Thursday, May 21, 2015

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Psychotherapy in One Lesson

There is a local book reading group here in San Francisco that I attend only occasionally, but this month the book up for discussion was Michael Edelstein's Therapy Breakthrough, which he co-authored with David Ramsay Steele and  Richard  Kujoth.

So I read the book and actually trekked way over near to the Twin Peaks area of  San Francisco to discuss the book.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It provides a great overview of the history of the development of psychotherapy from Freud on, and the various approaches to therapy. I learned a lot. In fact, I told Michael that after reading the book I felt competent enough to put out a sign and launch my own psychotherapy practice.

That said, I am no expert on the science but I find a lot, not all but a lot, to agree with in Michael's Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy approach, developed by Albert Ellis.

Here are a few snippets from the book that will give you an idea of why it is such a great fun read:
Psychoanalysis was expected to take years. The patient would see the analyst four or five times a week.The patient would lie on the couch...while the analyst would sit behind the chair..There were often long periods of silence. A useful skill for a psychoanalyst was to be able to take naps without snoring. 
Karen Horney's (pronounced 'horn-eye') contributions to psychoanalytic theory are too numerous to list here. She challenged the view--still obligatory among right-thinking psychoanalysts into the 1940s--that women suffer from penis envy, and argued that men experience 'womb envy'. Sadly, Horney was not joking, and both she and her psychoanalytic opponents took this kind of talk deadly seriously.   
A gestalt workshop would be a  dramatic event...[Frederick]Perls ...would encourage clients to play out various parts of their own personality...Sometimes the client would be expected to 'play' the therapist. As Ellis remarked on such experiments, they always stopped short of having the therapist pay the client instead of the other way around.
The book also delves into the cult that formed around Freud that is very reminiscent of the one that formed around Ayn Rand, including banishments from the inner circle and denunciations of those that did not stick to the entire Freudian line.




  1. Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and Edward Bernays played a pivotal role in reducing American citizens into emotionally driven consumers who would buy almost anything if it was packaged with an energy driven by the desire to be a part of something more elevated than themselves. The last five presidents America elected are a prime example of this phenomenon, and this is why I especially feared George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama. The hair stood up on the back of my neck when I watched Barbara Bush introduce George W. on the Today show in the early 1990s, and when I watched Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic convention. I knew those two individuals would connect with an emotionally driven public, and would leave the rest of us with a wasteland.

  2. "they always stopped short of having the therapist pay the client instead of the other way around."

    I like that. IMO, a shrink is a fraud by definition.