One thing about being a bookworm is that eventually you become aware of intellectual fads. And wary of them. A century ago communism was an intellectual fad. A lot of very smart and ethical people were taken in by it. (Nowadays only very smart but unethical people are taken in by it.)
A lot of intellectual fads, past and present, must have caused great despair to intelligent people who weren’t protected from them by religious faith. For example, the whole mechanistic theory of the universe, the theory that it is basically a machine like a watch (hence the expression “blind watchmaker”). This theory could not have existed before there was such a thing as a watch. The concept of the universe as a large sundial or hourglass just isn’t the same. But the theory implies that, as in a watch, nothing new can happen, all the components – including living beings – are just doing what they are designed to do, thus free will and souls are an illusion. And eventually, the watch will run down.
Nowadays the physical sciences have grasped such things as the law of increasing returns and the concept of complexity, so we’re no longer stuck thinking of ourselves as cogs in a gigantic watch. (Well, theists never were stuck with that, but now no one else is either.)
Another example is the theories of Freud. He was off his head, but he wasn’t stupid, and his theories were quite compelling, especially after he submitted to public pressure to pretend that the many stories of child molestation his patients related to him were delusions and concocted the hare-brained theory that children want their parents to molest them and fantasize that they did. Anyway, by now pretty much all of his theories have been thoroughly discredited, but for decades smart people must have gone around wringing their hands believing that their lives were doomed because their parents hadn’t known how to properly handle their Oedipus complexes and penis envy and other imaginary neuroses. The spawn of Freud’s ideas are still wreaking havoc on society and on people’s peace of mind. People believe that their lives are hopeless because they had lousy parents and have low self-esteem.
It’s a great game to look at the past, at an unscientific era, look at something there, and say have we got the same thing now, and where is it? So I would like to amuse myself with this game. First, we take witch doctors. The witch doctor says he knows how to cure. There are spirits inside which are trying to get out. … Put a snakeskin on and take quinine from the bark of a tree. The quinine works. He doesn’t know he’s got the wrong theory of what happens. If I’m in the tribe and I’m sick, I go to the witch doctor. He knows more about it than anyone else. But I keep trying to tell him he doesn’t know what he’s doing and that someday when people investigate the thing freely and get free of all his complicated ideas they’ll learn much better ways of doing it. Who are the witch doctors? Psychoanalysts and psychiatrists, of course.
A while back an acquaintance and I had lunch in a bar & grill, and the TV was tuned to *groan* Oprah. Why do we Americans waste such a huge amount of time and energy on legislation banning smoking in public places when some of those resources could be channeled into something of far greater social benefit: legislation banning television in public places?
Fortunately there was just enough noise in the place that I couldn’t hear the interview clearly, otherwise I would have had to ask the waitress to switch the channel to some ball game. I could care less about sports, but ball games are a lot easier to tune out, and I have no stake in whether the Quartermasters beat the Lemurs or vice versa. But what I could hear of the interview started to attract my attention. I think the guest was an actress; I didn’t recognize her or catch her name, but she looked vaguely familiar.
She was telling Oprah all about Her Battle With Depression, and Oprah invited her to give the viewers her advice on coping with depression. She said that depressed people should “feel your feelings” and express them freely to everyone else, and more in that vein. I think she said something about her therapist or rehab program, but just then the waitress showed up with one of my own preferred strategies for dealing with depression. (One part Jack Daniels, one part Coca-Cola, ice, garnish with lime.) With the waitress gone and my fortitude fortified by the wondrous American invention she’d brought, I strained my ears to hear more, and caught something about how the actress was “so grateful” that she was now in touch with her feelings, yada yada.
I have been depressed, and I know from personal experience that this actress’s advice is worthless. Naturally I couldn’t help but think of how disastrous her advice was. And it occurred to me that I don’t see any reason to give the slightest credence to a movie star’s opinions on anything except maybe who to see if I ever want to get my lips puffed. But also, I thought about how boring this was. I don’t watch Oprah, but since I don’t live on a desert island I can hardly help knowing the kind of stuff that’s on her show, so I don’t doubt that she has a different puffy-lipped actress saying this every week. And I bet lots of the other talk shows I refuse to watch do too. Why do we want to watch rich famous beautiful people whine about their problems and recite the usual tripe about being in touch with one’s feelings over and over again? When stars like Lana Turner went on talk shows, they didn’t sniffle while telling us all about their emotional states or their therapy, they made witty remarks or told glamourous stories about life in Hollywood. Who cares that they were probably made up? It was much more interesting and fun and didn’t endanger our own emotional health with dubious advice from people who aren’t qualified to give it anyway. That was entertainment.
August 18th: Discover that Robin is wearing last available pair of shorts, and that these are badly torn, which necessitates visit to Dinard to take white shorts to cleaners and buy material with which to patch grey ones. No one shows any eagerness to escort me on this expedition and I finally depart alone.
French gentleman with moustache occupies one side of bus and I the other, and we look at one another. Extraordinary and quite unheralded idea springs into my mind to the effect that it is definitely agreeable to find myself travelling anywhere, for any purpose, without dear Robert or either of the children. Am extremely aghast at this unnatural outbreak and try to ignore it.
(Query: Does not modern psychology teach that definite danger attaches to deliberate stifling of any impulse, however unhallowed? Answer probably Yes. Cannot, however, ignore the fact that even more definite danger probably attached to encouragement of unhallowed impulse. Can only conclude that peril lies in more or less every direction.)
From The Provincial Lady in London, sequel to the charming Diary of a Provincial Lady and a far better choice for those who enjoy journal-style novels than that Bridget Jones thing.
For a century now, the West has been infected with the thought system known as “psychology”. Its tenets are treated as if they are established facts and its study treated as a science, even though there is no evidence that it has any validity whatever.
Therapists (of whatever stripe) don’t know what they’re doing, there is no scientific evidence supporting any of their core theories (such as that self-esteem has any beneficial effect whatever on anything about one’s life) and in fact there is considerable evidence to the contrary. Contrary to what the Therapy Industry claims, people get over most things after a year or so, whether they’ve had therapy or not; in fact, those who have therapy tend to take longer to get better. (If you doubt that people can get over bad experiences, go to your local synagogue and strike up a conversation with an elderly person with a foreign accent.)
At their most benign, the advice of therapists is comically useless. One article I read, no longer online, stated, “The best strategy is probably to try to minimize actual negative events in one’s life (e.g., avoid conflict, minimize stress).” I never would have thought of that, but then, I’m not a psychologist.
“One waits in vain for psychologists to state the limits of their knowledge.” Noam Chomsky, demonstrating the “stopped clock” principle
Supporters of the pseudoscience of psychology promote myths that allegedly demonstrate their nigh-clairvoyant abilities, but on closer examination, it always turns out to be lies.
Dangerous Minds: Criminal profiling made easy
James Brussel didn’t really see the Mad Bomber in that pile of pictures and photostats, then. That was an illusion. As the literary scholar Donald Foster pointed out in his 2000 book “Author Unknown,” Brussel cleaned up his predictions for his memoirs. He actually told the police to look for the bomber in White Plains, sending the N.Y.P.D.’s bomb unit on a wild goose chase in Westchester County, sifting through local records. Brussel also told the police to look for a man with a facial scar, which Metesky didn’t have. He told them to look for a man with a night job, and Metesky had been largely unemployed since leaving Con Edison in 1931. He told them to look for someone between forty and fifty, and Metesky was over fifty. He told them to look for someone who was an “expert in civil or military ordnance” and the closest Metesky came to that was a brief stint in a machine shop. And Brussel, despite what he wrote in his memoir, never said that the Bomber would be a Slav.
More standard psychology myths, including the one about Ivy League graduates writing down their goals, can be found here.
Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth
Boosting people’s sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior.
Psychiatrists cannot even correctly identify fake “patients” who are shamming. Their alleged emotional skills can’t even stop them from murdering their own children. Real doctors want the medical specialty of psychiatry to be eliminated.
Even they are realizing that they’re full of it: Psychology’s top 10 misguided ideas.
And yet, these quacks are permitted to testify in court as “experts”.
Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this.
The author of one of the best anti-therapy books I’ve read, Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry Is Doing to People, has little patience with people who see themselves as “victims” of trivial “traumas”. Victims, she explains, are people who have survived actual violent assaults and comparable things, not people whose coworkers put offensive toys in their cubicles where the “victims” could see them (actual case). She admiringly mentions many examples of great resilience sans therapy in genuine victims, like the elderly woman who was offered “professional help” after her home was burgled and replied that the only help she needed was with cleaning up the mess. (I wish I’d known her; I’d have gone over there with a broom just for the honor of meeting a lady like that.)
There was one bit in that book which made me wish I was a psychologist in California:
Trade Guns for Therapy – some California psychologists are offering three free hours of therapy in exchange for a gun, with the stipulation that they will help the person continue to go to therapy by providing sliding scale fees or arranging insurance coverage. p. 246
Only problem would be, eventually I’d run out of room to display my gun collection.
“Llama Therapy” – In Idaho, llamas are used to “teach teenage offenders to develop affection and concern for other creatures,” while in South Carolina, llamas are used in the treatment of abused children. In British Columbia, the Llama Therapeutic Group offers stress management. Psychotherapist George Appenzeller explains that llamas “stick together and take care of each other without giving up their individuality, so you could say they’re good role models.” p. 245
If I were in charge of showing these kids good role models, I’d have them watch John Wayne movies.
Even fun gets pathologized:
Star Trek fans are like drug addicts who suffer withdrawal symptoms if deprived of their favourite television show, a British study suggests. Psychologist Sandy Wolfson is quoted as saying, “My research found that about five to ten percent of fans met the psychological criteria of addiction.”
I wonder if they have a patch for that?
The ignorant pronounce it Frood,
To cavil or applaud.
The well-informed pronounce it Froyd,
But I pronounce it Fraud.
– G.K. Chesterton
A few years ago, my synagogue got a new rabbi whose wife was a psychologist. I was glad I was about to move to another state, because if that rabbi was married to a psychologist, he must have believed in psychology, and one of a modern clergyman’s most important jobs is to counteract psychological thought habits. Not that many of them realize this.
With the decline of the authority of Judeo-Christian values in the West, many people stopped looking to external sources of moral standards in order to decide what is right and wrong. Instead of being guided by God, the Bible and religion, great numbers — in Western Europe, the great majority — have looked elsewhere for moral and social guidelines.
Liberal feeling vs. Judeo-Christian values by Dennis Prager
Like most of you reading this, I grew up in a psychology-drenched culture, and I didn’t have religion or anything else to counter the attitudes of pop psychology for most of my life. It’s still a revelation to me, finding how very differently I look at the world since I became acquainted with the basic principles of conservatism and got religion. (It happened in that order.)
Psychology is actually a quite totalitarian ideology. Most interpretations of Judaism and Christianity hate the sin but not the sinner. If you think that is a tautological distinction, compare the way Christian Europe treated Jews with the way secular Europe treated Jews. European Christians hated the Jews’ “sin” of not accepting Jesus as the Messiah. They proceeded to try to convert us by both fair means and foul. (A lot of the laws discriminating against Jews had the motive of making it uncomfortable to be Jewish, hence pressuring us to join the True Faith.) Most of the time, the Church discouraged antisemitic violence, but of course the times when they did the reverse are what go down in the history books.
Being Jewish in Christian Europe was not easy. But when Europe went secular, the result was not universal brotherhood; the result was communism, fascism, and mass murder. This is oversimplification, but: Christian Europeans hated the “sin” of practicing Judaism; they discriminated against Jews and occasionally gave them a choice between conversion or death. Secular Europeans, most notably the Nazis and to a lesser extent the Soviets, hated the sinners; they didn’t give Jews the choice, just killed them. Hitler wrote somewhere that if a Jewish child were raised by Gentiles and had no access at all to any Jewish books, etc., he would still carry Judaism in his very blood. George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the *wince* American Nazi Party, stated that part of his Final Solution involved brainwashing (not his word) experiments to see if Jewishness could be “cured”. (It can’t.)
So, whether one condemns the sinner or the sin is a vitally important distinction. There’s a big difference between giving a choice of remaining true to one’s beliefs or dying, and simply being murdered regardless of whether you change your faith or political party or whatever.
Headshrinkers rarely accept that people naturally have certain feelings that shouldn’t be acted on; instead, they want people to only have approved feelings. They decide that anger is “unhealthy”, and suddenly there’s something wrong with us for feeling it. They decide that jealousy is unhealthy, and cultural and moral traditions of fidelity and the emotion’s survival value to reproductive success are both tossed out the window and we’re told to let our S.O.’s bed-hop and be cheerful about it, and if we can’t, that’s a flaw in us. Same with the competitive urge, hierarchical behavior, etc. etc. They don’t examine the value of these emotions, properly channeled, to a peaceful or prosperous society or to the survival of the species; they just construct a mirage consisting of their idea of a “healthy person”, even though they’ve never actually met anyone remotely like it, and then start telling people they’re neurotic, unhealthy, suffering from an Oedipus Complex or some such if they don’t fit it. The big problem is, things like anger, jealousy, territoriality and competition can’t be eradicated from the human soul.
I’ve gotten suspicious of people who want to make anyone “live up to their full potential” or anything similar. At their most innocuous, they’re self-improvement gurus who want me to buy a bunch of their motivational tapes. At worst they’re utopian thinkers who believe that only those who have attained some particular type of enlightenment or personal achievement are “fully human”. Since only about one half of one percent of the human race ever has come up to these utopians’ standards, it tends to be a green light to mass murder. Why not kill (to give one example among many) the Russian masses? They were all too oppressed by the czar and the bourgeois to have become “fully human” anyway.
In short, psychology is far less tolerant than religion. It isn’t content with modifying people’s behavior, it wants to modify people’s souls. And not in the direction of making them, say, kinder, but in the direction of fitting them into this procrustean mold they’ve dreamed up.
This is an attitude I’ve encountered in a lot of trivial ways. For instance, once after a trip through Alabama and Mississippi, I talked to someone else who’d visited the same area and I commented on how friendly and polite the people were. She assured me, “It’s just an act.” Well, what does that have to do with it? Many of these friendly, polite people I encountered in stores and restaurants were doubtless in bad moods. Had they been “sincere”, they would have snarled and scowled at me. But they had a cultural tradition of friendliness, and they pretended to feel friendly rather than show me their true feelings. Considering that I was a complete stranger walking into a Taco Bell, I hadn’t done anything to earn friendliness on my own merits, so had they been “sincere”, I wouldn’t have gotten much friendliness. I don’t care if the cashier who smiles and thanks me really means it or not; her behaving this way makes my day easier. I’m not interested in anyone’s motives for speaking politely to me, passing me the butter, or refraining from murdering me. I’m just interested in the results of those motives. Human nature being what it is, sincere emotion as a motivation for behavior is not reliable. Civil and religious laws don’t change nearly as often as human emotions do!
This is why the MSM ignores the distinction between believing that something is a sin and believing that wanting to do something is a sin: they genuinely can’t understand that there is a distinction. Drenched in the headshrinkers’ attitude that any deviation from their fantasy image of the “healthy person” is a sign that something is wrong and that it can be fixed with therapy, that the problem is people having the wrong feelings, modern journalists can’t even conceive of believing that impulses ought to be controlled rather than that people ought not to have certain impulses. They belong to the school of thought that one should give in to one’s emotions, that controlling them at all is “repressing” them and that this is a terrible thing, and that emotions are terribly important things, and so are forced to blame bad acts on bad feelings, not bad ethics or bad self-control.
I regard psychiatry as fifty percent bunk, thirty percent fraud, ten percent parrot talk, and the remaining ten percent just a fancy lingo for the common sense we have had for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, if we ever had the guts to read it.
Sometimes I suspect sinister motives on the part of those who shill for therapy:
Islamic extremists should get therapy, Home Office tells local councils
New mums tested to spot antisocial trend
Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution.
– G. K. Chesterton
Psychologists would be useful members of society if they started teaching us how to repress our emotions, an approach which has been proved to have a beneficial effect.
Stiff upper lip best way to deal with shock
Thank You For Not Sharing
We live in days when the saying “Be Strong” is equated with insensitivity and that appeals to bravery are an embarrassment to those who make them. There is only one thing that must be done; all of us must be as judgmental as possible. We should never excuse the immoral behavior surrounding us. Rather than minimalize and rationalize pathological acts on the part of the narcissistic, violent, or drug-addicted, our nation must embrace personal responsibility without qualifications. We should follow the advice that Don Imus gives the sick children on his ranch, its time to “Cowboy Up.”
Making the Case For Repression
Therapeutic culture fanning flames of national enfeeblement by George F. Will
From childhood on, Americans are told by “experts’ therapists, self-esteem educators, grief counselors, traumatologists that it is healthy for them continuously to take their emotional temperature, inventory their feelings and vent them. Never mind research indicating that reticence and suppression of feelings can be healthy.
At Suffolk University, psychologist Jane Bybee classified high-school students on the basis of their self-awareness: “Sensitizers” were extremely aware of their internal states, “repressors” focused little on themselves, and “intermediates” occupied the middle range. Bybee then collected student evaluations of themselves and each other, along with teacher evaluations of the students. On the whole, the repressors were more socially and academically successful than their more “sensitized” classmates. Bybee speculated that repressed people, not emoters, may have a better balance of moods.
The article concludes, “Healthy stoicism should not be confused with the emotional numbness that may be brought on by posttraumatic stress disorder. Most people experiencing such traumas as war, assault, or natural disaster can benefit from immediate counseling, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.” Well, maybe, but I think I can take a wild guess as to who pays the membership dues for the National Institute of Mental Health.
Stiff Upper Lips: The virtue of stoicism
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.
– Sam Goldwyn
Revealing Quotes on the Goals of Psychiatry and Psychology
Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age
The Review by the great Theodore Dalrymple
Very good summary of the movie “Century of the Self”, which Netflix carries. Also, another summary.
So you’d like to… Know About Abuse In Pscychiatry
The Dark Side of Psychology
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