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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Psy fi

This post is intended as a form of response to Dink's comment in his last post, the one where he hinted that I unconditionally attack psychiatry and other psy professions (as I understood him, at any rate..).
It is also a statement of my position and current beliefs on the question of the psy professions for people who just MIGHT be heading into our saloon from psy areas, (and, why not ? people with psy inclinations who are silent readers here).
Readers have noticed that I will resort to somewhat mild forms of sarcasm when referring to the psy professions.
Such sarcasm is not the equivalent of a wholesale disqualification of these professions.
I think that in the psy professions, as in any profession, there are people who are doing good work accompanying patients in their personal trials. And that the patients who are consulting these people are getting a lot out of this kind of accompaniment.
In my neck of the woods, we set great store on freedom of thought. That means that IN MY OPINION, it is desirable for someone exercising a psy profession to be as free as possible from prejudices (I said.. as free as possible. Prejudice is everywhere.).
And I feel that it is desirable for someone exercising a psy profession to be as free as possible from troublesome PREJUDICES about the nature of their profession, their role and their mission.
Unfortunately FROM MY VANTAGE POINT (which I can defend with historical/critical arguments) many psys are woefully ignorant of the prejudices they have CONCERNING THEIR PROFESSION.
It is debatable to what extent such ignorance compromises the quality of work being done with patients. (Which I will concede...)
For the simple reason that I feel at this time that probably the number one prerequisites for being a good psy are : an excellent capacity for empathy, which implies imagination, and the capacity to put oneself in the patient's shoes (from time to time, at least...), and excellent critical/analytic skills. (Incidentally, Thai may argue, correctly in my book, that these qualities make for good doctors too...)
Saint Paul said that one could give away all one's possessions, live in poverty, do good deeds from morning to dusk, but without CHARITY (agape), it was pointless.
So... that means that a good psy MUST practice charity (agape) in order to be good.
Now... does that mean he has to know lots of fancy things about the human psyche, and undergo lots of time and money consuming training to achieve this end ?
Does he have to OWN a BODY of knowledge that sets him up as an expert ?
Maybe. Maybe not. I personally don't think that this is essentiel at all.
And I think that most of what a psy needs to know can not be taught in text books, in seminars, in classes at all. It is... learned through experience, and living.
Obviously I am talking here about the psy as therapist in the talking cure.
Not a prescriptor. That's something different.
A word of caution :
I abandoned my practice for complex reasons :
1) I was not "making a living with it", and I had lost faith in MY capacity to do it well.
2) I discovered that my personal vocation was NOT in synch with the way the psy professions as a CORPORATION organize their work (in France, but also in the U.S., I suspect.). Because... I like to talk MORE than I like to listen. That's pretty straightforward, and my friends on this blog will confirm that..
3) I have come to feel that one of the down sides of the psy professions lies with their propensity to pinpoint the problems an individual encounters in his search for meaning in his life IN THE INDIVIDUAL HIM/HERSELF, and I find this unscientific hypothesis to be normative, and not compatible with MY observations and conclusions that the social body itself is VERY VERY RESPONSIBLE for the difficulties of the individuals that comprise it.
4) I feel that the psy professions are constructed around a complex belief system that emerged from Renaissance/Enlightenment thought, and that this BELIEF system, referred to as SCIENTIFIC thought, evacuates the BELIEFS that underlie our sometimes unconditional allegiance to "scientific" thought. In other words, what we call science is NOT "objective", to the extent that objectivity is impossible in HUMAN experience. We.. BELIEVE in what we call science (many of us, at least..).

Now... at this time, IN NO WAY do I discourage people who are already accompanied by a therapist to abandon the help that they are getting in this context (when they are getting help, that is...and when they are NOT getting help in the therapeutic situation I am very very circumspect.).
But neither do I evangelize actively for the psy professions by telling people that their SALVATION MUST come through therapy. Because... I do NOT BELIEVE this the way I used to...

I also feel that the "service" offered by the different psy professions (from a mercantile perspective) is one that has been offered in varying forms, and with varying success, all through the history of our society. It has been offered... for free, on many occasions.
Now... TODAY, IN OUR SOCIETY, this service is NOT ALWAYS offered for free.
Because of the necessity to invent new ways to put our multitudinous talents to use to put meat and potatoes on the table. (THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A CONDEMNATION...)
In this same way, coaching is a NEW psy profession which is emerging in France.
While other professions are disappearing over time.
Inevitable huh ??
For the time being I offer my "service" for free (in certain contexts).
Because I feel that... it is VITAL for us to see that you don't have to pay for everything you receive. (That's what "grace" is, by the way. Subject of a future post.)

And Dink ? Remember Herbert ? He was a "psy" too. I wonder whether he ended up abandoning the profession too...


Thai said...

Interesting you mention coaching as it is a large and growing industry in the US (I say industry for obvious reasons)



Young entrepreneur or YPO

The CEO project

All examples of the field of Industrial psychology. They offer a lot of good advice and are at the same time a bit of a racket with definite conflicts of interest.

Thai said...

The problem I have with "therapists" is still the basic issue that therapy is always relative to a goal and it is not at all clear to me that people really know that their goals are.

Debra said...

I'm going to bypass your links for the moment Thai, and get back to them later (I wanna stretch my legs today...).
When I set up practice, it was as a PSYCHOANALYST, because in my book, the psychoanalysts and theorists/practiciens of psychoanalysis have the most exacting and responsible ethics binding the "therapist" in his approach to his patient.
Psychology is inextricably tied to the military, and the admen of our civilization. Not exactly the people you want to be dealing with if you value your.. INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM at all..
Of course, I didn't have the option of setting up shop as a psychiatrist, because I don't have an M.D.
But Freud patiently and cautiously insisted on not reserving the practice of psychanalysis to the M.D. population, as I said on Carlat's blog, because he did NOT want psychoanalysis to be confiscated by any particular social class (you know what social class the M.D.'s belong to, right ? ;-) Check out Lubitsch, "That Uncertain Feeling" for a glimpse of the confiscation of psychoanalysis by that class.
On the subject of "goals"...
The fuzzy goal of therapy is to... feel better.
To find joy in one's existence. To feel freer.
These are fuzzy goals. And therapy's goals are better off being.. fuzzy, in my book.
A fuzzy goal is one that allows you to be SURPRISED from time to time.
An unfuzzy one resembles an accountant's sheet...

Debra said...

Funny the way the mind works..
Back to "Dune"..
Later books.
The pseudo Reverend Mothers get subdued because their thought has become one in which all possibility of surprise has been carefully eliminated.
That's what cynicism is all about : controlling to eliminate the surprise factor.
Because being surprised means POSSIBLY being disappointed.
Thanks, Frank. A... prophet, still.

Dink said...


Deb HATES rules. All rules. Any rules. Rules mean imprisonment AND SHE WON'T HAVE IT. And at some level you have to admire the zest for absolute freedom. But at another level its chaos.

stay with me here, I swear its a breakthrough

Rules mean something much more to Deb than they do to me. They're an emotional trigger which set her off into a berzerker rage. Black and white. Zero or one binary.

For me, there are various levels of emotional reaction to rules. Take the rules of the game Monopoly. I accept that the terrier is the last token available, I'm at the whim of the dice, and that Broadway costs a lot. Not a lot of emotional investment. Deb would screech "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO TELL ME WHO I AM, WHERE AND WHEN I CAN GO, AND THAT I HAVE TO TOUCH YOUR FILTHY LUCRE?!?!?!". Rules are an emotional trigger.

Might I suggest that Deb might want to consider the gravity of the game before she rages against the authority of the rules?

Stumbling for concept...

Mental health is extremely complicated. Some people got together and tried to organize the subject a bit so they created the DSM. They're not overlords trying to force their will on mankind. They created a set of rules (a "game") that people could use if they felt like it. No one is saying you have to use it. You can make another game if you think it will work better. The tyranny you feel is self-created; it is not their intent.

Getting distracted; thinking about cookies...NO! This is important, keep going

Science is not your enemy; its not anyone's enemy. Its figuring the rules of the game and writing them down. We didn't create this game or its rules. The physical world exists, like it or not.

I also had some stuff on the definition of mental health, but I'll do it later. My neurons have wandered off. Unruly bastards!

Debra said...

But dinky, WHY OH WHY are you getting all hot and bothered over the DSM ??
Did I mention the DSM in that post ??
No. I didn't.
The problem with your RULES, dink, is that before THOSE "rules" existed there were... other "rules".
And the DSM, LIKE OTHER FACETS OF AMERICAN IMPERIALISM is colonizing the world. (In some circles people talk about memes, and other disease paradigms. Personally I find that analogy a little silly, but it is used.)
You may have noticed by now that our Islamic brothers and sisters ARE NOT HAPPY about the globalization of those American "rules" that you are talking about.
Because... they have THEIR "rules".
That go with THEIR culture.
You are basically right, though.
I am a Christian mystic anarchist. (A school of thought to be found in late Tsarist Russia, I think.
Not sure.)
I happen to believe that we COULD live without "rules". But it would require a phenomenal amount of faith to pull it off...
Something not easily mobilized in Western civilization at this time.

Thai said...

I've kind of come to the same conclusion myself Dink

Deb, Dink is saying there were/are rules that existed before the next set of rules were developed as well. It is just one of those "whose rule system is the most atomic". ;-)

Now that is a rabbit hole if ever there was one.

To avoid using my favorite "f" word, in order to be atomic, that most basic of all rules sets must not have its own building blocks.

I keep waiting for the scientists to stop inventing a new set of building blocks to explain the building blocks they most recently discovered. So far they have had trouble getting to the bottom of that rabbit hole.

But to concur a little with Deb (again a little) on her notions of "faith", the scientists do keep finding cooperation between those very building blocks on every scales they examine them. ;-)

Debra said...

But Thai, in your assumptions about one set of rules being more "atomic" than another I PRESUME you are saying that we now know MORE than we used to know.
That there is progress in the quantity and quality of WHAT we know.
But... you MUST know that knowledge is lost all the time.
To the extent that it is written down (re dink's last post, Foundation series) it can be recovered.
But, for example, you both know that the number of languages spoken in the world is declining.
I consider this to be an irrecuperable LOSS OF KNOWLEDGE. And this loss of knowledge is not reserved to the number of languages spoken, obviously.
Now tell me about "atomic" sets of rules.
As I understand you, Thai, you are NOT seeing this as a zero sum issue. And it IS. You betcha, it is.

Thai said...

We know different stuff, not more

And every time we think we get to the bottom, the bottom falls out so to speak.

... Having said that, some knowledge has certain practical advantages (and accompanying disadvantages) that other knowledge does not.

After all, the people who keep plugging along to keep us on track re: Moore's Law did also give us the personal computer to chat with.

Bummer about all those languages lost, but they were not helping us communicate across continents.


Thai said...
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Thai said...
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Debra said...

Whew, Thai, how CONVENIENT that American English is colonizing the planet and "helping us communicate across continents"...
Over here in France, WHERE PEOPLE GET THE WALL STREET SPEAK SHOVED INTO THEIR FACES this does no good in promoting... good will between all men (and women...)
Your PREJUDICES about what language is FOR (ugh) are showing.
It is not JUST for communicating across continents.
Not JUST for communicating across continents for buying and selling, and trading off "information" (another UGLY word...).
The loss of these languages affects the human REALITY. To the extent that that "reality" is multifaceted and reflected in the myriad languages on this planet.
You know this. Your language determines what you think and what you perceive. Right, Dink ?? ;-)

Dink said...

Haven't even looked at yet; must express crazed morning insight

So when a system, which is a "game" of rules or equation, stabilizes it becomes a "block". These blocks of stabilzed systems become form the new level of fractal iteration. Complexity. If there is a change to the rules that unstabilizes the game of a lower level've hosed things as the blocks come tumbling down to the level where stability is possible again. Simplicity, but at a cost.

So when we speak of "organic" growth we mean growth that follows rules that let the lower blocks of the fractal remain stable.

So Hari Seldon was able to step back and view psychohistory and say "this node will reach stability at this time yadda yadda yadda". He wasn't saying by which method this structure would complete because there could be many unstable attempts before "logic" was reached. And maybe "logic" s/b defined as rules that create a system that won't inherently self-destroy (stable).

"Comment deleted

This post has been deleted by the author."

WHAT?!?!? If I have to make a damn fool of myself with unplanned comments so do you ;) Did you mainline Ambien again?

"Your language determines what you think and what you perceive"

As infant animals our first language creates our default reality. Then we go to school, read outrageous sci fi, and frequent outlaw blogs; reality changes. Maybe when I retire I'll create a new alphabet and language for the hell of it. Or better yet, I'll research and find that someone smarter and harder working has already done it ;)

Debra said...

I think that your theory POSITS stability and that said stability is nothing more than a convenient conceptual construct.
I do NOT think that stability exists.
For the DSM... "some people got together and decided to organize the way things were being done". There already WAS a form of organization.
"A set of rules that people could use IF THEY FELT LIKE IT." This sentence, dink, reflects your.. naiveté on the way the social corps manages to impose its COLLECTIVE will on us as individuals. Also on the way ideas are globalized and impose themselves on different cultures.
The shrinks working in mental hospitals in France HAVE NO CHOICE about whether to use this model or not. Particularly when they have to fill out those cute quality control forms (bureaucracy) to PROVE and justify how the filthy lucre is being spent.

Thai said...

I might take issue with the word naivete, since some of us accept rules.

so re: "the way the social corps manages to impose its COLLECTIVE will on us as individuals. Also on the way ideas are globalized and impose themselves on different cultures."

Agreed and so what

I do not see this approach is any worse than any else.

There is no "alternative" which is better in my opinion. Simple one of those "a rose by any other name does not smell as sweet" issues.

Thai said...

And Dink, the deletes were simply for posts intended on Sudden Debt that I accidentally posted here. You can read them on SD

Debra said...

Thai, thanks for your post on Carlat. I really appreciate that. It looks as though I have not been permanently banned, though, huh ?
Remember, I am someone for whom naiveté is not the eighth deadly sin.
It is unfortunately true that naiveté is perceived at this time in our culture as being a sign of stupidity, and it is often thrown out as an accusation.
I take radical exception to that point of view.
Naiveté is a form of... trust, and belief.
So it is not necessarily a "bad" thing.
I noticed a long time ago that my brother in law's lip curled as he ACCUSED ME of being naïve on certain issues. (While HIS naiveté showed up at another level.)
Naiveté is a zero sum issue.
Because.. it exists in ALL of us.
Because we're human.
Thai, I maintain that the way that you feel about yourself will be different according to whether you pinpoint the source of your disgruntlement in attitudes emanating from the social body, or YOUR OWN FUCK UPS (and granted that it is time consuming work trying to separate out what is YOUR responsibility in what happens to you, and that it should be done).
It is extremely convenient and comfortable for the social body to assign EXCLUSIVE responsibility to the individual.
But I maintain that this is not the way things work.
Exclusion is a very costly mecanism of social control.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits