Thursday, December 1, 2022

Comments by disequilibrium1

Showing 27 of 27 comments.

  • Megan, as I re-read your account, the more it parallels my own experience, that obsessing about childhood wounds is a pointless exercise. But worse, I’m led by an authoritarian expert, who expects me to subordinate myself to him and defer to his questionable wisdom. So instead of self-sufficiency and competence, I’m (further) taught to depend on a stronger, “wiser,” person– opposite of my goal of becoming more confident at work or an attractive romantic partner.

    Even the coaching they provided was absurd, one-size-fits-all assertiveness prescriptions, discounting a recipient or consequences of my mechanical scripts. The therapist remains the the authority figure and puppeteer, while I’m the passive vessel of the his rescue illusions.

    I too felt guilty leaving, like I’d failed some self-improvement or penance. But maybe leaving was more like rejecting a parent figure, but refusing in his gratification rather than my own.

    My blog:
    and the forum below discusses these very issues–the ostensibly “ethical” therapist who still does harm:

  • Psychodynamic therapy also sent me backwards, habituating a self-involvement and self-pity, education in how to be a depressive. Furthermore, I thought my misfortunes granted me some privilege to which others should cater. The contrived, artificial boundaried, assymetrical relationship was hardly an example of how to relate. Nothing in therapy helped me function more effectively in the real world. It certainly didn’t help me with the subtleties of social hierarchy since therapy itself is a authority/supplicant event.

    My advanced age has taught me though that time, experience, exploration and experimentation was far more “finding myself” than whimpering into a tissue in the consulting room.

    Please refrain from the standard recriminations, “you just need(ed) to find the right person” or “you need to want to change.” You don’t know my commitment. I needed my own competence, not engage in authoritarian/supplicant ritual.

    I wish the mental health industry would look at how they enmesh others with a common sense lens. Remove the theory and psychotherapy is a highly strained way for an adult to relate to another adult. I won’t be gratified if you thank me for sharing.

  • Sean, thank goodness your family and you survived all this. In my 30s, in the thrall of 3x weekly psychoanalysis, I went through a spiritual crisis/borderline schizophrenia (take your pick) where everything was heightened, I felt at one with the universe, and yes, I saw myself as messianic. I did this while holding a job, saw myself doing it, so, while everyone saw me as weird, no medications were forced on me. Feedback from others, a Buddhist friend warning me about “spiritual materialism” and yes, the David Koresh conflagration in Waco aimed me back to earth. I can best describe my experience as an LSD trip, as I understand it, without the LSD.
    And no, the experience didn’t really transform me.
    I tried reading on the subject, but the writings were so cryptic, I understood none of it.
    But yes, these crises are a thing, which I understand happen in meditation, culture shock and psychoanalysis apparently.
    Best to you.

  • There’s a private discussion board for clients to explore therapy harm and relationships from client viewpoint– The Reality of (Bad) Therapy-The Client’s Side (TTCS) Forum. Consumers appear to delve into topics and angles I never see approached by practitioners.

  • Dear DD,
    Sorry it took a while to find you. Thanks so much for your kind words. I posted long ago hoping to generate discussion, and I’m gratified it continues.

    My therapists too left me feeling crazy and violated, crazy because I believed their perceptions over mine and violated because I handed them in weaponry of my vulnerability.

    Any restoration came from community; any provider I saw was too indoctrinated to understand his own contrivance. I don’t think it coincidental there’s so little literature about iatrogenesis –most seems the same deflecting rehash.

    Dorpat, I assume that refers to Dorpat’s excellent book.
    The bottom of the About page on my blog refers you to a discussion board founded by a correspondent. You’ll have to register to see most of it.

    So glad you feel better. Examining these charlatans helped me more than therapy ever did.

  • I’ve yet to meet a therapist aware of his own dominance signaling. Therapy too easily becomes infantilizing promising actualization, dominance pretending empowerment, and artifice simulating authenticity. I threw myself into the process, so “wanting to change,” and exited scammed by stagecraft, incantation and salesmanship. I hope I helped my therapists’ feel like Saviors and Shamans, because I got nothing out of it.

  • The first question is what constitutes an outcome and how can it possibly be measured? For the client, too often swayed her investment and clinician’s wishful thinking, easily can convince herself that great things are happening. I certainly thought that. Unfortunately, the world I inhabited didn’t change around me as I collected all these so-called insights.

  • Every therapist I dealt with, professionally and in outside settings, is outwardly or subtly domineering. They inevitably market themselves as modern shamans possessing some special secret to lifting human distress which they parcel out by eyedropper to supplicating clients. I found the relationship itself, despite the performed “empathetic” cooing, as utterly diminishing.

    Therapists remotely acknowledge the power differential. However, I’ve yet to see one consider how this unfolds in human-to-human terms. In fact they dissemble superpowers no person actually possesses.

  • Thanks so much for this. I concluded that psychotherapy foundationally defies common sense: a subordinating, regressive relationship promising actualization and contrived, asymmetrical bonding masquerading as a road toward authenticity.
    Then there is the remote vocabulary and the artificial concepts that describes passionate human experience in remote, detached vocabulary. It has us all talking like robots.
    Obsessing on wounds and unfairness is no liberation either, only habituating self-pity and a sense of “special” victimhood.
    It’s impossible to pinpoint causation, and even if we could, no dove burst from our chests to free us from the past.
    My evolution over years didn’t come from therapists’ performed cooing, but rather building my own record of competence and mastery.
    It’s time clinicians break the chains of their artificial protocol and babble to examine human-to-human how they relate to other people.
    My two entry blog launched a 10-year discussion around the points you raise.
    PS. Single womanhood can be joyful.

  • I marvel how the mental health profession is so exquisitely clairvoyant that it not only mind reads entire population segments, that it knows, infallibly, how to remediate their alleged defects. Where is the proof of this shame theory and that a therapist’s contrived ministrations are its remedy?

    Some humans enjoy socializing; others enjoy books, research, hearth and projects. Do you expect entomologists intensely to study worlds by day then play hail fellow well met at night? Some humans have energy-draining physical ailments, some complicated to diagnose. What about adults who’ve long pushed past through childhood discomforts, but continue their introversion? What about older adults who “cocoon” as they age? Without our varied personalities, temperaments and risk tolerance, division of labor would be impossible.

    And who judges one personality style “unhealthy”? Maybe it’s the extroverts, attention-seeking, unreflective and hysterically fearful of solitude, who require remediation.

  • I was unfortunate to have received gratifying news my first week of group therapy: a project praised in the daily newspaper. After sympathetically sitting through the groups’ various distressing accounts, including a member’s son’s poor adjustment to rehab, I quietly and self-effacingly reported my week had been pretty good. The group exploded with dismay, chastised my insensitivity, led by the scornful psychologist reminding me my accomplishment fell far short of what might be achieved in my field.

    From that day forward I joined the culture of bring-your-own whine, including skipping mention of another life-changing career experience. When I wanted to terminate, the psychologist peremptorily scolded that signaled I was on the verge of a great break through and tried to stop me.

    This group was like the old television show Queen for a Day, where we performed our most utmost miseries so the gratified psychologist could tell us how his ministrations were improving our lives.

  • Though I’m happy for any exploration of harm in psychotherapy, there are infinitely more reasons therapy can be detrimental. Just as a novel idea, has anyone in the mental help profession ever considered discussing this topic with actual consumers?
    Some ways might be harmful:
    -Creating the attitude that therapy is more important than living life
    -Treating the client like a child.
    -Letting the client believe the therapist will solve her problems
    -An unspoken mandate that the client gratify the therapist’s voyeurism, neediness and savior self-image
    -By creating the impression that therapist is a mind reader or nearly omniscient, understanding people he never met or events he never witnessed
    -A surrender of privacy and adult privilege
    – Inaccurate “material” based on distorted memories and recounting
    -Leaving the client obsessed or dependent.
    -Imparting the client’s perpetual inferiority, through the asymmetrical boundaried relationship the therapist’s control of the narrative, the rules and agenda
    -Dismissing concerns about therapy by insisting it’s resistance, transference or therapy-is-painful
    -Using diagnosis or analysis as a weapon
    -Superseding the client’s interpretation of her own life.
    -Keeping a client indefinitely or far too long
    -Threatening grave consequences if the client wants to leave
    -By setting up a fictionally intimate relationship that is unequal and limited. Time is up!
    -By encouraging the client’s alienation from her real-life community through self-pity and self-obsession
    -By magnifying the unfairness that is part of every life experience and encouraging clients to blame and label those who hurt them
    -By focusing on negativity, failings and disappointments–a grand habit to encourage depression, powerless and stagnation
    -By excavating trauma that the client successfully compartmentalized when she originally lived it
    -By making the client feel more disabled through the paternalism and dependency of therapy
    -By stoking an idealized, infatuated or even eroticized view of the therapist to which no mere mortal in the client’s life will compare
    -Encouraging a detached experience of self and life
    -Nurturing fixation and lingering on defects and slights
    -Pathologizing the normal–stoking a belief one’s imperfection is special
    – Magnifying the insignificant such as the client’s irrational thought stream
    -Tacitly encouraging the client to expect from others the same focus, indulging and entitlement she may receive in therapy
    -Encouraging rumination rather than action
    – A pseudo-scientific culture i.e. buried emotions can be released like a steam valve; there exists discoverable seminal events giving rise to anxiety, prescribed rituals will lead to “healing,” etc.
    -Encouraging deference to an externalized authority
    -Encouraging impulsive change for the sake of change
    – Creating of a pseudo-world
    -Fostering a belief in the client’s superiority, having received the special “anointment” of therapy.
    -Creating a poor relational example for a client to emulate: i.e. the condescension of diagnosing, labeling and ascribing hidden motives.
    – Role playing by both practitioner and client
    – A paid artificial relationship substituting for real ones
    – The implied promise of magical transformation that therapy never can deliver
    -The promulgation of fable, speculation and pseudo-science cloaked as truth

    Well, that’s a start. And if the therapist is unethical, more can go wrong.

  • I’m vexed that mental health practitioners call harm in therapy “side effects,” a metaphor that implies the treatment essentially worked, but with some undesired, less important detriment. That fails to reflect a treatment that is mostly or fully harmful.

    But I’m more vexed how mental health clinicians seem so curled up in theory that they neglect the business of how we exist together as human beings. Therapy interventions generally install one person as the authority figure and the other as the disordered supplicant, there to receive wisdom in eyedropper doses. The client exposes her most private aspect, her irrational thought stream, to be invaded, evaluated and corrected by the towering master. She is instructed on how to think and function as if she has regressed to infancy. In childhood, our thought stream might be the only precious possession not subject to inspection. Is there any wonder that some people might find this harmful?

    In my blogging life I’ve found that professionals mostly discount the harmed consumer, condescendingly discounting that we might have any insight into the service we have received. Consumers who’ve been harmed speak quite differently than the professionals who ventriloquize for us.

  • Thank you, Philip, and for your overall work. I left Fisher’s performance reeling, feeling that the audience and I were her therapists that day. She was on stage hammering that her rewardless Hollywood life was weightiest of human burdens. Her story seemed shaped by her victimhood (shades of Dineen) and psych treatment rather than her talent and success.

    And yeah, she reminded me of me, so I don’t want to disparage, but rather question what proportion of her tumult was the “patient” and how much was the “cure.” The condensed version of the two and a half to three-hour New York performance I saw currently is on Youtube.

    My layperson exploration centers around the harm potential in the non-medicalized side of treatment. If I may, I’d like to link to the long client discussion on my one-entry blog:

  • I left Fisher’s New York performance of Wishful Drinking in dismayed agitation. Fisher’s show had wit and talent, of course. But it felt like the emotional habits of the long-time psych victim, her medications, her electroshock and her 12 “shrinks.” As an audience member I felt like one of them. Though perhaps my projections, I felt in this show the psych patient’s labors to please and gratify the provider by having the most miserable, neediest stories. It was the “I’m so screwed up” bake-off.

    The show I saw –at 1/2 hour over promised running time– wasn’t as tight as the HBO version, and maybe she was off her game that day. But I was very disturbed by, not her life itself, but by her apparent addiction to the mental health industry.

    I certainly respect her intellect, talent, and understand she was loyal and lovely to family and friends. But I had a disturbing response to her presence that stays with me years later. Maybe it felt like witnessing someone drown.

  • As an unaccredited human being I have the exactly the same facility to observe Trump’s behavior and draw my own conclusions about his suitability for office. I don’t need the “mental health professionals’ ” bogus labeling system. And as appalled as I am by Trump, I find weaponizing psych labels a manipulative precedent.

  • Re Discussant’s blog post:

    The blog makes the point “The structure of therapy is antithetical to and models the opposite of goals one would hope to achieve in real life/relationships.”

    Please explain how ANY therapy relationship can circumvent
    1) The asymmetry and lack of reciprocity.
    2 Formulas and strictures.
    3) Self-focus/self-absorption
    4) Paternalism, didacticism
    5) An artificial, jargonized world
    6) A removed, abstracted view of life
    7) An emphasis on victimization, wounds and defects
    8) A surrender of privacy and adult privilege
    9) Inaccurate “material” based on distorted memories and recounting
    10) Role playing by both practitioner and client
    11) A paid artificial relationship substituting for real ones
    12) An often performed empathy and understanding. (How well can the therapist REALLY understand the client’s only-described world?)
    13) Simulated friendship or even love masquerading as the real thing

    The “classroom” of psychotherapy seems to remove its students from real life rather than helping them cope in it. It often activates clients most infantile aspects, leaving them regressed rather than empowered. It creates a relationship where clients fixate on their largest incompetences which therapists rewards with catering and coddling.

    And it creates the stage illusion of a mythic transformation, a mysterious rite that submerges into its own reality system.

    I don’t understand how any aspect of therapy leaves the client better able to relate to the real people or her life. Perhaps someone can explain, concretely, how that’s supposed to work.

  • An easy six-step formula (September 13, 2013) above illustrates precisely why I have so little respect for the therapy industrial complex.

    So many therapy proponents seem to claim the omniscience that:
    1) They KNOW with absolute certainty how the complex human mind works.
    2) They KNOW more about another person knows himself merely from a few paragraphs of writing.
    3)They absolute KNOW that rejecting therapy indicates the certain need for –more therapy.
    4) They KNOW that finding improvement without subjugation to a therapist is invalid.

    The scornfully-delivered six-step formula never explains its own payoff. But it’s delivered with scornful certainty that author Mackler never previously followed it.

    This six-point prescription for (something?) completely overlooks the principle plaint of the blog post, that so much of psychotherapy training an education in condescension and arrogance, that the therapist so often fakes it, that “difficult” clients are shuttled off to hospitals and on medication after the nostrum of talk therapy clearly has failed them.

    That therapy proponents must defend it with such bile and sanctimony is a living demonstration of its questionable validity.

  • I’m intrigued by this attitude that psychotherapy is some sort of decreed servitude, a required initiation that un-therapized shirkers must undergo to be fit for society. It equates psychotherapy to a mythical trek to Olympian summits.

    The charm of Daniel’s essay is that he removes the Wizard’s curtain, to hop metaphors. A therapist has no mythic or divine powers, no more Life Wisdom than anyone else. He’s some tee-shirted Joe who went to school, got his degree and hopes he has something to offer the distressed.

    That therapy’s proselytizers mandate it with such fuming rectitude is an ironic indication that no emotional transcendence indeed has occurred here.

  • Daniel, thank you for your frank exploration of the arrogance that being a therapist often fosters. That idea leans toward psychotherapy’s ultimate contradiction– the shamanistic authority figure hawking wisdom, by eyedropper, by the hour, to the idolizing supplicant in service of “empowerment. ”

    The undertone is the inevitability of the client as the hopeless inferior. I’ve yet to see a therapist confess that he’s essentially an actor role-playing, that the relationship is contrived, stern distance masquerading as intimacy. Dependence and regression are sold as the path toward autonomy. Its obsession with wounds, defects, anger, sorrow and helplessness might even habituate chronic depression and self-absorption.

    Like many, I was once in its thrall. Now I feel like world’s biggest sucker for buying the magic elixir. I suspect even bigger suckers were the therapists deluded they had “treated” me.

  • Mitochrondrial disorder is a particularly tricky diagnosis even if the patient is an articulate adult who can track and describe his symptoms clearly. My aunt, officially diagnosed at Tuscon’s MD clinic, took decades to get her answers. I likely have the condition, something I’ve learned after my own decades long doctor-go-round and wondering myself–product of psych indoctrination–about any emotional component.

    The vulnerable Muscular Dystrophy Association “leads the search for treatments.” The mito disorder is not some little fringe concoction on a murky corner of the internet.

    Psych’s hucksterism is one thing when selling a worried well suburbanite the miraculous curing powers of bi-lateral hand-tapping. But when these vainglorious autocrats wield their authority and deluded clairvoyance to rip a family and cage a teenager, intervention of the interveners is long overdue.

  • The therapy I report was by all standards “ethical.” I lost my complaint with the state ethics board. All therapists I mention have had practices for decades.

    My blog is not to wail about unethical therapists so much as to question the asymmetrical paradigm that too often role-plays the therapist as a guru / fantasy parent and the client as the trusting submissive. Its so-called “intimacy” has no parallel in real life. It’s an unreciprocal bondage granting the therapist total power with no mutual vulnerability. The therapist controls the needy client by dangling promise of relieving distress.

    I notice a tendency by therapists for inferences based on the slimmest of evidence. The ad hominem comment “now you’ll never search for any help…this is sad” paints a rather piteous picture.

    Indeed returning to therapy was the worst mistake of my life–not because it was unethical, but because of its hollowness.

    Not pity please. That revelation was joyous. There are no tooth fairies or gurus. I don’t solve my problems sniveling to a fake expert in a room. Growth, competence are the byproducts of living a courageous life, through work and friendships, through creating, through movement.

    I wish therapists look beyond their theories to frame how they manipulate clients in normal human terms.

  • By Life Expert I meant the distorted fantasy role that so many therapists play for their clients.

    Just in real life, lower status people servilely hitch themselves to higher status friends, a similar structure often seems to occur in therapy.

    I imagine two luncheon friends, Sally and Marcia. Sally dresses more smartly and has that charismatic air of a woman in the know. She’s not really more competent. But she domineers poor Marcia holding the privilege of critiquing her appearance and projects, setting the time and duration of get-togethers. Gift giving, attending the other’s events is unequal, with Sally on always taking the brighter spotlight. Marcia is Sally’s stooge.

    The therapist creates his higher status by his certificates on the wall, but calling or withholding the game rules, through verbal and non-verbal disapproval, through remoteness and through the privilege to create the labels and the narrative for someone else’ life. The client verbally and emotionally disrobes, the therapists keeps not only his clothes, but often his cloak.

    The client complies with this submission, attributing to the therapist an often unearned wisdom and power to relieve distress.

    As a consumer,I felt completely scammed by the Authority my therapists pretended. Though most of it would be considered ethical, I ultimately felt like the stooge at luncheon.

  • As a consumer, I’m grateful for one of the rare blogs that examines some of the sacred cows of therapy.

    I experienced exactly what you discuss-that wallowing in on past miseries was the opposite of a release valve and in fact was an advanced education in how to be a depressive. Likewise was being subordinate to the Life Expert long after my childhood due date had expired.

    A swath of the mental health profession has distortedly hijacked the literary device of the catharsis. The movie does NOT peak with the hero/heroine sniveling into a facial tissue. He’s out in the world, courageously, fighting the arch interplanetary villain, solving the crime, leading the workers, finding something deep in his capability he never previously realized. This is the OPPOSITE of obsessing and wallowing in mean-things-mommy-said-30-years-ago.

    I propose a revolutionary idea: how about the mental health profession considering feedback from those harmed in therapy?

  • As a consumer I’d like to challenge the wisdom that psychotherapy ONLY is harmful when the therapist is poorly trained, unaware of his issues, etc.

    The foundation of therapy puts clients in the role of the subordinate, the supplicant. Our very human traits are now sickness or disorders to be remedied by an expert who knows only a sliver of our lives. Our relationship with the therapist is remote, contrived and structured, yet presented to us as intimacy.

    Then therapy’s frequent stoking of self-absorption, victimization and obsession, added to the client’s submission to the “expert” to can be an education in how to be depressed.

    It barely seems acknowledged by the profession that this framework–even executed by an “ethical” therapist– leaves some consumers feeling worse.

    Therapists seem so certain why therapy didn’t work. So many KNOW -with no evidence–that we must have been difficult, borderline or don’t-want-to-change. I see no one actually asking the consumer.

    In addition to the Disgruntled Ex-Psychotherapy Client blog linked below, another blogger continues the discussion in