Monday, June 28, 2021

Keeping Therapists in Business

I do not need to tell you, but therapy is a business. The more we mint therapists the more we, as a society, feel compelled to keep them in business. So, we redefine all of our human ailments, all of our torments and tribulations, as mental health problems.

It’s good for the therapy business. And besides, don’t we, for having created the degree granting graduate programs, have a moral obligation to fill up therapists’ daily calendars.

In that, if I dare offer an analogy, therapy is like lawyering. No sensible soul should dispute the fact that we have too many lawyers. And yet, we do not just keep producing them, but we have large numbers of legislators who are hard at work keeping them in business. 

And yet, how many of the inefficiencies and the expenses that have produced our bloated medical establishment have resulted from the fact that we have too many lawyers in the health care industry. Apparently, it’s all about guaranteeing our fundamental human right to sue, but still, does the presence of so many lawyers-- and the malpractice industrial complex-- improve or damage medical care?

Surely, it makes medical care far more expensive, because are hiking up fees in order to pay protection-- against lawsuits. Aside from the obscene malpractice premiums, when a physician thinks first of how to avoid a lawsuit, he is not thinking first about the best medical care. Too many tests producing too many false positives adds considerably to the cost of medical care. They also make patients into consumers.

In the meantime, you cannot turn on the television without hearing that there is a stigma on mental health treatment, and that more people would be availing themselves of therapy if only we erased the stigma.

The concept is obviously ridiculous. At a time when more and more celebrities are wearing their time in therapy as a badge of honor-- beginning with the hapless Prince Harry-- the problem, as Julie Burchill remarks in a recent column, is that you cannot escape talk about therapy:

Mental illness has gone from being an ailment that we dare not speak of to one that we cannot escape; whenever I turn on Radio 4, I guarantee that the words “mental health” will be spoken within ten minutes.

Worse yet, therapy is no longer just a bourgeois affectation. Courts, in England, at least, are letting criminals go free because they have unresolved mental health issues. Is the same practice being perpetrated by American prosecutors? I suspect that as they open prisons and let miscreants go free without bail, they are reflecting the same mindset.

Burchill continues:

Meanwhile, criminals are being spared jail for the sake of their mental health, the most recent example being when a cocaine-crazed driver left a nursery nurse with a fractured skull after running her over while talking on the phone and doing 63mph in a 30mph zone. Yasmin Jenkins was left in a coma and she is unable to return to work. But when sentencing her attacker, Clare Cassidy, earlier this month, Recorder Robert Lazarus noted: “You have a history of long-term mental health problems and I accept you are genuinely remorseful. I also note your mental health problems may deteriorate if sent to prison.” So that’s alright then!

As I have occasionally noted on this blog, those who are most responsible for proselytizing and propagating therapy culture nostrums are advice columnists. Exception given to the wondrous Miss Manners, who never indulges such nonsense. Other columnists are filling the pages of newspapers and writing books filled with pseudo-profundities-- inanities that unfortunately have a wide readership and a wide audience.

Among those I had never heard of is an author named of Matt Haig. Thankfully Buchill has spared us the indignity of having to read the blather that fills his book, The Comfort Book

She summarizes:

There’s so much to loathe: “We are all things. And we connect to all things. Human to human. Moment to moment. Pain to pleasure. Despair to hope.” “You were born worthy of love and you remain worthy of love. Be kind to yourself.” “Walking one foot in front of the other, in the same direction, will always get you further than running around in circles.” “It’s okay to be the teacup with a chip in it. That’s the one with a story.” It’s like that all the way through.

Nowadays, this passes for wisdom. And you were wondering why Western civilization is so thoroughly messed up.

And then, Burchill makes an important and salient point. Mental health issues are the least interesting thing about us. Why would anyone care about our washing our dirty emotional linens in public? One might say the same thing about other aspects of our private life, and perhaps one should be saying so more often.

Of course, the mentally ill have always been with us, and always will be. But surely every other person didn’t have issues until they realised that it would get them attention? Rather like what one does in bed, a person’s neuroses are generally the least interesting thing about them, unless they are profoundly dull. Look at Churchill; a lifelong sufferer from severe manic depression, frequently suicidal — “I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through… I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water” — but he never let it get in the way of leading a tiny nation into battle against the might of the Nazi war machine.

I imagine that if people have done little to nothing to distinguish themselves, they can plead for attention by making a spectacle of their mental health issues. Would it not be better if we were to revive the work ethic-- and have it replace the ethic that defines us by our suffering.

But, then, we must ask, is this obsessive interest in mental health improving anyone’s emotional well-being? Or is it giving people a good reason to indulge their mental health issues, the better to gain the sympathy and the empathy of their fellow sufferers?

Certain therapists have claimed that we are our suffering. It is a strange, even pathos-laden assertion, one that we ought all to laugh off. After all, how many Americans are joining local cults in order to regale us all with their grievances? And how many young Americans are so thin-skinned that they suffer an intolerable bout of hurt feelings any time anyone pronounces the wrong words?

I was going to say that they are triggered, but I had a vague recollection that Brandeis University, more woke than thou, has just declared that the word trigger was, you guessed it, triggering. After all, to the minds of our notoriously incompetent and inept and thin skinned young people, the word trigger invokes the image of a gun and that produces images of gun violence. Bang, bang....

How did it happen that the Biden administration, with its absurd anti-crime proposal, forgot to include a general ban on the word-- trigger. There, that will reduce gun violence, because the triggered young people who are committing the crimes will stop committing the crimes if only they no longer have to hear the word trigger.

Just when you thought that American universities could not sink any lower, they pull a stunt like the one that Brandeis did.

The point, obviously, is that university life and life in general must now be therapeutically correct. It must shield vulnerable and weak young people from the least inconvenient word.

Bullets, not a problem. Urban gunslingers, not a problem. Urban riots and arson, not a problem. But, using the word “trigger”-- now that’s a problem. Our therapy culture has pronounced it. You must obey-- lest you be attacked for promoting mental illness.


Sam L. said...

"In the meantime, you cannot turn on the television without hearing that there is a stigma on mental health treatment, and that more people would be availing themselves of therapy if only we erased the stigma." I can, because I watch so little. I don't watch TV "news".

I am immune to words of bovine excrement.

ErisGuy said...

Nowadays, this passes for wisdom. And you were wondering why Western civilization is so thoroughly messed up.

I’m betting on massive ingestion of previously-unknown chemicals (that is poisoning) or viruses.