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Consider psychologists and therapists whose hatred and contempt for Trump manifested in a disregard for the prohibition against diagnosing strangers or non-clients. Throughout 2017 Trump was clinically diagnosed in various media as having a narcissistic personality disorder and calls were made for his impeachment on the grounds that he was mentally ill. However anti-Trump one’s view, we should recall the psychiatric abuses of the Soviet Union from 1950, when many practitioners with views designated as politically incorrect were forced to retract them, and many political dissenters from the 1960s were diagnosed and hospitalised with the fabricated condition of “sluggish schizophrenia”. Last year I met a group of Russian psychology students who told me that Moscow has an emerging market of affluent professionals wanting Gestalt therapy to help them express long-repressed feelings. Some Westerners feel they are now imprisoned in a vast PC cult and witch-hunt that encompasses many areas of life, including psychotherapy. These days, when clients are invited to say anything that comes into their heads, they are likely to think twice and self-censor if it comes close to politics their therapists may not share.

Leftism in psychotherapy can be traced from therapeutic pioneers like Reich, Maslow, Fromm et al. up through feminist therapy and critical psychology. It is clear in the publications of Oliver James, the clinical psychologist antagonistic towards psycho-pharmaceutics, genetic explanations and CBT, and “affluenza”. Mark Fisher’s 2009 Capitalist Realism argued that we are enmeshed in a mental health-diminishing culture whose malignancy we cannot readily detect. In 2016 a former community organiser and now psychotherapist Richard Brouilette openly declared in the New York Times that “therapists should talk politics”. He cautions that “therapy could easily become an arm of the state” (meaning a right-wing state) without noting that therapy can equally become an arm of cultural Marxism. Loudly publicised breakthroughs in understanding and treating mental illness appear regularly, followed perennially by disappointing outcomes. Left-wing journalist and former plagiarist Johann Hari in his recent celebrity-endorsed book Lost Connections loudly and with unabashed quasi-novelty proclaims depression to result from capitalism, alienation, etc, etc: talking therapy definitely helps, antidepressants are not the answer, but under socialism all will be well. It is an all too familiar scapegoating of capitalism and failure to grasp the tragic dimension of life. We should discuss these matters openly, looking at right- and left-wing interpretations, but we should not conceal biases.
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Paul Atkinson
March 1st, 2018
1:03 PM
Your point is what? Of course a majority of therapists are more concerned with compassion, people’s capacity to relate, to support each other in the pain and difficulty of life than they are in a more “right-wing” empahasis on competition, self-sufficiency, economic success and other alienating life goals. You can call the former liberal or even Marxist if you like but Surely that’s you groaning some axe of your own against therapy. What’s your alternative approach to psychological distress? Why not come out and declare your own politics and prejudices.

Michael McManus
March 1st, 2018
10:03 AM
Excellent. I do wonder about how much influence tutors have on students: my experience has been that what is transmitted is seldom what is received. Perhaps it's more a case of birds of a feather. The major failure is the total lack of an evidence base, other than anecdotal. (Freud made number of colossally stupid diagnoses, and I believe the only people who thought being counselled after 9/11 was any help were the therapists.) Least said, soonest mended - not something you'll find in a counsellors office.

March 1st, 2018
5:03 AM
My therapist of nearly 2 decades severed all contact with me after I refused to vote for Obama. And to think I once blindly trusted her to guide me into becoming an adult. Sheesh!

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