Psychotherapists may be short on practical experience, but they are supposed to be masters of empathy. If you have been traumatized, they will be at-the-ready to feel your pain, to offer you comfort and consolation.
Unless you happen to be a man who is out of work, whose thirty-year career has just vanished, who is lost and adrift, suffering both a loss of income and a blow to his identity.
In that case, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, many therapists will tell you that your anguish comes from a reality that is judging you for having worked too hard. Beyond that, it is telling you that you must face your unresolved issues.
In today's Wall Street Journal Kevin Helliker writes that the sad sacks who have lost their careers, their income, their social status, and their identities are suffering because they were "addicted to success" and were over-identifying with their work. Link here.
This is guilt tripping at its best. Dripping with contempt Helliker analyzes their anguish: "The deepening recession is exacting punishment for a psychological vice that masquerades as a virtue for many working people: the unmitigated identification of self with occupation, accomplishment, and professional status."
Whether he knows it or not, Helliker is engaging in cultural warfare. He has joined the legions who are using the current crisis to undermine the role of the male breadwinner.
To which you might respond: Did the financial system implode because people were working too hard or because they were not working hard enough?
Helliker withstanding, there is not wrong wrong with identifying yourself by occupation, accomplishments, and professional status. Everyone does it to one extent or another.
When you lose your job, you are losing income, many of your daily routines, friends and colleagues, your place in the social group, and on and on. Even if your investment was not "unmitigated" these are essential to your being. The man who does not feel traumatized when he wakes up one morning and realizes that a major part of his social environment has vanished is simply abnormal.
To demonstrate his inability to grasp social structures, Helliker offers the story of veteran correspondent and editor Michael Precker. After Precker took a buyout from the Dallas Morning News, he was worried about the loss of status.
But, Helliker offers, he did not need to worry. He bounced back and found a new job as manager of a high end strip club. No kidding.
Do you think that he has not suffered a loss of status? Do you believe that his wife and children are as proud of him now as they were when he was working on the newspaper?
Now that you have seen the way psychologists want their male patients to process trauma, imagine these empathy-mongers facing a woman who had been sexually harrassed. Would they tell her that she was suffering because she had over-identified with her sexual being? Would they declare that she is suffering because she had not spent enough time with her family? Or would they declare that her anguish is simply evoking unprocessed childhood traumas?
Not for an instant. Any therapist who suggested such a thing would be drummed out of the profession and driven out of town.