Book Sale

Sunday 16 April 2023

Failure To Help People


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I am reading The People of the Lie, by a famous psychologist M. Scott Peck, a book which was recently recommended by Vox Day. Peck makes the interesting point at one stage in the book, that those the least in need of psychological care are the ones most keen to pursue it and the most likely to benefit from it. And conversely, those most in need of it are the least likely to ever pursue it or get any benefit from it.

Would that not make psychology a profession that specializes in the well[1] making the well slightly more well? In other words, a profession that cannot solve the very issue it exists to solve. Because those arguably most in need from it never deal with it.

Of course, not all psychological care is found in the psychiatrist’s or psychologist’s office. Most of it is found in a healthy family, with healthy friends, healthy input from mentors and advisors, healthy pastoral care and community involvement, being plugged into a good church context, etc, etc. A big chunk therefore of what helps the mental health expert be successful is what goes on for his patient outside his/her office and in their ordinary lives.

This explains why even though mental health services have skyrocketed in recent years, the general mental health of people in our society has plummeted. Because they don't need a psychologist, they need a better family life, good friends, a good community, a healthy church, a safe home environment, and a healthier lifestyle. They need people in their lives who aren't paid $200 an hour to be there to help them with their issues, but who are there for the sake of being there with them for genuine relational reasons and true fellowship. People need less psychological help and more Samwise Gamgees in their life, in other words.  

Over the last few decades every single one of these healthy normal aspects of life have declined. Families are breaking up at record rates. People are getting increasingly too busy for friendships, and a lot of men have no close friends. Community networks are not what they used to be, hardly anyone goes to church and receives the benefits of being plugged into a community of believers who really and genuinely care for them. The prevalence of abuse in the home is becoming well documented, and self-evident all around us just by observing how many young people are confused about their gender and identities, and people are increasingly become less healthy from a diet of processed junk.

Therefore, an entire sector of the health services and also the economy, is predicated on the fact that people just aren't living like they were in circa 1973, or 1953, or 1883. Of course, even in a healthy society you will still have the mentally unwell, you will still have evil and the abuses and damage that evil causes. But knowing what we do about how people really build a healthy psychology, should not far more social service resources go into initiatives that just get people living lives as we once did? Shouldn't such services be pulled from pseudo-scientific endeavours that are not reaching the people they are really intended for anyway, and directed to stopping families from breaking down, to give people less commute time to work and more time for a social life, and more things like this? Pouring money into an industry that its very own experts say cannot solve the issues it is designed to solve, seems like the height of foolishness, doesn't it?

It is almost as if the system was increasingly being twisted in every direction away from actually helping people be mentally healthy. It’s a hard conclusion not to come to.

[1] Yes, this is debateable. It is more than just a stereotype that many who go into this profession do so to more understand their own psychological issues. In this sense it is the unwell seeking to heal others. A disturbing thought.

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