Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Psychotherapy and Social Class

It's often been noted that many of the people in long-term psychotherapy don't seem to have any real problems, just general feelings of unease.  They may feel some hurt related to their employment, or their upbringing, or their place in the community, or even the universe in general.  (This is to say nothing of people with distinct, crippling mental diseases like schizophrenia, who are a different matter entirely.)

Ceteris paribus, people with the time and money for long-term talk therapy have fewer problems than those who lack the time and money.  If you can afford this sort of thing you are better off than most right there.  However, ceteris paribus is an unreasonably large condition.  Actually, it's laughable.  Who says other things should be equal?

People who get into the middle and upper classes through intelligence and hard work are a special breed, and other upper-middle-class people are descended from those who got there through intelligence and hard work.  Intelligence, conscientiousness, and hard work are related to psychological dimensions that, if magnified enough, can change from virtues into vices.  A lot of modern neuroses look like some sort of unfortunate exaggeration of a social/psychological virtue:

Perhaps the large number of people in psychotherapy is a result of the same kind of class sorting that Charles Murray is always talking about.  I have no real angle on helping people with these conditions, and I'm aware that a lot of alt-rightists deny their existence.

I do think that we'd all be helped in understanding the conditions that are distortions of virtues if we could keep straight what is virtue and what is vice.  It's no good recognizing that autism can be understood not as a disease but as an extremely male thought pattern, if male thought patterns have already been effectively demonized.  Leftism is as big a barrier to understanding psychology as it is to understanding sociology and economics.


latté island said...

Seeing as how the overwhelming majority of shrinks are leftists, non-leftists had better avoid therapy except for serious problems. There have been so many studies lately that prove the mental unfitness of people with the wrong opinions, shrinks are the last people I would chat with. Racists and other mentally unfit people will be the first lab animals to test experimental tolerance drugs, and lefty shrinks will almost certainly volunteer the names of their clients who need correction.

bgc said...

I liked your list, which was insightful.

I'm not sure what your other point is - psychotherapy is ineffective as such, indeed counter-effective in many or most people.

There is no 'expertise' in psychotherapy - or rather, it is not the kind of expertise which can be certificated. The bottom line relationship between the average therapist and client is predatory, vampiric.

[P.S. The anti-spam 'prove you are not a robot' thing is almost impossible!]

Olave d'Estienne said...

Both comments make it clear that I glossed over an important point:

I agree that most current psychotherapy is ineffective or even counterproductive. This is partly because we're still in a general dark ages as far as medicine and psychology (as well as sociology) go, and partly because of leftism specifically.

The point of the post was actually pretty narrow: Maybe upper-middle-class people can have real problems in thought and behavior, problems distinct from though not necessarily worse than that among the working class and the underclass. This doesn't make going to a left-wing voodoo secularist a good idea, but it doesn't mean that bourgeois anxiety should quite be ignored either.

A hypothetical right-wing counseling discipline could concentrate on:
(A) General life advice, from nutrition to personal finance.
(B) Reëstablishing a classic conception of maturity and responsibility. Modern people need to know when to bite the bullet and do the job, and when to assert their needs to their peers and family.

Stuffing every complaint, so as to not "sound like a whiner", will simply not do. The culture is far too unclear and unassertive about people's roles. How many people have allowed vital relationships to die out because they couldn't assert their needs? The opposite tendency, to blow every unmet need out of proportion, produces the overgrown child that so many of us are familiar.

So again we see two virtues that blend into vices:
Forbearance and hard work blend into real (but unannounced) victimhood.
Assertiveness and the willingness to defend one's own interests blend into fake (but often quite noisy) victimhood.

Until then, though, you're both right--stay away from the ghosts of Marx, Freud, and Marcuse floating around in the offices of Nicee Beardman, Ph.D.

e said...

In order to make a lot of money you have to do something extraordinary (as in "extra ordinary"), unless you're just lucky (which some people are). It therefore stands to reason that many upper-middle-class people will be extra-ordinary in various psychological ways.