Thursday, March 7, 2019

Pathologizing Normality

You have to give therapists some credit for obstinacy, obduracy and general all-around pig headedness. You see, they refuse to accept the verdict of reality. They are blind to the fact that their own special brand of witchcraft does not work. All those spells cast, and the world is turning away from them. So they write supposedly learned articles explaining that whatever is bothering you in your everyday life is… hold your breath… a function of your childhood traumas.

And that means, if your colleague irritates you because he has bad manners, you should undergo a multiyear course of therapy in order to figure out that you are feeling irritated because your father or your mother or your aunt Mabel chewed his or her food loudly.


Does it get any dumber? I think not.

The Daily Mail has this story, and apparently takes it quite seriously. After all, it appeared in Psychology Today:

We all have colleagues that rub us up the wrong way, and now an expert has revealed the real reason why you get so irritated by people you work alongside. 

Maria Baratta, a therapist based in New York, told Psychology Today that being irked by workmates is most likely because they remind you of family members.  

Perhaps a colleague who eats loudly reminds you of your dad, or another one who constantly snaps at you might be reminiscent of a bossy sister.

The therapist also said that deep-rooted issues, which have been left unresolved with certain family members, could also be affecting your reactions in the present day.

However Maria also reveals that once you identify the source of the annoyance, then we can examine our behaviour and control your reactions towards. 

As if that is not enough, Maria shows how therapy can help you treat the problem:

Maria said that you should look at each colleague who irritates you, and try and work out if and how they remind you of a family member. 

'That shy child, now an adult, might recoil at a meeting when a not-so-smart coworker monopolizes the discussion the same way an older brother dominated them in childhood,' Maria explained.

'Perhaps your overbearing supervisor reminds you of your father and just might trigger anger that is disproportionate to the situation at hand.' 

The good news is, however, that there's no need to keep reliving your childhood traumas on a daily basis.  

Maria said that once you explore these similarities, or unresolved issues within your family, it will allow you to understand your reactions to colleagues better. 

This is beyond stupid. The therapist must be spending too much time with people who have no table manners, who are rude, crude and lewd. And she does not consider that such behavior might be irritating to anyone who is exposed to it. The notion that we should tolerate bad manners, to the point of thinking that we are at fault for feeling put upon by them is absurd. Being numb to bad behavior should not be the goal of therapy.

If your colleague cannot eat properly, you should point it out or eat with other people. Normal people react normally to rudeness. They walk away from it, because they know that their negative reaction is a normal reaction. 

What if someone harasses you? And that you react negatively to it. Should you spend years in therapy exploring your childhood traumas in order to figure out when you have previously been harassed? Really. Do you think that feeling revulsion, which is after all a normal human reactions, to certain behaviors is merely a repetition of a childhood trauma? Is it an occasion for therapy, thus, for allowing yourself to be put upon, even harassed until that magical moment when you find the root cause of your sensitivity? Or is it an occasion to learn how to deal with rudeness in your everyday life? 

Because reacting negatively to rude behavior is normal; it is not a reason to put yourself through an endless course of therapy, where your therapist can rudely force you to believe that your normal reactions are pathological.


whitney said...

Is feeling revulsion towards two men having sex a normal human reaction? Or is that just conditioning? Depending on how you answer that will make that therapist brilliant or stupid

Sam L. said...

I guess I'm pathologically normal, or as normal as I want to be. Life is hard (at times), and life is real (usually, with exceptions), so as the poker player said, "Shut up and deal."