Weaponry

Since apathy didn´t work, I will now try reason.

1.) Haley makes it clear that the entire point of psychoanalysis is that the patient can´t get it right. This means that I´m not really inadequate and stupid. I was set up for failure, but I am none.

2.) This technique punishes every kind of human behavior. Therefore, I don´t need to be particularly flawed or vulnerable to be punished by it. The punishment has nothing to do with me in particular.

3.) Haley gives a couple of typical patient reactions, and I´ve seen similar lists in other books on psychotherapy. This indicates that the number of possible reactions is relatively limited. Therefore, it would seem that the choice of behavior is not particularly unique to the respective patient and doesn´t say much about his personality.

Comparison 1: There are three possible reactions to life-threatening situations: Fight, flight and freeze. If you categorize people according to those reactions (ethical concerns set aside, I mean, how are you going to find out?), you´ll get groups which are still very mixed otherwise.

Comparison 2: One hundred people are supposed to choose between three kinds of ice cream: Vanilla, chocolate, and banana. Of those one hundred people, 51 choose banana indepently of each other. Each of those 51 believes this choice is particularly unique to him and an indicator of his very own personality style. The researchers observing the experiment know, however, that more than half of the subjects chose banana and that, other than this, they barely have anything in common. The psychoanalyst who was invited, too, believes that the choice of ice cream is the only meaningful way to describe human beings and comes to the conclusion that there are only three kinds of personalities.

4.) If all possible reactions are punished, the fact that your behavior is punished doesn´t mean it is pathological, evil or otherwise undesirable. If all behavior is punished, the fact that you are punished shouldn´t discourage or otherwise bother you. You may calmly walk away, knowing that psychoanalysis cannot show you whether you are normal or not since it has the same effect on everyone.

5.) In order to prevent people from calmly walking away, psychoanalysis cultivates the myth that there is a way to get it right, but that it is hard to explain and you cannot understand it without undergoing thorough analysis. Please mind that this is how cults work. Such a promise gets people hooked on the hope that one day they´ll stumble onto this right way and get their therapist´s approval. Remember that one person´s approval is not very strong proof that you are doing or thinking the right thing.

6.) If the behaviors people choose in psychoanalysis aren´t particularly unique to them, they don´t say much about who they are. Essentially, this means that ironically you don´t learn all too much about yourself in psychoanalysis. This, of course, also means that people who have been analyzed don´t necessarily know themselves better than people who haven´t.

7.) Psychoanalysis is a borderline situation that can be rarely found in real life (that is: outside the treatment room). As such, it provokes behaviors which the patients will likely not exhibit in real life, especially regressive behaviors. At best, therefore, it can teach the patient how he reacts (emotionally and otherwise) to the analytical setting, and it would seem like the range of reactions is too limited for any reaction to be unique to or specific for a certain patient. It might be an interesting experience for morbidly curious people, but claims that what surfaces in such a setting is who the patient “really” is seem unfounded. Remember that “really” in this context and terms like “true self” have never been properly defined.

Summary: How we react to the analytical setting does not say much about us personally. Therefore, we don´t need to let it affect our self-image, leave alone self-esteem. The negative effect it has on the latter nonetheless stems from the fact that due to the therapist´s manipulation we persistently experience feelings of inadequacy, confusion and impotent rage. Psychoanalysis is designed as a constant blow to the ego.  Those feelings, however, are not indicative of any tangible, relevant inferiority or inadequacy on our part; nor are they proof of the therapist´s hypothetical superior knowledge. They are merely the result of a few simple, but effective rhethorical tricks to which there are no answers yet.

 

 

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