• 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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