Therapy is an opportunity to obtain assistance for problems but it is also dangerous. Imagine if a cult wanted to recruit and influence people. Therapy would be the perfect setting. It would be one in which the target being recruited comes back voluntarily once a week, tells all his or her secrets and is open to being influenced by the therapist. This is one way Scientology gets influence over its members.
Bad therapy breaks up relationships and even marriages. Recently a man I had dinner with told me how a therapist contributed to the breakup of his marriage. The therapist believed that the way for the man's wife to find happiness was for her to become angry at all the ways he had wronged her. The man told me that his wife became angrier and angrier and eventually left him.
One of the tragedies of our times is the creation of paranoia by recovered memory therapists. They use their position of influence over the patient to convince patients with happy childhood memories that they were abused by their loved ones. Lets say a teenage girl goes to therapy because of bulimia. Her therapist might tell her that she has bulimia because of abuse she suffered as a child. He might convince her that the reason that she doesn't remember any abuse is the memories of abuse are so horrible that she is repressing them. As she comes to believe more and more horrific things about her loved ones she needs more and more therapy and her insurance pays more and more therapy bills. She may sue her loved ones because of memories of abuse created by her therapist and if she wins, part of the money she won from her parents may wind up paying her therapist's salary. I have included a friend's personal experience with the false memory tragedy on this web site.
There are those who claim to have evidence that repression
does occur. The evidence given is either corroboration by other people, or confession by
the accused. The problem of relying on corroboration by other people as proof, is that
such corroboration may be from people who also recovered false memories. What can happen
is that the therapist looks for corroboration among other patients and inadvertently
creates memories in those patients. The problem with confession is that false memories can
be recovered in the accused as well. An example of this is occurred in the Paul Ingram case. Paul Ingram was accused by his daughters of
abuse, and believing that they would not lie about such a thing worked on recovering the
memories within himself. In the end he confessed to a lot of horrific abuse. Richard
Ofshe, a sociologist and author on recovered memory demonstrated that Paul was creating
memories by telling Paul that his daughters had accused him of committing an act when in
actuality they never had. After working on recovering the memory of that act, Paul
confessed to it. More information about the false memory crisis can be obtained from The False Memory Foundation. There is a
web page called Accused by two lawyers
with expertise in defending the falsely accused.
A therapists own emotional problems can lead to the therapist making a patient worse. A therapists own paranoia can lead the therapist to generate paranoia in the patient. If a woman therapist believes men are oppressive abusers and a patient who is paranoid of men comes to her for help, she is likely to agree with the patient and be supportive of the patients views.
The therapists flawed training may lead the therapist to support delusions in the patient. Many therapists believe that "One must believe the patient", the idea being that victims frequently are not believed and need someone to believe them in order to get well. If the patient really is a victim who is telling the truth the therapists should believe the patient, but if the patient is delusional, then they certainly should not believe the patient.
The training of therapists can lead to generation of paranoia in patients as well. The Freudian psychology attributed many problems of people to their relationship with their mother. As a result therapists led patients to feel hostile to their mothers.
Therapists have been labeling children who don't pay attention in class as having Attention Deficit Disorder. This has resulted in children being forced to take drugs sometimes with very negative consequences. This is discussed further on the DSMIII page of this web site.
I have often been asked if therapists who create problems in their patients do it out of greed since by doing so they insure more visits from their patients and a steady flow of income. I don't think that is the case. I think they believe they are helping the patients. I think the immorality of these these therapists comes from their creation of paranoia toward those who disagree with them. For example Recovered Memory Therapists often accuse those who question their methods as being abusers. By labeling those who disagree with them as abusers they justify rejecting advice they should be heeding.
How do we know a therapist is OK? The skeptic's dictionary has a web page with a checklist. Margaret Singer, a clinical psychologist and coauthor Janji Lalich wrote a book called Crazy Therapies with a section on "Consumer Guidelines" in the last chapter. Singer and Lalich provide much practical advice for those who are being asked to put a great deal of faith in a stranger who will be meddling with your mind, your emotional well-being and your life. They remind the reader/patient that you will be revealing very personal things about yourself and other people in your life.
The point of this essay is not to try and convince people seeking help not to go to therapy but rather to warn them of the dangers so that they will not become a victim of bad therapy. A good therapist can probably bring as much good as a bad therapist can bring evil into ones life.
c o p y r i g h t ( c ) 1 9 9 9 - 2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises. All rights reserved
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