Manufacturing Victims

Tana Dineen. Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People. Constable, 1999.

Are the various strange therapies that we encounter in Magonia, the past-life regressions, the spirit-releasement therapy, the UFO abduction syndrome and the Satanic abuse myth, merely the result of the misapplication and misuse of otherwise solid and worthwhile techniques? Tana Dineen suggests they are not, rather they are the extreme examples of a fundamentally flawed doctrine, the psychologising of human experience and behaviour and the manufacturing of victims out of fundamentally healthy people.

She does not deny there are real victims in the world, but as she points out, the majority of 'real' victims, the victims of poverty, oppression, racism, or of vast cruelty are of little interest to the psychology industry, as they do not have the wherewithal to pay psychologists fees. The psychologists' ideal 'victims' are to a large extent the successful within society, the bored and vaguely unhappy bourgeoisie whose lives are not as happy and shiny as shown on the TV adverts, and who can be persuaded that the normal stresses, frustrations and failures, which are the lot of any human life, are 'traumas' or 'addictions' rendering them victims in need of a therapy; and which in effect declare them unfit to nm their own lives without the intervention of a 'professional'.

The medicalisation and pathologisation of normal human experience is often accomplished by using terms devised to describe extreme situations and using them to describe the trivial. Thus having your purse snatched, or being belittled by the boss become 'traumas' almost on a par with being held hostage and raped, or having your legs chopped off in a traffie accident.

More dramatically, vague senses of disquiet can be interpreted as 'symptoms' of some hidden and improbable victimising experience; a deep, dark, hidden secret to which the all-wise therapist has the only key. It is here are bred the wild therapies we have commented on so many times before in Magonia. Those who are most likely to become their prey are what Dineen calls psychologically-prone personalities whose features include: seeing the world in psychological terms, being emotionally preoccupied and reactive, being disposed to imagination and fantasy, being open to suggestion and influence, especially from purported authority figures, seeing direction and guidance in living, wanting simple solutions and answers. These are very similar to the descriptions of fantasy prone personalities, or the highly hypnotisable personality. They also show some similarities to those who are drawn to 'cults' and other fringe religious and social movements.

Dineen remarks on a study which noted a strong correlation between fantasy-prone personality and childhood sexual abuse, arguing that the former had emerged as a defence against the latter. An alternative reading she suggests would be that fantasy prone personalities are more open to suggestions from therapists that they suffered from childhood sexual abuse, and more able to 'remember' imaginary events.

Overall the psychology industry, she argues, belittles real victims, and denigrates human beings' often
extraordinary ability to come through the most appalling situations. It reduces peoples capacity to organise and control their own lives, replaces a real concept of normality based on average human experience with an absurd ideal of psychological health which almost everyone will fail, and thus become a victim of some internal or external force from which only the psychologist can deliver us. Thus we arc all seen as being 'vulnerable', in need of guidance or even guardianship. Like many totalitarian leaders, psychologists seek to undermine existing, authentic human relationships, and to replace real relationships, however flawed, with ones' bought and paid for, a form of prostitution.

Like many polemicists, it is probable that Dineen exaggerates to some degree, and it is perhaps unfair to blame psychologists alone for the growth of the victim culture. Surely equal 'credit' must go to Rantzenite TV shows and the legions of ambulance chasing lawyers, who persuade people that if something goes wrong, someone else, preferably someone with cash, is to blame. -- Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 72, October 2000.


1 comment:

Terry the Censor said...

While these therapists should be stripped of their credentials and sat in jail, the role of "victims" and their advocacy groups should not be overlooked.

Some healthy but unhappy people, at a loss to explain their state, are very open to -- and sometimes seek out -- a "cause" that excuses them from responsibility.

Past-life trauma is the perfect traumatic "cause," as it allows the subject to have all the secondary gain of a victim while avoiding the supposed violation by shoving all that unpleasantness off onto some past "body."

It all makes a mockery of true victims and their pain. I have no idea why certification boards, insurance companies, and government prosecuters allow these practices to proliferate.