Les Marchands d'illusions: Dérives, abus, incompétences de la nébuleuse "Psy" française,
2006. Sprimont (Belgique): Pierre Mardaga. 162 pp. ISBN: 2-87009-912-6.
Scott O. LILIENFELD, Steven Jay LYNN, Jeffrey M. LOHR (Eds), Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology (Foreword by Carol Travis). 2003. New York & London: The Guilford Press. 474 pp. ISBN: 1-57230-828-1 (hbk.)
Although intended primarily for a French audience of fellow sufferers (or "suckers" in P.T. Barnum's rude and apt phrase), this excellent "show-and-tell" report by the French journalist, novelist, actress, and ex-patient, Marie-Jeanne MARTI, should be of instructional value to any Anglophone who can also read French. It is a perfectly complementary volume by one who has been through the mill to the incisive and heavily documented academic study of the widespread horrors of "Pseudoscience" in the various fields of human clinical psychology. Armed with the information contained in these two books, the reader will prove to be a very difficult fish for the practising charlatans to land and gut. The simple thought of the mental health retained (irrespective of transitory personal hurts to the psyche) and the money saved (and not foolishly wasted by paying for your "therapist's" country house) by the reading and understanding of these two books should be sufficient to entice any intelligent and troubled reader.
The team-work collective volume of studies under the genial direction of the young and brilliant scholar, Scott Lilienfeld, is worth purchasing for the foreword by Carol Travis from which I shall shortly be quoting (her informed and common-sense preface is alone worth the price of admission). Those able to read French will be delighted by the sharp intelligence of Mme Marti's approach. Not only has she opted for what may be one of the best approaches for the distressed -- writing out the reality lived for real behind the seductive mythology proposed by the established "psys" -- by which term Marti carefully distinguishes between psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and various brands of psychotherapists.
There will be, for the innocent English-speaking reader, many occasions for wide-eyed surprise, if not for outright disbelief. To those who may find Mme Marti's discoveries hard to believe, I would say that, accurate and devastating though her book may be, the truth is, in fact, far, far worse -- the state of "psychological treatment" in France is so disastrous that not only are there the individual tales of expensive and totally useless woe retailed by the author (and a selection of disappointed and suitably fleeced former patients -- of both sexes, please note! -- whose stories she allows them to tell in their own words); but what she does not discuss -- for lack of direct clinical experience (thankfully!) -- are the truly wicked enormities of the Freudian and the Lacano-freudian advances on all areas of psychiatry in France, and this includes those specifically medical areas of long-term hospitalization. One consequence of this is that (to the surprise of my friend, the senior French psychiatrist, Dr. Jean-Pierre Luauté) most, if not all, of the French army military "psychiatrists" -- hence with "medical" degrees and post-med internship in psychiatry -- were "trained" by Lacan's followers or else by believers of some other Freudian cult. I find, as he does, this "authorized" incompetence of those chosen to assist medically members of the French Army completely beyond belief in its sheer medical stupidity. It is a measure of the success of the spider-web of complicity over the years that such a situation has been allowed to develop without serious and responsible government intervention.
By the same token, the French psychiatric hospital system has suffered the consequences of this Freudian invasion of this strictly medical territory by the trendy "believers" of one or other of the psychoanalytic cults. In other words, long-term patients, for example those suffering from paranoid schizophrenia with episodes of frequent psychotic behaviour, are treated according to the tenets of Freudian and/or Lacanian understanding of the human mind and the treatment of its illnesses. That Freud in late life claimed that "schizophrenia" was not suited to treatment by Psychoanalysis, is one of those irrelevant "get-outs" for which he became famous -- and it has not prevented his acolytes from claiming his authority for their delusionary malpractices -- see, for instance, the wretched American case histories brought to our attention in 1998 by the science journalist Edward Dolnick in his splendid Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis. New York: Simon & Schuster.
One instance -- one among several in the French psychiatric hospital system -- of the literally murderous consequences of allowing Freudian-indoctrinated doctors (in other words, dangerously incompetent imposters) to deal with severely disturbed patients occurred at the Centre hospitalier des Pyrénées de Pau (in South-West France) on 18th December 2004. A former patient, 21-year-old Romain Dupuy (whose mother had repeatedly asked for help and medications for her son) returned to the hospital at night, entered the wing for geriatrics and surprised the female psychiatric nurse and her female "aide-soignante". Both were butchered to death with hideous knife wounds; the head of one was removed and placed on top of the television set. Dupuy returned to his live-in girlfriend in Pau and was not arraigned until the following February!
This gruesome tale is, alas, one among several resulting from the sheer clinical incompetence of those French hospital "psychiatrists" whose training was coloured by, i.e., ruined by, their passing through the then-mandatory phase of psychoanalytic indoctrination. It is about time that the French state had the courage of elementary convictions about mental health and began to reorganize the principle behind state-financed psychiatric institutions. But "courage of convictions" is the last thing demonstrated by the previous Minister of Health (himself a former professor of medicine) Philippe Douste-Blazy who, on stage in front of a crowded house at the Left-Bank hall, La Mutualité, retreated before the threats of the son-in-law of Lacan, Jacques-Alain Miller and promised the mob of lacanian psychoanalysts that the INSERM report requested by a previous Minister of Health would be shelved and withdrawn from the government Web-site. (INSERM is a non-partisan national agency: the initials stand for Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale.)
Marie-Jeanne Marti speaks of this ghastly episode of governmental cowardice as she does of the wretched treatment-by-silence that the joint editors of Le Livre noir de la psychanalyse (2005, Paris: Eds Les Arènes) Catherine Meyer and Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen decided to deploy on their lone courageous rival, Jacques Bénesteau, author in 2002 of the prize-winning Les Mensonges freudiens: Histoire d'une désinformation séculaire. She rightly sees the publication in the Autumn of 2005 of Le Livre noir de la psychanalyse as a damp squib which did not ruthlessly dismember the still-popular myths of Freud's greatness (and truth-telling qualities -- the nonsense that has recently accompanied the 150th birthday of Sigmund Freud in the popular presses of the Western world is a case in point of the total failure of Le Livre noir); perhaps the commercial success of the book (by the end of December 2005 it was already in its fifth print-run!) is a measure of the commercial savvy of its editorial team. But the commercial success was bought at a price --- the honesty of scholarship.
One of Mme Marti's documented complaints concerns the French "psys" request that payment for the analytical session be in cash "en liquide". This is argued, from Freud's stated position, to be a necessary part of the "cure" -- it requires the "patient" to pay for the treatment and thus to benefit from this loss of wealth. The limited 19th-Century Viennese bourgeois origins of this silly notion are of course irrelevant to the persons encountered by Mme Marti. We are dealing with a professional black market economy whereby the French taxation system is completely by-passed. Not content with their outrageous fees, the French psychoanalysts insist on cash payment, hypocritically (but that's par for the course!) insisting that this is all part of the procedure of the patient's psychological improvement. Her book is divided into sensible sections dealing with "WHO are the Psys?"; their feudal "totalitarian" practices; their relationship to money "le Psy Business"; the mutual fan-club between the media & the "psys"; the influential relationship of "psychology" over women; the radical difference between the "private life" of psys and their professional appearance; the illusions of everlasting therapy. And this is merely Part One. In Part Two, Mme Marti leaves the whole text to the words of patients who speak openly of their expensive disasters.
The collective work under the leadership of Dr. Lilienfeld has been recognized by the great Harvard psychiatrist, Harrison G. Pope, in these fighting terms:
At last -- a book that pulls no punches, names names, and isn't afraid to portray junk science for what it is. This will be invaluable reading for anyone in the mental health professions and an essential reference for students.
In her excellent "Foreword" the American scholar Carol Travis notes the dangers that have plagued American life precisely because of the absence of serious understanding -- even among "social workers" -- of what "science" is. At one point, she briefly elaborates in a bullet-list the most frequently observed mistakes:
- Almost all abused children become abusive parents
- Almost all children of alcoholics become alcoholic.
- Children never lie about sexual abuse.
- Childhood trauma invariably produces emotional symptoms that carry on into adulthood.
- Memory works like a tape recorder, clicking on at the moment of birth.
- Hypnosis can reliably uncover buried memories.
- Traumatic experiences are usually repressed.
- Hypnosis reliably uncovers accurate memories.
- Subliminal messages strongly influence behavior.
- Children who masturbate or "play doctor" have probably been sexually molested.
- If left unexpressed, anger builds up like steam in a teapot until it explodes.
Projective tests like the Rorschach validly diagnose personality disorders, most forms of psychopathology, and sexual abuse.
adds: "All of these mistaken ideas can have, and have had, devastating
consequences in people's lives. In that same courtroom, I heard a social worker
explain why she had decided to remove a child from her mother's custody: The
mother had been abused as a child, and "we all know" that this is a major risk
factor for the mother's abuse of her own child one day. Obviously no one had
taught this social worker about disconfirming cases."
On the next page she takes psychoanalysis to task for its pure nonsense potential and compares it with the present "trendy" efforts of the wealthy and totally ridiculous Dr David Servan-Schreiber:
" `Psychoanalysis attempts to creep in wearing the uniform of science,' wrote another critic at the time, `and to strangle it from the inside [...] Replace psychoanalysis in that sentence with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) or thought field therapy (TFT), and the attitude is just as prevalent today among psychological scientists.
By the 1960s and 1970s, as the popularity of psychoanalysis was waning [Carol Travis is speaking from an American perspective], new therapies were emerging. It was easy to tell how pseudoscientific they were. Unlike the Freudians, who said you needed to be in treatment for 5 years, these new guys were offering miracle therapies that promised to cure you in 5 days, 5 minutes, or 5 orgasms."
And "This is," -- as my Mother used to say during the War when she took me on rainy afternoons to a local cinema in Edinburgh -- "where we came in." So we don't need to watch the whole film again.
Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta, Canada.