Friday, August 08, 2008

Psychology, Its Uses and Limits

Humans are a social animal. We do our best work with others. We modify our behaviors based on the preferences of the people with which we spend time. This is natural and desirable. When we lose the people with whom we spend time, we care, and the loss hurts. Nothing fills the void, but new friends, loves, can paper over the hole. This papering over is what we have to do, to keep going. It is not a disrespect of those we have lost (or misplaced) but rather, it is an affirmation of the great love we have that we seek out others. We need Love.

Depression is tough. Now there is effective medicine to treat it. It is not something to take recreationally. When I took it, (A seratonin uptake inhibitor) I was expected to produce a great product, of significant importance, with minimal help, while I was in the grip of a legal battle with my ex-wife. I couldn't do it. My inability to perform was horribly frustrating, and made everything worse. The anti-depressants were lifesaving for me. Seeing a psychologist got the workload lifted. The antidepressants let me perform better, though not heroically. Then for a long time I took the antidepressants because it took the edge off my depression. That means that I didn't have to keep watching my train of thought, to keep from drifing into a sad pattern. Finally life was good enough that I could stop taking them. I am smarter without them, but must school myself to avoid getting back into trouble.

If life gets tough enough, I will take them again.

Psychologists make a living by keeping people on the string, coming back. They don't get paid for empty spots on their appointment book. The old saw is "If the only tool you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails." Lawyers are paid 300 dollars an hour and up to think of ways to resolve problems with legal papers, testimony, and documents. Psychologists are cheaper than lawyers (in part because they are not locked into opposition with other shrinks, as lawyers are in opposition to other lawyers.) Always remember, the psychologist does not fix the problem. Only you can do that. A Lawyer or a Psychologist may cut down on murder or suicide rates, but is no substitute for Love.

My advice: Get the help you need, but if you don't have a resolution in 3 sessions, find a different shrink. That doesn't mean you should stop going after 3 sessions, but there should be substantial progress. There are so many "schools" of psychology, that if one doesn't work, see someone else who uses a different one. Read Victor Frankl's book "Man Searches for Meaning". A slim book that did me more good than any psychologist. Worth rereading every 5 years or so.


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