Inspired by a semi-anonymous Discord comment:
what frustrates me about the mainstream talk around depression in my Depressed Woman Cohort is that it very much focuses on self-care, living moment to moment, “sorry about your bad brains/deep spiritual anguish, hang in there”. it struck me that this isn’t at all helpful but it’s the dominant social handling of mood disorders in women my age rn & it infuriates me. some level of helplessness & retraction into the self may be expected; weathering/enduring but not making radical changes (like embracing sources of higher meaning in life & TRYING to claw your way out of the pit) is the norm.
What follows is a text conversation with someone else on this subject (with light edits for flow).
Would you like your book back?
Maybe. I would like to pass it along to someone
Did you like it?
Yes, it was a compelling case for something called “humanistic” therapy, which I didn’t put much stock in before.
What does that mean?
“Primarily, this type of therapy encourages a self-awareness and mindfulness that helps the client change their state of mind and behaviour from one set of reactions to a healthier one with more productive self-awareness and thoughtful actions. Essentially, this approach allows the merging of mindfulness and behavioural therapy, with positive social support.”
I guess that is a lot of what I just got :-)
It has some flaws jn the underlying philosophy but a lot of the applications to treatment are useful.
What are the flaws?
The primary focus is internalizing your “locus of control”. This is great because most people are capable of more than they know. It’s great right up until the problem is actually bigger than the person can handle, in which case it fails catastrophically.
The philosophical flaws are
1. Assuming people are basically good. This is opposite of what the Bible says, and a more precise formulation would be “most people in the first world are reasonable and well-socialized”.
2. Assuming all problems are mere barriers to humanistic self-actualization. This is only true among high-functioning people, who admittedly constitute the majority of paying customers for psychotherapy.
3. Assumes the patient has all the answers to their own questions and these just need to be teased out by helpful, rational questions. This is often not true, and patients are often looking for a real doctor with specialized knowledge of solutions to their particular problems, and not just a guy asking “And how does that make you feel” over and over.
4. Punts on everything except retraining conscious cognition, which ignores the unconscious and semiconscious aspects of the psyche which, in my opinion, drive 90% of human behavior. Often, thought patterns are adaptations to the social environment and emerge from relationship issues. A concrete example would be a person who is treated as worthless by their parents and is ever after plagued by thoughts like “No one likes me.”
I’m not sure it worked for me, although it would have if I could have figured out some of my issues using it
Life stayed the same :-)
Personally, I think cognitive talk therapy was the correct method to give you control over your interpersonal boundaries. So that’s good. But I believe psychotherapy is the correct talk therapy for [redacted]. I’ve skimmed over a paper to that effect, which I can find again and send to you if you’d like.
I would like that. Thank you following up. I appreciate hearing what you think
No problem, always happy to talk someone’s ear off with my opinions.
The trouble with psychotherapy is that it’s both difficult and impossible to validate, so there’s no way to tell if a practitioner is actually good at it.