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The Big Answer


To link to this article from your blog or webpage, copy and paste the url below into your blog or homepage.

Does Therapy Help?

an article by Consumer Reports Editors

(our site's article review)

Over two-thirds of the more than 50 million Americans (that’s the number who suffer from mental or addictive disorders at any one time in this country) who might benefit from psychotherapy never even give it a try, because their health insurance doesn’t cover it, because they’re not sure it will help, and because they’re not sure what type of help to get.

Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools
Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools

The Consumer Reports survey that was the basis of this article found that the majority of respondents were highly satisfied with the care they’d received. This corresponds with a trend away from the psychoanalytical, individual-centered, reductionistic context of the old, mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm in which an identified patient has something wrong that needs fixing, and toward the holistic, systems context of the new, ecological-holistic paradigm in which the person’s family system and social network system is seen as involved in the problem evolution and likewise needs to be involved in the problem cure. This is a validation for the new paradigm applied in the social sphere (it’s already proven itself unequivocally in the hard sciences such as physics).

A Consumer Reports survey on therapy found that those who consulted a mental health specialist for over six months did well
A Consumer Reports survey on therapy found that those who consulted a mental health specialist for over six months did well

In the study, it didn’t matter whether the people with problems had seen a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Those who saw marriage counselors, however, were less satisfied. Consulting the family doctor got okay results, but those who consulted a mental health specialist for over six months did much better. Psychotherapy alone worked as well as psychotherapy combined with medication, such as Prozac or Xanax. Most people who took such drugs experienced only slight improvements, but they complained about the serious (and under-emphasized) side effects. Studies found no clinically significant improvements from antidepressant use. But cognitive therapy worked—see Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.

Prozac
Prozac


Psychotherapy alone worked as well as psychotherapy combined with medication, and avoiding medication prevents side effects
Psychotherapy alone worked as well as psychotherapy combined with medication, and avoiding medication prevents side effects


Big Pharma spreading its very expensive 'miracles' across the land
Big Pharma spreading its very expensive 'miracles' across the land

Most people who went to a self-help group were very satisfied and said they got better. “People were especially grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous, and very loyal to that organization.” The reasons people had sought therapy were: depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, marital difficulties, mood swings, sexual dysfunction, parenting issues, job problems, grief, stress, and alcohol or drug abuse.

The bad news? Big Pharma is pushing shrinks to be drug pushers who define psychological issues as brain defects needing drugs. The worse news? Many are buying into that nonsense!
The bad news? Big Pharma is pushing shrinks to be drug pushers who define psychological issues as brain defects needing drugs. The worse news? Many are buying into that nonsense!


Feeling Good is a great book to empower the treating of depression as well as ridding oneself of negative thoughts and emotions resulting mostly from parenting errors
Feeling Good is a great book to empower the treating of depression as well as ridding oneself of negative thoughts and emotions resulting mostly from parenting errors

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said either that they felt good after therapy or that they improved significantly. Of course, many people improve without therapy. Depression can be treated with cognitive therapy, in which you change negative self-perceptions to positive ones, interpersonal therapy, in which you work on effective relationship habits, or drug therapy, although the side effects can be seriously debilitating. For severe cases in which drugs are ineffective, ECT (shock therapy) works—but again the side effects can be very serious.

Meditation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and tranquilizers (which can cause dependency) are all effective for the treatment of anxiety. To treat panic, both antidepressant drugs and anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax work, but once drugs are stopped, the panic attacks return about half the time. Cognitive therapy provides relief to almost all panic sufferers. For phobias, which affect more than ten percent of American adults, the behaviorist therapies systematic desensitization and flooding are used, with good results

Cognitive therapy provides relief to almost all panic sufferers
Cognitive therapy provides relief to almost all panic sufferers

Overall, 60 percent of respondents found that therapeutic drugs helped a lot, but 40 percent said they didn’t help a lot. Note that people who received psychotherapy alone improved as much as those who combined psychotherapy with drugs, and that half the patients on drug therapy reported problems with the drugs. Twenty percent of those who experienced side effects complained that their doctors didn’t warn them about them. And doctors seemingly were careless about keeping patients on drugs too long: 40 percent of those on anti-anxiety drugs were on them for over a year and 25 percent for over two years, even though long-term use results in drug dependence and the need for larger doses. Tests show that Xanax, after two months, performs little better than a placebo. “The reason many people take anti-anxiety drugs for so long is that they’re extremely hard to kick; if the drug is stopped, symptoms return in full force.”

On average, 50 percent of people in psychotherapy recovered after eleven weekly therapy sessions, while 75 percent got better after about a year.

The article failed to consider the self-help that a person can give to oneself: positive self-talk, self-parenting, improving one’s relationships, communications and parenting (if applicable) skills via studying and applying P.E.T. and/or Winning Family Lifeskills, improved nutrition, sleep, and exercise habits, and strengthening one’s social network. This self-reliance context has a distinctly more American flavor to it, as we’re not only the land of opportunity but the home of individualism and independence.

It also avoided acknowledging the large Anti-psychiatry movement. Anti-psychiatry is the view that psychiatric treatments are ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients. Psychiatry is seen by proponents of anti-psychiatry as a coercive instrument of oppression. There's a lot of evidence to support such claims. Even the drugging of children purported to have ADHD can easily be interpreted as using the drugs as instruments of oppression since kids that are more lively and enthusiastic than most are routinely medically managed even though they usually resent it and feel oppressed and would prefer to feel alive again. The biggest insult to our intelligence is the claim that it doesn't matter how you raise kids—their attention deficits and "misbehavior" in general are simply a brain defect.

The drugging of children purported to have ADHD can easily be interpreted as using the drugs as instruments of oppression
The drugging of children purported to have ADHD can easily be interpreted as using the drugs as instruments of oppression


Breggin clearly demonstrates in Reclaiming Our Children that we aren’t actually a nation of crazies and defectives needing to be saturated in psychiatric pharmaceuticals to fix our broken brains
Breggin clearly demonstrates in Reclaiming Our Children that we aren’t actually a nation of crazies and defectives needing to be saturated in psychiatric pharmaceuticals to fix our broken brains