Monday, March 27, 2023

Comments by JOHN T SHEA

Showing 64 of 64 comments.

  • Dr. Bracken, bravo for entering the MIA den of lions! But:-

    “However, interpretation and ‘making sense’ of the personal struggles of our patients are to psychiatry what operating skills and techniques are to the surgeon.”

    Not quite, since such interpretation and sense-making are skills possessed in varying degree by most people much of the time, and which predate psychiatry by thousands of years. Like ALL people, I often make, accept, trust and act on interpretations of my and other’s personal struggles. But I’ve never performed surgery on anyone and when I needed kidney surgery a decade ago the only person willing to do it was a urologist, for some reason…

    More seriously, may I suggest your vocation and experience as a therapist are more vital than your training as a psychiatrist. I do value the profession of psychology. And I do think psychiatry can be useful to the extent that it combines psychology and medicine, as mind and body ARE obviously related, a fact denied by dogmatists (some on MIA) who often hate the ENTIRE medical profession. But a combination of psychology and the law, or psychology and accountancy, or psychology and sociology, etc, could be just as useful.

    Incidentally, if the tub were full of ELECTRIC eels, was that how ECT was invented?

  • More proof, if needed, that state aid is a Faustian Bargain, and yet vital at times. In any case, amen to all, particularly Dr. Cornwall’s good points re ‘Leaving Home Psychosis’, which can leave any of us emotionally, and sometimes literally, homeless for years or decades.

  • More good points, Richard. Though I might not have put the word ‘just’ before ‘extreme anxiety’.

    Anxiety can be very extreme indeed, including in my experience something at least akin to akathisia as you describe it, decades after my last psych drug. And pacing the floor with fear and worry has been described since time immemorial. Nonetheless no one can inhabit the skin of another, so I accept that akathisia may approach dyskinesia in its effects.

    I still sometimes experience what Hermes describes, in so far as anyone can compare, but I do consider it a form of anxiety, probably just because my definition of anxiety is broad.

    As I’ve suggested earlier, it can be difficult to distinguish direct neurological damage from the understandably dramatic distress it can produce. Which is chicken and which is egg? But, as I also said, psych drugs do seem to cause both, whether directly or indirectly. And the damage can last for years.

    Given so many of our comments rightly focus on the danger of permanent drug damage, one may ask what we mean by ‘permanent’. I wonder what is the longest time a victim has lived with such damage. To my knowledge Tardive Dyskinesia, for example, was warned about fifty years ago. Has anyone survived with it since then?

    Thanks. John

  • Thanks, Heretohelp. It seems David Healy, like many clinicians, swallowed a very large dictionary a very long time ago.

    Dysthymia and dystonia and dysphoria all seem to be fancy names for depression or despair, or aspects thereof. Likewise akathisia seems to be just an extreme restless aspect of anxiety, or fear. Both could be cognitive/emotional responses and not directly neurological. I am somewhat suspicious when people invent and use clinical terms for such age-old thoughts and feelings.

    But the Parkinsonian tremors (dyskinesia) and brain zaps seem new and different and neurological symptoms, as I’ve suggested before.

    I note that Dr. Healy’s suggestions are all drugs, with the exception of his passing mentions of exercise and diet. No mention of talk therapy, which Healy has condemned elsewhere.

    Stephen, nobody’s threatened Dr, Shipko, much less killed him, just commented on and sometimes critiqued his strident claims in a generally polite way in over 200 comments. We’ve all discussed and entertained the possibilities Dr. Shipko and you suggest. You and he might in turn discuss and entertain the possibility that both of you are wrong.

    Thanks to all. John

  • No apology needed, Up-Rising. While indeed serious about demons, I am not certain of their existence, and quite skeptical about possession. The late Scott Peck was to my knowledge the only well-know psychotherapist who explored possession and exorcism in detail, though I am wary of some of his ideas. It has been suggested that the Devil’s greatest trick is to persuade people he doesn’t exist, but that’s another day’s work!

    No confusion either. Indeed you distinguished your comment to myself from that to MJK quite clearly. And the unmasking qualities claimed for psych drug by psychiatrists are indeed ironic, given the drugs can actually mask so much!

    Thanks, Up-Rising. John

  • No, Up-Rising. nobody has to prove the existence of either demons or demonic possession for either or both to exist. Likewise everything else that exists. Any philosopher will tell you it’s hard, if not impossible, to prove ANYTHING exists, ourselves included!

    And my comment was intended as more than rhetoric. Like tens if not hundreds of millions of people worldwide I believe the evidence for demons is rather better than that for the ‘Robot’ theory of human behavior.

    But yes, possession is also a good metaphor, though the feeling that one’s mind is being invaded has been described for centuries, if not millennia. Likewise ‘voices’ and other forms of ‘dissociation’. Such things long predate all psych drugs, unlike ‘brain zaps’ and other ‘electrical’ damage. Hence my distinction.


  • MJK, I never said drugs unmasked any natural killer inside anyone, or anything even remotely resembling that absurd statement, which is contrary to the whole tone of my comments. And many mothers successfully RESIST the pressure to have an abortion (or not have an abortion as the case may be). I believe responsibility can be diminished by drugs or pressure or influence or manipulation, but not removed entirely. The person still has a choice, however constrained.

    By the way, is ‘smh’ a typo or is it supposed to mean something?


  • Many of us have discussed the question of causation from many angles, MJK. I’ve already expressed my skepticism about the Robot or ‘Clockwork Orange’ theory. Drooling and other symptoms are not in the same category as complex purposeful decisions like murder.

    Nonetheless, if you still believe a drug can absolutely remove all a person’s will and conclusively compel them to kill someone, to the exclusion of all other factors, I cannot prove you wrong. Neither can I disprove the similar theory of demonic possession, which is much older and attested to by better authorities. I wish I could. Both theories frighten me, and I make no secret of or apology for that fear.


  • Alcohol has probably lowered more inhibitions against good things like friendship and pleasure and humor, than bad things like violence. Similar suggestions have been made for other drugs, though I am skeptical of them.

    This seems more nuanced than your earlier comment, Researcher. You now have more than a correlation, but still less than causation, except in the rather limited legal sense of ‘but for’. But that’s enough for caution regarding drugs.


  • There is much more to life than Science and much more to Science than statistical trials, Researcher. I won’t elaborate on the many problems with RCTs except to say I’m very skeptical of them, even when they support my opinions. Correlation is not necessarily causation.

    Your patients’ reports to you are a different matter, and you are right to pay close heed to them. In short, I value anecdotal evidence over statistical evidence, reversing the modern fashion


  • Thanks for your interesting comment, Savanna. But, far from resisting discussion of permanent damage from SSRIs, we’ve discussed little else in the 170 or so comments that preceded yours.

    No one wants to approach this issue? We’ve all been confronting it here alone for a week now. EVERYBODY wants to talk about it here and is doing so, and nobody is or can be marginalized. Only the moderator can remove comments, and he’s only done so a couple of times and not to stop discussion of permanent SSRI damage.


  • Anonymous, I assume you are the only Anonymous commenting on this article. Please feel free to correct me if you’re not. Your long comment is very interesting.

    Quibbles first:-

    You have several times accepted that psych drugs can cause severe physical damage, but questioned their role in emotional suffering. Surely the severe organ and/or neurological damage alone would be more than enough to frighten and depress anyone suffering it, thereby making the drugs just as responsible for their emotional/cognitive suffering as for the physical damage, though less directly?

    Perhaps you favor what some call the ‘Mentalist’ view, stressing the mind over the brain, the view of Freud and many others. That is my preference too. But it is hard to really separate the two, not to mention the spirit or soul. Dualism has limits.

    End of quibbles!

    ‘My position is that drugs can disinhibit mood or inhibit mood, but are never the whole story when it comes to complex human behavior and thoughts.’


    I also agree the legal ‘but for’ criterion is limited in authority and validity outside the courts.

    I still admire Peter Breggin, but I have said on the ISEPP Listserv that his and others’ arguments, in court and outside, that drugs directly cause violence are paradoxically similar to Biopsychiatry’s argument that ‘mental illness’ causes violence. Both are forms of the Robot or ‘Clockwork Orange’ Theory.

    As for whiskey ads, don’t be giving the damned government more ideas!

    Thanks, Anonymous. John

  • Interesting points, Richard. Just a couple of quibbles occur to me:-

    $4.75 for 28 pages is pretty cynical in my book, though I do not suspect Dr. Shipko of working secretly for the psych drug makers.

    Ethyl-alcohol in the same family of sedative-hypnotics as is Benzos and may have similar results!? Only if you define that family very broadly. Most people drink alcohol and only a very small minority suffer anything remotely resembling the ill-effects claimed for Benzos. I would recommend alcohol to most people in preference to Benzos and other psych drugs.

    Thanks, Richard. John

  • I strongly disagree and commend Researcher for saving me the bother of clicking the ‘more’ button, which I loathe on this and other websites. Researcher clearly indicated what he was doing at the start, so anyone who disliked his critique could simply scroll through his later comments. This section is supposed to be for such comments on the article, even though many of us, myself included, use it for debating, something Ted has suggested might be better done on the little-used MIA Forums.


  • Many thanks, Researcher, for your detailed and succinct critique.

    ‘Is there anything to link these strong reactions with the SSRI? Not really, unless you have a strong biological explanatory model for psychological suffering. This is the danger with Shiopko’s reasoning. It is as much biomedical model as the worst chemical imbalance theories. And he has absolutely no research, just a hunch that it must be the biological imbalance created by the SSRI.’

    You here express well an ongoing paradox and problem with some critiques of Biopsychiatry, that they are themselves quite physical/biochemical regarding anxiety and exhaustion and ‘depression’ etc. That said, I still find it hard to find a purely emotional/cognitive cause for the brain zaps and organ damage and severe pain survivors report.

    I would be curious to hear from any of Dr. Shipko’s patients, some of whom are probably reading this.

    Your references to Peter Breggin are interesting, given Dr. Shipko belongs to Dr. Breggin’s Empathic Therapy group and has a page on its website. Breggin memorably declared that the alternative to drugs was everything else, life itself.

    Thanks again to all. John

  • I have already commended your questions, Richard, but I find it very hard to explain what Whoopsie describes above as a psychological/emotional reaction. I have heard of such weird ‘electrical’ effects before, and I need no scientific proof to suspect nerve damage.

    Delayed depression may sometimes be an emotional relapse and maybe SSRIs do not cause delayed movement disorders, but what about the organ damage Whoopsie and others outline? All experience and evidence is anecdotal in its raw form and the fact that something cannot be proved ‘scientifically’ or ‘definitively’ does not make it go away.

    I would also be careful about making inferences about psychiatric survivors from the behavior of drug abusers. No doubt the two groups overlap, but how much? My guess is that far more people are abused by drugs than abuse drugs.

    Thanks, Richard. John

  • I am neither intact nor okay, Whoopsie, at least not yet, but certainly not as challenged as you are. I do not question either your or Altostrata’s dreadful experiences. I do not consider it naive to believe what people say they are experiencing. All I did question were some of Altostrata’s generalizations about other people. Questions are neither condemnations nor dismissals. And I think you have addressed my questions very well.

    My first comment on this article questioned Dr. Shipko’s near-despair, something both you and Altostrata also questioned. None of us condemned or dismissed Dr. Shipko. Only when Altostrata changed to agreeing with Dr. Shipko did I question some of her generalizations about others.

    I am no neurologist, but what you describe certainly sounds like physical nerve damage to me. Not unlike what Monica Cassani describes on her BEYOND MEDS blog. So the effects of psych drugs on yourself and a significant minority are nothing less than poisonous. I see no need for you to postulate an exact theory of how that happens, much less prove it.

    Many thanks for making the no doubt considerable effort to outline your experiences to me. In no way did you embarrass yourself and you make excellent sense. I wish you and all your comrades success.


  • Casual drive-bys, Altostrata? That is an insult and quite uncalled for! I questioned nothing you said about your condition except your sweeping assumptions about others. In absolutely no way did I dismiss or condemn anyone. Did you read my other comments here and elsewhere on MIA at all? is indeed working, but is a completely different link from which remains broken.

    ‘Anyone who has realized he or she is suffering from post-withdrawal syndrome comes to that despite condemnation from their doctors, their families, their spouses, and callously uninformed comments on the Internet.’

    You’ve edited ‘casual drive-bys’ to ‘callously uninformed comments’ but that’s not much better. Again you claim to speak for a large group of people. ‘Anyone’? Do you really know every one of them?

    Where is YOUR sympathy and compassion and respect for fellow psychiatric survivors such as myself?


  • ‘Although the medical profession almost invariably mistakes any withdrawal symptoms as relapse, those tardive post-withdrawal symptom patterns (even “tardive dysphoria”) are distinct from relapse or any mental condition found in nature. They are not merely “depression” or “anxiety.”

    ‘It’s quite common that people who have no personal experience with withdrawal syndrome cannot imagine its sometimes bizarre neurological manifestations. I can assure you, it feels nothing like a normal state of mental distress.’

    I am not at all sure how one can make the distinction you refer to, Altostrata, and certainly not for anyone other than oneself.

    Such ‘symptoms’ need not be a relapse. As already suggested, they may be things a person has not experienced before because they took psych drugs at the first sign of distress, an increasing pattern with children as young as one year being drugged. And how can you or anyone else possibly be familiar with all mental conditions found in nature?

    I certainly see nothing ‘mere’ about severe depression and anxiety. Profound and bizarre ‘symptoms’ have been recorded since long before SSRIs or any other modern psych drug. Nor can you know what ‘a normal state of mental distress’ is like for anyone other than yourself, apart from what the other person tells you about it.

    Incidentally, the Surviving Antidepressants link is broken.

    Thanks again to all. John

  • “Where is there any scientific analysis of who these people are and what conditions in their life that might have led to these new symptoms or a relapse of the old ones? Do they have serious stress in their life? Did they experience new trauma? Do they have unresolved trauma in their past? Are they abusing or misusing mind altering substances such as pot, alcohol etc.? What is their diet? Do they exercise or meditate and, if not, why not?”

    Excellent questions, Richard! John

  • How I would love to prove Dr. Shipko wrong! Perhaps even Dr. Shipko would like to prove himself wrong. But he must call it as he sees it. Even ONE patient suffering so would be dreadful.

    I remember feeling similar dismay on first encountering Monica Cassani’s blog just a few years ago. Her withdrawal and very slow recovery is the most dramatic I am aware of thus far. Dr. Shipko gives the impression her symptoms are quite common, but not her recovery. I am encouraged by her comments on this article and suspect she is right in thinking Dr. Shipko might indeed have written her off.

    A few questions occur to me. How do we know that anything that happens years later has anything to do with SSRIs? Do such ‘symptoms’ occur in emotionally distressed people who never or rarely took psych drugs? But where would one find any significant population of ‘drug naive’ people? Likewise ‘symptoms’ which Dr. Shipko has observed in patients on a steady dose of drugs, which are obviously not withdrawal symptoms, but brain damage, long-lasting and possibly permanent.

    Severe depression and anxiety in people off psych drugs after many years on them may not be caused by the drugs, particularly if the person was put on psych drugs at the first sign of distress and never actually allowed to experience severe depression or anxiety, as ISYORKE suggested.

    Interestingly, I know of people who have been on static low doses of benzos for years, and others whose SSRI dosages have increased. More and more it seems to me that the effects of the two classes of drugs are surprisingly similar.

    Some have found antihistamines a better substitute for SSRIs than benzos. SSRIs were first developed from antihistamines and are chemically related, though antihistamines do not seem to have the same problems. People also find antihistamines effective for sleep, too much so on higher doses, where they seem more effective against insomnia than against allergies!

    Also, may I mention in passing that one of my closest friends is a psychotherapist for over thirty years with a wide variety of clients, including some desperate cases, and he has never seen anything like what Dr. Shipko describes. Make of that what one will.

    BTW, if Dr. Shipko specializes in the most severe cases, that is to his credit.

    Thanks to all. John

  • Good points, Jim. I am to some extent acting as Devil’s advocate in this.

    There is a great old proverb which warns there are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics. I’ve long been skeptical of statistical studies, even when they seem to support something I agree with. I see statistical studies as the modern successor to Holy Scriptures, and used and abused in similar ways.

    I’ve even invented what I rather grandly call ‘Shea’s Law’ which states that ‘For every statistical study that seems to prove something there is or soon will be an equal and opposite statistical study that seems to disprove it.’ Put too much faith in numbers and we can end up knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing, as another old proverb puts it.

    That said, such studies can be useful as evidence, but circumstantial rather than conclusive, in the popular sense of those words. If we wish to CONVICT (in the court of public opinion) psych drugs of reducing people’s lifespan by 25% we really need a study that compares a large population of drugged people with a similar population of never-drugged people with similar ‘diagnoses’. Both groups also need to be contemporaries in time and place. I know of no such study. The problem, of course, lies with the second group. Where do you get a large number of ‘diagnosed’ but never drugged people today? Psychiatry’s critics sometimes suggest Finland, its defenders India, neither very convincingly.

    But this 25% debate, though important, does not detract from the overall metaphorical power of Nancy’s article. And metaphor and symbolism are more important than statistics.

    Thanks to all, particularly Nancy, Robert C. O’Brien and Mrs. Frisby/Brisby! John

  • The 25 years figure may very well be correct, Jim, but both your citations have problems. The NASMHPD PDF’s references to drugs are highlighted in yellow, but are few and far between, and not strongly emphasized by the overall article, which, for example, states immediately under the first yellow-highlighted passage:-

    ‘Their increased morbidity and mortality are largely due to treatable medical conditions that are caused by modifiable risk factors such as smoking, obesity, substance abuse, and inadequate access to medical care.’

    My compatriot Dr. David Healy is a regular here on M.I.A. but his support of ECT and condemnation of talking therapies have always undermined whatever he says about drugs for me. No doubt there are better sources.

    Thanks, Jim. John

  • You are not the first person to judge something I’ve said as unwise, Donna. But if I accepted such judgments and avoided doing what some people think is unwise I would not be commenting here.

    As for assumptions, you assumed I was a pretty nice person on the basis of a few comments I made. You are of course entitled to your assumptions, but I could be an ax murderer for all you know.

    I am again uncertain what your last paragraph means, but I have not accused you of any crime, great or otherwise. I do not consider giving offense to be a crime.

    Thanks for your clarification. John

  • Like beauty, barbs and sarcasm are sometimes in the eye of the beholder, Donna. What you implied was that Hermes and others are not real survivors, which is quite offensive and a lot worse than what I humorously suggested.

    I’m not certain what your last paragraph is intended to mean, but the debate on psychological terminology and the use of inverted commas is something in which I am very much involved.


  • ‘Supposed survivors’ Donna? Did Hermes die and comment from beyond the grave or something?

    Thanks for the Breggin link, Duane. Gotta love his ultra right wing politics too, which make a refreshing change from the unquestioning leftism of so many other critics of psychiatry.

    MJK, I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle before I came out of my shell…

    Thanks to all. John

  • ‘…psychiatry (is) a pseudoscience, unworthy of inclusion in the Medical Kingdom.’ AMEN!

    I have yet to read the book, but I do remember the 1982 animated movie ‘THE SECRETS OF NIMH’ directed by Don Bluth, who was later based here in Ireland. He changed Mrs. Frisby’s name to ‘Mrs. Brisby’ so viewers would not get her mixed up with a certain type of plastic throwing disc! He also made her a mouse instead of a badger. Dam! (Sorry, the Devil made me do it.)

    Many thanks, Nancy. John

  • Belated thanks for the video links, Julie. What passes for ‘broadband’ here in Ireland can be rather slow, but I managed to watch the 1.5 hour 1989 docu ‘DID YOU USED TO BE R. D. LAING?’ without too much buffering, but gave up on our own Dr. McKeon after 20 mins. which was more than enough! But the animal video is indeed great.

    Dr. McKeon first, since I have to share the same small island with him and others worse than him! ‘AWARE’ is the closest we have to an Irish NAMI. McKeon is a pillar of our psychiatric establishment, even though he admits his idea of ‘Bipolar Disorder’ could be ‘all rubbish’ and ‘a load garbage’ but he thinks it may be ‘reasonably accurate’ because he’s been saying it for twenty years!? And just when did elation become mania? Are all happy people maniacs so?

    The Laing docu seems vaguely familiar. I remember his story of the patient who used her catatonia to pose as an artist’s model, not to mention his critique of the DSM III, a few of whose creators are now critiquing the DSM V! Also interesting how Laing pronounced his surname as ‘LAYNG’ rather than ‘LANG’, which is more than just the Scots accent, I think.

    As I (re?)watched the program after nearly a quarter of a century I began to think of it as a kind of fictional depiction of an idealized therapist, what I would like a therapist to be, rather than of the real Ronald Laing. And there may lie the powerful appeal of Laing and Freud and their betters, of all gurus, to me and to others. An external echo of my guru within, if I may wax mystical for a moment. Which of course raises the question of just how much I really need any external guru.

    Certainly Laing’s speculations about birth trauma and indeed CONCEPTION trauma(!?) are interesting but utterly unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific, though not necessarily wrong. Co-presence, rapport, reframing, psychophobia, duck-f*cking(!), Laing certainly TALKED a good game, much better than he played, as Seth and Thomas Szaz have revealed.

    I have grown skeptical, though not cynical, I hope, about gurus and prophets and systematizers. They so often turn out to have feet of baser clay than most ordinary mortals. It’s almost as if the scale and completism and grandiosity of their systems grows in inverse proportion to their private and personal selves, as seen by their families and friends.

    I haven’t looked it up recently, but I think it was C. S. Lewis who put it this way:-
    ‘A man who devotes his life to developing a great new system of world government does well. But a dentist healing one toothache does better.’

    Thanks, Julie and Seth and all commenters, and to Stephen Fry, who may never know what he sparked here! John

  • Laing’s Irish admirers, myself included I must say, refused to believe he was actually drunk on the TV program and accepted his (very slurred!) explanation that he had some neurological disorder! He fooled us even better than he fooled the cops at the hotel, a story I never heard before, by the way.

    Sorry I can’t cite the Lewis quote, Seth. And I certainly don’t think you’re biased TOWARDS Freud! I interpreted ‘gifted’ as praise only within its narrow limits.

    Indeed Masson’s unusual family of origin probably predisposed him against spirituality, particularly Eastern spirituality. He seems to have developed an overarching theory that no system of belief can survive knowledge of its scriptures in their original language. Maybe he hasn’t learned Dog yet.

    A few months ago an ISEPP Listserve member posted a great video of a guy who trained his dog and cat and mouse to all be best buddies and perform with him on the street! Again, I’m sorry I have no link but it might be worth Googling.

    Thanks Seth. John

  • The most mind-boggling part of Masson’s book I remember is when a psychiatrist at a meeting of German psychiatrists tried to commit Masson to a mental hospital because of Masson’s critique of Freud! He needed only one other psychiatrist’s agreement to do so under German law, but he didn’t get one, luckily.

    Believe it or not, there is an aspect of Freud you haven’t criticized, Seth. You praise Freud’s story telling skills, yet C. S. Lewis criticized Freud’s knowledge and understanding of mythology more than fifty years ago. And Lewis himself was certainly a great mythologist.

    Ronald Laing famously appeared drunk on the Irish ‘Late Late Show’ decades ago, which at least gave us all something to talk about. Mind you, he was not the only drunk on Irish TV in those days.

    As for spirituality, I think Masson has turned to Dog-worship. Maybe he’s dyslexic…

    Thanks again to all. John

  • An interesting response to Julie’s points, Seth, though I can’t say I agree much, being something of a neoliberal myself, among other unpopular things. Though not quite as conservative as Peter Breggin. Mine tends to be a minority opinion on forums like this. I even like TV!

    I do like much of Rogers and also Family Systemic Therapy. Warmth, empathy and genuineness indeed make the difference and the therapeutic alliance is vital. I speak of course as a client, not a therapist. I’m at the other end of the telescope.

    Your relentless condemnation of Freud seems to me like flogging a nearly-dead horse, even though Bert Karon strongly defended the same animal to me when I criticized Freud on the ISEPP Listserv some months ago. Like many ‘isms’ Freudianism can be whatever one makes of it. And some, like Karon, seem to make a better job of Freudianism than Freud himself did.

    Thanks to all. John

  • More good points, Julie, though I can’t say I agree about the rich, at least not those who don’t work for the government. I consider Britain’s 51% effective top income tax rate more than high enough, and ironic, given how it was criticized by the former Labour leader Tony Blair but then maintained by the current Conservative government. It’s a matter of some potential interest to me since I live in Ireland, whose governments have long set our tax rates by simply adding 3% to 5% to the British rates. Hence our current 55% effective income tax rate. But that’s another political story indeed!

    I suppose my critique of psychiatry is more informed by right-wing libertarians like Thomas Szaz and Peter Breggin and (to some extent) Ron Paul than by the ‘left’, in so far as those dualistic distinctions are useful. So I see governments in general as a bigger part of the problem than others might.

    Thanks, Julie. John

  • Amen Julie, except I don’t see lack of talk and listening as a particularly modern problem. In fact the mobile phone and the Internet, not least sites like the ISEPP and MIA, have helped me communicate more and better with people, augmenting rather than replacing face-to-face conversations. Talking runs some risk of verbal abuse and bullying, but silence is worse.

    Thanks again. John

  • I appreciate your responses, Julie, but don’t feel obligated. Like most people I first heard of Freud through popular culture, as a kindly caring avuncular prophet, a sort of Einstein of the mind. I think Pop Freudianism was and is actually better than the real thing! I often joke that more people have undergoing ‘classical’ free-association psychoanalysis in movies and TV shows than in reality!

    My first therapist described Freudianism to me as a religion back about 1986. He was and is a Christian and introduced me to C. S. Lewis’ writings on religion and culture. I found Lewis very valuable but later limiting in the sense that he accepted and preached the sort of Original Sin that Augustine promoted and Seth critiqued. Garry Wills is better there, while remaining both traditional and orthodox in the best sense of those often misused words.

    Bert Karon has defended Freud to me and others on the ISEPP, Seth. I’m quite an individualist myself, but I find Wills’ Paul both individualistic and egalitarian in the best sense of both words, which need not exclude each other. I have only read one of Wills’ several books on Augustine so far. I certainly disagree with Augustine about sex and unbaptized people going to hell and so on.

    Thanks again to all. John

  • I have not read much of Elaine Pagels directly, Donna. I got the impression, rightly or wrongly, that she was too Gnostic for me, but I may check out her books. I’m a client of psychotherapy rather than a therapist. I belong to the ISEPP and came here from a link there by Julie. I also concur with your latest comment to Julie.

    Thanks, Donna. John

  • Wow! What a discussion you’ve provoked, Julie! Many thanks!

    Thanks to you too, Seth, for your comments and links. I suppose I see Freudianism(s) as lesser evils than Biopsychiatry, but a lesser evil remains an evil, of course. And amen re Masson. I did not realise Freudians were quite as fatalistic and deterministic and limited as you describe.

    I’ve recently been reading Garry Wills about Christianity and Paul and Augustine and Chesterton etc. Though a great admirer of Augustine in some respects, Wills would probably agree with your critique except to point out that the situation may be even WORSE than you say! It seems the sort of rot Elaine Pagels blames on Augustine really set in a lot earlier, that the whole ideal of a pure primitive Christianity was under attack nearly from the start. The myth of Primitive Christianity could be compared to that of Eden and the Freudians’ angelic new-born baby. Conversely varying degrees of Universalism were also present from the start, notably in Paul’s writings, contrary to modern opinion.

    Thanks to all. John

  • I have more time for Freud than for Freudianism, Julie. Freud got lots of details wrong but he did remind the high-industrial urban society he inhabited that not everything could be encompassed by their science and people and things were not always as they seemed. Unfortunately Freud’s insights were often ignored by Freudians, and indeed by Freud himself, most notably regarding his ‘Seduction Theory’, which was really a fact about rape rather than a theory about seduction.

    I agree with Seth’s religious analogies, which echo those of Jeffrey Masson, another ‘apostate’ and ex-high priest of latter-day Freudianism. Though Masson then threw the baby out with the bath water by condemning all psychotherapies. I do believe we can attend to each other’s souls as both professionals and lay people.

    Thanks to all commenters. John

  • Unfortunately, the misdiagnoses you cite do not surprise me, Donna. They’re all too common. But I am skeptical of all ‘mental illness diagnoses’ even ‘correct’ ones. I suspect trauma lies at the heart of most emotional distress, and I don’t see the problem as medical.

    Incidentally, David Healy is a compatriot of mine, an Irishman, though he’s worked most of his life in Wales. Though very forthright and informative against antidepressants and other psych drugs, he is a longtime proponent of ECT, which brought him into conflict with Peter Breggin. You and other readers may know that already but I thought I might mention it, just in case.

    Thanks, Donna. John

  • Sorry, Donna, I should have said ‘Biographical Fallacy’ rather than ‘Biographical Error’, and it may not have been invented by Lewis, though he certainly helped to spread the idea, which may be indeed be applied to the Gospels, among other things. Lewis was skeptical of biographies in general, and twentieth century ‘psychological’ biographies in particular. He believed biographers’ statements about the minds and motivations of their subjects were often wrong, even more wrong sometimes than the mere guesses of a layman, non-professional writer. Lewis saw that as particularly so if the subject was dead or the writer had never even met him, neither of which is true in the case of Stephen Fry and Oliver James.

    Lewis would have been appalled by the posthumous ‘Psychological Autopsies’ in vogue today, of school shooters, for example. Lewis was particularly skeptical of trying to reconstruct a writer’s mental state from his writings. Nonetheless, Lewis was a noted literary critic himself, but with an awareness of his limitations. Sorry I can’t recall a particular book or essay by Lewis that encompasses this, but it’s implied in much of his work.

    Thanks for your interesting question, Donna. John

  • For someone who dismisses talking therapy, Stephen Fry does rather a lot of talking, doesn’t he!? But no harm in that.

    Oliver James’ ‘profile’ ignores C. S. Lewis’ famous warnings against ‘The Biographical Error’ but James may have part of a point anyway. Fry does seem to suffer from what Dorothy Rowe termed ‘The Culture Of Cringe’, a kind of self-deprecation more common in Britain (and Ireland!) then the USA, for example. Apologizing for one’s very existence, in short.

    Many thanks, Julie. John