Chile: Solidarity Wins Out Over Psychobabble

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by Brendan O'Neill: The
Secular Inquisition



Millions of
people around the world will crack a smile today as they watch the
33 Chilean miners finally being hoisted back to life. But Those
Who Know Better, the overlords of the therapy industry, see something
different: not a happy ending to a two-month nightmare, but the
start of an even longer nightmare of ill-health, craziness and PTSD
for these unfortunate creatures from the dark. According to the
experts, what we’re really witnessing in Chile today is a volcanic
eruption of human instability, as 33 ticking timebombs of emotional
frailty are raised to the surface.

One psycho-expert,
echoing an army of others, told Fox News that the rescue of the
men will release a ‘cauldron
of emotions
’; apparently ‘molten, churning reservoirs
of emotion are about to emerge from that mine’. And there’s
no telling what this geyser of two months worth of repressed feelings
will give rise to. Fox’s fortune-teller says it could spawn
‘divorces, violence, terrible despondency, panic attacks, plays
for celebrity that fall short and lead to suicide, addiction to
alcohol and illicit drugs and gambling, and wild allegations levelled
by one miner against another’. For the mental-health lobby,
it seems, every silver lining has a cloud.

How will these
men who coped remarkably well in a 32 degrees Celsius underground
cavern for more than two months now cope with the temptation to
descend into a drug-addled world of violence and backstabbing? On
this question, the experts are unanimous: as one of them sums it
up, the freed 33 will require ‘all the skill of the very
best mental-health professionals
available’. Is it just
me or does this look like a brazen job-creation scheme? At a time
of recession and cutbacks, I guess even the mental-health lobby
has to find ways to earn a crust – even if that means cynically
re-presenting 33 fairly hard, robust miners as men on the verge
of a nervous breakdown who will need professional help for the rest
of their lives.

The most startling
thing about the various psycho-pronouncements being made about the
miners is not their undiluted miserabilism, their ability to see
future suicides where most of us see a moment of joy, but their
ignorance of the facts of the past two months. Because the inconvenient
truth is that the 33 miners survived underground not as a result
of psychological advice and intervention but by sometimes rebelling
against the psychologists who kept a watchful eye on their every
move. The real story of the Chilean miners, for anyone who cares
to look, is that the interventions of the various wings of the trauma
industry often make things worse rather than better, and people
are mostly happier and healthier without them.

The on-site
psychology team at the San Jose mine treated the trapped men with
extraordinary mean-spiritedness. Driven by the conviction that they,
as one headline put it, ‘know
’, and backed up by the dime-a-dozen profferings of
every headline-hungry psychologist and therapist around the globe,
the psychologists saw it as their duty to police the men’s
thoughts and even to censor letters from their families in case
they triggered ‘problematic emotions’. Such petty authoritarianism
is the end result of the deep-rooted idea that life is way too hard
and complicated to be negotiated without the words of wisdom of
the therapy lobby.

the rest of the article

19, 2010

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