While it is mostly moribund as a therapy, psychoanalysis continues to exercise an outsized cultural influence.
That, after all, was the reason I wrote The Last Psychoanalyst. It is good to know from whence the therapy culture arose, and better yet, how it turned into an ideology that fostered a culture.
Of course, I am not the first and will not be the last to expose the pernicious influence of Freudian thought. Unfortunately, most of those who attack what is called therapism or psychotherapism do not have a very sound grasp of Freudian theory. Thus, the rationale for my book.
In the meantime, Bruce W. Davidson has just denounced psychotherapism in the American Thinker. In some instances, his views coincide with mine. In others he explores areas that were beyond the scope of my book.
Surely, Davidson would agree with Jacques Lacan’s 1977 statement, to the effect that clinical psychoanalysis is a scam. Obviously, the word of so important a psychoanalyst as Lacan said it is the most newsworthy.
For more than 80 years, considerable research has been done looking into its effectiveness, and the weight of the evidence indicates that it is ineffectual at best and harmful at worst.
This is not to say that psychotherapists are con artists with evil intentions. No doubt many are well-meaning people who genuinely want to alleviate human suffering, and certainly many people have felt encouraged by their therapists. However, much of this may be simply the relief that comes from unburdening one’s concerns to a sympathetic ear. Indeed, amateur therapists such as teachers have done as well as trained, credentialed therapists in some research studies.
Freudian psychoanalysis is introspective. It is a form of mind-reading. Worse yet, it assumes that our hidden motives, the ones that are revealed inadvertently in slips of the tongue are truest.
Translated into cultural practice, this idea becomes pernicious. Davidson stated the point well:
Furthermore, psychotherapism has encouraged the trend of judging people’s motives and speculating on their secret thoughts rather than looking at their explicit views and outward behavior. When political commentators accuse Obama’s critics of racism, they are expressing psychotherapism’s tendency to encourage us to guess at the contents of people’s hidden thoughts.
Thought police, anyone.
As Davidson points out, the therapy culture insists that everyone be judgmental. Only, now people are to be judged by the purity of their thoughts and by the fact that their thoughts and feelings are politically correct.
This means that people are no longer to be judged by their behavior. In consequence, people feel empowered to behave any which way and to insist that they should not be judged. No matter what they did, they had the best of intentions.
It is worth underscoring, your outward behavior is objectively knowable. Your true intentions are a matter of guesswork.
Davidson also makes much of the fact that Freudian theory and its bastard spawn in the self-esteem movement has undermined the family.
In truth, and despite Freud’s claims, theories of infantile sexuality exist throughout Christian theology. In that Freud was hardly original.
And yet, Freud took a step into ignominy when he declared that parents and children were harboring ill will toward each other. Breaking down the bonds of trust among family members, persuading children that they should not accept the authority or good intentions of their parents has done significant sociocultural damage.
Davidson explains how these theories worked their way into more humanistic—that is, less sex-obsessed—theories:
More serious still, a focus on childhood emotional wounds, popularized by humanistic psychology, naturally bred resentment of one’s parents for not being perfectly supportive. In their book on the harm done by recovered-memory therapy, Making Monsters, Ofshe and Watters describe how children become “filled with righteous hatred” toward parents as a result of therapists dredging up supposed past parental misbehavior….
In place of “Honor your father and mother,” psychotherapism has often substituted “Indict your father and mother.”
Ah yes, failure to be supportive… another deadly sin, proclaimed to be so by the therapy culture.
Imperfect parents… surely the cause of all your woes. The ill will fostered by the therapy culture has made it nearly impossible for parents to teach their children how to build good character.
As for one of my central notions, namely that, from the time of Freud, psychoanalysis was destined to become a new religion, or, as I put it, a pseudo-religion, post-Freudian analysts defined the same goal:
Finally, psychotherapism has often usurped the place of religion, becoming in effect a new religion of the self. This was the deliberate aim of humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who held traditional Judeo-Christian religion in contempt. They envisioned psychology replacing monotheistic religion in a future utopia, which Maslow called Eupsychia.
Evidently, the contempt for Judeo-Christianity has its source, as I and others have pointed out, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rogers and Maslow were somewhat late to the party, but they were advancing a cause that had been around for some time.
Let us not overlook the fact that just as the powerful demon Eros is one of the central characters in Freud’s neopagan pseudo-religion, Eros’s counterpart, in a poem by Apuleius is: Psyche.
Maslow’s cult to Psyche is yet another stealth attempt to bring back paganism.