Warning: your success in treatment can be used to hurt others

From a listserve of therapists.  What may have helped you may hurt another. Stay off your high horse.

Overall it became clear that there is no single path to wellness. There is no better way to succeed than any other path. Again the doo-doo bird reigns over all — all are winners. There is a corollary to this story however. Each version of the truth can be inadvertently used as a weapon to vilify versions that are different from our own. The person who advocates for medication can be callous and indifferent to the one who does not believe in medications. Also the person who believes that medications are evil can be callous and indifferent to the one who believes that medication can be helpful.

The message here is as plain as the nose on my face. Each person’s path is unique and should be respected. Each person’s choices can only be judged by the experiences that those choices bring about. Our roles as professionals is to help people make sense of their choices and to offer them more and more options as their lives unfold.

And what about anthropology? Awareness  of cultural context cannot be optional. Lack of such awareness is what makes us primitive, not lack of technology.  Another post by another listserve member that refers to the Maori tribe story – 3 posts ago:

One of the fascinating contentions I have drawn in this exploration though, is that EBP  (evidenced based practice) for the practice of psychology is nearly totally devoid of the sorts of questions an Anthropology might be asking about culture. Thus when we, in our professions, study how to help people feel better in their lives, we assume the culture we live in is appropriate to our humanity. Thus we are NOT studying mental health per se. We are more accurately studying how to emotionally adapt to a contemporary technological culture… this increasingly includes drug use and the manipulative strategies of behavioral therapies. It also includes one-on-one, time-limited relationships that are forced into an economic frame that makes sense to a “profession”.

Regardless of whether what happened to this young man was “magical” or “naïve”, the part of the story that lifted my heart was this family surrounding him day and night with such intensive support. It makes me continue to wonder why we have made our mental health healing into a “profession” that compartmentalizes this profound relational factor at the same time as we have fragmented our daily relational lives.


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