Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shorty Guzman in Therapy

Quick question: What was the first thing that came to mind when you learned that Joaquin Guzman, aka El Chapo, drug lord and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was arrested last month?

If you answered that he should have gotten Gestalt therapy, you are thinking like a Mexican therapist.

For people who believe that art is life, El Chapo, that is, Shorty Guzman, should have done as Tony Soprano did and gotten therapy from his own Dr. Jennifer Melfi.

The Daily Beast has dug into his case Guzman and has discovered that the world’s leading drug trafficker underwent therapy during his last incarceration in 2001.

Then, a group of highly credentialed professional psychiatrists evaluated Shorty and prescribed Gestalt therapy. Shorty completed 63 therapy sessions before he escaped from prison.

Imagine how bad he would have been if he did not have the benefit of therapy.

Michael Daly of the Daily Beast has read through the case files and has reported on them fairly. Reading through his story one is struck by the fact that this highly scientific case report sounds like it was written by astrologers.

That is, it could apply to just about anyone. It tells us nothing. It explains nothing.

Apparently, the forensic team observed that  Shorty has a lot of self-confidence. The team described him as:

 “egocentric and narcissistic, with a grandiose feeling of his own importance, giving him expectations of special treatment….

During his time in prison Shorty developed adequate relationships with the ruling authorities. Do I need to tell you that imprisoned Mexican drug lords receive extra special treatment?

Daly explains:

The most immediate authority figures in his life at that point were the prison guards, and he reportedly sought a more than adequate relationship with them via suitcases stuffed with cash. That facilitated food to equal what he could have enjoyed on the outside as well as regular trysts with a female inmate.

In fact, Shorty did not have such a bad time of it in prison. Daly offers what is sure to become a classical analysis:

The combination of noshing, nookie and normalcy seem to have made El Chapo content enough that he did not even attempt escape from prison for years.

Of course, the psychologists do not limit themselves to a superficial analysis of a known drug lord and, it is fair to say, criminal psychopath.

They probed deeper and discovered that Shorty’s  bluster was: “a reactive formation, counter reacting to his true personality.”

In truth, Shorty was: “introverted and with a tendency to be needy.”

Needy and vulnerable… you could have fooled his victims.

If you had dared think that he was insensitive, you will be happy to learn that he was “sensitive to criticism.”

We also learn that he manifested:

… egodystonic aggression subject to the mechanism of denial, according to/depending on the surrounding conditions.

For our edification, Daly defines the terms:

Egodystonic in this context means that, along with being touchy, El Chapo had aggressive thoughts and urges that he realized are unreasonable and run contrary to his ideal image of himself, though in certain circumstances he was able to rationalize it all.

You see, he didn’t want to run all of those drugs and he certainly did not want to murder all of those people. He really had a much more saintly vision of himself and was suffering because his behavior did not correspond to his image.

Daly adds:

The report suggests that in countering his fears and his desire to cloak his true self perhaps from even himself, El Chapo was driven by “feelings of ambition and the need to maintain an acceptable appearance in interpersonal relationships, being expansive in his manner of interacting and behaving as a leader.”

If you thought of him as a heartless psychopath, you need more training. The Mexican forensic psychiatrists decided that he didn’t really want to do it. To their minds, he was susceptible to therapy.

The report also says that Shorty suffered from certain well-defined fears. You may call them a phobia—I wouldn’t—but they were, the Daily Beast explains, entirely reasonable. After all, “at various times Shorty:

… had everybody from the DEA to the FBI to the CIA to the Mexican military after him, not to mention literally thousands of murderous enemies in rival cartels.

As the old saying goes, even paranoiacs have enemies.

The report concluded that Shorty was “anti-social” but that he might respond to Gestalt treatment with a “humanistic focus.”

I’m sure that’s just what you were thinking, too.

Some believed that Shorty had made some progress, but the report offered a more qualified appraisal:

Frequently/commonly he is interested in aspects related to power, success, and physical beauty, orienting his behavior toward their obtention....


Kath said...

I enjoyed reading about Shorty. Stranger than fiction and those therapists made me laugh.

Sam L. said...

Clearly, a classic example for why many people consider psychotherapy bunk

Ares Olympus said...

I've been watching Breaking Bad on Netflix, about a Chemistry teacher who gets cancer and turns Meth producer to make money to leave his family before he dies.

They also introduce another younger chemist/cook who rationalizes that he makes that purest meth, and all his buyers are willing customers.

You could as well go to the real opium farmers of Afghanistan to get a comparable incentives, people with families and children, and making decisions that can give their children a chance to a better life.

I wonder whether legalizing drugs would reduce violence in the world, but you can be sure it would lower prices, and expand the number of users and addicts.

I used to wonder, if people BUYING illegal drugs could know how much violence was done with the money they were spending on drugs, if that would sober up their self-pity?

We have free-range chickens for the yuppies who hate factory farming, so perhaps someday we'll have certified violence-free drugs, from legal producers.

But maybe that's the whole point of perspective - if you don't respect yourself, you certainly don't care about the misery caused by your actions, or paid for by your addictions.

If you like poetic justice, perhaps real compassion would be to give drug lords their products and let them overdose as a final redemption for their acts. I wonder how many would choose that over life in prison? I'm sure the police have lots of product confiscated, so why waste it all, when you can solve problems with it?

Anonymous said...

I think it was reported that Guzman escaped not to return to drug dealing but rather to get away from the Gestalt therapists. Honestly, who can blame the poor man?

JPL17 said...

I'm not a psychotherapist, but it seems to me that a person incapable of shame, as Guzman appears to be, makes a poor candidate for therapy.

The therapists quoted in the article seem not to recognize this.