Skip to comments.More and More, Favored Psychotherapy Lets Bygones Be Bygones
Posted on 02/16/2006 10:26:39 PM PST by neverdem
For most of the 20th century, therapists in America agreed on a single truth. To cure patients, it was necessary to explore and talk through the origins of their problems. In other words, they had to come to terms with the past to move forward in the present.
Thousands of hours and countless dollars were spent in this pursuit. Therapists listened diligently as their patients recounted elaborate narratives of family dysfunction the alcoholic father, the mother too absorbed in her own unhappiness to attend to her children's needs certain that this process would ultimately produce relief.
But returning to the past has fallen out of fashion among mental health professionals over the last 15 years. Research has convinced many therapists that understanding the past is not required for healing.
Despite this profound change, the cliché of patients' exhaustively revisiting childhood horror stories remains.
"Average consumers who walk into psychotherapy expect to be discussing their childhood and blaming their parents for contemporary problems, but that's just not true any more," said John C. Norcross, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
Professor Norcross has surveyed American psychologists in an effort to figure out what is going on behind their closed doors.
Over the last 20 years, he has documented a radical shift. Psychotherapeutic techniques like psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy, which deal with emotional conflict and are based on the idea that the exploration of past trauma is critical to healing, have been totally eclipsed by cognitive behavioral approaches.
That relatively new school holds that reviewing the past is not only unnecessary to healing, but can be counterproductive.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
"Whatever, do as thou will."
I couldn't agree more and have held this opinion for many, many years. In fact, as the article says it can be counterproductive.
"That relatively new school holds that reviewing the past is not only unnecessary to healing, but can be counterproductive."
No wonder I'm in such a mess. I've been listening to my shrink and trying to make amends with my past.
Can I sue the nimconpoops?
I recall Michael Reagan once told Sean Hannity of his sexual abuse by a neighbor. Sean came back brazenly, "You didn't let it keep you down - that's great!"
The segment ran out of time, but Michael sort of shook his head saying "You just don't get it..."
What is this sick world where scars and grudges don't exist? It's a place where good and evil are treated equally. That's the essence of today's liberalism.
Put some ice on it...
Juanita Broderick... certainly.
"What is this sick world where scars and grudges don't exist? It's a place where good and evil are treated equally. That's the essence of today's liberalism."
I couldn't link to the full article but I think the thinking is that you can treat a scar or grudge without necessarily revisiting exactly how it came about. This would seem especially important where the trauma might recur. Seems I can remember Maxwell Maltz indicating that the brain does not recognize the difference between an actual experience and the memory of the experience so that remembering the experience is every bit as traumatic as the original event, now doubled in the mind. I don't see it as an attempt to pretend there aren't scars and grudges so much as saying reliving the details isn't always necessary to the healing. Just my opinion.
I've seen cases where someone had something admittedly horrible happen to them, but everyone went on and on about how AWFUL it was, poor dear, and you MUST talk about it, and DEAL with it, when in fact it might have been better for the victim to just get on with his or her life and not dramatize for others.
It's the parents, peers, spouses or others who sometimes seem to be demanding this kind of endless perusal of past horrors. I know this is not a popular position, but sometimes it IS better to get on with life. Kids often do not know how close they came to something tragic happening to them, and of course the perpetrator must be punished. But this isn't about that--it's about how a victim gets over being victimized, and often the answer is NOT to tell someone "You don't know how bad it was!"
I'm reminded of stories which have appeared on FR from college women who went on dates that didn't pan out, and after a few days of having their feminist pals telling them "You were date raped and didn't know it!" they suddenly press charges. I am NOT saying such things don't happen, I am saying they don't ALWAYS happen.
Similarly, a kid who's had to suffer certain instances of abuse (I have personal experience with just this kind of thing) SOMETIMES--I emphasis sometimes--is not traumatized. The criminal scum needs to be shipped off to jail, but sometimes the kid was unaware of what happened, or almost happened. Putting her or him in years of therapy often exacerbates the problem.
This isn't about hard-and-fast rules, but sometimes living in the past, particularly a frightening or painful one, is not conducive to good mental health. It depends on the situation. Too often we are in this "Get in touch with the thing you're hiding in your past" crap which leads to years of guilt and shame for the victim, when what they really need is to accept what happened but move on and live in the present, not endlessly chew over the past. Millions of lives have been spoiled by this misguided process, and it's refreshing to see that people are starting to come around and, when applicable, say "It happened, it's over, I'm fine, I'm gonna move on and not live like this thing done to me is the defining event of my life."
Talking about bad things that happend to me only pisses me off all over again. You relive the crap when you talk about it.
Agreed. If there were a point to it, if it were solving some problem, I would recommend it. But when all it does is force people to dwell in the bad spots of life (which we've all had to one degree or another), what is the point?
Your post no. 10 was excellent and spot-on.
Thanks. Your posts on the Boyington thread likewise.
TREND IN PSYCHOTHERAPY: LESS EMPHASIS ON PAST EXPERIENCES, MORE EMPHASIS ON IDEOLOGY, AS GOAL OF TREATMENT ("FOR HEALING," as the New York Times puts it).
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I came across something similar describing the useless or counterproductive results of psychotherapeutic efforts for survivors of mass tragedies, e.g. school shootings and the World Trade Center, because they assume everybody must have the same reaction and either responds positively or at least appreciates their psychotherapeutic efforts.
To set a broken leg you have to set in back in place
and not pleasant.
Aaron Beck's thinking is, setting it would cause pain
so learn to walk a new way on the broken leg.
There are many personality disorders and developmental disorders that take various schools of psychiatry and
years of work.
Aaron Beck and the school of denial would leave us with
a far worse world than we have now.
People are often ashamed that they're not having the same reactions everyone else is having, like there's a normal way to respond to death, accident, tragedy. That's what TV does--people are suspicious if they don't cry enough at someone's funeral, for example.
We're all different, and we have different reactions, so we shouldn't be treated psychiatrically as if every bad thing that happens has the same precise effect on everyone. I know a Vietnam vet, now deceased, who wasn't disturbed in the least when a cop harassed him because he was involved with the police in his hometown and he let that stuff slide; I saw a Vietnam vet having to be pulled off another cop merely because the cop asked him to step outside of a homeless shelter. That's merely an illustration, but it's a pretty good one about how people have wildly different reactions. And one thing that needs to be said is that something you and I might agree is horrible sometimes, not always, is something someone else can deal with very easily, or at least deal with it better than someone else might.
Yeah, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn't usually contended with by psychotherapy. People suffering reactive emotional problems to past traumatic events such as the ones you describe (including wars and other violent crimes and such) don't usually respond to a psychoanalytical approach but best to behavioral therapy.
A well adjusted person who experiences a sudden trauma and is thereby traumatized by that in ongoing life afterward isn't in need of the same care or treatment as is someone who is raised in a bad environment by abuse parent/s, or who is otherwise maladjusted from development years onward.
There are different types of problems of the mind and spirit...and thus, different approaches to treating those different problems.
I agree that it's not advisable to encourage not confronting past events, but each individual has to be evaluated is the point and a blanket methodology change of just closing the books on past events is not a good idea. It's only contributing to further problems, in my view. It also encourages gross generalities about the self that fits best into liberal ideology.
Albert Ellis has been advocating this approach for over 50 years.
I'm a fan of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which basically involves teaching a person to challenge their negative thought patterns with realistic positive ones, and change their negative-reinforcing behavior.
However, I really don't think it is the answer for everyone or even most. Psychoanalysis definitely has its problems and maybe it should be scrapped, but ignoring the past is not always a good idea. Sometimes patterns show up in the past that can really help a person to understand why they are having problems and thus change it permanently. Also, sometimes events or people from the past have to be dealt with in some way.
Thousands? Make that millions. Psychology is almost completely baseless. Freudianism was invented out of whole cloth. Jung was an occultist. And Behaviorism tells you that people avoid things that hurt them. Psychology vies with modern art as the longest running hoax in history.
Moreover, research is demonstrating that "lay therapists" have a better success rate with their patients than psychologists. Get a good spiritual advisor or talk to a good friend. Better yet, obey the Commandments, and you'll sleep well.
About 20 years ago somebody did a study of Holocaust survivors. They found that the folks who put it behind them and went on to other things were in better shape physically and mentally than the ones who dwelt on it constantly. That's not to denigrate those like Elie Wiesel who made it their life's work to track down the perpetrators . . . but one pays an emotional and physical price for immersing oneself in horrors.
Or, as a character in a novel once said, these things don't grow into monsters if they're kept in the dark instead of being constantly brought out and fertilized with tears.
That's because almost NONE of the therapists have ever done it anywhere near thoroughly enough. They've almost always kept it in the strictly-cerebral analysis mode so what do you expect? It NEVER releases the old pent-up emotions for good as deep-feeling abreactive catharsis does, but deep-feeling abreactive catharsis (really immersed in re-living the crucial past incidents AND FULLY responding verbally and EMOTIONALLY as you DIDN'T back then) is almost never even taught or tried by psychologists or professors of psychology. The few successful psychologists I've known who really help you get down to the nitty-gritty and actually get rid of past pain instead of painting it over are those whose eclectic methods combine those of Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, Arthur Janov and especially, Joseph Hart, in my considered (and experienced) opinion.