I am reviewing this book from a Christian worldview. Although the book is not religious, it is nevertheless an important work that affirms some of the observation Nouthetic counselors have made about pop psychology. The book argues against much of pop-psychology’s assessment and various pseudo-scientific psychotherapy that is rampant in today’s society. Time and time again the author demonstrate that many popular works advancing ideas that Americans as a nation have serious psychological problems lack actual scholarship, either by falling short of rigorous empirical verification or being blatantly unscientific. I recommend this book. Below are some of my notes from my reading:
– Many secularized doom and gloom prophets have come and gone, defending their latest theories by anecdotes rather than proper social scientific methodologies. For example, the book documents recent advocates who say males today have psychological problems because of our society’s high standard of responsibility imposed upon them that’s unrealistic; then there’s the anti-homework crowd who say school work are psychologically damaging upon minors; and the anti-tag and anti-dodge ball experts who don’t want kids to be “it” or “out” lest these kids feel excluded and get messed up for life.
– The book has a sobering analysis of “unmerited self-confidence” promoted among leading experts of children education with the unintended consequences of producing a generation of narcissists. Self-confidence apart from merit is not a good thing.
– Studies have shown that there’s no correlation between self-confidence and success. The book also bring attention to the self-confidence of some psycho-paths, criminals, etc.
– The book has a serious indictment against some group therapeutic method and its practitioners unwillingness to call something that’s evil for what it is since it attempt to foster an atmosphere of extreme tolerance and understanding. The book records a morally disturbing dialogue during a group therapy session in which a man confesses that he has a problem of raping his sister in which the facilitator went after participants who were repulsed rather than the rapist himself.
– Chapter 3 dealt with the enslaving concept of addiction as a medical disease, which makes victims out of addicts and often disolves the need for responsibility in the eye of addicts.
– The book counters the argument made by advocates who have charts of brain activities showing drug addiction as a rewarding experience by noting the fact that those resisting addiction also show brain activity of being more intensely rewarded and gratified.
– All this “getting connected and talk about one’s feelings” promote self-absorption.
– In a 1973 article titled “Case for bottling up rage” in Psychology Today it criticizes venting therapy: other studies agree and confirm talking about trauma per se has little effect despite what most people think. For instance, Yale studies on Gulf War vets show no differences among those talking about it and those that didn’t.
– Talking about problems also does not significantly help with the lifespan of cancer patients despite what advocates say. The largest study on group therapy for longevity of cancer patients proved that those who talk about their problems only survive 9 more days on average rather than the previous claim of a two year difference
-Perils of overthinking not accounted for in the grief industry which fail to take into account people grieve in different ways and there’s nothing wrong with not “talking about it”
-Grief industry had two presuppositions that need to be reconsidered: strangers are assumed to be always welcomed during grief and grief needs specialized assistance
– The phenomenon known as delayed grief (technically, not the same as repressed grief) in which not grieving now can come back to haunt you later on with the feeling of grief has not been proven empirically.
-PTSD is different than the experience of being traumatized in of itself. Thus PTSD is different from the experience described as “shell-shock,” “combat fatigue,” etc.
– Chapter 5 talk about the origin of PTSD was during the Vietnam War era by anti-war psychologists who originally advanced it as Post-Vietnam Syndrome. They proposed that it was a unique experience to Vietnam veterans suffering from self-punishment for being duped by society in an unjust war with the lack of a proper home-coming which result in the symptom of a delayed traumatic response.
– Contrary to what most people think about Vietnam veterans, studies have indicated that by the 1990s Vietnam Veterans were roughly the same statistically when compared to those of their generation who did not serve or were military veterans who did not serve in Vietnam. These reflect the same statistics as their counterparts in the area of suicide, homelessness, income, divorce rate, employment and level of education.
– Studies on delayed PTSD (defined as past 6 months) indicate that it is very rare.
– Group therapy for PTSD that focuses on re-living Vietnam intensify PTSD and ends up producing more problem instead.
– Crisis counselors and mental health workers for genocides and wars in Bosnia, South East Asia, Kosovo and Rwanda are often unwelcome by those whom they are trying to help since these victims don’t see their problems as a pathological issue. These mental health workers often fail to address the problems the refugees themselves have identified which are more practical in nature such as health, sanitization, employment and financial needs, etc.
– Psychotherapy by means of briefing might end up hurting more than help trauma victims since it can prime them to see themselves and their experiences as pathological issues rather than normal grieving.
– There is the reality that our psychobabble culture might be “overhelping” which itself can produce problems.
– Good quote: “If one’s worldview accommodates the likelihood of horror, one is prepared for it and better able to cope when tragedy does at last strike.” (Page 211)
– Good quote: ” Numerous studies have shown that ideological commitment to a cause plays a protective role.” (Page 211)
– A sense of commitment to a cause checks the likelihood of PTSD.
– As a tangent afterthought, this work made me realize that to interpret those who do immorality in unbiblical and non-moral categories is spiritually and socially dangerous; for instance those who understand criminals as psychological victims approach solutions that fail to account for the responsibilities of criminals: most disturbing is the lady quoted who did not see Jefferey Dohmer was evil among Wolfe’s subjects.