We need to pull ourselves together [Telegraph]

Theodore Dalrymple reviews Therapy Culture by Frank Furedi. I have seen Frank Furedi speak at Spiked Online’s brilliant Panic conference and he is a very smart man.

“…the extension of belief in “therapy” is both symptomatic and productive of a profound change in human relations, and not for the better. It may also lead to an extension of the powers of the state over our lives. Therapeutic culture is therefore destructive – though the author fails to allow the possibility that many people may nevertheless benefit personally from the sympathetic ear and disinterested advice of third parties when they have no one else suitable to turn to.

…the bigger picture he presents is persuasive. He points out that in the not-so-distant past, people looked (at least in this country) to their relatives and friends to help them with their difficulties. They also turned to the consolations of religion, and believed in the virtue of stoicism. However, for a variety of cultural reasons many people have gradually come to consider the ups and downs of their emotional lives to be by far the most important aspect of their existence.

But self-absorption and an emphasis on self-realisation are divisive: to quote the cant phrase that makes my heart sink every time I hear it, people are no longer “there for one another”. Thus they increasingly turn to professional third parties – alleged experts such as counsellors – for support and advice. In the process, perfectly normal, inescapable, human experiences – such as those of loss, conflict, ambivalence and anxiety – are turned into quasi-medical problems to be treated by quasi-medical means.” MORE

I am really looking forward to hearing him speak at the Policy Exchange next monday.

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