Hi Everyone. And greetings after a rather long absence. It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, and I wanted to say hello and share a bit of what I’ve been up to. Mostly in terms of creative output I’ve been making new videos — I’ve caught the video bug again. It’s been an intense and largely rewarding venture. And most surprisingly, one of these new videos became more popular than anything else I ever put up. It’s my video on “Six reasons I quit being a therapist” (embedded below) and as of the date of this writing it’s been viewed more than a quarter million times. This is totally unexpected. And the strange thing is, I really don’t know why it’s happened, because when I recorded it and put it up on Youtube I didn’t think it was particularly better than anything else I was sharing. But somehow it seems to have struck a nerve with a lot of people — and somehow that translated into Youtube promoting it with their mysterious algorithms. What I have learned from the comments, though — more than 3,000 of them at the time of this writing — is that there are quite a lot of people out there who have had very bad, painful, even harmful and traumatic therapy experiences, and really are trying to make sense of them. Most of the feedback on the video, probably more than 95%, has been positive, but some has been negative. There have been a few therapists and psychiatrists who have felt I’ve spoken incorrectly or in an overly negative way about the mental health field, though frankly, I think just reading the far majority of viewers’ comments contradict that, which I admit pleases me. (It also pleases me that quite a lot of therapists have found value in the video too — so not all mental health professionals dislike it.) Meanwhile, I’ve been making more and more videos. And I find a real pleasure in it — a pleasure, though, laced with anxiety and the inevitable self-doubt of creativity. But the pleasure of it drives me forward — the pleasure of creating, of speaking my mind, of sharing my life experience, and hopefully of offering some help and support to people out there in the world. It is very gratifying! So again, a warm hello to you all! Daniel
For those interested, I just put up a new essay on the blog “Mad in America”, titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?“. It was a risk for me to place this essay there, because some of the essay’s ideas, such as a good therapist wouldn’t have children and wouldn’t preach forgiveness of parents, are not in synch with conventional thinking. I assumed these ideas would meet with backlash from more conventional readers, and from the comments of the first few hours, this has proven to be the case. I am finding responding to be an interesting experience. It gets me thinking – and offers me a chance to engage in dialogue.
For all interested in Open Dialogue (the subject of my third film): A few days ago I posted an essay on the well-read blog Mad In America, all about my thoughts over the last five years on the Finnish Program “Open Dialogue.” The comments after the essay are worth reading too — some really good ones. Meanwhile, in the essay I am fairly critical of the people who are helping to spread Open Dialogue around the world, mostly because they’re not taking a strong enough stand on some of the basic issues that made Finnish Open Dialogue an evidence-based success, namely, focusing work on people in a first-episode psychosis and working with minimal or no meds. Perhaps not surprisingly, none of those folks commented on the essay — though, considering the prominence of the blog Mad In America, it’s pretty likely that most of them (or all of them?) read my piece. But that, sadly, is the nature of the mental health field: discussion and dialogue are great in theory, but questionable in practical reality……
Here’s a link to the piece:
Meanwhile, greetings all — and I plan to be posting a lot more here soon!!
Based on my past experience both as a therapist and client in the mental health field, I have learned that when therapists or psychiatrists give you the following diagnoses all too often here is what they really mean:
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Your obsessive nature is thwarting my compulsion to reorganize your life.
Paranoid Personality Disorder: The way I perceive you staring at me when I ask you extremely personal questions about the most painful experiences in your life really makes me uncomfortable. Continue reading
I’ve been on a roll — just made another mini-film, again starring Fred Timm. It’s on the subject of psychotherapy, healing childhood trauma, and clearing out the old to make way for the new. Enjoy!!
I just made a new film, called PROTEST PSYCHIATRY, on the psychiatric survivor-lead protest of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in New York City. And I’m thrilled by how it turned out. For starters, I filmed it on no budget whatsoever, created the entire film in three days, and have uploaded it straight to Youtube, so it’s freeeeeee!
This film, for me, was an experiment. Continue reading
[Written in 2008.]
(Note: Although I am aware that this does not apply to all psychoanalysts, it sure does apply to a lot!)
Patient asks: What’s the difference between a psychoanalyst and an average therapist?
Psychoanalyst replies: I have studied the most modern, sophisticated theories of human dynamics, and thus have the tools to understand and unravel the motivating roots of human endeavor…
Translation: Don’t you know that I spent seventy thousand dollars going to psychoanalytic training after I got my Ph.D.? Do you deign to suggest that I wasted the money I struggled to earn spending thousands of hours not listening to mere mortals like you?! Continue reading
[Written around 2008.]
There are endless similarities between therapists and parents – including the nurturing and guiding role, the depth and intimacy in the relationship, and the existence of a power differential between the therapist and patient and the parent and child – but three key differences stand out most strikingly.
1) The initiation of the relationship
Child/Parent: A child enters the lives of his parents after the parents have sex. He enters the parental world as a completely perfect being – and as close to being a blank slate as he will ever be again.
Patient/Therapist: Patients enter the lives of therapists through a referral (or self-referral) – and already damaged. Continue reading
[Written around 2007.]
1) Purpose of the Relationship
Therapist: The therapist’s purpose is to help the patient face his buried traumas, uncover his blocked feelings around them, resolve them through grieving, ascribe appropriate blame, discontinue his repetitive acting out, and integrate – and thus grow toward enlightenment. This is what the patient pays him to do, and the payment is what balances the scale of the relationship. Where the therapist desires any more from the patient he fails as a therapist and instead acts as a regressive force in the patient’s evolution.
Patient: The patient’s purpose is to grow at all costs. Continue reading
[Written around 2004.]
Hypnotherapy demands passivity on the part of patients. Patients go into the hypnotherapist’s office, sit or lie down, and become unconscious, which is the requirement for entering a hypnotic state, i.e. a trance. And then they don’t consciously do anything. Instead the therapist does the “work,” meaning, he probes around inside their psyche, decides what’s wrong, and then proceeds to fix it…supposedly. Continue reading
[Written around 2004.]
Charging fees is a backbone of what keeps the therapy process professional. Not only does it allows the therapist to survive in the world, but it affirms his self-respect. He gives the best of himself to his patients, and they return the gift with something of value. Patients who pay a fee make a sacrifice – and thus buy a service. This is invaluable for them, because when the going gets ugly in therapy, as it invariably does if the process goes well, they must feel comfortable expressing their negative feelings – which are often toward the therapist – as freely as they need to. This step is made all the more difficult if patients are not clear that they – and no one else – have bought the therapist’s service. Continue reading
[Written around 2004.]
A healer must be humble. Humility is optimal openness to learning. Humility requires suspending one’s preconceived confidence in what is right and what is wrong and listening on a more fundamental level. The healer must be a great listener. He must be open to entering the depths of another’s story, another’s wisdom, and another’s truth. Everyone carries a lifetime of truth in their pain, their symptoms, and their buried hopes, and he must relate to it if he is to help them remove their psychic daggers from their chest. Continue reading