Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Comments by FaithKing

Showing 3 of 3 comments.

  • Thanks, Alex. Glad to know my comment was read a year after the article was written! I agree with your comment that women can carry a lot of anger, too. I think I included that comment (that anger is perhaps a bit more of an issue with men) as a ‘sop’ to the somewhat easy, mainstream thinking in the field! Let’s be frank – women can be and are just as angry as males.

    Your comment about witnessing emasculation of men by female therapists is, sadly, I am sure, spot on. The list of anecdotes I can recount from team discussions would be long, indeed. There was the social worker who was ready to jump to the conclusion that a man was “controlling” his wife because he had to take the family’s one car to work (rather than form the more sympathetic hypothesis that perhaps this low income family couldn’t afford another car – oh shocking – and the man needed to get to work because his income was critical for the household…..) There was another educated, female colleague who described a mother – who had defended the practice of slapping her difficult teen – as “spirited”, but then described the exact same behavior in a father as ominous. The self-same colleague later stated at a meeting that the political problems in the state were due to “too many men” being in charge…. Less egregious but still patronizing was the therapist who humorously referred to the exhausted, overwhelmed dad who would just “go to the garage” when she visited (as if needing to retreat was incomprehensible? Or perhaps retreating to work in the garage was the ‘joke’, instead of retreating to journal or garden…..)

    Thank you for naming it. We all carry scars from our own personal lives, no doubt. Unfortunately, women now will blindly countenance this process of acting-out our grudges, bad memories and ancient hurts on men who come to us for help. This is a sad example of what the Buddhists call “samsara”. If we fail to examine whether our own actions and impulses are meeting a basic standard of fairness and empathy for all…then we are indeed failing. Past victimization is never a justification for paying-it-forward. If we don’t begin to practice insight with ourselves, the profession can no longer express shock and dismay that people choose to go elsewhere for help.

  • I think there are outrages, subjectivity and messy thinking a-plenty in the current system to go around. Neither gender fares particularly well, either. I certainly agree that women quo women have had a long road explaining why distress and high sensitivity do not equal hysteria. Now, however, I see (and work in) a mental health system dominated by women. Sure men may hold many jobs as doctors, however my experience in a community mental health agency is that the rank and file therapists and counselors are overwhelmingly women. Not only women, but women of a certain economic class who have been fortunate enough to attend graduate school. I see a dearth of understanding and empathy for many of the troubled, angry and oppressed poor men we see here. Feminist thought about gender relations often clouds the ability of female counselors to validate the very real powerlessness and shame many men have today. An angry, drinking man who was repeatedly abused as a child is as worthy of empathy as a woman! It is not helpful to label one sufferer as a “batterer” and send him to a re-indoctrination group to correct assumed fallacies in his thinking, while offering his female counterpart (who can be equally prone to destructive behavior) a thoughtful referral to long-term trauma services. Men who have spent their lives making a living in physically-grueling jobs, only to see themselves downsized or dismissed, are going to have a lot of anger. As will men who truly believe their value and identity is linked to their ability to provide for their families. It is always a given that dangerous behavior needs to be addressed. That goes without saying. Labels, diagnoses, gendered-beliefs about violence, pat conclusions do not serve anyone well. While men may struggle more with anger in general than do women, let’s not fall into the easy conclusion that anger always equates with violence or oppression. We need no more black/white dichotomy with victims and bad guys. I have heard too many female mental health professionals bring their class-based bias to work with them -and then lay this at the feet of men who have lived difficult and struggling lives. For the system to clean up it’s act (if that ever happens!) we must take an honest look at all of the smug and obnoxious ways we fail to help people who need it…….

  • After 15 years working with psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists (Master level and PhD) in a community mental health agency, Dr. Maisel is spot on. Respectfully, I think the objections of Mr. Yoder and other therapists I have read demonstrate a fundamental weakness in the actual practice of the profession – too little honest self-examination and too much ‘buying into their own rap’. In the spirit of disclosure, I come to the field from another training background, as well (kind of grandfathered-in, as it were). As nice and kind-hearted as many of the people I have worked with are, I can honestly say that I would never see a therapist again after working closely with them. Why? The reasons are many. I agree much of what is going on is essentially guild-protection and a desire to feel oh-so-important as a “very serious profession”. What else? Well, sloppy thinking; an overgrowth of subjectivity so thick you can cut it with a knife; easy judgments; quick applications of theories; an all-too-obvious willingness to bring personal bias and class-based notions about behavior into case discussion, and yes, a remarkable willingness to accept diagnoses, plan so-called treatment accordingly and actually work to “diagnose more accurately” (as if it matters). I hear lovely professional people casually discuss other’s “characterological issues” or “social skill deficits” without batting an eye – or realizing how these norms are self-defined by the ruling class. By contrast, I hear absolutely no one asking “whose norms are these, anyway?” or “who ever said that one group of educated people had the perogative to define these important areas of human function for the rest of us?” I’ve heard it said that much of what goes on in this field is essentially Class CarpetBagging – in many cases, educated middle class women seeing the needs, hopes, wants and lives of people in distress through their own lenses-of-belief regarding what is right, proper and above all – normative. I agree. Let’s not waste time on Straw Men arguments, please. No one said there are no thoughtful, humble therapists out there! Simply there are far too many who are not.