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Emotional Correctness

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.

63 comments to Emotional Correctness

  • And they circle like buzzards after each tradgedy, helping people “get over it” so well that most people with NO conselling get over it far quicker than those whose wounds are rubbed raw by exhaustive counseling.

    Parasites, 90% of them, creating work for themselves to massage their own inflated self-esteem.

  • Jacob

    “A new priesthood? Arguably, I suppose. But I have yet to be convinced that ‘psychotherapy’ is anything except institutionalised quackery.”

    Amen to that !

    Let anybody go to counseling if he feels like it and has the money to pay for it. Let him go to his priest or his rabbi or whatever. But not on tax money, i.e. on my money.

  • Verity

    Fred, why put it as low as 90%?

    I’m glad David raised this subject, because I’ve watched it with astonishment and not a little dismay for quite some time. If your bus is late, angering you because it causes you to be late for work, a (council funded) counsellor will help you through it and teach you to love your inner bus conductor. They are repellent parasites, but they are tools in the larger, as David so aptly terms it, grotesque agenda. The state is your best friend. Trust us. We’re here to help.

    I wonder how the ratio of counsellors to population stacks up against those of other countries. I suspect that Britain has gone much further down the road than any other country. This can only happen in a socialist, paternalistic state. Sweden may be worse, but I doubt it.

  • Verity: I’m feeling generous today.

    A momentary lapse, I assure you.

    Regular levels of scepticism will reurn shortly.

  • Zathras

    The context for this is roughly as follows:

    1. Psychotherapy is effective at treating some real, serious conditions. Not all of the real conditions it effectively treats are that serious, and there are some very serious conditions it does not treat effectively. There is no established methodology that reliably disinguishes between these various conditions.

    2. Psychotherapy works, when it does, if it is performed competently. There is no consensus on who is competent to perform it, let alone on who is competent to perform it in the treatment of most specific mental illnesses. There is even a tendency to confuse “counselling” (which can mean anything) with psychotherapy, especially since there are several different varieties of the latter.

    3. Medication is an effective alternative to psychotherapy for many people. There is no agreement on how many people, on how effective an alternative it is, or even on how exactly individual medications work (there are educated hypotheses about the latter, but this is not the same thing).

    4. There are, finally, some people (mostly with higher-than-average incomes) who find psychotherapy valuable even though there is nothing wrong with them mentally, or at least nothing that a good kick in the butt or a week’s vacation wouldn’t fix. I suppose in a society disposed toward socialism there would be some pressure to make available to everyone the things only wealthy people can pay for themselves, and because of 1. through 3. above a large force of civil servants would be necessary to make this happen.

    Actually, in America we have institutions that serve to provide many of the services that Britain’s growing mental health industry aims to. We call them churches. I am told Britain had them too at one time, but being much more worldly and freethinking than Americans the British gave them up. It’s just an observation.

  • Tregagle

    Damian Thompson’s article is quite wonderful, and the forthcoming book by Prof Furedi promises to be a valuable weapon against the social engineers of the left liberal elite. Anyone who listens to Radio 4′s womens program in the mornings will know exactly where this is all coming from. Anyone who was embarassed by the nation’s reaction to the sad death of princess Diana, and the plaintiff pleas from the police and firemen for stress counselling with accompanying claims for compensation, will understand.

    Sympathy and empathy are natural reactions to the pain and trauma suffered by others, but are worthless unless unforced and controlled to the very best of one’s ability.

    The numbers of disability benefit claims for stress, and for traumatic stress disorder which was originally a genuine condition but has become debased by overuse and inappropriate use is ridiculous, but certainly encouraged by the industry. People who are conditioned by an atmosphere of suggested weakness are easily governed.

  • Verity

    Zathras – Yes, I was about to say, Britain is a society cut adrift, yet with no motivation to go it alone. They got rid of a bedrock of faith, Christianity, and surrendered themselves instead to people in cardies with mugs of tea warming their hands who help them recall “suppressed” child abuse memories to explain their problems and give them a pass for a month off work and take notes and write reports and visit relatives. This is the society in which this Fearon (Tony Martin case) wasn’t beaten senseless for suggesting taxpayer money should support a case for damages against the man he’d been terrorising.

    Tregagle – Yes, all those busybodies wanting to cure this new disease of “traumatic stress”, but you forgot “post traumatic stress”. It’s endless. During wars, having both your legs blown off or having your plane crash in enemy territory counted as stress, and then they were told to straighten up and get over it. Today, you need “counselling” (meddling by a totally stupid, self righteous twit, paid for Somebody Else) because your boss said he supports the soccer club playing against yours on Saturday.

    What is additionally astounding is, the British still see themselves as “this bulldog breed”. Some are, of course, thank God. But millions have surrendered to the counselling/free lunch society.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Well, a quick test of the population would probably reveal a rather small percentage of thinkers, compared to feelers.

    Just the way us humans are, I guess. Just too bad thinkers are in rather short supply throughout history…

  • Charlie

    Folks, could someone who has actually had extensive therapy and found it useful comment, or have we already determined what the group meme should be?

    I suffered terribly from major depression and “chronic dysthymic disorder” — what Sally Fields memorably spoke of when she said “I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a really bad mood for 30 years.” It interfered massively with my life and health; it caused me to drop out of college a half-dozen times because I simply could not muster the emotional energy to do the regular work — or even, at times, to get out of bed or to eat. It was so debilitating that I only considered suicide when I was feeling better — it took improvement to think that suicide offered any hope.

    In the in-between periods when I felt all right, I managed to get a graduate degree and have a professional career — but always with the possibility of becoming debilitated (again!) lurking in the background.

    In my case, it took both therapy and drugs to bring my depression into remission: the drugs to finally get my brain chemistry into line, and the therapy to learn to deal with, first, the life history that went with 30 years of being debilitated by an invisible disease, and second, to learn from other peoples experience in terms of how to cope with ignorant bigots who think dealing with psychiatric illness is a matter of pulling up your socks and getting on with life (or as Andrew Stuttaford just put it in National Review Online, with a self-inflicted bullet.)

    Having had psychiatric treatment, I’ve become a very successful business consultant and a pretty successful writer (and I’m on the edge of breaking into screenwriting.) Without it, I’d still be living a borderline life of momentary success followed by collapse when another acute episode happened.

  • Carl

    I need a hug

  • xander from honduras

    You know, as horrible as you make it sound psychotherapy is useful. Of course nowaday everybody is being sent to seek for counceling, and i think that is wrong, but there are people who gain something of this (besides the therapists). Today´s society has issues that we need to face, and sometimes you cant do it alone.

    Though i support psychotherapy, i dont think tax money should be ´´invested´´ in it.

  • Xander from Honduras

    Socialism sucks!!!

  • Tom the piper's son

    Having gone through major depression during the breakup of my marriage, I can vouch for the value of a good shrink.

    Just like you need a good doctor when you are physically ill, a good psychiatrist or psychologist is invaluable when it comes to mental imbalances.

    The earlier comment about churches is good, but my pastor rightly stated that he was not a mental health professional. His role as a spiritual counselor is just that
    .

  • Zathras

    Actually, Charlie, I’ve known many people who have found therapy a godsend, some who found it helpful in combination with medication, a few who eventually found a way forward with its aid after years of frustration, and some who found it no help at all. Mental illness takes in a lot of different conditions, and as the human brain is orders of magnitude more complex than any other part of us we ought to expect confusion and argument over what to do when it malfunctions, for whatever reason.

    Having said that, mental illness requiring treatment is an affliction — or group of afflictions if you like — of a minority of the population. There is no reason to think that the treatment people who are suffering from depression find invaluable will do any good for the majority of people who are not. Still less is there reason to believe that stress and mental illness are always related, and that therefore the former requires treatment. The limited resources available for health care services demand a degree of skepticism toward proposals to expand such services at public expense, and not just in the health care field. That is not the same thing as the foolish belief that mental illness does not exist, a belief that is perhaps more widely held than it should be.

  • Verity

    To Charlie, Xander, Tom the Piper’s Son, – I suspect you are all Americans. I don’t mean to confound with this statement; it’s not at all perjorative. But what we are discussing on this thread is “counselling” – not psychotherapy or psychiatry, both of which serious disciplines take years of academic study for qualification.

    From your comments, my guess is you have not been infested with “counsellors” in the US. These are people who attend a three month course in night school and get a certificate of attendance to hang on their wall, and they are all set to interfere in other people’s lives and psyches.

    These counsellors are usually employed by local authorities. If your husband leaves you for a younger woman, your dog dies, or your boss has been discussing rearranging the office furniture, but without your desk, instead of calling your family or friends for support and comfort, you go to the (free at point of delivery) doctor and say you feel depressed and you want someone to talk to – presumably not your family, friends or neighbours, who are too busy having counselling of their own. He will give you a note for a “counsellor”. Let me put it this way: their jobs are advertised in the Public Appointments section of The Guardian. ‘Nuff said?

    Of course, we also have psychiatrists and psychotherapists in Britain, but these fine people are not what we are talking about.

  • JohnF

    On the BBC’s relentless pursuit of ‘appropriate’ feelings, I recall after the death of Princess Diana, a reporter in a town in Gloucestershire saying something like ‘everyone here is devastated, of course’.

    At which point I shouted at the TV (a silly habit for which I blame the BBC ;) ‘how the HELL do you know that, have you actually ASKED every last one of them?’

  • Verity

    John F – I shouted back at the TV, “Well, here’s one who’s not!”

    My local Safeway closed for the day out of “Respect”. Respect for what, for god’s sake? The cheap sentimentality was nauseating. I’d needed to shop, but as soon as I saw the empty parking lot, my heart sank and I guessed. If I’d had any spray paint with me, something I rarely, if ever, have about my person, I’d have sprayed across their plate glass window: So bloody what?

    I got the feeling I was the only person in Britain whose life wasn’t affected (apart from being unable to buy eggs) by Diana’s exit in the tunnel. I didn’t even bother watching the funeral or excerpts from the funeral (although wasn’t quick enough on the remote draw when the TV news slipped in Blair’s laughable trembly jawed performance, which was quite an emetic all by itself).

    I had an interview in South Ken the next day and the tube was full of people carrying crappy cellophane wrapped bunches of flowers so they could join in the maundering grief. The facile emotion was nauseating. Also, there was a nasty air of bullying about it.

  • G Cooper

    Like Verity, I was in central London at the time of Diana’s funeral and also found the whole atmosphere both oppressive and disturbing. It was humiliating too, as I was showing a newly arrived first timer from the USA around town and watching her carefully nurtured perceptions of British reserve melt before her eyes, was shaming.

    Whatever was going on at that time, it was not coming from the England I was born into, nor grew up in. Argentina around the time of the death of Eva Peron, maybe, but not England.

    This was like watching a mass nervous breakdown, carefully nurtured and orchestrated by the media and the ghoulish legions of ‘carers’, sucking on the fantasies of grief they had created in their hideous, collectivised ‘community’.

    And yes, this was the work of that slow cancer of induced empathy that the British population has had on IV drip since the 1970s. And, equally yes, it something the BBC is even more guilty of than its ceaseless Left wing bias. That, as the blessed Margaret proved, can be overcome when socialist birds come home to roost and the country’s economy collapses.

    But I wish I could be so sure about the infantilising of an entire generation, which may never recover anything even remotely resembling the traditional robust common sense, of which we were once so proud.

  • Verity

    Diana was an absolute godsend for the caring, sharing, happy-clappy promoters. (Although if one of them ever tries to hug me, it’ll be happy slappy.) The right person at the right time.

    A generation earlier and she would have been considered a self-involved simpering idiot, not the goddess of ‘emotional intelligence’. BTW, when she went on her landmine missions, why was she wearing that plastic thing over her face? Didn’t she realise that if she stepped on a mine – as if! – it would be her feet that got blown off; not her head?

    G Cooper puts it well when he says the British public have been on an infantalising empathy IV drip for 30 years. I wonder why. Of course, infants are dependents, and if one can reduce adults to dependency status, they’re much easier to control. An (apparent) emotional incontinent like Tony Blair in politics would have been a comic figure 30 years ago. How about ‘Carry on, Prime Minister!’ with Kenneth Williams as Blair. He leaves a meeting with Gordon Brown and Brown supporters, running wild-eyed down the corridor between Nos 11 and 10 Downing St crying, “Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in fer me!”

  • Counselling is certainly an interesting phenomenon with many unanswered questions attached. Is it, for example, causative in relation to what the immortal and heroic Garry Cooper properly calls “the infantilising of an entire generation”? Or is it reactive to a pre-existing trend?

    In answering this, Garry places a heavy stress on the outpouring of public emotion over Diana’s death. I take a different line here. Our country has always found outlets for its patriotism, leading in the main to great outpourings of joy on some occasions and solemn moments of grief on others. These accompanied times when the sense of nation was clear and unambiguous and allied to an equally clear and unambiguous sense of national purpose and, not infrequently, triumph. In such a circumstance one can afford to meet the death of a national hero or heroine with due reserve and according to the character of the institution he or she served. This was entirely proper and a reflection of the prevailing maturity and stability of British society.

    When Diana died our nation was (and remains) in the grip of a fifty year decline. Notwithstanding the sainted Margaret’s heroic and single-handed attempts to stem the flow, we had – and have – lost virtually all our capital of national pride and identity, so that people today actually feel the need to debate what is this thing, Englishness. Cut adrift in this sea of doubt and failure we grasped at the meteor of Diana’s life. We read Hello and Paris Match and the Femail pages and in our true infantilism could find no better object for our pathetic communal hope and aspiration. Much more than a woman’s life ended suddenly that night in Paris. We, for our part, reacted with abject and humiliating un-Britishness. But we were reacting from a point of absolute poverty.

    As for counselling, I would like an answer to my question above. Is is generative of our apparent weakness and dependency or is it responsive to it?

  • This current fashion for emotional incontinence was imported in from the United States when the Oprah Winfrey show started been shown about 15 years ago. The Americans are way ahead of the British in this new habit. Fundamentally it is a lower class trait, most of the emotion displayed is sham sentimentaility and self pity motivated by a low desire to be exculpated from the consequences of feckless and irresponsible behaviour.

  • I am impressed by Guessedworker’s unfailing ability to turn a silk purse into a sow’s ear. His analysis is wrong in almost every important respect. It is complete fantasy to suggest that the people of Britain are ” Cut adrift in this sea of doubt and failure…”. At what have we failed? What is the object of this doubt?

    This fashion is an imported American fad no different from so many of the others that are often followed, its effects operate largely on the surface.
    Guessedworker is once more abandoning rigourous analysis in order to again try on for size another facile justification for social conservatism.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    I need a hug

    HAHAHAHAHAHA…give this man a prize.

    Regarding Diana, just watch the movie Heathers for a primer in fake sentimentality. I had a very good friend die in high school and got to experience the fucking grief bullshit first hand. There’s nothing like walking down the hall and having someone who despised and hated your friend come up and talk to you about how much they liked him, all so they could feel good and sentimental. I was very close to beating the shit out of some people for a while.

    Verity said a number of things that are worth repeating, because they are absolutely correct:

    The cheap sentimentality was nauseating.

    The facile emotion was nauseating. Also, there was a nasty air of bullying about it.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    This phenomenon is an American import, Paul? Keep dreaming. It is a global result of the placement of the appearance of morality upon the highest pedastal of achievement in the last 50 years or so, rather than any real achievement or morality. Why do you think “peace protesters” who are violent are still called “peace protesters”? Because they appear moral, but in fact aren’t even remotely. This applies to all do-gooder organizations.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    Ah, crap, I spelled pedestal wrong.

  • G Cooper

    Guessedworker writes:

    “..what the immortal and heroic Garry Cooper ”

    Very flattering, but who is “Garry Cooper”?

    The rest of his analysis is, of course, equally incorrect. To answer his question:

    “Is is generative of our apparent weakness and dependency or is it responsive to it?”

    The cult of false empathy is common in many countries in the West – none of which has suffered
    the ‘decline’ he attributes to Gt. Britain.

    Therefore, even if it were true, it cannot be held to be the cause.

  • Alfred,

    It is the case that this fad for counselling and emoting in public is an American phenomenon primarily and has latterly spilled over into Britain and other places. It is not so much an attempt to appear moral since many of the people who are given to these public confessionals are in fact confesing to various failures of moral character, rather they have found that emotionally displaying themselves in public is an effective strategy in gaining exculpation for their behaviour. It looks to me like a modern corruption of the Catholic confessional with the mass media playing the role of priest and public opinion playing the role of God. Certainly the impetus is collectivist and unlibertarian.

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    Paul, I do agree with much of your latest statement. Your opinion that the origin of this shit is American is wrong, but about public confession you are right. But when I say moral, I am using it in a wide sense. I mean moral in that they seem repentant, or grief-stricken (because that’s the supposedly moral thing), or concerned.

    Being concerned is the new morality. If you’re concerned, you don’t have to do anything, but you still get the credit.

  • toolkien

    Phenomena such as this are creeping up here in the US as well, especially in the bigger cities. As a simplification, the US is about 10-15 years behind the UK in its arc toward full-blown socialism. I find it to be a symptom of a prosperous society with not enough real things to worry about (world war, pestilence, drought, etc etc) who have had it too soft relative to our forebears. At the risk of being absolutistic, perhaps we’re hard-wired to find something to fear and react to it to reinforce fight or flight responses etc. and given invading marauders aren’t pouring over the countryside on a regular basis people find angst in bread gone stale or missing the bus. Prosperity provides a second factor, surpluses stolen by the State. Merge Statism with cultural neuroses and, voila, counseling as an abundant ‘industry’. And never underesimate the ‘false flattery’, as people who don’t have problems will develop some, feeling honored someone ‘cares’ about them regardless of the fact the ‘caring’ is flacid and shorn of passion inate in the process of personal value judgement. A culture is emerging of enabling and dependancy as supply and demand. I can’t help but parallel the Roman Empire, which did not fall do to perverse rot, but to mind-numbing institutionalism invaded by fuzzy feel-gooderism in the form of the Church who couldn’t distinguish enemies from friends leaving themselves open to Gothic conquest. While we spend our time picking at our psyches others in the world are plotting our fall.

  • Verity

    Paul Coulam, I agree with much of what you say, but I would also add that people who slop emotion all of the place and bravely hold back tears, are, especially since the Dianafication of Britain, for some reason regarded as “brave”. They get credit for looking weak and stupid because, in some perverse way, “it took real courage to admit …”. Diana’s self-involved, self-serving, vapid interview with the ghastly Martin Bashear was one of those. Many of us cringed at the paucity of thought, taste and vocabulary, but it reflected the facile thinking and chip-on-the-shoulder attitude of many in today’s Britain and millions sympathised with her.

    You’ve got to hand it to her: in her low cunning way, she pulled off a pretty good riff. She was an aristocrat, a profligate spender, an enjoyer of her privileges and such a rabid royalist that she wanted her son to be catapulted over his father’s head to be king – yet she managed to turn a large proportion of the British against the Royal Family. So hungry had the Brits become for empty emotion.

  • toolkien,

    I like your bracing interpretation of the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Alfred,

    I think there has been quite a bit of talking at cross prurposes on this thread due to the rather incohate nature of the phenomenon. I still think that this is originally an American trend though, things like tying yellow ribbons round trees, confessional television shows like Oprah, crass sentimentality in government leaders like Clinton, trumped up claims for damages in court and making heros out of trivial figures in pop culture all seemed to have occured in the USA prior to the UK. Also the way Americans practice religion is universally regarded as kitch and ridiculous here in the UK where, despite an established church and compulsory school prayer, belief in God has all but melted to nothing. (This latter development I regard as one of Britain’s greatest acheivements in modern times, this country is almost de facto atheist)

  • Verity,

    Yes, getting credit for being brave is one of the things they are after but what they really want is for their moral flaws to be overlooked. If we are ever going to enjoy liberty fully we need to develop a greater stolidity of character. I am all in favour of bold and avant garde personal choices but the spectre of creeping exculpation must be resisted. Full individual freedom requires full individual personal reponsibility if we are to escape being poked around with sticks by the socialists and social conservatives who presume to order our lives.

  • Paul,

    You speak as a young man speaks, and without the benefit of living through greatly differing times. So I forgive you your intemperance and won’t chastise you for it.

    The sea of failure that you question has, in fact, many tides. If you applied yourself to a few moments thought I’m sure you could find a few yourself. The fact is that up to the end of WW2 this country was massively confident, a leading power and conqueror of a quarter of the globe. My father’s generation fought and won a war and suffered along the way. But the idea that those men and women should have availed themselves of empathic counselling from a perfect stranger would have earned their total contempt – and not for reasons of misplaced pride.

    The unseemly public outpouring at Diana’s funeral provided an illuminating snapshot of the state of affairs in our time. Why the difference?

    I am not convinced by Alfred’s notion of the (fairly) new supremacy of the appearance of morality. I think the appearance of morality has always been a particular feature of British life. Nor am I convinced by your idea, Paul, that we have caught this empathy thing as though it was a viral infection communicated by TV. That seems to me to be a particularly facile interpretation.

    If I had to plump for anything I would look at the practise in my father’s time of sustaining emotional life within the family. I would then look at the decline of the family in the intervening years and where, perforce, emotional life has or can be sustained today. Then I might consider the fund of personal anxiety that exists among the many to whom family life has not been gifted.

    This might provide a basic theory to explain not only the appearance of empathic counselling but also its market.

    Yes, Paul, you can call it social conservatism if you like. I’m guilty again, my friend. Have you got a better thory, though. I’d like to hear it.

  • Verity

    The chippy people have won the current round. Public schoolboys are speaking Mockney and saying “Cheers, mate!” when the waiter brings them their beer for fear of being judged snobs. Everyone’s on first name terms, even with people they’ve never met. The great levelling down has been accomplished by people who don’t understand that democracy doesn’t mean everyone must the same talents and abilities. No one must be judged. Emotions must be laid bare, otherwise you’re just “bottling it up”, which is somehow interpreted as being selfish rather than unselfishly abstaining from burdening others with one’s problems.

    Self-control’s out the window. People who fail to show adequate emotion are advised to “get counselling” to get in touch with their emotions. I was accused the other day of lacking “emotional intelligence” because I objected to a woman estate agent bringing a friend to a business appointment with her – “You don’t mind, do you, but we’re going on to lunch afterwards.” When I said yes, I minded, she said she felt sorry for me. Needless to say, the appointment terminated right there, but that she felt free to behave thus, and to be genuinely insulted when called on it says it all. There is tremendous bullying involved. If you don’t agree to be levelled down, you will be savaged. Things aren’t like this in the US because there was never any class hatred in the US. The emotional intelligence deal, although it exists there to a lesser extent, isn’t as chippie because there is no “getting one’s own back” in the levelling down process. There’s still formality and respect for others in American life.

  • Brendan

    As an American I am increasingly disturbed by the tendency to substitute “I feel . . .” for “I think.” For example, “I feel that the government should help people.” This is an unarguable proposition. Indeed, if you to try to argue against it you will be met with, “Well, that’s just how I feel.” To argue with someone’s feelings is mean and mocking and might damage their self-esteem, therefore you must not do it. Emotional reasoning in America is now equal in stature to intellectual reasoning. This is all very nice for most people because thinking is hard but feeling is easy, so it nice to have Oprah and the therapeutic state validate emotional reasoning.

    People liberated from their intellect are free to behave in any irrational manner they wish provided it feels good. Politically, the can choose whichever political party gives them the most warm fuzzies. I learned about warm fuzzies in fifth grade at the state elementary school. Warm fuzzies are things that make you feel good. We spent several hours on this important subject.

    In America I think there are several causes. Unprecedented wealth has allowed people to become more narcissistic. The addiction-industry/drug-war continues to expand the therapeutic state. Finally, Satan’s bride Oprah must take some of the blame.

  • A_t

    Guessedworker, for once i actually agree with you; I think the lack of family, & general depersonalisation of society has a lot to do with the rise in counselling. Many people end up living far from their families, not knowing their neighbours etc. etc. Thing is, it seems like an inevitable side-effect of capitalism as we know it now; particularly if you’re ambitious, you’re expected to be “flexible”, ie. not attached to living near your family etc.

    But what’re you going to do? Tell people to stay in one place? Just tell them to buck up & get on with it? Verity seems to suggest that we should all go back to to the good old WWI “buck up old chap” methods, which resulted in thousands of traumatized young men, many of whom ended up killing themselves because they had no way of dealing with the stuff in their heads, & no-one was interested. Personally i think that degree of stiff-upper-lip is ridiculous, & the emotions that are repressed will probably find some twisted outlets in many people. Much of the “infantilisation” is actually just people being honest; people can now admit they were abused as children, rather than keep it as a secret ’til the grave. I refuse to see this as a bad thing.

    Also, this attachment to “qualifications” etc. regarding the psychiatrist/counsellor split is a bit of a red herring. A close friend of mine saw both types of professionals while trying to deal with abuse she had suffered as a child. The psychiatrist only served to upset her further, & treated her in a detached manner, as though she was a laboratory specimen, not a human being. The counsellor on the other hand, managed to help her with her issues, & she’s now troubled a lot less by them. So i’d say yes, there are probably effective & useless people in both professions, & what’s more, what may work well for some won’t for others.

    It’s too easy to look all cool & hard, adopting a macho “buck up, you weaklings” attitude towards the whole thing; yes there is undoubtedly weakness & self-pity going on in some, but there are also people with genuine problems. To denigrate the entire field, & suggest we should go back to not talking about anything, just bottling it up, is stupid. What’s more, it seems to me like an impossible goal.

    & to whoever’s linking this all to socialism… you’re crazy people! it’s like talking to a bunch of marxists who’ll blame any bad thing on the corruption of the human psyche by the evils of capitalism. Understand this: the whole strain of bullshit emotional outpouring a-la diana funeral etc. *did* come from the US; it was evident there before it was over here…. so unless you’re going to suggest the US is more socialist than the UK, your argument doesn’t have 1/2 a leg to stand on.

  • Charles Copeland

    Just a few words to congratulate Verity and Guessedworker on their brilliant contributions (and notably the mau-mauing of Dumbbell Diana).

    Samizdata with commentators like these — the best therapy around!

  • G Cooper

    A-t (who else?) writes:

    “Understand this: the whole strain of bullshit emotional outpouring a-la diana funeral etc. *did* come from the US; it was evident there before it was over here…. so unless you’re going to suggest the US is more socialist than the UK, your argument doesn’t have 1/2 a leg to stand on.”

    The lack of understanding is clearly yours, I fear.

    You make the common Leftist mistake of asuming that the election of George Bush means the USA is a bastion of red in tooth & claw capitalism.

    In point of fact, the very source of the counselling movement in the USA (the therapy cult centres Califiornia and New York) are every bit as Left wing as the worst components of the UK, Scandanavia or Germany. These same coastal ‘intellectuals’ and academics were also the source of much ‘Green’ movement idiocy, too.

    You might find a map illustrating the voting pattern for last US election instructive.

  • G Cooper

    Toolkien writes:

    “While we spend our time picking at our psyches others in the world are plotting our fall.”

    Indeed – and those enemies are both within and without.

    The vampiric counselling trade sucks the strength out of people, fattening itself and making the public weak, ripe and dependent on Statist notions of ‘care’, while, without, those societies who rightly scoff at such idiocy, rub their hands in anticipation.

    Try explaining the notion of ‘counselling’ the next time you are with a group of Chinese businessmen.

  • Verity

    A_t, I don’t think that sincerely troubled people should be directed round the back of the shed with a bottle of whisky and a pistol. At the same time, I am repelled by the vast increase in the number of people who need the attention of what amounts to emotional carers just to live their lives. The sense of entitlement is insane.

    You say people are moving away from home and their social structures to take employment. Britain’s a tiny country. You can go home for every weekend of the year. (I recall Cherieee Blair sobbing on TV, laughably trying to excuse her property speculations because her kid had moved around 75 miles down the road to college.) Americans who can’t find work close to friends and family pack up and try somewhere else. They have no sense of limitation – either of geography or ambition. When Detroit cratered some years ago, the Houston freeways were suddenly dotted with black Michigan licence plates. Their skills as car workers weren’t transferable to the oil industry, but they found jobs in the service industries. They managed. I think the distance is about 1500 miles one way and they came on a chance and they didn’t go crying to anyone because they couldn’t go home every weekend. Like most Americans, they were self-reliant. So please.

  • A_t

    Ya-aawn… like i said, you can play the “i’m so hard” or “americans are so hard” card, & it doesn’t impress me. I notice you utterly ignore my point that I know people who have been helped through very difficult times by these “parasites”. And if you read closer, I’m not refuting your argument on all fronts; i agree with you on much of the over-sensitivity, & the need to counsel for every ‘trauma’, implying that the individual just won’t have the strength to deal with it themselves.

    Having said that, sometimes there *are* things which are hard to deal with, & under those circumstances, there’s no shame in getting some help. As for your whole weekend/going home thing, fine… whatever. The feeling of belonging to a community etc. is a powerful & useful human emotion, & many people these days no longer feel that, whether they can drive home for the weekend or not (and to be honest, running home to mummy & daddy hardly qualifies as a solid support network). I’m not bitching & moaning & rueing modern society, just observing. We’re naturally a tribal people who operate on familiarity, & we’re forced daily to confront strangers & deal with people who don’t actually know us, or treat us, as human beings… if you don’t think that’s gonna have some effect, fair enough but i think you’re wrong.

    G. Cooper, a) the US is undoubtedly on the whole more right-wing than any place i’ve been in Europe. The Democrats, who pass as left-wing in your country, would be considered pretty rightist over here. Again, no judgement implied… I’m not going “you evil rightwingers” or anything, but ‘sjust the way it is. Yes you have pockets of leftism, but no, you’re not as left wing as Europe on the whole.

    Also, I find it interesting that you choose China as an example; surely according to your thesis, people from an authoritarian Socialist republic should be further down the line of dependency… unless hey! maybe it’s got nothing to do with socialism, & everything to do with self-indulgence in a Western prosperous capitalist stylee.

  • Kodiak

    David,

    Notwithstanding the classical rightist rhetorical verve about socialist parasites, I’ve got the nebulous feeling it’s quite impossible to ignore their arguments about the pathetic ones who aren’t afraid to dive into the most frightening abyss of ridicule & wallow themselves on the couch of the first arrogant charlatan financed by your local municipality. Beurk !…

    And Zanthras thanx for the good laugh about the USinstitutions that serve to provide many of the services that Britain’s growing mental health industry aims to. Another very good point for secularism.

    But the worst of all those vulgar degradations is undoubtedly the death of “princess” Diana. I feel that grotesque exhibition -& not the recent British self-abasement caused by the Bushist war- was the most awful instance of obscene perversity & cheap sentimentality, as Verity & Alfred put it (Hi Alfred! In passing: have you seen the recent Bush’s poll ratings? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!). No really, all those silly twerps vomiting millions of litres of tears while putting down their regressive Teddybears & their tasteless plastic flowers because they saw “princess” Diana on The Sun… Beeeeeeeeeurk !!!

    She should have been beheaded, like the rest of this broken-teethed, over-eared German family…

    o~O

  • Kodiak

    And A_t is absolutely right when pointing out that cheap sentimentality is a total US product. It’s certainly not European !

    British perhaps too, but not European. Guaranteed.

  • Dave O'Neill

    My view.

    Counselling can work and does work. Therapy can also work.

    Telling people to “buck up” is all well and good but recognising mental illness and dealing with it is something the lay person is pretty poorly equipped to understand.

    My wife has had thearpy and found it really useful. Perhaps in the past she’d have spoken to a priest, but having been brought up catholic neither of us would trust a priest with anything much. She’s also had clinical depression after losing a sister and a mother inside of 12 months at the same time as we lost our jobs and had to move continents. Not the easiest thing to do.

    My brother in law has also had therapy, he’s a highly sucessful sales executive and found having a completely unrelated, unbiased 3rd party to vbent to made it easier for him to deal with the stress of life.

    Its not for everybody. But the rather ridiculous hysteria that some people are going through here is nonsense. I suggest you speak to a mental health care professional and ask their opinion on this subject.

    I’ve done things the hardway myself, but thats a personal thing. I lost a father, got divorced, moved house and changed job all in a period of 6 months. I still did go to the Doctor regularly to have my blood pressure checked, but I didn’t reach the point of feeling I needed extra help. But that’s just me. Everybody is an individual. I shouldn’t have to remind people here about that.

  • G Cooper

    A_t writes:

    “the US is undoubtedly on the whole more right-wing than any place i’ve been in Europe. The Democrats, who pass as left-wing in your country, would be considered pretty rightist over here…”

    Which, if your arguments usually proceed from such rash assumptions, explains how you get into so much intellectual trouble.

    To dispel the first : “your country” in my case, is the UK. When I write about the USA, I write using long experience of that country. I’ve said repeatedly on this Blog that I am British. Why you assume otherwise, I have no idea (though I could hazard a few guesses)

    Your notion that ‘Democrats would pass as Rightists in the UK’ is entirely beside the point. My argument was that the American proponents of the counselling movement – the university-educated therapy gurus and their followers – were and are Left wingers. Indeed they are far further to the Left than most ‘New’ Labour MPs.

    I note you found my reminder of the birthplace of ‘Green’ activism too hard to even consider addressing, fitting so uncomfortably, as it clearly does, in your picture of the USA as some sort of Wild West theme park. Think where ‘political correctness’ was born. Think (particularly) about Left coast academic political activism. Clearly, the real USA (particularly the academic sphere) bears no resemblance at all to the Guardianista view of it.

    A_T then says: “Also, I find it interesting that you choose China as an example; surely according to your thesis, people from an authoritarian Socialist republic should be further down the line of dependency…”

    Again, I can only assume you have limited experience of the Chinese. China is not a socialist society (as most dyed-in-the-wool socialists will be only too happy to tell you – they are terrified of it being held up as yet another example of socialism’s failures to provide humane government). China is quite unique – an uneasy, still largely Confucian, gangster-ruled autocracy with a culture of family primacy which make ideas like ‘counselling’ incomprehensible. It isn’t socialism that makes the Chinese laugh at Western emotional dependency – it is that their hard-headedness derives from a quasi-theological root belief which predates Marx by over 1,000 years.

    The argument that Western willingness to withstand hardship and trouble has weakened in the past 50 years is irrefutable. Do you seriously contend that today’s Londoners could withstand a Blitz? Clearly, they could not. That they are, thus enfeebled, more susceptible to the false promise of a ‘caring’ society dripped like poison into their ears by economically illiterate socialists is simply axiomatic.

  • Dave O'Neill

    G Cooper,

    The vampiric counselling trade sucks the strength out of people, fattening itself and making the public weak, ripe and dependent on Statist notions of ‘care’, while, without, those societies who rightly scoff at such idiocy, rub their hands in anticipation.

    Have you ever had a family member or friend who has clinical depression? Have you ever spoken to anybody who deals with the mentally ill?

    Sure there’s lots of quackery, Homopathy springs to mind. But its not all that. Sometimes people do need help and telling them to get on with it doesn’t work.

    I know people with clinical depression. It doesn’t work.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Do you seriously contend that today’s Londoners could withstand a Blitz?

    To be honest they might. But that’s a different question. People have better lives now, which is a factor of the economic and technological progress of the last 50 years.

    Would you rather go back to the lives our parents led in London in the 30′s. My mother’s told me all about it and, frankly, you can keep it.

  • G Cooper

    Dave O’Neill writes:

    “Have you ever had a family member or friend who has clinical depression? Have you ever spoken to anybody who deals with the mentally ill?”

    For all you know, it what I do for a living.

    The sad fact is that those scientific studies which have been done on counselling tend to show that it is mostly useless in the treatment of genuine mental illness.

    The fact that you, or a member of your family, may (or may not) claim to have had some benefit from it is as useless as you would, it appears, consider anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of homoeopathy.

    There is a world of difference between the medical discipline of psychiatry and the nonsense spouted by barely educated ‘counsellors’, ‘therapists’ and the like.

  • Dave O'Neill

    G Cooper,

    For all you know, it what I do for a living.

    Is it?

    If not, then why should I give your opinion more weight than the opinions of people I know who do do this sort of thing for a living.

    There is a world of difference between the medical discipline of psychiatry and the nonsense spouted by barely educated ‘counsellors’, ‘therapists’ and the like.

    It depends, medical psychiatry also has its oddballs and detractors and there are many highly competant and qualified “psycologists” outthere who are very good at dealing with things.

    You seem to have an irrational problem with this and I am at a loss to figure out why.

  • G Cooper

    Dave O’Neill writes:

    “You seem to have an irrational problem with this and I am at a loss to figure out why.”

    The loose distinctions you draw between psychiatry, counselling, therapy and ‘psychology’ clearly indicate that this is not a field of which you have much knowledge.

    To guide your search, I suggest you explore the difference between the current practice of clinical psychology and the more generalised ‘counselling’ of which you seem to think so highly.

    You might be particularly enlightned by a little research into the applications of cognitive behavioural therapy as opposed to the generalised ‘talk therapy’ and ‘counselling’, which were the subjects originally under discussion.

  • A_t

    G Cooper… apologies for my confusion over your location/nationality.

    I didn’t address the green issue because i thought it wasn’t very relevant; of course i know there are hotbeds of leftwing thought in the US; i’ve known some highly socialist/green americans… i’ve not got a 2-dimensional “they’re all cowboys” impression of the place, & i love it in many ways, so please stop accusing me of having a reductionist view of the states.

    Similarly, I was conscious of the Chinese cultural distinction, but wasn’t sure if you were, & the fact is they *do* live under a far more authoritarian & patriarchal government than we do, & aren’t afflicted by the same ‘weaknesses’, so really the whole “it’s an authoritarian government with a socialist bent’s fault” seems like a red herring again. Sounds like if there is a deficiency, it’s in our proud anglo-saxon culture, rather than any kind of socialism (hey pro-anglosphere activists… anyone have any figures on counselling etc. in the ‘culturally superior’ anglosphere vs. the rest of the world?).

    “The argument that Western willingness to withstand hardship and trouble has weakened in the past 50 years is irrefutable. ”

    truth… happens to everyone when they’re pampered. You can’t expect to live a comfortable life & not get used to it. I’m sure a mediaeval peasant would also have seemed like a pussy to a caveman, moaning when his roof leaked, or the harvest was bad… “in my day, there was no such thing as a harvest; picked berries when we could get ‘em, & then the sabretooth would carry off the children”…. but i think something like the blitz would actually pull a lot of folk out of their complacency; human beings are pretty resiliant & adaptable. I think you underestimate them.

    I have smooth hands at the moment ‘cos i sit in front of a computer all day, but give me a few weeks of manual labour & my hands will be tougher; less easily hurt.

    “The sad fact is that those scientific studies which have been done on counselling tend to show that it is mostly useless in the treatment of genuine mental illness.”

    OK… define “genuine mental illness”… what if someone has problems which make their life a misery, yet aren’t diagnosed with “genuine mental illness”? Can you even *pretend* that psychiatry is a highly developed science? How much do we really know about the workings of the brain & the human psyche? I think we’ve only scratched the surface, so to divide troubles into “genuine” and “not” based on incomplete knowledge seems somewhat arrogant. As I say, i’ve seen counselling work fine & make people able to face the world again; i’ve also seen psychiatrists make things worse… i’d say it’s much more down to the individual practicioners, & obviously with counselling being less tightly regulated, there likely to be more incompetent counsellers (or just useless for the individual in particular… i saw one myself briefly @ one point, but decided i could deal with the issues better myself; he was far too wet & ‘understanding’ for my liking).

  • Joe

    I’ve had years of experience in both psychology and neurology and I’ve got to say – counselling can be very useful. But that said… I’m afraid I’ve got to admit that most of the counselling offered to people in the UK is based on principles that ignore how the brain actually works. In fact far too much counselling increases the trauma felt by the client and therefore increases the dependency of the client on the counsellor.

    Too many counsellors get clients to relive the experience that has traumatised them. Memory pathways in the brain are increased in number and made stronger by continuously repeating the memory, so all this does is increase the strength of the memory of the traumatic event. Not a good idea if you want to be rid of it.

    Removing traumatic memory is a very simple affair and can often be done in minutes if not just seconds. All that is required is that the clients memory of the trauma is separated in the clients mind from the emotions that it causes. This allows for new feelings to be attached to the trauma and allows the client to manipulate that memory so it feels whatever way they want it to feel. The trauma becomes just a memory that they are then free to use positively to help them in their lives… or they can store the memory away in the back of their mind (forget it altogether) if they think it is of no use to them.

    All these processes are very simple to learn – so fairly good counselling can be taught very quickly… but if the behaviours caused by the trauma are more severe (what we normally term mental illness) then a more professional approach is necessary as medication may be required.

    Verity is correct : There is much to be said for the idea of just “forgetting the incident and getting on with your life”. One way of getting rid of your own traumatic events is to concentrate on other daily tasks and just forget about the bad things… that way the traumatic memories don’t develop strong neural pathways and therefore don’t get as much of a chance to develop to cause behavioural problems.

    If you have to keep going back to a counsellor – the chances are – they are not helping you… find one who helps you to help yourself.

  • Dave O'Neill

    The loose distinctions you draw between psychiatry, counselling, therapy and ‘psychology’ clearly indicate that this is not a field of which you have much knowledge.

    Really, I was feeling pretty much the same about your pronouncements to be honest. :-/

    Firstly, I was not aware I was defending “counselling” merely pointing our that correctly done and in the right context it can help. I was responding to the rabid “pull your socks up” solutions which posters like Verity seemed to be proposing.

    I suggest you explore the difference between the current practice of clinical psychology and the more generalised ‘counselling’ of which you seem to think so highly.

    I wasn’t aware that I had said anything about thinking “highly” of anything. I was reacting to what I see as being some ill informed ranting.

    If you are suggestion that correctly undertaken and applied clinical thearpy either by a qualified medical pyschiatrist or psycologist can be effective then that was the point I was trying to make.

    I think “talk” counselling like, for example, with marital problems or certain berevement situations may help too. I am less convinced on that score, but generally in the absence of extended families or religious belief I do believe it is more important for people to talk about things rather than try and deal with it themselves.

  • Verity

    David O’Neill, Your defensiveness regarding other people attacking counselling is causing you to misremember posts. I would challenge you to find where I voiced the thought that you imputed to me: ‘I was responding to the rabid “pull your socks up” solutions which posters like Verity seemed to be proposing.’ Also, please let me know where I voiced a single rabid thought in this or any other thread.

    In addition, don’t assume that I “seem” to be proposing anything. I assure you, when I propose something, I am skilled enough to present it so that there is no doubt.

    G Cooper is correct, moreover, when he notes that the less disciplined, more self-indulgent offshoots of academic psychiatry sprang from the shores of California. Think Essalen. Think primal scream therapy. Think attention seekers.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Verity,

    Your post at: Posted by Verity at October 2, 2003 05:30 PM gave me that impression. And included…

    Self-control’s out the window. People who fail to show adequate emotion are advised to “get counselling” to get in touch with their emotions.

    Sorry if this wasn’t the impression you intended to give.

    You also said;

    There’s still formality and respect for others in American life.

    I take it you never worked on the West Coast. Of course, the Bette Noir of most people here, France, is infinitately more formal than the UK – I didn’t much like living there because of that.

    Then there is:

    If your husband leaves you for a younger woman, your dog dies, or your boss has been discussing rearranging the office furniture, but without your desk, instead of calling your family or friends for support and comfort, you go to the (free at point of delivery) doctor and say you feel depressed and you want someone to talk to – presumably not your family, friends or neighbours, who are too busy having counselling of their own.

    I’ve been through a divorce and quite often the last people you can discuss things with are friends and family. Friends are supportive in the early stages but getting over a berievement or a divroce takes a lot more time than, in my experience, friends have patience. And while I am eternally grateful to those friends who put up with months of misery from me, eventually it did help to have somebody outside the immediate circle who could listen to me bleating on about stuff my friends were long sick and tired of.

    I’ve been helping a good mate go through something similar recently and you would be amazed how quickly people get tried of listening to your problems and start quite literrally telling you to get on with you life and “pull your socks up”.

    It may be true, but believe me, it doesn’t help.

  • Verity

    Dave O’Neill,

    You have clearly been through a hard time and are clinging to what you found helpful, as indeed, we all do. I repeat, at no point did I say people should ‘buck up’ (someone else’s accusation) or that they should ‘pull their socks up’. I find such sentiments just as crude as mass ersatz grief over the death of a stranger.

    You quoted me: ‘Self-control’s out the window. People who fail to show adequate emotion are advised to “get counselling” to get in touch with their emotions.’ How do you translate this into ‘pull your socks up!’?

    It simply does not follow. And self-control is indeed out the window when people need “counselling” to get over the death of someone they never met. Young girls nowadays are getting “counselling” when their favourite pop group breaks up, for god’s sake! The notion has taken hold that the more counselling you need, the more sensitive you must be.

    I’m sorry about your personal circumstances, but you have been misinterpreting my posts to suit your arguments and I find it irritating.

    And who is Bette Noir? Did Bette Middler get remarried?

  • Dave O'Neill

    Verity,

    I’m sorry if you have taken offence, but looking back though your posts, you are terribly dismissive. And, while I agree with you over the nonsense that was the death of Diana, a attractive but vacent women as far as I could tell to lump all forms of Grief Counselling into this as you seem to is rather dismissive.

    If that was not your intent then I unresearvedly appologise.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Verity,

    Just as an example…

    are clinging to what you found helpful,

    Your very phraseology here seems designed to be insulting, hence my probably over agressive responses to your posts.

    I am not “clinging” as you so charmingly put it to anything. I am merely pointing out that different things work for different people, but dismissing, as you seem to, an entire approach is utterly invalid.

    Sometimes its easier to chat to somebody completely detached who has no preformed misconceptions. Sometimes life is hardwork and its good to have a moan, especially if uprooted from everything you know about and forced to move. I’ve moved a fair bit in my life, I actually quite enjoy it, but everybody is an individual and reacts to things as an individual. Maybe there is an over reliance on touchy feely stuff like this.

    However, I find the alternatives rather unpalletable myself. Historically we used Churches or extended families, if you move a lot the family can be impractical and frankly, as I said, I’d rather have a nervous breakdown than have to deal with a typical priest, certainly about anything personal.

    What’s wrong with a mother missing their off spring? My grandmother in the early 40′s was distraught when my mother was evacuated, so much so that after a few months my mother had to return to the East End.

    Like with most things people react to on here there is some idea that at an arbitary time in the past things were better and were done better. Like with many of the debates here, that concept is utter nonsense. There is and always will have been individuals who react as individuals.

  • Verity

    Dave O’Neill – You are correct when you note that I am dismissive of “counselling” by people who have not even a glancing aquaintance with neurobiology or the body of knowledge of the human psyche and no academic background. What they have are “feelings” and “empathy” and a three-month course they took. I feel one would be better off confiding to a stranger on a plane – in fact, lots of people do.

    I don’t know your circumstances, but you seem to be dealing with them in a way you think will work for you, and good luck to you – and I mean that.

    I still say, half a million counsellors lurking around a country with an adult population of around 30m is surreal.

  • Dave

    I still say, half a million counsellors lurking around a country with an adult population of around 30m is surreal.

    I tend to agree.

    But that is not to say that it is necessarily a problem.

    feel one would be better off confiding to a stranger on a plane – in fact, lots of people do.

    Indeed, at least with a “counsellor” it is consensual.

    I don’t want people needlessly spending my time thank you, I’d rather they did it with people who are interested.

  • Jacob

    Dave,
    Seems you said you talked some counsellor since your friends got bored after a while and you needed somebody to talk to. The counsellor could not lose interest, since he was paid to listen to you. He made you feel better.
    That is ok, and good for you. Ok.
    The question is: was that person just somebody you talked to, or was he a specialist, like a doctor, who had good scientific knowledge of the human soul, professional knowledge. Did he help you by invoking his professional knowledge in a way that a layman could not have helped, or did he help mostly by just listening and maybe giving you some common sense advice ?
    It would be interesting to hear the answers based on your actual experience.

  • Dave

    Jacob,

    Good question. I spent some time bleeting away to a Relate counsellor – I assume they have some form of training. They are not, however, trained practictioners. They mostly listen and make some suggestions based on what they’ve seen before for getting on with things. It helped, a little, sadly with something like an unexpected divorce or a bereavement the only thing that really works is time and lots of it.

    I did meet a fully professional therapist, a fully trained psycologist my wife was seeing for grief counselling to deal with the loss of her mother and sister. I found that less helpful, but the advice he gave me for supporting my wife was useful and, in a stressful time, very very good for our marriage.

  • Jacob

    “a fully trained psycologist… less helpful..”
    Interesting.
    Thanks Dave for sharing with us your experience.