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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

 Psychotherapists Who Advocate Politically To Their Patients

A July 16, 2023 article in The Wall Street Journal ("The Doctor Won't See You Now - Therapists who judge, recoil, or quietly rage at their patients can't provide effective therapy") quoted psychologists who advocate political positions to their patients, blaming the patient's unhappiness on these rather than unwise personal decisions. But here the patient is smarter than the doctor.

People know why they come to therapy. No patient raised a political issue during my long work as a psychologist in hospital, clinic, and private practice settings. They spoke of anxiety or depression or marital/parenting/job problems but never that, not even people holding political office.
What it comes down to the clinician's  lack of understanding what psychotherapy is and not acknowledging the historically accepted belief in the power of the unconscious. As a psychiatrist colleague, a long-time government consultant, once remarked to me, "The unconscious is very powerful and one must respect its power."

Lacking sophistication of developmental psychopathology (a term devised by my doctoral advisor) and child psychological development has created other issues including the current gender misconceptions. Long ago, during a months long graduate school course at Columbia University ("Human Reproduction and Sexual Development") taught by an OB/GYN, the word "gender" was never uttered.
A reader's comment to The Wall Street Journal article spoke of clinicians having their own emotional problems and suggested that sufferers avoid mental health treatment. While a 1970s paper in the Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic acknowledged this ("The Sad Soul of the Psychiatrist"), having experienced and resolved life issues can create a more effective, intuitive clinician. They having unresolved emotional problems are, of course, another matter. Nuff said.

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Addiction Treatment For The Rich

A July 11, 2023 article in The Wall Street Journal ("Sex, Drugs and Spreadsheets") described the surge of addiction among Wall Street executives. The function of all drug use is simply to feel better though healthy life changes are made by struggling with life issues, not drugs or medication (which can have wide-ranging side-effects).

The tendency to use drugs derives from early family issues during development. Thus addiction is basically a psychological not biological issue though stopping many drugs can arouse pain and effect health. Terming it "biological" makes psychological difficulties more socially acceptable and is widely used, it being a marketing term favored by psychiatrists who compete for business with psychologists and others.

The seven-hundred-dollar/session fee reported in the article is far higher than I've known even noted psychoanalysts to charge. But therapy is a business and not a saintly endeavor. One charges what the market will bear though cost and fancy office decor are irrelevant to healing ability.

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Shades of Dracula: The ADHD Myth Won't Die!

A July 6, 2023 article in The Wall Street Journal ("You May Have Adult ADHD, but Not Because TikTok Says So") fosters the ADHD myth and evidences how a profitable industry can develop from, essentially, nothing. The notion of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has a long history, it being termed "mental restlessness" by a physician in seventeen-hundreds England and Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MBD) in early nineteen-hundreds America. A Harvard psychiatrist then remarked that a doctor using this diagnosis had a minimal brain dysfunction. ADHD is its most recent incarnation.

The ADHD symptoms are identical to those of anxiety and depression which exist in nearly every medical and mental health disturbance. When not related to a real worry (as about an imminent medical diagnosis) it reflects weakness of basic ego capacities governing thinking and behavior. These require, for their optimal functioning, havng experienced a "good-enough" parenting during early development, which has been long known.

To repeat the quote falsely attributed to P.T. Barnum, "There is a sucker born every minute." Nuff said.

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The Alleged Harm of Tablet and Video Game Involvement

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal "Why Kids From No-Screen Homes Sometimes Go Screen Crazy" referred to the alleged harm of tablet watching and video game play. Yet these are both not "bad" but are heavily obsessive-compulsive (an obsession is a repeated thought, a compulsion a repeated activity), which is the mind's innate healthy means of reducing anxiety. So when a child or adult engages in them excessively, it is either because they are troubled or that social contact makes them anxious. Remedying these requires psychotherapy to eliminate their pain. And research has found that video games, no matter now awful their content, do not increase a child's aggression since children do distinguish reality from fantasy.


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