Psychology / Therapy - What's your take on it?

paternos

Kingfisher
Catholic
I have been noticing at work a lot of people are taking therapy and sharing how much it has helped them for example in a burn-out or depression.

I have had it several times in the year when I share a struggle at work, the person in front tells me to how helpful a therapist has been is this process. E.g. I share a doubt, why are we doing this? What are we doing this for? And the other person tells how she learned to deal with feelings of meaninglessness through a therapist.

I have seen 2 therapists before my conversion and when I look back to it I feel it to be a humiliating experience. Paying an unknown person a lot of money for a temporary friendship based on a university education they did to become a psychologist.

Psychology and therapy promises a lot; with thinking different and acting different you can get rid of fear, of anger, of desire, unhappiness. And if it doesn't work you just didn't try hard enough.

I feel it is also very unchristian, leaving God out of the equation and the fact that I am a sinner asking the lord for mercy.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
But I also want to open my mind, what's are your takes on psychology / therapy? Is it or can it be useful in certain instances? Or should we stay away from psychologists/ therapists no matter what? How to deal with friends and family who are or think about taking therapy? (because I feel it can be very damaging as well) What is this field of science and how should we relate to it?
 
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darknavigator

Woodpecker
Catholic
About fifteen years ago I was going through some personal issues (anxiety, depression etc.).

I went to my doctor and he arranged an appointment for me with a psychiatrist. I met with the psychiatrist for about one hour and he went through my life in detail. At the end of the session he told me that I was clinically depressed. He told me that he could organise further counselling for me and that he could write me a prescription for anti-depressants.

I didn't want to take anti-depressants due to the side effects and I didn't see the benefit of further counselling. I did feel better after seeing the psychiatrist. Before I was ruminating about my problems which seemed to be making things worse. Just arranging the appointment and then going to see the psychiatrist improved my mood. I started feeling more in control - in psychology this is called the 'bias to action' or the 'action bias'.

Catholics have a great tool with the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Even some non-Catholics think that confession is a great tool. For example, the famous psychiatrist / psychoanalyst Carl Jung was a big fan of confession. To paraphrase him "most psychological disorders can be treated if you can just get the person to deal with their guilt".

I know that it's cliché but "a problem shared is a problem halved"

Just make sure that you share your problem(s) with a person that you trust.
 
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SlickyBoy

Hummingbird
Psychotherapy is little more than Jewish-inspired secularized confession. Most of what Freud taught has been discredited, yet there's no shortage of charlatans charging upwards of $200 per hour for executive handholding to confused atheists.

I remember listening to Dr. Laura now and again back when she had her show. She's a trained psychotherapist, IIRC. What became clear to me is the obviousness of the problems her callers had - after a couple of minutes it was easy to see what was going on. If I got good at spotting this, she was a hundred times better. Hence, the psychotherapist can identify what the problem is, yet there is little financial incentive to help the person immediately. Why fix things over a couple of sessions when you can stretch it out for months or even years for profit?

I say this partly from personal experience. My dad thought it was best to go through "family counseling" when I was younger, and intermittently for a few years - it was mostly my dad who went to him. The "counselor" was a former Episcopal minister in a group practice of a few different psychotherapists.

The only time I got anything useful out of that guy was when he found out I was moving out of state after college, and he realized it would be the last session. He laid it on me, everything he thought. "Damn," I thought "those observations weren't flattering but it sure would have been useful to tell me all of that during our first session - I could have recognized what was going on and adjusted." But there was no incentive for this so he kept the charade of "therapy" going on until the well ran dry.

My dad died of cancer in the interim so there was nothing more he could drain from the family. I read an obituary when the therapist died years later detailing how he was still involved with his "church," but I suspect that spirituality was just another outlet for his narcissism.

Psychiatry is a different beast, this involves chemicals many of which have dubious reparative value. I can't dismiss it all outright, but it seems they introduce one "solution" and create a collection of other risks and problems. SSRIs haven't been the best thing ever to happen, particularly for single women trying to imitate career men.
 
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teodort

Pigeon
Orthodox
As Saint Porphyrios once said: "Thank God for the recent growth of psychiatry and psychology. Otherwise, atheist's children would have no one to turn to".
 

IM3000

Pelican
I think that one of the valuable contributions of psychology is that it provides a vocabulary to talk about abstract and hard to explain things aka emotions to the people. That said, most of the field is probably crap.
 

Viktor Zeegelaar

Crow
Orthodox Inquirer
First of all we have to set the premise and understand that everything in the modern Western culture is deliberately designed to make you feel ''depressed'', so that they can promote depression, keep you in a depressed state, make you believe you can't help it, make you feel a victim and then keep you in this loser mindset for the rest of your life, making you a weak working slave in the antfarm.

We have to differentiate 2 types of depression: 1. the depression that comes from the nihilism we live in, the consumerism, the lack of meaning, the lies, which lead to bad life results, the constant chasing of nothingness, 2. depression that could come from serious life circumstances such as PTSD, or maybe child molestation or things like that. What we see nowadays is 99% of people claiming to be depressed falling into category 1, and category 2, the ''serious'' forms of depression, being outliers.

Now what do we see with depression? We see an increasing trend. For example, depression in women has steadily increased since the 70s, when women's liberation started as we know it now. The more freedom, the more depression, because as we know women get attached emotionally to men, and when this attachment is broken again and again they'll get serious emotional troubles. Moreover, more women then ever don't have children and families, so we see the highest amount of depression in 40 yrs old + women in professional careers without said children and family, as that's what gives their life meaning. Now we also see increasing depression in men, in line with the annihilation of masculinity, the man as leader of te house, respect for masculinity, a meaningful existence in a community.

Did we have cry sessions in the past, when the Greeks attacked Troy, or when the Titanic sank, or when we blasted through the frontline of gunfire in Verdun, or when there was yet another famine? Life's tough, it's cruel, it's ''unfair'', it's gonna smack you in the face and because of an overemotionalization of society where everything is fake and all pictures on Insta are laughing people while they're deeply depressed inside, people compare themselves to one another, this non existent, fake, counter reality standard, and then feel sad that they don't live a life like that. It's meant to be a hamsterwheel to keep you in a perpetual cycle of depression, not feeling good enough, chasing phantoms.

Depression is a weapon by the devil carefully construed in modern society to keep you in a loser, victim mindset, so that you're weak and are not able to be of any serious resistance against the global regime and the demons. What any man in said category 1 would help is to dive into the red sphere and first of all understand that the path they're on is a path of nihilism that is designed to bring them to a perpetual cycle of depression. No psychologist is going to tell them that. Then they have to find a way in life and create some meaning, whether that's through helping the community, getting fit, learning masculine skills, changing the bin of garbage of thoughts that's been programmed into our head since the dawn of our existence as we're products of modernity, and then get to a better place. Depression is nothing more than a feeling to say that you're going in the wrong direction - which is what society has taught you to go to. Change that direction and the depression will turn into different emotions. But don't forget Christ suffered, and Christianity is a religion of suffering, and in suffering great meaning, insight and perspective is to be found. Diamonds become diamonds only under pressure. Negativity and positivity are ying and yang: you're gonna feel depressed, angry, happy, satisfied, dissatisfied, full of prowess, weak, all according to circumstance and situation, and these emotions will change over time. The underlying problem here is the expectation that you're going to be happy for the rest of your life from the get go, whereas first of all you're going to have to work for that happiness, and second of all happiness is also a modernist scam to begin with, while people in the past would pursue satisfaction instead of feeling the childish giddy emotions of a 3 year old whole day. Growing up and maturing aren't parts of modern society anymore of course by default.

To conclude, a therapist won't tell you anything you don't already know. Go get some hobbies, meet some people, go to the gym, and while these are good suggestions, will they fix the underlying spiritual problem? In my experience it's temporary as I did it too in the past. Talking helps though for sure and it's a caveat for men to not talk about their problems. So if that may help you and you don't have anyone to talk to it can be beneficial to you for just that reason, otherwise you could try to talk to people who are close to you and you'll see that in many cases people will report the same issues you face in life back to you.
 

Aldhelm

Chicken
Orthodox
Bumping this thread with this article, which I like very much and thought might be appreciated:
The subsequent articles (in the same blog, following that post) are also very good and expound further on it.
 

Batman_

Kingfisher
There is considerable variation in any kind of talk therapy.

Psychiatrists are basically evil, they think big pharma is the solution to everything.
Counselers/social workers mean well but they're largely clueless and surface-level.
Psychologists/psychotherapists are generally worthless, and many often engage in nefarious practices such as implanting false memories and other gaslighting tactics. Many psychologists (and psychiatrists) are in fact covert narcissists who enjoy holding power over people and controlling their thoughts through subtle manipulation tactics they learned in education.

I do think the old-school psychoanalysts who subscribe to Jungian/Freudian ideas can be extremely helpful at grappling with real issues, but they're quite rare nowadays. Cognitive behavioral therapists (CBT) are a joke because they tend to minimize trauma, emotion, and humanity in general and replace it with a largely behavioral viewpoint of human psychology which is insultingly reductionistic. There are many other types of psychotherapy that I don't know much about, but most of them sound like a meme.

The real problem I have with therapy is that it takes considerable time and focus for them to understand you, and the bottom line is no one understands you better than yourself. If you lack the introspection to understand the scope and depth of your problems, I don't see how talking about it with a stranger is going to reveal anything, because you won't be able to articulate what's eating at you. Furthermore, it's one thing to discuss your problems and another thing to actually take the necessary steps to reach your goals.

The last issue I have with therapy in general is that more often than not, it's a crutch; mere action-faking. If a young man is in great despair, he can go to a therapist and clear his guilty conscience (not unlike confession) without actually pursuing actionable goals. And every time a new problem comes up, he brings it up to the therapist instead of just dealing with it, when does it end?

You can solve your problems on your own, but it does require a certain amount of social support to bear the burden, and of course it requires the self-awareness/introspection and courage to actually take the necessary steps.

I absolutely hate the insistence on therapy without anyone addressing the fact that many therapists do more harm than good, it also seems to devalue the invididual as if to say "you aren't capable of helping yourself". We have forged on as a society for thousands of years without therapy. The Greeks thought that a philosophy of life is all you need to live in a good and virtuous life, and I am inclined to agree.

Your friends and family know you better than any therapist ever will: talk to them if you cannot cope. If you don't have family or friends, a therapist can be a last resort. I do also think that the smart ones (psychoanalysts with PhDs) can be extremely helpful to bounce ideas off of and reorient yourself if you're in a rut, but they're not always necessary to live a good life.
 
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Dovetail

Chicken
Orthodox
In my experience therapists have been totally useless. I had three of them over the period of a few years. I felt a little bit better after 'sharing my problems', but that would wear off after a couple of hours and I was absolutely no nearer solving any of said problems. If anything, I became more lax about trying to deal with them because I was 'getting help'.
 

Knight.of.Logos

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I studied philosophy and psychology in university. I found them both interesting but now, as an Orthodox Christian, I can't help but see all the errors and mistaken pre-suppositions laden in psychology. That being said, I think some counseling / therapy can be helpful for some people, although the help they provide can only go so far without faith. I also would agree with others here that many people in the profession are inefficient. I also think the stereotype that people who study psychology are messed up is true to some extent. It is also a field mostly of women these days, compared to philosophy which was at least 80% men when I was in school.

There are a lot of different approaches to therapy / counseling. Some can be faith-based, which I think would be more "holistic" and efficient, but of course that relies on the person to be a Christian. In terms of the secular frameworks, which is most of psychology, they range from nonsensical/possibly harmful (the Freudian) to possibly helpful, but limited and reductionist (cognitive behavioral therapy).
 

SonofTuribius

Pigeon
Catholic
I think in these matter one should go from the spiritual to the secular and not the other way around.

A commited christian should only seek psychological therapy if his spiritual director has recommended it. That is, spiritual means come first (such as having a sacramental life) and the best person to get advice from is someone who is both a holy man (a good priest for example) and who has gotten to know you deeply enough through frequent and outspoken spiritual counselling (that is, your spiritual director). Even then, if your spiritual director is serious with the advice he probable will suggest also a well formed, trusthworthy therapist that can actually provide help and not be a troyan horse for your spiritual life.

Your spiritual life is the first thing you should take care of. Spiritual direction is not as hard to get as it sounds, just find a priest and ask him for it. It usually involves meeting with him on a regular basis and sharing with him how you deal with life. He will always try to set your spiritual life on a decent basis and from then on may or may not recommended other types of help.

Appart from that, I think keeping in mind what Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught about the discernment of spirits also comes handy when dealing with emotional disorders. To put it succinctly, when you're constantly in a state of grace and and making progress getting close to the Lord, the evil spirits will try to influence you and lower your motivation, your stamina, make you doubt, and so on. The good spirits including God himself will try to uplift you and fill you with joy for the things of God.

When you're not in a state of grace but rather trapped by constant mortal sin, the good spirits will try to cause suffering in order for you to wake up and fight your way out of that miserable state (this always involves returning to the sacraments wholeheartedly). The evil spirits will try to make you feel comfortable. Suffices to say that if you're in this state and fall in the hands of a secular psychotherapist, 9 out of 10 times he will try to assist you by justifying the sin you're committing rather than recommending confession. In this sense, an ill formed spiritually lost psychologist tends to do the devils biding.
 
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