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Shrinks and Psychobabblers -- Cure Yourselves First: A Satire

Val is a life-long student of unexplored human potential and many challenges that self-honesty throws at us on that path.

Don't compare yourself with other people, compare yourself with who you were yesterday.

-- Jordan Peterson

shrink-cure-yourself-first-a-satire

A Strange Bunch of Professionals

From my high school Latin lectures in my native Croatia I still remember many of those "Dicta et Sententiae" -- or proverbs -- hence this one used in the title of this post, albeit a little modified.

"Medico, cura se" -- meaning "doctor, cure yourself", while I just changed it into a shrink, and then added those psychobabblers. And here I mean any mental health professional, from a psychiatrist down to psychotherapist, to clinical psychologist, to psychoanalyst...well, a shrink.

As for psychobabblers, I see them as individuals with some observable and/or admitted emotional issues who overcompensate that with some exaggerated positivism and oftentimes a good measure of unscientific theorizing of their own.

Let me start by asking you, the reader, one simple question:

Would you ever take your car to a mechanic if you knew that his own car was sitting there in a condition beyond his ability to fix it? Then, how could we explain that many of those mentioned professionals get paid for fixing others' emotional issues -- while being unable to fix their own?

While I have had a couple of similar experiences with car mechanics, it's only from some highly informative literature that I found out everything that turned into the material for this post. It's different with psychobabblers, whom I must have encountered by dozens in my relatively long life. They are a sort of pitiable breed parading around with both, their issues, and a "high knowledge" how to fix them, which they never do.

For an instant, let's leave the psychobabblers and focus on the professionals.

The first would come to mind a confession by an online psychologist about a great number of young people undertaking such studies in a hope to find a cure for themselves.

They want to meet some patients/clients who might have similar issues to their own, so that they could, maybe, find a healing thread in the process of working with them. That would hopefully benefit them as well, since sometimes it's easier to notice something out of whack on others than to face that suppressed bothersome material in themselves.

However, there are others, much shinier, historical examples of shrinks who needed a therapy more than their patients.

Take that "father of psychoanalysis", Sigmund Freud for an example. The dude made himself famous by shocking the somewhat puritan medical community with introduction of unconscious roots of neurosis and hysteria, with suppressed sexual energy playing often a pivotal role in it -- according to him.

But then, while he would occasionally have a patient with a dysfunctional marriage, Papa Freud himself was an abusive husband. Besides, after several oral surgeries for removal of cancerous growths, he still continued to smoke his cigars.

He died by an arranged suicide. How is that for an academically smart dude?

What makes you wonder is, how is it that his psychoanalysis is still taught in universities worldwide -- after he obviously couldn't use it on himself.

The story of his -- once colleague -- Carl Jung, is not that dramatic, albeit, he also, at the peak of his shiny career used to admit how many times he had contemplated a suicide.

The third gentleman-shrink, and he should be remembered as that, was Jacques Lacan, a Parisian bonvivant, called a "charlatan" by the renowned fine scholar Noam Chomsky who personally used to know him.

Lacan was allegedly sexually abusing his female clients, smacking some of those who were too slow to understand him, and charging a full fee for ten minute sessions. He died rich, with a legacy of a hard to understand theoretical cosmetics, for which, to these days, there are study groups.

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So much about some celebrated shrinks who needed a shrink themselves.

shrink-cure-yourself-first-a-satire

Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakes.

-- Carl Jung

A Fancy Sounding Art -- Not a Reliable Science

Socially, not as a patient or client, I had an opportunity to know a few of such shrinks, and my layman's impressions were definitely calling for their own extensive therapy.

Now, doesn't it look amazing that, statistically, the success rate in the field of mental therapy is quite low -- making you wonder why it is even parading as a science. I mean, the way how they sound so eloquent with a well developed fancy terminology, one would assume that they must know what the hell they are talking about.

Judging by that rich academic phraseology, it's almost as if they are coming from a well established line of study supported by exact sciences like chemistry, or physics, or medicine.

Although, in quite a few aspects, medicine is also still in its diapers, despite its somewhat arrogant pose of having the right answers to many questions that are unanswerable due to the enormous complexity of the human nature.

And, while even medicine is so often just tapping in the dark, so much more of the same could be said about shrinkology. Just imagine, if in the United States of America there are some 350,000 yearly cases of fatalities caused by medical screwups, how much is shrinkology screwing around with their guesswork -- and get also paid for that.

What it is basically trying to do is to squeeze the whole mystery of humanness into their pet theories -- so they are interpreting human behavior and conditions merely as seen through the prism of what they are assuming there, ignoring enormous variables possible.

Indeed, it is not like my appendix looking like yours, so a good surgeon shouldn't have any problem operating on it even with one hand in the pocket. So much can be involved in any of shrink's cases, from a meddling mother-in-law causing a depression all the way to a constipation producing one.

Patients are also oftentimes quite selective in what they will disclose about themselves, maybe hiding some embarrassing details which would tell a lot, or downright lying to the therapist.

Let's also include those with an unconscious payoff from being emotionally messed up, who unknowingly refuse to get well. Like hypochondriacs would come to mind, or those avoiding work and receiving some social assistance moneys, or simply those who love being pampered by the family.

Then, just like on any other job, mistakes in diagnosing and treatment may come from the "human factor" (no pun intended), meaning the ability of the therapists themselves, even their own mentality which may affect the accuracy of their assessments.

By their own admission, they are not particularly following the textbook procedures, but like to develop their own methodology -- so who is there to tell them that they may be improvising too much.

Here I wanted to list some of the difficulties of being a shrink, which add to their already existing emotional problems -- possibly explaining why shrinks are number one profession with suicides committed.

shrink-cure-yourself-first-a-satire

If you never change your mind, why have one?

-- Eduard de Bono

Maybe Just Not Naturally Cut for That Profession

Those crime thrillers are some of my favorite movies. Every so often I see a bad script in which a nervous wreck of a cop is dragging his tired ass through some action where I would do better at this age of 77.

Let's face it, folks, for such a demanding profession you just have to be cut, you can't join the police force just because "you admire the cop's job, uniform, wearing a gun and hanging around looking tough".

Something similar could be said about fitting for a shrink's job. It takes a lot of nerves listening day after day to the stories of those poor souls in the need of someone's help.

And so I happened to meet socially a few of those who didn't have those badly needed professional nerves. One was a depressed divorcee, having problems with her teenage daughter and her ex's father who was sticking to his "poor drinking son's bad luck to have married her". Need I say more?

But, with that messed up mind of her I can almost hear her giving an advice to some heart-broken woman sounding something like this:

"This is not the end of the world. Remember yourself from times before you met him. Who were you then? Pick the pieces of your life from that time and mobilize that best in yourself to make the next relationship fabulous."

She was a broken woman. And when I gave her the friendly advice -- sounding word-for-word like the one above, she gave me a smile and said "thanks".

Geez! I should have been a shrink, instead of writing these smart-ass articles for which I don't get even that grateful smile that she gave me -- let alone get paid for it! (LOL)

The other one of that group of shrinks was a hard core psychoanalyst who religiously believed, along with her intellectual mentor Papa Freud, that our childhood traumas are providing the key to understanding the later in life dysfunctional relationships and neurotic behavior.

However, while she had, herself, a pretty secure childhood in a loving environment, for all that she was quite a bundle of nerves with some overdeveloped defense mechanisms and an attitude of an academic vanity to sugarcoat all that.

Well, the devil-me, I got some fun out of intellectually teasing her, asking some uncomfortable questions -- like I sometimes do it with religionists.

As the conversation touched her theme of "people being emotional slaves to their childhood traumas" -- or something along those lines, I remember responding with:

"The way I see it, all what such people need is an awakened sense of adult responsibility to snap out of childish models of emotionalism -- like they snapped out of crapping their diapers and using toilet instead."

I guess she didn't like it too much, because the next thing she waved to someone at the party and with an absent look on her face excused herself while walking away.

Well, what can I say, shrinks do get offended when a layman dares to express an opinion which -- maybe, just maybe -- makes more sense than their fancy crap.

shrink-cure-yourself-first-a-satire

Clear thinking requires courage, rather than intelligence.

-- Thomas Szasz

Those Colorful Psychobabblers

Let's finally talk one bit about psychobabblers.

I used to be one.

Many, many years ago, surrounded by my own family drama, which was often taking turns with a first class soap opera -- at the age of ten I read my first book on psychology.

"Mental Hygiene", by Dr. Milan Bedenic -- was its title; and with my freakish life long interest in the mysteries of human nature, and some thousand non-fiction books read, to me remembering that book is the same like to some people is remembering their first love.

As I read, and then re-read that book, I was turning into a typical young psychobabbler, suddenly believing that I "knew what being human was all about". I also probably got on the nerves of some of my young friends with my theorizing -- while at the same time disclosing to them how crappy family life I had.

That's so typical for psychobabblers -- they won't even hide their having emotional problems, while sounding like they "got it all figured out".

Well, the more I read, the more it was enabling me to merely ask some smart questions about man's nature, rather than coming up with smart answers. My personal growth was a long and honest journey, and I say "honest" because my soul didn't allow me to inflate my ego, always reminding me that there was so much more to learn.

My spiritual encounter with the Eastern philosophies did a number on my ego which never fully recovered after that. The satirist was born in me, and that was the end of my being a psychobabbler.

I truly experienced that saying by Socrates: "I only know that I know nothing".

But then in my later life I met a garden variety of psychobabblers who had quite some emotional issues, but sounded so confident about their "knowledge" as they merely paraded with some unscientific crap.

Since they, almost as a rule, have their good share of emotional problems, those very emotions are so present in their discussions, as to them it's so much more important "who" ends up being right, than "what" ends up right.

Take this recent little online discussion some of us had. But first, let me give it to you in a metaphoric version.

Like, imagine I say: "Moon is the natural satellite of Earth." -- and then this person responds with: ""I respect your opinion, but we are all entitled to our own."

You see what I mean? I was just conveying some truisms of the top shelf sciences in neuroplasticity and epigenetics, something that brainiacs with long credentials discovered and proved over and over -- and then I get this response: "I respect your opinion. but.."

Many years back while nutrition used to be my "cup of tea", with dozens of books that I had read -- at one visit my late father said in a lecturing tone: "You've got to take vitamin C, it's good for you as a preventive."

I just smiled inside, because he knew very well how much I was into that crap, but couldn't help his acting like a smart ass.

How many times I simply gave it up, at times even "admitting" that I was wrong, when I saw that emotional insistence on "being right" escalating to the point where they started talking garbage just to "win" something there.

So many of them would push some banal, even superficial line of reasoning, with an air of someone thinking how they just "discovered" hot water while being all proud about it.

Now, let's try to realize that the majority of the people are, in their own ways, psychobabblers. They pick up a thing here and another thing there, and suddenly they are scholars in psychobabble art.

It's amazing how confidently they talk crap -- whereas on the other side I am not hesitating one moment to call my own fund of knowledge a crap after all those books. So typically for psychobabblers, they are not at the slightest aware how silly it sounds when they first admit having emotional problems, but then lecture to others about life.

Like I told one such dude, after momentarily losing patience with his tirade: "Buddy, you don't even know how much there is to be known about the things that you are talking about. Some scholars have problems figuring it out, and here you are making it all sound so horribly simple".

Before I forget to say, we didn't stay friends for long after. I often lost friends after not taking someone's crap. And it always felt quite good that way.

But O.K., it's time for me to find that "Stop" button somewhere, as I basically said all that I wanted to share with any of you who cared to read it to this end. If you were bored, I promise to bore you some more in my next piece; and if you liked it...well, sometimes I break my promises, but you'll never know unless you take a chance.

But honestly about it, I hope you succeeded at deriving some fun out of it -- for I certainly enjoyed writing it. Be well everyone.

© 2022 Val Karas

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