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 ...
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.
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