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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Give Them Help and Get Out Of The Way

The serious crisis throughout the Gulf area hit by Katrina shows people in need of water, food and shelter. Their situation gets more difficult with every passing day. We hope medical, physical and security assistance gets there soon. The devastating pictures shows destruction of an incredible scale.

And, no doubt people are going through psychological trauma. And that opens the door to the quacks.

Sally Satel and Christina Hoff Sommers discusses the quackery of the shrinks as they descended upon NYC after 9-11 in Reason On Line. Predicting that 2 million NYers would need counselling (or one in four NYers), the mental health industry revved in high gear.

The history of "therapism" (Satel and Sommers defines this as "a worldview that valorizes openness and emotional self-absorption; it assumes that vulnerability, rather than strength, characterizes the American psyche, and that a diffident, anguished, and emotionally apprehensive public requires a vast array of therapists, self-esteem educators, grief counselors, workshoppers, healers, and traumatologists to lead it through the trials of everyday life.") began in Oklahoma City in 1995 and like Greatful Dead groupies follow disasters holding group-therapies and psychological debriefings.

Like in all disasters, mental trauma for victims is not uncommon. But I see the enforced dwelling on the psychic pain as debilitative. The British of WWII survived and moved on. Jews who survived the Holocaust became productive citizens wherever they emigrated. I fear that much of the psychic harm of slavery has been regenerated by the Sharptons over the past 5 decades to produce greater harm upon blacks than likely (read Thomas Sowell on the economic strides of blacks until the Great Society instituted in the 60s).

Concludes Satel and Sommers:

Consider what we know about human response to crisis. Under threat, citizens are ravenous for information and require practical resources. They need a social scaffolding in the form of civic order and some minimal infrastructure to support the bedrock institutions and relationships—families, communities, and houses of worship—that have always served them in times of uncertainty and immense sorrow.

One of the lessons of 9/11 is that therapists must find a balance between offering their services and promoting them too eagerly, between letting people know help is available and suggesting that they need help when they do not. On September 11 the helpers toiled in good faith, powered by genuine concern. But they also endorsed one of the mistaken tenets of therapism: that people are fragile. In their zeal to help, they underestimated our natural fortitude.


At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think this article pertains to experts beyond psychotherapists. Though complete self-reliance is not always an option--I know from personal experience--I believe that one should always have skepticism about experts. E.g., Dan Duquette on Roger Clemens's purported twilight eight or so years ago. Good article, Mr. Phenes. Bill

At 4:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY!

At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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