Sunday, January 8, 2017


I wrote the following comment to a Salon article about America’s “post-shame” (casually defined as “tacky beyond belief”) culture that enabled toxic mirage Trump to win the election:

“In psychotherapy, there is the concept of ‘reversal of dependency.’[*] This is the destructive problem where the parent is incompetent, immature or ill and the child, in order to give himself a sense of stability, warps himself to become the emotional / physical caretaker of the parent. My best fantasy is that this is what's happening to our society: where the adults are so infantile and masturbatory that the younger generation will become our guides and caregivers. But that's a meaningless dream: We're dragging them down to our level.”
That thought triggered my recognition of a wider reversal or paradox, expressed in the question: What if “mental patients” are the best of us, and the wardens and the guards, the professionals and population in general are the corrupting disorder in our society? This question is based in the wider still observation that humans suffer a core flaw where we are axiomatically blind to our most destructive elements and dwell only in the busy surface of our lives. This flaw has the musty name “mechanisms of defense.”

If you look honestly and closely, you will see that all the man-made variety of problems that have plagued the world are psychological in origin. They must be, as behavior comes from the mental-emotional furnace of a person, ignited in childhood. The seeds of destructiveness, delusional hate (such as the alt-right and the germ-du-jour Tomi Lahren) are in our injured birth and upbringing. But those painful places – we do not want to go there and will spend our lives looking around us and beyond us for the reasons for our ills, if we look at all.

“Mental patients” (clients who engage in therapy services) are, in the many places I’ve worked over twenty-four years, those who quiet their distractions, their running, and look inside to some depth. True, many are there for self-medication (a form of defense mechanism) as prescribed drugs, or for quick magical answers. But so many – even those blustery men who story-tell to the group about their past wealth and badass glory days – are willing to see the psychological origins of their drug use or gambling, their violence and their hatred, their sick dependencies, their neediness, their isolating, their failures. Quite a few are even willing to see how their own emotional twist has harmed their children. These are the vulnerable, the limping-in with their free bus passes and SSDI forms and cyclical hospitalizations, who are in touch with the core of things that most of the suit-wearing and job-going regulars, and the narcissistic blowjob politicians, are not. These are, in a reversal of our assumptions, those who look like the ragged always-children, the wandering helpless, but are the decent, introspective people.

If we others continue to live in our heads, never seeing that splinter in the soul, we will remain in a delusional, post-shame world that hates and needs and gravitates to false idols.

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* Steven Levenkron’s theory-observation, presented in his book on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders –

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.