82 Comments
Nov 7, 2023Liked by Freya India

Almost as if all the things we used to do naturally-- taking care of each other, taking care of our children, educating our children-- are being 'professionalized'; freeing up the people that otherwise have been doing those things (friends, parents) to engage in even more 'professions'. More tax revenue, more top-level control; more misery overall.

Thank you for the article

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Nov 7, 2023Liked by Freya India

Yes! "That's what friends are for" has been replaced with "get help" and not just young people! I think there's an additional huge reason for the over-reliance on therapy in this age of instant global public shaming via social media: confidentiality. People don't trust each other not to share their woes and secrets, and rightfully so it could well be argued. Priests, pastors etc. used to fill a useful role that way. My mother, an atheist, relied on the help of a minister to escape an abusive marriage. He was the only one in a gossipy small town she could trust with her secret plan. Not that there weren't/aren't abuses to that role of course, but at least it's not profit driven.

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I’ve read this post and I think many of the points you make or allude to are not very good arguments. You also seem to have your own assumptions and you often respond to those rather than engage with the actual topics. I’ve written a response that’s longer than it should be, but if anyone bothers to read it, I hope you’ll see a better way to think about this topic. Here is my criticism.

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1. You say that these companies pathologize normal distress and present therapy as the solution to all problems. But that is just your interpretation of it, and it’s based on the traditional perspective that’s similar to “therapy is for crazy people” (this is what people used to believe). Or perhaps closer to what you seem to believe: “Go to therapy when you’re suffering enough to warrant getting help”. Do you think that people should seek therapy only when they are suffering from depression, generalized anxiety, or PTSD? I think the smart thing to do is to go to therapy before this happens so that people can learn useful strategies they can use to deal with their problems before they get too serious and hopefully avoid them.

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Let’s compare going to a therapist with going to the doctor. Some people only go to the doctor when they are very sick, which is sometimes too late for them to get less invasive treatment or, in extreme cases, to save their lives. Instead of doing that, I would argue it’s smart to do get your bloodwork done and see a doctor early on if you have a problem – even if it’s not a big problem yet. Do you have a mole that looks suspicious? Don’t wait until it grows a lot to have a doctor look at it. The same with therapy: don’t wait until you’re so depressed you can’t get out of bed in the morning.

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2. In this article you’re basically using a straw man argument – claiming that therapy will solve all problems and heal you from being human, etc. I don’t know where you got this idea, but I doubt any therapist would say that’s what they are trying to do with their patients. The goal of therapy is to help people identify their problems (get a proper diagnosis if they have one), to help them understand themselves and learn useful strategies to help them deal with problems so they leave better lives. What exactly is the problem with this??? If they don’t suffer too much, people should just suck it up instead of learning how to express what they feel, think about it, regulate their emotions, or find useful coping strategies? Plus a therapist can observe a person and determine if what they experience is a normal reaction or a serious mental illness that needs to be treated differently.

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3. You seem to have a problem with Big Pharma, but let’s be real: the pharmaceutical industry has saved many lives, it has cured many diseases, and helped prolong people’s lives while also making them better. Few industries do so much to help humanity. Is the problem that these companies don’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts but mainly for profit? Wow, a company that wants to make money! That’s crazy! This doesn’t mean that everything they do is great and there’s nothing to complain about, but then complain about the problems. If you have a valid complaint, express that rather than throwing around “Big Pharma” and “Big Therapy” like it’s supposed to be a good argument. Do you also have a problem with Big Food, Big Electricity, Big Book? The companies that sell these things also want to increase their profits.

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4. You claim you’re worried that young people misdiagnose themselves based on the misinformation they see on TikTok (which is a big problem!). But what is the best way for young people to learn if they really have a mental illness or just a normal (or exaggerated) reaction to something that is happening in their lives? The best thing to do is…see a therapist who is a professional that can use the right instruments to assess what the person is experiencing, whether they need treatment or whether they just need to understand themselves and change the way they think about their lives.

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5. As you mentioned, many young people are alone, or they don’t have many friends to talk to or they prefer to spend their time on their phones. And perhaps these therapy companies are trying to fill that gap. Why is that a problem? Maybe young people prefer having a therapist to talk to than trying to find new friends. Is this ideal? Maybe. Maybe not. But then, tell us: what do you think should happen? Should parents or governments force young people to go outside and talk to other strangers (for free) that may become their friends – if they don’t seem to do this on their own? Or do you think that if all these therapy companies close up shop, young people will magically throw away their phones and start to spend time outdoors talking to other young people in person?

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6. You’ve created this antithesis between friends and strangers (specifically strangers you pay for therapy), while also talking as if they are pretty much the same thing. But they are very different, and they fulfill different roles – even if you seem to insinuate that most people don’t need therapy and they should just talk to their friends about it. Therapists can offer several things that friends cannot: 1. they have the expertise to observe and diagnose people if they have a condition, 2. they can provide support and teach you strategies based on scientific evidence, 3. they are less biased. Despite talking about friends and therapists (strangers you pay, as you keep saying), you seem to think that one can replace the other. That’s like saying that instead of paying a stranger to figure out what’s wrong with your body, you should just ask your friends and family about it. I’m drawing the parallel because a therapist should help you with the problems of your mind as a doctor helps you with the problems of your body. Technically you need a professional to help you figure out if your problems are normal or pathological. And the best way to find out if you need professional help is to book a consultation with one.

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7. The people who don’t want to date someone because they don’t go to therapy are people who see therapy as a tool that can be used for self-knowledge and growth. If someone values that, it makes sense that they would prefer someone who values that as well. It’s similar to someone saying they want to date people who read non-fiction books or have an active lifestyle. It’s a matter of personal preference.

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8. Another thing you seem to fail to understand is what people can do in their circumstances. Think about it. If someone really is struggling with depression, anxiety, distress or something else and they spend a lot of time indoors, using their devices, well then what do you think is easier for them to do: go outside and talk to strangers (for free, because paying for help is problematic as you’ve made it clear) or schedule a talk to a professional that can help them from the comfort of their home?? It’s obvious that the second one is a smaller step, therefore a step they are more likely to take – since, you know, these people may have their own challenges and cannot magically sum up the courage or motivation they need to do something that feels scary to them at first. Perhaps you do not have this problem so you may not be able to understand what it’s like for someone who does.

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9. Your title insinuates that some people or these companies claim that “everyone needs therapy”. Yet from what you mentioned here, it sounds more like they are trying to normalize therapy (reduce the stigma associated with it) and to claim that everyone can benefit from therapy – even if not everyone needs it. However, honestly, I would go as far as to say that probably everyone needs a little bit of therapy. Many people have maladaptive coping mechanisms, dysfunctional dynamics in their relationships, and do things that either do not increase or actually decrease their wellbeing, so a therapist could help them identify these issues and help them find ways to manage them.

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You've nailed some things I've been thinking about a lot. I did therapy for years and it was indeed helpful in many ways, but making other changes to my life ultimately paid far greater dividends than therapy alone. When people talk about not going to therapy being a red flag, or respond to anything negative someone does/says with "go to therapy," sometimes I want to shout that therapy doesn't fix everything, and having a bad therapist is worse than having no therapist at all. Someone might have a therapist who just affirms that everything they do is OK, so there's no growth. A therapist might not offer much beyond a space to vent, which is fine, but doesn't necessarily encourage behavior change. If someone goes to therapy but does little work outside that space to build resilience, change habits, self-reflect, etc., the benefits are minimal. But I agree with what someone else commented: People probably just don't know what else to do. It's easier to go to therapy and feel like you're doing something positive than it is to reconfigure your whole life on your own (or find community, etc.)

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Nov 10, 2023Liked by Freya India

Wow! I’ve always appreciated the term emotional labor from a feminist standpoint, but you’re right; calling friendship labor makes us feel like we shouldn’t burden each other with our problems

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I'm just going to zoom out a bit and suggest that in a healthy, humane society, some social services should not have a profit motive. We can list many things that obviously fall into this category: firefighting, law enforcement, the prison system... But only one certain wealthy country seems to think having a profit motive for health care is just a wonderful idea for some reason.

It may be true that we wouldn't have modern medicine without a profit motive, I don't know. But if that's true, I have to say, it's an indictment of humanity itself, and we won't ever make real progress as a species without moving past it.

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Nov 8, 2023Liked by Freya India

I guess my big question would be: "what are lonely people supposed to do?" True friends can be hard to find in today's fast-paced, superficial world.

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Most people nowadays got the wrong idea of the purpose of therapy. The purpose of therapy is not to remove suffering but to move through it to an enlarged consciousness that can sustain the polarity of painful opposites. And yes, most people need therapy.

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Excellent post, capitalism can't let us have anything nice or important, it's got to be an accessory...

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I like this analysis very much because it is on the money and I hope it is widely read. It's as if everything is to be outsourced to a supervisor; friendships, difficult feelings, or having conversations. The need to be resilient is only made redundant by persuading people they no longer have to navigate their own lives. Worryingly, many young people seem to be opting for some notion of a frictionless life, piloted by someone or something remotely.

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Nailed it again Freya, men and women need a friend like you.

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I recently did a whole mental health series and I really love this perspective! We are living in a time of extremes, cancel culture, polarizing politics, and it all feels like too much. Be perfect on social media yet be authentic or they’ll hate you! I think this is a unique way to discuss mental health services.

I know I’ve personally benefitted from therapy but I’m battling severe depression. Not everyone is dealing with trauma. I also value the importance of in person support around me and my identity in Christ is a big piece of that anchoring.

Which brings me to another point of conversation I’ve been having with a friend. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager but I seldom identify as someone under that label. Why? Do you think millennials and younger generations are obsessed with having all the right labels because of this kind of culture you’ve discussed? Curious what your thoughts are!

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Nov 8, 2023Liked by Freya India

Another blast of pure common sense. We need articles like these to guide people, especially girls.

Only Love heals. You can talk to the therapist all you want and it might help unburden in the beginning.

But the therapist is just a third person. There is no love brimming inside her heart--instead its only cholesterol. The relationship is transactional. Business. A career move.

For me, all this breakdown erupts from the collison of technology with wild radical feminism. No parent at home. Broken homes. And this insane need to 'talk talk talk' and express all your emotions.

In the beginning it might help--You speak to someone about your trauma but then, if you keep talking about it, you start spinning in your own poo.

Far better is to unburden with someone you love and once done, forget it.

The great remedy for all healing is love and self-giving. To not take yourself so seriously.

Forget yourself. Forget your 'story'.

Instead give your heart to meaning and purpose.

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Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 14, 2023Liked by Freya India

I feel as if mental health conditions and neurological disorders have become weird forms of social capital. It seems like the more mental illnesses and neurological conditions you can list, the cooler you are. I have diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (don’t get me started on fucking “self diagnosis”). It’s not quirky or fun, and it doesn’t free me from social pressures and responsibilities, which I think is another reason for the uptick in teens thinking they have mental health or neurological disorders: it relieves them of the burden of holding it together in the pressure cooker that life can be (or at least they think it does).

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Freya India

We’ve replaced religion with smartphones.

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Thank you so much for this. Love your work, from France

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