Primal therapeutic oppression – Arthur Janov knows what you need! by Marian Goldstein

Cross-posted at Marian’s blog.

Yesterday, my attention was drawn to the comment section of this post on this NYT-article on modern lobotomy at Mr. Arthur Janov’s – yup, the Arthur Janov – blog.

My attention was drawn to the blog of the guru of the 1970ies screaming-hype by a comment on a blog post about, and this is somewhat important, Liberation psychology – by the way an awesome piece by Bruce Levine, and if you haven’t yet, go read it! – at a Norwegian blog.

In his article about Liberation psychology, Levine states with Jesuit priest, therapist and activist Ignacio Martín-Baró:

The prevailing psychology, (…), is not politically neutral, but favors maintaining the status quo. Reducing human motivations to the maximization of pleasure fits neatly into the dominant culture. Martin-Baró astutely observed that most prevailing psychology schools of thought—be it psychoanalytic, behavioral, or biochemical—accept the maximization of pleasure as the motivating force for human behavior, ignoring other human motivations, including the need for fairness and social justice. Prevailing psychology’s focus on individualism, he wrote, ‘ends up reinforcing the existing structures, because it ignores the reality of social structures and reduces all structural problems to personal problems.’

So, you might say the prevailing paradigm in today’s psychology pathologizes suffering as an individual flaw – and it doesn’t matter if this flaw is seen as biological, existential, spiritual or whatever else in nature – rather than viewing it as an expression of a very healthy discontent with and rebellion against a thoroughly oppressive culture.

Bruce Levine writes:

Aldous Huxley predicted, ‘And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude.’ Today, increasing numbers of people in the U.S. who do not comply with authority are being diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric drugs that make them care less about their boredom, resentments, and other negative emotions, thus rendering them more compliant and manageable.

Psych labels and the inevitably following “treatment” have indeed become our time’s most employed means of oppression. Political, societal, and individual oppression.

Now have a look at this comment by Arthur Janov:

There are many many reasons why we cannot take some people; those who really need a living arrangement supervised or controlled as is the case with psychotics.

Us and them, yup. The “psychotics”, the lesser-than-human beings, who, because they are “psychotic” and thus lesser-than-human, need to be supervised and controlled, i.e. oppressed.

Since I’ve managed to see through and quite successfully ward off most attempts to oppress, retraumatize, and consequently silence me, that I, too, found myself subjected to in therapy, since I actually beyond the attempts to oppress, retraumatize and silence me also was as lucky as to receive some real help from my therapist, making it possible for me to find my own language and voice my discontent with and rebellion against the ongoing oppression in society, I left the following comment at Janov’s blog:

‘They need a supervised life.’

Wow wow wow! Mind-boggling to witness therapists know just exactly what it is their clients need!

As it may be true that, while going through acute crisis, most “psychotic” (whatever that term means) people need a secure environment where they can be safe from (further) assault and trauma, “secure” doesn’t mean “secured”, as in “supervised”. Or why not simply “controlled”, as in “Let’s lock ’em up and throw away the key!”??

How about a little more respect for the person in crisis, and his/her own knowledge of what s/he needs?

Marian, Denmark, blogger and expert on her own needs” (Janov likes to know about his commenters’ location and profession)

Well, what of course I should have written isn’t “their clients” but “people”. As this is what therapists, Arthur Janov included, usually have the arrogance to assume, that their “expertise” entitles them to know what everybody else, not just their particular clients, needs. – Let’s recapitulate here: arrogance is a response to fear.

Arthur Janov, like many other therapists, doesn’t take “psychotics”. But while he himself prefers to think, that he can’t take these lesser-than-human beings because he can’t provide the control they, like a ferocious wild animal, in his opinion are so much in need of, in truth he, as it will seem to me, can’t take them because he lacks the self-control he‘d need in order to be able to provide a safe and spacious enough place for people in extreme states of mind where they can liberate themselves from society’s oppression, and fully come into being.

And while I think, it is better for a therapist to admit that s/he doesn’t have the amount of self-control, -awareness, and -respect to deal with the whole range of human experiences, the extremes included, than to pretend to be able to deal with the extremes when the contrary is the case – these are the therapists who claim the professional expertise, providing the power to label, drug and, whenever perceived as convenient, commit people, to be more important than true empathy and respect -, which inevitably will lead to the person in crisis being retraumatized, I also think that s/he probably isn’t fit to be a therapist at all, when s/he feels frightened by the extremes of the human experience to an extent that makes him/her call for “supervision”, control and thus retraumatizing oppression. If you can’t deal with the whole range of human experiences, but need to apply “supervising”, controlling, and thus oppressing measures to the extremes, that means, you can’t deal with anything that isn’t “supervised”, controlled, and thus oppressed by external powers. And that renders you an oppressor yourself.

In another comment Janov replies to someone who’s written a letter to the author of the NYT-article:

Well Walden good work and now let me know if he ever responds. I seriously doubt it.

Janov published my comment, and that’s something I guess. But so far, His Greatness Arthur Janov hasn’t had much to say to me so impertinently disturbing the worshipping of him at his blog, and i seriously doubt that he’s going to have. But, of course, I’m also one of these lesser-than-human beings, a ferocious wild animal, who, had only a “supervised”, controlled life been provided for me, never had had the impertinence to disturb the worshipping of His Greatness in the first place… In case Janov surprises me, I’ll let you know…

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