> I would say that -- in my experience -- your observation is more or less
> correct. However it is just as notable that psychologists tend to enter
> their profession to work on themselves through their patients.
Psychologists are some of the craziest people I've known. LOL. Now, for
the most part, I'd say that people studying psychology are not any more
crazy or disordered or what have you than the average person, but there are
interesting parallels between the personalities of people who become
psychologists and the area of psychology they study. Most of the people I
know who study eating disorders have "food issues" or have had some weight
problem in the past. Many of the people I know who study schizophrenia have
a fear of or suspected at one time that they were basically psychotic. It's
hard to say -- most people capable of getting into a good psychology
graduate program tend to be a bit obsessive-compulsive personality-wise just
because of the competitiveness and high academic standards required to get
in. Those are also the people, IMO, who tend to be a bit hypochondriacal and
see "pathology" in themselves when it's not really there. Still, I'd say
> I was
> diagnosed with manic depressive disorder when I was hospitalized at 16,
> though the hospitalization actually followed a severe negative reaction to
> prozac... Though its hard to say, I don't think I would have been in the
> state I was in if it wasn't for the medication I was given.
Of course, the psychiatrists are fond of saying that there's no
research evidence that SSRIs can do this, but I've come across too many
people who have had this reaction to think it's just an illusion. I don't
see why anyone would be surprised, considering SSRIs affect the same
neurotransmitter systems in about the same way as cocaine -- yet
psychiatrists are fond of calling reactions like yours "allergic reactions"
or "paradoxical reactions." Imagine the kind of twisted logic it takes to
rationalize the fact that you're wrong as a paradox! "Hmmm....I'm
infallible, and yet this didn't work. It's a paradox!"
One time, I had a client who was quite depressed and tearful when I first
saw her. She took no medication, yet made fabulous and lasting progress with
some cognitive-behavioral work. She called me about a year later, telling me
that her GP had prescribed Prozac for her -- despite her assertion that she
was not depressed, and despite the absence of any recent behavioral or mood
changes she was aware of -- because she had a history of depression. The
physician called it "masked depression," which is about as big a crock of
shit as I'd heard from a physician. It was only masked by the fact that this
woman had courageously made a number of real changes in her life that made
her feel better, more fulfilled, etc. Then there's my good friend, who was
prescribed thorazine for years because he became combative in the ER after
taking a bottle of OTC sleeping pills in a suicide attempt. The psychiatrist
he saw on followup continued the thorazine -- at an outrageoulsy high
"acute" dose -- for three years, despite the fact that he'd never had a
psychotic symptom in his life. After three years of being put through the
abusive state "mental health" system, he stopped all meds (he was on three
or four others by that time, including antidepressants, anxiolytics, and
mood stabilizers), all therapy, etc., and is today one of the most stable,
successful, non-crazy people I know.
> Which led me into studying psychology, and leads me now into my
> point about
> DSM-IV style classifications. Its all bunk.
Personally, I wouldn't say it's *all* bunk. People do become miserable
and break down in terms of their ability to care for themselves, maintain
meaningful relationships, etc. The "pathways" by which this happens tend to
fall into broad categories that can be reliably defined. Of course, I don't
think there's any doubt that the draconian system of DSM-IV diagnosis in use
now is mostly useless and artificial. The phenomena the system is trying to
capture aren't categorical. The distinctions made between diagnostic
categories aren't particularly useful in determining preferred treatment
strategy, except in the broadest sense (for example, people diagnosed with
Major Depression, Bulimia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive
Compulsive Disorder, Panic Attacks, PMS, etc., are all probably going to get
an SSRI). It's mostly a matter of justifying insurance reimbursement,
shoring up the facade that psychiatry is an actual medical discipline, and
giving the illusion of objectivity. Still and all, it wouldn't be *as* bad
if psychiatrists actually used the system appropriately, which they rarely
do in my experience. This just demonstrates the relative lack of importance
it actually has -- if diagnosis had any real utility, there would be more
reason to apply it correctly.
> and allows them to take their
> individual problems and re-classify them in those useless terms.
Absolutely. It's especially bad with people's whose misery takes the
form of thinking they're inherently defective anyway. People who are
depressed go to a psychiatrist and have their worst fears confirmed --
you're broken, you're inherently flawed, you'll never be like "normal"
people, etc. It reifies and literalizes all the destuctive and inhibiting
fantasies people with depression have, making it that much harder to
> worked now for these pharmeceutical companies for a few years doing
> advertising I can say with some certainty -- as if anyone with
> half a brain
> thought otherwise -- their interest is not in the health of those they
> 'cure' so much as purpetrating the myth that allows for them to
> be dispensed
> across the board to cure any sort of mental ailment.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of people *do* think otherwise & aren't
given much reason by the popular press to have any other opinion.
"Breakthroughs" are reported enthusiastically, while the scientific bubble
bursting that almost inevitably follows hardly ever gets reported. I can
think of at least two or three genetic linkage studies of schizophrenia that
have been reported in the last 10 years that ended up being completely
refuted, with almost no public reporting of that fact. People don't really
have an awareness that the same cycle has been going on practically since
the beginning of psychiatry as a distinct profession. I could tell you about
some *really* absurd "breakthroughs" over the last 50 years that have been
totally abandoned after further investigation. Meanwhile, most of the
substantial progress in helping psychologically disturbed people has been
due to providing alternatives and reversing the abusive & coercive excesses
of biological psychiatry -- setting people free from mental hospitals,
decreasing reliance on horrors like lobotomy & electroshock, increasing
community support, etc.
I think that for people in the magical/fringe religion/pagan communities,
going to a psychiatrist or psychologist can be a dangerous (or at least
unfulfilling) proposition. I would agree with Regardie that psychotherapy of
some kind can be a useful adjunct to magical practice, but the risk is that
one's spiritual practices will be pathologized. This makes even relatively
unremarkable personality differences or temporary mood fluctuations take on
a sinister aspect for professionals who are basically provincial clods with
degrees. I've been in several case conferences where the revelation of a
client's non-standard spirituality has prompted rolled eyes and knowing
smiles, as if this one fact spoke volumes about her (lack of) mental
stability. In the context of that kind of unspoken lack of respect, anything
else you want to talk about can get wrapped around the basic assumption of
your "strangeness" and possible "latent psychosis/schizotypal personality."
So be careful who you choose as a therapist.
Another caveat is to remember that the kind of psychotherapy Regardie was
talking about isn't what you're likely to find just anywhere. Depth
psychology/psychoanalysis is what Regardie was talking about, and that's
hard to find unless you live in a large city and are willing to pay high out
of pocket expenses. Insurance companies don't like paying for it, and there
a lot of people who claim to work in these traditions without having the
kind of classical training that was once expected.