Re: thera-pee

From: Eirikur Hallgrimsson (
Date: Thu Jul 06 2000 - 21:12:35 MDT

On Thu, 06 Jul 2000, Spike wrote:
> Like evolutionary theory, psychology is in desperate need of
> mathematical models, or failing that, at least some kind of objective
> metrics. For instance, if someone is depressed, we need some
> kind of device or machine to measure how depressed....

I was about to respond about how there aren't agreed models of what
to measure, but I think Spike gets that. It's worse than that,
actually, short of MRI scans, I don't think we know anything that we
CAN measure, and we don't have a baseline for understanding
individual differences yet, even if we get better brain-scanning in
the near future.

My original career choice was psychotherapy, and I didn't drop out
until the colleagues and the establishment that I was going to have
to work with in grad school started driving me crazy because of the
very poor scientific standards and very high hubris levels.

Presently, we can administer tests like the MMPI (Minnesota
Multiphasic Personality Inventory) or whatever, but interperting them
is subjective. They really don't test that some condition exists,
they test how you respond to the test. And we are sort of stuck
treating the problem as a black box because there just aren't any
biochemical diagnostic tools in the field yet. There could well be
several distinct syndromes that present as "depression," but have
different underlying pathology.

I've both read the studies on EMDR and had it 'done to me' by a
trained practitioner. When it works, it's pretty impressive. EMDR
and NLP both seem to work by tapping the underlying suggestability
mechanism behind hypnosis. This somehow strikes me as deeply
primitive, but we don't have theory to get us beyond it, and there's
some reason to believe that to the extent you are convinced that
you've changed, you have changed. I felt very cynical (when not
hubristic) as I was trying to learn that stuff. It's almost a
religious sort of thing as opposed to a scientific one. I resent
having to work blind, with only pretty well discredited tools
(suggestability, transference); it's enough to send me straight to the
illness model and drugs, despite the primitive 'toss this spanner in
the works' state of drug therapy.

I was a big Laing fan in high school.

Extropian content: Understanding the mind/brain better, in particular
the process of rationality, and the normal, healthy, functioning of
the emotions, is the only way we are ever going to have satisfactory
therapies for mental health issues. There's just too much evidence
that whatever the causes are, the syndromes are physiological, and
I'm convinced that some of the things that need to be fixed are more
complex than we can deal with with simple drugs.


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