Saturday, April 17, 2010

God Save Us from Therapy!

I should not have been surprised. And yet, when I read Dr. Helen Smith's column on therapist Jeffrey Kottler's book, On Being a Therapist, I was shocked. I felt the same surprise that Dr. Helen felt when she was reading Kottler's book. Link here.

What did we find so shocking? The fact that Kottler asserts, literally, that the goal of therapy is to indoctrinate patients in liberal social and political values. As they say, caveat emptor.

I have suggested, many times, that far too many therapists have joined the culture wars, and that they no longer bother to treat their patients. They maintain the pretense of treatment a ruse through which they can inculcate their values. Perhaps I have said it too often for some of you.

That may be because I know it only too well. In the world of French psychoanalysis, where I received my training in the 70s, radical leftist politics was always on the menu. Analysts were all committed to the Socialist or Communist parties. The younger ones were committed Maoists, while their seniors often maintained their allegiance to Stalin.

It was, dare I say, heavy duty leftism.

I credit my own psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, with enough integrity to declare that psychoanalysis was not about helping anyone to get better. In his words, if a patient in analysis actually gets better, it is a fortuitous accident, not the result of the treatment.

It took me quite a long time to figure out that if the goal of Freudian psychoanalysis was not to help people to get better, to be happy, healthy, and sane, then it must be to make them into committed Freudians.

I have also suggested that any form of therapy that still tries to cure through insight, that proposes examining and resolving your issues, owes a debt to Freud. Since you will not learn how to get things right by discovering why you keep getting them wrong, its goal must be something other than treatment or cure.

In my view this is why more and more therapists, the ones who believe that they should be helping people, not indoctrinating them, have been drawn toward coaching and the more cognitive forms of treatment.

And yet, therapists like Jeffrey Kottler are still recognized as distinguished members of the profession.

As Dr. Helen says, when she was training in psychology, therapists were taught to be humble practitioners whose goal was to help their patients to get better. Thus, she was shocked to read Kottler's assertion that he wanted to indoctrinate people in his liberal values. And she was even more shocked to read his baldfaced expression of his outright arrogance and will to power. If that was his game, he should at least have had the grace to hide it.

You can't make this stuff up. The new version of Kottler's book claims to put: "the spotlight on the therapist's role and responsibility to promote issues of diversity, social justice, human rights, and systemic changes within the community and the world at large."

Apparently, Kottler does not distinguish between therapists and community organizers.

Kottler presents himself as a bit of a whiner, but he also, as Dr. Helen says, has something of a Superman complex, an exalted and arrogant view of his own powers and responsibilities. He actually sees himself as someone who is on a mission to save the world.

If you were ever wondering what Barack Obama owes to the therapy culture, this would be a good place to start.

You might doubt believe Dr. Helen's analysis of Kottler's character if you did not read it in his own words. So, here he is, describing himself: "After all, it seems at times (to others, if not to myself) that I can read minds, predict the future, and hear, see, feel, and sense things beyond the powers of mere mortal beings."

Yikes. My own reaction, straight from the gut, is: God save us from therapy!

Keep in mind, we are not talking about some crank standing in Times Square with a placard. We are dealing with a respected member of the therapy profession, someone whose book is now in its fourth edition.

But we are also seeing someone who suffers from what I would call a Nietzschean mania, and which others would call pathological narcissism.

Perhaps he is aware that he has it, but I suspect that he has learned to pay lip service to self-awareness in order to shield himself from self-doubt.

Psychotherapists who think this way, or who are, as increasingly seems to be the case, trained to work this way, are not in the business of helping you.

But then, again, as Dr. Helen asks, can we say the same of all of those other purveyors of liberal values. I believe she is correct to answer that they are, like Jeffrey Kottler, more interested in their own power than in the benefits their policies confer on the people they are pretending to help.

Modern liberalism--in all its splendid illiberality-- pretends to be working to help people. It insists that it is leading them to a brave new world of hope and change.

Dr. Helen sees them expressing their own overwhelming narcissism. To maintain their own feelings of superiority they are obliged to ignore the consequences of their policies. And, to enhance their own power, they, like Kottler-ish therapists, are happy to deprive everyone else of their freedom.

If that is the secret to modern liberalism, then the only real shock in Jeffrey Kottler's book is that he does not even feel the need to pretend that he is trying to help people.

Surely, that is well worth noting, even if only as a symptom.


Helen said...


I don't think Kottler means to indoctrinate anyone into leftist thinking purposely. I think that he, like so many other therapists think they are doing good by preaching "social justice" which sounds good but usually is just a buzz word for liberalism. And we should be glad that some therapists don't hide what they view as their mission, for at least they are honest and those who do not wish to be indoctrinated in liberal speak can go elsewhere. I do think there are many fine therapists out there, of various political persuasions. I just don't think the goal should be indoctrination, it should be to help reduce symptoms and alleviate mental illness.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Stuart Schneiderman, Dr. Helen & Others
RE: It's All...

...part of the Plan.

As I commented at Dr. Helen's....when I couldn't comment at PJM....

....this sort of think worked VERY well for the Soviets when they had to dissidents to 'put away'.

Yesterday, to ramp up the rhetoric, former President Clinton compared Tea Partiers to Timothy McVeigh: a madman with mass murder on his mind. This, when in truth the only persons I saw at the local Tea Party rally last Thursday who resembled madmen was the obnoxious, racist counter-protester shouting for all the white people to go back to Europe.

The law 'enforcement' types there did nothing to counsel him or restrain him or arrest him for an obvious violation of the local municipal code relating to "disorderly conduct".

What's my point?

Watch what happens. Since they are not going to be able to shut US up with complaints, they're going to have to come up with something more effective. And declaring anyone who disagrees with their wise counsel as non compos mentis has a proven track record with the Soviet Union....another 'socialist' entity. And we who oppose them will be given the 'treatment'.....


[History repeats itself. That's one of the problems with history.]

TMink said...

That was a great article. This is my first time here, but I have bookmarked you.


Dr.Alistair said...

inmany ways nlp saved i have become a bandlerian?


Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: And....

....if you doubt my concern over the 'mental' state of the sort of people I mentioned in my earlier post, I just finished reading an article cited by the Instapundit, wherein someone wrote....

"We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work." -- some Green 'Peacer' [Note: What a misnomer.]

I mention this because at last Thursday's local Tea Party meeting on the county courthouse steps, I recall hearing one of the counter-protesters shouting the same think.

The point here is that the mentality mentioned in Rex Murphy's article is not limited to Greenpeace and other 'environmentalist' groups. It permeates the 'progressive' culture everywhere. Even so far as to be reaching into the APA and 'therapist' offices/work.


[We have sown the wind. We shall reap the whirlwind.]

P.S. Hang on to your hat!

Dr.Alistair said...

don`t you mean greenforce chuck?

Omnibabe said...

It took me quite a long time to figure out that if the goal of Freudian psychoanalysis was not to help people to get better, to be happy, healthy, and sane, then it must be to make them into committed Freudians.

Nah. My personal experience is that the goal of Freudian psychoanalysis is to keep you screwed up and dependent on your shrink... and to keep the weekly analysts fee coming. Then again, I probably wasn't the best suited person to undergo analysis...

highlander said...

Thanks for the link Chuck. Rex reports that Polly Higgins is lobbying for recognition of "international crimes against peace."

That phrase struck a familiar chord with me. If not verbatim, the underlying thought certainly comes from George Orwell's 1984.

RileyD, nwJ said...

I am surprised the original article nor your comments mentioned the book "Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People" written by by Dr. Tana Dineen in 2001. It really adds to the case you and Dr. Helen were making.

Kudos to those who have moved on to something truly positive - life coaching!

Stuart Schneiderman said...

In truth, I had not heard of the Tana Dineen book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.