What is ‘The Therapy Industry’ about?
This book aims to show that the most widespread forms of therapy and counselling have little basis in science, that their supposed therapeutic benefits are highly exaggerated, and that they prosper in their current form because above all, they serve the interests of power.
Why this book is needed:
The jargon of psychological therapy has spread into our lives – from school to university to workplace, from the health advice clinic to the prison, and even to popular entertainment programmes, where experts advise lonely people how to attract a partner, or parents how to be better ones. Almost every one of these specialists are keen to persuade us that our unhappiness descends, not from our inescapable past and from the weight of the world in which we live, but from our own willful lack of insight into ourselves and from our failure to take responsibility for what think, feel and do.
All of this might be acceptable if we had firm evidence that psychological advice and treatments work as they are supposed to. When read with a clear eye, the available evidence suggests that they do not. Despite many years of inquiry into the clinical effects of psychological treatment, the standards of investigation are still so poor that it is hard to say with conﬁdence just how helpful or unhelpful therapy might be. Because of the powerful placebo effects involved in this kind of procedure – and the historical failure of most researchers to adequately control for them – then careful scrutiny of even the best of this research literature suggests that all of the main psychological therapies are of marginal helpfulness at best, and are probably ineffective.
The practices and prescriptions of modern-day psychologists are far closer than is widely believed to the nostrums of the medical profession before the modern era: a time when a soothing touch counted most, when patients often had strong views about the correct dose of laudanum for their illnesses, and when he or she who paid the piper called the tune.
A series of stock market failures have brought immense economic and social disruption throughout the world, including the many so-called developed nations that once seemed secure and prosperous. In Britain and many other countries, politicians have blamed the poor, the disabled and the sick, and have enthusiastically set about dismantling the welfare and health services upon which so many depend for protection and employment. Far from challenging this state of affairs, therapeutic psychology has become the voice of the establishment and the official mythology of our time. Rather than cake, it has given us vacuous positive thinking, cognitive therapy and postmodern ‘discourse’. Too often, and despite the good intentions of the therapists, the results have been anything but humane. When our livelihoods are threatened and when our neighbourhoods become intolerable we look for counselling rather than for ways to protest our lot.
The Therapy Industry offers a considered, reasoned and empirically supported analysis of how this situation has come about and of how we might begin to address it, both as a society and as individual citizens. Paul Moloney
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