Sunday, July 31, 2011

Therapy Can Make You Crazy

You probably shouldn’t take my word for it. Given this blog’s ruling concept, my assertion that therapy is not very helpful should be taken with a few grains of salt.

Now, however, a group of psychologists has done an extensive research study on how helpful therapy was for the survivors of 9/11.

Most of us recall that in the aftermath of the terror attacks, New York was flooded with earnest therapists who wanted nothing more than to minister to those who had been traumatized by the attacks. Many of them practiced what is called “debriefing,” which means that they encouraged trauma victims to talk about what had happened to them.

Did it help? Actually, it aggravated the problem.

The London Daily Mail reports: “Therapy can exacerbate trauma and make things worse according to a study looking at the counselling given to New Yorkers in the aftermath of 9/11.” Link here.

Researchers discovered that: “for many survivors, the standard procedure at the time of asking them to talk through their experience was not helpful.... [They] believe that the process can sometimes push people deeper into depression and worsen anxiety."

Harvard psychologist Richard McNally: “... told the New York Times that the aftermath of 9/11, 'brought attention to the limitations' of ... asking people to talk about painful memories.”

Nevertheless, the research discovered that it was not a total waste of time. One group of people was helped by the exercise: the therapists themselves.

The paper reports: “But the main psychological benefits were felt by the psychologists rather than the patients, said the study, which said experts greatly over-estimated the number of people who wanted treatment.”

What more can I say.


Anonymous said...

Constantly ripping the scab off an deep cut will not help it heal. People need time to process and heal. Glad they scientifically learned this lesson. Others have known about this for centuries.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Excellent analogy... thank you.

Katielee4211 said...

Just ran across this article. Thank-you. I've said this for years. So many times it keeps the wound open and bleeding---like anonymous said That's not to say you ignore it, but you will never move on, if you don't start moving.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a deeply dysfunctional family. So much so that I left home while still in high school and my brother ended up killing our parents (and then, sadly, himself). The extended family isn't a hell of a lot healthier.

I have enjoyed the happiest, healthiest years of my life since moving far away and removing them from my life. Yet two therapists I saw were adamant that I needed to connect to these people to heal and be truly happy.

I don't see any way that subjecting myself to violence, drug addiction and mental illness is a good thing and I refuse to do it. Thank you for posting this.

consoladores said...

Really useful piece of writing, lots of thanks for your article.