was exactly what harmed me in my last therapy. My therapist did become friends with me, and, trust me, it didn’t help me. Didn’t help me at all. What he was seeing as his natural “humanity” and “being real” with me was, in fact, his selfishness and his desire to get his own emotional needs met, which he did big time. This is not to say that the therapist should not be real with his/her clients. Not at all. I hate this artificial “neutral” stance too. But being “real” can get easily misinterpreted and people can get hurt because of it. That’s why it is crucial for a therapist to clearly define their role and to always know what they are doing.

    This all is not to dispute the main point of the article that psychotherapy, as a healing practice, is pretty flawed.

    Thank you for responding to my previous comment.

  • You said everything I, as a “former” therapist could’ve said myself. Even though my story is a bit different since we are all unique ant there can’t be two identical stories, but some major struggles with my chosen profession and my moral objections to how it’s being practiced are exactly as you described them. Unfortunately, I am not a filmmaker and haven’t found another way to make a living. I still chose to discontinue practicing for the reasons you mentioned and for some other reasons too. I have created the website http://www.therapyconsumerguide.com that is trying to tell the public what it doesn’t know about our mental health system. I am planning on continuing to write about this and I may go back to practicing in a different role, as a consultant, not a “therapist”, because even the word “therapist” is not a legitimate term to me when it comes to dealing with spiritual and psychological life struggles. The word is too medical to reflect the reality of this practice. I just want to say that it’s amazing how the same ideas, like the one of changing “therapy” into consulting and doing it only with motivated people, come to different people. I had been thinking of this idea for many years before I came across your article.

    Anyway, thank you for speaking out publicly. It’s very validating to me because I thought I was the only one with these kind of “grudges” against the profession and with the same kind of visions. Actually, I have more other thoughts about the subject, but that is the story for another day. I will, hopefully, be able to express them all either on my website or in my future books. Thanks again.

  • It’s a great progressive step, and, I must say, long overdue! MIA should have done this a long time ago, but I am glad you are finally doing this. All your accumulated knowledge and experiences of many psychiatric survivors have to be brought into a public eye and into professional communities. Otherwise, nothing will change. I am a professional and I look forward to taking your CEUs!

  • Super interesting debate. In order to comment properly with all the seriousness this debate deserves, I would have to address every single point of it and there are so many! If I were to do so, my comment would be 4 times longer than this article :-), but, unfortunately, I have no time for this.

    My quick general impression that these two insightful and analytically thinking people really shouldn’t have any disagreements at all because they both see different aspects of the problem correctly. Each of them over or under emphasizes one aspect of the issue over another, when each aspect, in fact, has its own unique role and is organically connected with the others. I wish I had time to elaborate on specifics..May be at another time after the discussion kicks off.

    I have to say though that I like Frances’ overall tone better that Witaker’s. It sounds much friendlier and inviting for a future dialog, while Witaker sounds much more defensive and guarded :-). Frances outlook also feels more grounded, which is, of course, not to say that his perspective is overall more accurate. Like I said, they both see different parts of reality correctly, but those parts have to be put together to make one big more or less accurate picture. My personal impression is that Frances is more willing to put the pieces together and to find common ground for collaboration and I like this attitude better because it reflects my own.

  • A superb summary of what’s wrong with the profession. Thanks. I have to say that, unlike you, I was not so lucky to encounter colleagues who would see what you described and what I have been seeing for a long time and who would feel validated and supported in their perceptions. It’s been quite a contrary. I was shunned by virtually every colleague who heard me expressing the same thoughts you expressed in this article. Thanks again.

  • Actually, I didn’t mean to post my thoughts as a challenge to the way you write and to your choice of audience but rather as an expression of my frustration with the situation when a group of obviously capable, thoughtful and highly evolved people seems to be lacking the force necessary to bring about meanigful changes.

    Also, the last thing I wanted was to invalidate the need for you and others in your inner circle to get clear amongst yourselves about how you want to move forward and also the need for the communal support from those who have been through similar experiences.

    My post was not about making this blog more public “user-friendly” (a more accurate term instead of “accessible” since it is publicly accessible) but rather about acknowledging the simple reality that all meaningful changes have always been made through a large public support and never without it. Whether those who are currently unattached to the issues that are of deep concern to you and others in the “movement” will ever become “attached” and concerned enough to help to change the system is irrelevant to the fact that their support is and will always be essential for things to change. Like it or not, but the broader public outreach and public education about various MH related issues including psychiatric abuse is not a choice for you and your movement, it’s a necessity IF you are serious about making meanigful changes. Being able to discuss all the things you care about with those who you know will understand because they’ve gone through similar experiences is wonderful as a constant source of the soul’s nourishment. It’s even more important as an experience that gives people a sense of safety given the trust deficit that, I suspect, came from the trauma many people iside this “movement” have endured. Therefore, I do not doubt and do not challenge the need to have discussions for the “insiders”. However, if the inner circle becomes the only place for discussions and the insider discussions become the only activity of the “movement”, then there is no “movement” per se. Then it is just a community of people who have gone through specific experiences but not a movement, which is perfectly fine and wonderful as a source of support and healing, as long as the members of the community honestly call it as it is.

    As far as whether you can ever change the minds of “unattached”, here is what my life experience has taught me. Yes, there will always be those whose minds will never chamge no matter what you say or do and it’ll be a waste of time and energy to reach out to them. There are also those who are on different levels of awareness. Some might simply not be aware of things that are outside of their everyday life but when they become aware they might care enough to help in some way like signing petitions, donating or spreading awareness. Some might be somewhat guarded when presented with the ideas that are outside of the mainstream but are still receptive to the new information if it’s presented in a non-aggressive and non-harrassing way to them. Others may be aware on some level but not able to articulate their awareness thus bringing it into consciousness, and once they read this blog they may have an “aha” moment. And, by the way, even those who cannot be convinced today by any means may be convinced 5 or 10 years from now when the landscape changes.

    LIfe is not static and people are not static. Everything changes and people change too. It just happens so slow that it may seem like some things or some people never change but they do. This is what I’ve seen and learned from all my life experiences but, of course, we all learn different things.

    All in all, my main point is not to invalidate the need to have a somewhat secluded space where people like yourself can find balance, get comfort from giving and receiving support and enjoy exchanging ideas but to encourage you and others to build a relationship with the outside world. For me personally finding a balance between both my comfortable inner space where I can center and nourish myself and my involvement with the outside world was a key factor in my healing process.

  • A very thoughtful article, yet I have to say that the question Ted is asking about how to engage ordinary people in the efforts to transform the system also crossed my mind as I was reading. I personally am not a psych survivor but I had been harmed by the MH system in a different way (in talk therapy) and I am a big sympathizer and a supporter of your movement. I have to say though that the only reason I follow MIA updates and all the news relevant to psychiatric practices, drug distribution, pharma companies’ lawsuits etc is because I take personal interest in all these issues (the fact that I am an MH professional contributes to that interest). However, if I didn’t take any personal interest in this subject, as an average lay person I wouldn’t care to seek information about it and wouldn’t care much about any MH related issues. Most of the MIA articles and many articles on the subject in other sources are written for the “insiders” of the movement. They don’t even attempt to engage the general public. As wonderful and insightful as many of them are, they are not going to trigger any significant changes in the system unless the activists find ways to engage ordinary people who are normally disinterested in anything they perceive as not related to their everyday lives. They are certainly not interested in musing over, understanding and appreciating all the complexities and subtleties of the internal differences between various visions of different members of the movement, especially when all of it is discussed in a highly intellectual manner. As much as I appreciate the article and many other articles on MIA, they are not going to touch the hearts of ordinary people, sorry if it sounds harsh but it’s true. If the movement is to find force and vitality, it has to go outside its inner circle where activists feel comfortable and start an educational campaign amongst the general population. Otherwise, the talks will never transform into meaningful actions and will remain just talks.

  • No feeling in and of itself whether it’s anger or anything else is a problem or a “pathology” as well as a sign of health. Feelings are energies and every energy can be used either constructively or destructively. That’s all there is to it. It’s not anger that needs to be defined as “good” or “bad” but its specific use and expression. Anger can do many constructive things such as fighting social injustices and oppression if it is used constructively for the purpose of creating a better more consious society. It can also create a lot of destruction if those who act it out have questionable intentions. Some people who claim that they fight for justice simply use this claim as justification to dump their personal garbage on others. Their goal is not to build a better society but to make someone pay for their vitimization. In those cases, when anger turns into vengence, it doesn’t have any constructive purpose as it doesn’t solve any problems and certainly doesn’t make anyone’s life better.

  • Agree with the previous comments. When will we ever use our basic logic and common sense and stop being susceptible to brainwashing? Of course, our adverse experiences make us suffer! It’s perfectly normal and natural to experience all sorts of pain and distress when we go and after we have gone trough adversities and traumas. For God’s sake, why do we need a study or a research to understand something that is common sense?! Emotional pain is not an “illness”! It is part of human existence. Yes, we need to attend to our pain and heal our wounds, but not pathologize them by calling them “illnesses”.