Psychologists have been commoditized as goods.
As Pride Month ends, we must remember that schools aren’t the only centers of liberal indoctrination — therapy is, too. Practitioners of psychological counseling are imposing their liberal worldview on people of all ages in their most vulnerable moments, like shooting fish in a barrel.
In 2021, an astonishing 41.7 million of American adults had some form of mental health counseling, up from 27.1 percent in 2002. Among American women aged 18–44, 28.6 percent received some form of mental health treatment — in a field where only 20 percent of the therapeutic techniques used for treatment are evidence based. Yet, despite wide availability of therapy, rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction, and behavioral disorders continue to increase, and millions of people are clamoring for tickets to Dr. Jordan Peterson’s self-improvement lectures.
What on earth is going on inside therapy rooms?
Leftist Ideas Dominate Psychology
Since the 1970s and 1980s, when psychotherapy began to be widely accepted, psychologists have been commoditized as goods — as Steve Jobs did with the computer. Today, psychologists play the role of the people we are missing in our lives. They substitute as spouses for the single person, as a source of stability for the children of divorce, as a friend for those who only have followers, and as a Band-Aid on the gaping wound of the lonely — which, in 2019, was 61 percent of Americans.
In response to this need, supply has surged, unveiling issues with the field’s scientific strength. Many have pointed out the terrifying replication crisis in psychological research, meaning that psychological studies are published without the rigorous scrutiny required to be called “scientific.”
The problem is not merely academic, however. Psychology is a field dominated, as Jonathan Haidt revealed, by liberals. One example is the Implicit Association Test and the adoption of bias training invading workplaces across the Western world. Another is Nathaniel Branden’s self-esteem research, which led to schools implementing self-esteem programs. The negative results of these programs went by unnoticed and are, despite their unfounded claims, still being served to parents as a benefit to their children. (READ MORE: Thank Media’s Toxic Culture Wars for Today’s Universal Unhappiness)
The same bias is seen in practice, where 76 percent of psychiatrists are Democrats, and only 7 percent are Republicans. This matters because research shows that in our heavily politicized time — much the same way religion used to be a segregating factor — patients and therapists report a stronger therapeutic alliance when political similarity is assumed. Although therapists should aim to be unbiased, 87 percent admit to bringing up political views in sessions.
One reason so many therapists lean to the left is that those attracted to mental health fields tend to be more agreeable, which, as a trait, tends to be an indicator of liberal bias. Additionally, universities are heavily influenced by the postmodern teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. While popular psychological techniques of today aren’t officially under the postmodern umbrella, these problematic ideas provide a constant baseline for how therapists apply the techniques they’re taught.
Four Postmodern Problems in Liberal Therapy
The first problem is the wish to deconstruct hierarchies of value. I had an argument once with a fellow therapist about a Jewish client’s inner conflict, which was imposed on him since his girlfriend wasn’t Jewish. Rejecting the deeply rooted Jewish tradition of not breaking the link, the therapist argued that the problem lay in the client’s belief system. The wish to marry another Jew wasn’t an accepted value to act on but instead was part of an outdated social institution. It was imperative for the client’s mental well-being to examine those beliefs critically, a central tenet in cognitive behavioral therapy but implemented in a liberal way.
Yet another hierarchy on the chopping block is self-improvement. The suggestion that one might improve behavior or develop skills to become better forms part of a system where the me of today is on a lower rung than the me of tomorrow — a system that is now viewed as morally bad. In the contemporary therapy room, the fault has to be shifted onto your own and society’s unacceptance of the client’s current rung. The client is encouraged to accept not improvement but instead something that only feels good when affirmed by the therapist but, because of its shallowness, disappears the moment he/she leaves the room. No wonder people spend years in therapy.
The second problem is the rejection of objective truth, meaning that a client’s problem can be interpreted in a myriad of equally valid ways. This blurs the boundary between facts and interpretation; therapy is guided only by the client’s experiences, as in narrative therapy, preventing it from being effective. A therapist’s job is to guide the client toward an interpretation of the facts that leads to more-beneficial functioning and interaction with the world. If encouraged to question reality and its set structures, the client is left as disoriented and confused as before therapy.
Could this have been what went on inside the therapy rooms of the students at the University of Cambridge, where 78 percent of those who were estranged from their parents had support from a therapist? These results have been replicated by Canadian and Australian researchers, who are calling it a silent epidemic of family breakups.
The third problem is that when everything is relative, you can construct your own meaning, and one path is equal to the next. A depressed client needs guidance in finding a goal that makes hard times worth the struggle. Those goals aren’t arbitrary or of equal significance. Family, love in marriage, striving for competence, and self-sacrifice in service to a community (often religious) are examples of goals that have kept us from committing suicide for thousands of years. A depressed person needs help in restoring faith that there is meaning in existence, not in burying the seeds of doubt deeper — precisely the opposite of the nihilistic musings of postmodern philosophy.
The fourth problem is the overemphasis on individualism: The therapists will let themselves be guided by the subjective realities of their clients, sometimes acknowledging unquestioningly their lived experiences and identities. Children with various mental health disorders, for example, often have their dubious ideas of gender identity affirmed by psychologists, frequently in the absence of, or even counter to the wishes of, the parent, according to documentation from the American Psychological Association.
The average therapist may not go this far, but the red thread of postmodernist influence is evident in a study where over 2,200 North American psychotherapists completed a web-based survey concerning their clinical work. In the list of techniques applied, the clear prioritization of inner emotional life and experiences stands out.
Unsurprisingly, when asked whether they promoted clients’ engagement in their religious community, 87 percent of the therapists answered, “Never.” Strange, seeing as about 3 in 4 Americans identify with a specific faith. Another eye-opener is that 16 percent of the therapists said they had never met family members or significant people in their clients’ lives.
Not only are liberal approaches to mental health, left unchecked by a conservative mindset, causing and exacerbating the rising mental health problem, but they are incapable of steering the collective pathology of meaning-void and loneliness onto the path of recovery.
A scalpel is a great tool, but not if it’s used to cut off a nose.
Hannah Spier, M.D., is a Norwegian psychiatrist based in Switzerland, the author of the Substack Psychobabble, and the mother of three small children. She has a degree in psychotherapy from the University of Zürich.
This article was previously published at Spectator.org on June 30th 2023, and re-published at Document News with the authors kind permission.