Given the appearance of some gloomy prognostications round here today I think it appropriate to shed a little light on what I consider to be a much under-examined issue.
Damien Thompson writes in the Telegraph about the triumph of feeling over thinking:
How many people in Britain do you think work as “counsellors” of one sort or another? Ten thousand? Fifty thousand? According to Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, the actual figure may be closer to half a million, though no one can be sure. What we do know is that the number of mental health professionals has more than quadrupled since 1970, and that the ranks of registered psychotherapists were swelled by more than half between 1997 and 1999.
A new priesthood? Arguably, I suppose. But I have yet to be convinced that ‘psychotherapy’ is anything except institutionalised quackery.
Never before have so many people been dependent on some form of therapy. Night after night, our televisions instruct us to pick up the phone “if you have been affected by any of the issues in this programme”: the message is that every difficult experience requires expert help. We must all raise our “awareness” – of stress, low self-esteem or some recently identified personality disorder.
We must all raise of ‘awareness’ of this worrying trend towards mental and spiritual incontinence…
Government, social workers and charities work tirelessly in this cause. It costs money, of course, since awareness-raising requires special training; and, despite ritual denunciations of underfunding, it is usually forthcoming. In a recent disbursement of National Lottery money earmarked for health, 25 per cent went to advice and counselling schemes; only six per cent was allocated to research charities.
…and the vested interests that actively promote it.
Thanks to media willingness to spread “awareness” of previously undiagnosed emotional illness, prophecies of mental anguish tend to become self-fulfilling. People learn to be stressed (which is not to say that their unhappiness is not real).
The BBC works particularly hard at cultivating therapeutic anxiety. Last Tuesday’s Woman’s Hour opened with the alarmist statement that “one in five young people rates stress as unbearably high most of the time, and the claim is backed up by a number of organisations”.
The thing that BBC supporters seem unable to grasp is that antipathy towards that organisation is driven not just by its lockstep soft-left bias but also by the vanguard role it has arrogated unto itself in disseminating and propogandising this kind of grotesque agenda.
Yet, like the state socialism of the postwar years, the detailed management of emotion requires a formidable apparatus of bureaucratic inspectors. No government can hope to build such a structure on its own: it requires entire professions (such as the police, post-Macpherson, or the BBC) and large sections of the public to submit willingly to ideological control. That is how totalitarianism works.
That is exactly how is has worked. Nor is this class-interest driven programme of gradual infantilisation a transient or trivial matter. It isn’t about ‘caring’ its about controlling and manipulating. It isn’t about ‘help’ its about dependence. It isn’t about more humanity its about less humanity. In the final analysis, it is all about the sleep of reason and the sleep of reason will, sooner or later, breed monsters.