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Why Psychotherapists Fail To Help People In Today’s World

October 27th, 2010
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Many people who enter psychotherapy today aren’t helped at all. Some end up more troubled than when they began treatment. And ironically, some therapists are examples of the kinds of problems they’re trying to treat. In this post I explain why that is and how to become a more informed consumer when considering psychotherapy.

The popularity of the TV show “In Treatment” is one indicator that there’s a large, market for psychotherapy, today. Despite the decline of the more orthodox psychoanalytic treatment – the kind that Daphne Merkin described in a recent New York Times article about her years in treatment – people continue to seek competent professional help for dealing with and resolving the enormous emotional challenges and conflicts that impact so many lives in current times. Beyond healing, they want to grow their capacity for healthy relationships and successful lives.

Many skilled and competent therapists are out there. (I use term “therapist” to describe psychologists, psychiatrists and clinical social workers – professionally trained and licensed practitioners.) Moreover, research shows that psychotherapy can be very effective. Either alone, or sometimes in combination with the judicious use of medication.

Yet so often practitioners don’t help people very much. Some struggle for years in therapy with one practitioner after another, and never seem to make any progress. Others resolve some conflicts, but then are hit with others that hadn’t been addressed.

I see three reasons for this situation. Read more…

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Midlife Conflict and Renewal, Modern Love, Sex & Relationships, Psychological health in a post-globalized world , , , , , ,

The Steady Rise of Serving the Common Good

October 14th, 2010

In my previous post I wrote about a rising “social psychosis” that’s visible in three areas of our society. It’s likely to prevail for some time, but I think it’s like a wave that’s crested and will crash to the shore. The reason is that the “social psychosis” is a backlash against a steadily growing consciousness and behavior that refocuses personal lives and public policies towards promoting the common good.

By the “common good,” I’m referring to a broad evolution beyond values and actions that serve narrow, self-interests; and towards those guided by inclusiveness — supporting well-being, economic success, security, human rights and stewardship of resources for the benefit of all, rather than just for some.

It’s like a stealth operation, because it hasn’t become highly visible yet. But polls, surveys and research data reveal several strands of change that are coalescing in this overall direction. I describe each of them below, and they may appear to be unrelated. Yet I think they’re driven by an underlying perspective — that we’re all like organs of the same body, and the body doesn’t thrive if any of the organs are neglected or diseased.

It’s an awareness of interconnection of all lives on this planet, and a pull towards acting upon that reality in a range of ways. They include rethinking personal relationships, the responsibility of business to society, the role of government in an interdependent world.

A 21st Century Mindset

The rise of the common good reflects a sense of “global citizenship” and an obligation to be a “good ancestor” to future generations who inhabit this planet. In fact, it embodies behavior and policies that fit the needs for effective functioning — both personal and political — in our post-9-11, post-economic meltdown world.

That is, in previous posts I’ve argued that this new era of unpredictable change in a non-equilibrium world requires Read more…

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Climate Change & Green Business, Politics, Psychological health in a post-globalized world, Work & Career "4.0"

A “Social Psychosis” Rises In Our Culture

October 5th, 2010

Much of the ongoing debate in political, business and social/cultural arenas is rooted in an underlying disagreement about what best serves national interests and individual lives. Is it promoting the common good, or serving self-interest?

As interdependence and interconnection on this planet become ever-more apparent, new challenges and conflicts arise for personal life, the role of government and the conduct of business leadership. In response to these new realities, people’s attitudes and behavior are shifting more towards serving the larger common good; now necessary for successful, flexible and psychologically resilient functioning.

However, these shifts clash with a long-prevailing ideology, that the primary pursuit of self-interest best serves the public interest and personal success. That ideology has also prevailed in our views of adult psychological health and maturity. In essence, the pursuit of greed, self-centeredness and materialism have become the holy trinity of public and private conduct. And it’s generating a growing “social psychosis.”

That is, the benefits of self-interest in personal lives and public policy supposedly trump any that accrue from serving the common good; the latter would undermine the former, if put into practice. For example, the argument against helping the unemployed, extending health insurance for all Americans or addressing climate change is that they would hurt the economy and therefore negatively impact your well-being and life success.

To question or critique this ideology might even be called “un-American.” That would be correct; a good thing, actually, because the values and conduct that seem to have “worked” for so long now falter in today’s rapidly changing world. No longer do they ensure long-term success, well-being or security. Several observers have written about the faltering of the old system in today’s world. For example, Jeff Jarvis of CUNY, who has written about a

…great restructuring’ of the economy and society, starting with a fundamental change in our relationships — how we are linked and intertwined and how we act.

Or Umair Haque, who has been describing

…the new principles of a new economy, built around stewardship, trusteeship, guardianship, leadership, partnership.

in his Harvard Business School blog posts.

The Social Psychosis Backlash
The reaction to the growing interconnection is a creeping “social psychosis.” Like the frog in the pot of water who doesn’t notice the slowly rising temperature Read more…

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