Essay on “Mad in America” titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?”

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.

11 thoughts on “Essay on “Mad in America” titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?”

  1. I’ve read through your Mad in America essay a few times since it was posted, Daniel, and each time I do I come away feeling a little more fortified. Thank you for sticking your neck out. Today marks three years since I walked away from my family of origin. It means a lot to hear someone plainly say, “forgiving parents is not part of the healing process.” I agree. When I was searching for a therapist years ago I was deeply unsettled by the number of people who vehemently opposed my desire to cut familial ties, and in the years since I’ve found myself unable and unwilling to trust people who have pushed me to reconcile and/or forgive. Thank you for your frankness. I have few allies; reading your writing helps.

  2. I’ve read through the comments on your MIA article and am actually surprised at how little angry backlash there’s been, to date at least.

    I love the article; thank you for it.

    One of the commenters remarked on the power imbalances in psychotherapy and the fact that it can be more dangerous than medication. It would be interesting to read something about that. Jeffrey Masson’s book Against Therapy touched on it, but it focussed more on specific types of therapy rather than the whole enterprise of therapy per se.

    • yes, not so much angry backlash in public. but i’ve also gotten a lot of private messages that have been pretty rough, erg…
      jeffrey masson is an interesting one. the first book i read of his was “final analysis,” in which he goes into detail about his long-term therapy relationship with an analyst. he excoriates the analyst, whom i’d agree (from my memory) was a pompous and incompetent jerk. however, masson was extremely immature and arrogant himself, from what i remember, and had major blind spots about what was happening in the therapy relationship but more so within his own self. so it was hard for me to take him seriously, or take his philosophizing on therapy seriously. i read some of his other psychology books and felt the same, even though he had his moments of brilliance. but so out of touch with himself. i thought he was a much better writer about animals. daniel

      • Sorry to hear about the private responses. I should have thought of that – it seems to be the inevitable price if you dissent or make people uncomfortable.

        Good luck with Conscious Community!

  3. Hi Daniel,

    As one who has benefited enormously from really good therapy, I think your article about finding a good therapist was right on the money. I also fully agree with your posts about parenting and children, issues on which I am usually in the minority.

    I considered becoming a therapist years ago but became a computer guy instead. For some time now I’ve been working on a platform to bring some benefits of the Internet to the wild and wooly world of “personal growth,” the phrase I have always preferred to “mental health.” I realize you are not a therapist anymore but your videos, articles and blog posts are perfect examples of the message I want to promote.

    Your recent post about “Conscious Community” really caught my attention. There may be some overlap between your plans and the things I’ve been working on, especially the online aspect.

    Can I send you some information about what I’ve been working on? I’m not looking for clients and I’m not selling anything.* My priority is the promotion of valuable information for those who want to make things better in a world that seems determined to do the opposite. I am enjoying using my technical skills in support of this and if there is anything I have figured out that can help what you are working on I would enjoy sharing the information with you.

    Thanks Daniel.

    Marc Linn
    Eureka, CA

    * (My project will need to be self-funding in the long run; however, bringing the amazing economic advantages of the Internet to the surprisingly complex task of simply finding someone to talk to is one of my goals.)

  4. I can’t thank you enough for this. For one thing, the timing was perfect. My best friend asked me (for my science knowledge) about CBT for herself. I was taken aback, and didn’t know how to respond. My experience with therapy was mostly awful – a few who barely seemed to know how to help me, followed by one hotshot therapist who refused to accept insurance. I told him I could afford to see him once a month – he used my phobia and my vulnerability to convince me that I needed “stability” and see him every week or my life would fall apart. He said don’t worry about the money – then 8 months later he started saying I was an immature person who was terrible with money and that’s all he would discuss in sessions. Between that horrible experience and the “replication crisis”, I didn’t know what to tell my friend. I told her CBT and EDMR (I hope to try that) seem promising, but after I read your piece I quickly told her what to me sounds intuitively correct – that therapy is really more of a “healing and art form” as you said, and to go into it, if at all, with extreme caution as there isn’t much evidence it works. I felt vindicated after watching your videos – thanks.

  5. So happy you are willing to have your voice heard! Refreshing. There are 6 children in my life. You are completely correct about the forgiveness. My healing was more effective by simply framing my parents’ drama with the same respect I have for anyone I meet. I shy away from the phrase ‘I have 6 children’ when actually they got me. You may not appreciate Hannah Pilnick’s quote: (she is a parent) it is an effective part of a working therapeutic approach, acknowledging 100% where the healing power is): Your children are an external picture of your deepest inner self. They reflect what has been hidden, repressed and concealed for years. They cry out your inner pain – through mental, emotional, and physical suffering – so that you are able to see it and remove it from your life. They are your most loyal bodyguards. They will guard you in every way, even at the price of taking your suffering upon themselves and risking their own lives.

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