Now that I’m looking back at everything, I begin realize that it's a huge problem that shrinks are just people too, and that they have their own hang-ups that really make it dangerous for them to be messing about with other people's minds: using various unproven psychological "theory" to "treat" people for aberrational (or maybe even normal) mental functioning that they really don't understand that well in the first place.
Think about the example of Larry Lurie, who we have discussed here before. (Apart from his transmission and undersigning of the ayres money grubbing letter, I have no idea whether he's normal or creepy, or what…) I have emphasized some of his words for the purposes of our discussion:
"I have not brought any sculptures into my office, although I have had to fight that impulse many times," he said. "My sense is that my sculptures would be an intrusion into my patients’ lives and the issue for which they come to the office. It would be about me and not them[...]"Perhaps it seems petty to focus on this, and maybe overbearing, but it really IS the problem.
Larry is human, and is craving recognition for that of which he is proud. He even has CLARITY that his desire to bring his personal accomplishments into the therapy setting with his patients crosses the boundaries of a professional relationship, AND YET the impulse is SO STRONG to be recognized, that he blabs about it in a magazine article. The problem is not that he talked about it... the problem is that the IMPULSE is there: unavoidable, and so strong that ultimately it presents itself as unstoppable, even for such a seemingly minor impulse.
Does Larry have to shut up about his personal life just because he’s a shrink? I don’t know; maybe not… It probably would have been wiser for him to let his exuberance about his sculpting talent explode in “Sculpting Weekly” rather than in a professional psychiatry journal… (Sometimes a cigar... well… never mind.)
What impulses do shrinks have that WILL cause them cross that boundary?
According to an article in “Annals” from the American Psychotherapy Association: “The AMA reports that in the psychiatric specialty between five and ten percent of psychiatrists have had sexual contact with at least one patient, based on self-reporting studies.”
Maybe it’s just as simple as a shrink getting tired of a patient’s silly little problems some days, and they blow the patient off in a way that makes the patient feel more damaged, adding years to the time that they need to allow the pain to wash away. Someone who is a PROFESSIONAL, who would hope to do ACTUAL healing, should NOT SHOW ANY such impulses, and should be in TOTAL CONTROL of themselves at ALL times, which is simply not possible, even for the most altruistic human.
I think that it's possible that there ARE good shrinks out there, but I think the actual number of mostly stable personalities who ALSO are shrinks is probably relatively small.
I think when people have psychological damage, there are only two things that actually repair the damage: Action resulting in immediate positive feedback/re-enforcement at the time of damage, and/or LOTS of time to allow the brain to hash out the anger and disappointment. I think it's almost impossible for a shrink to provide either of those. Perhaps a VERY good one could help to guide the hashing out process over many, many years. Drugs and eleven sessions won’t even scratch the surface.
I went to a shrink who was not horrible after college (If I recollect correctly, he never did ask me how often I masturbate, nor did he ask me to describe it for him. And I'm almost positive that he didn't ask it nearly every damned week.):
He never did figure out that there was some deep-seated stuff there though; and I was too afraid to bring the subject up, even though it was always right there at the beginning and end of every appointment. I don't think he did any real additional psychological damage. (Other than maybe re-enforcing my opinion about shrinks.) He had a Persian rug with a cool geometric design that I really lost myself in while I was avoiding bringing up anything of import.
I think it's important for a good shrink to have a cool, intricate feature in his or her office that the patient can study intensely while no one is discussing the real problem. Perhaps Larry's sculptures would be good in other doctor’s offices. (Well… except, of course, that Larry’s sculptures appear to be mostly nude, which might be problematic for some…)
By the way: this post was inspired by an email exchange with a friend. Thank you to that friend!