Thursday, 2 July 2009

The human relationship industry

From an e-mail I recently wrote:

"I did some thinking about this issue in the wake of Gianna's post on it. It seems like just another "symptom" of our culture's sickness, its profoundly alienating dynamics, that we have to pay for supportive human relationships, that there is a whole industry, that is able to make a living on offering something, to which each and everybody should be granted free access. Wasn't it Freud, who came up with the demand for people to pay for that service, because it would force them to go and get themselves a job? First step towards "recovery". Ok, but then "recovery" means (re-)adjustment to the capitalist system... So, to a certain extent you might say, this makes therapy repeat the dysfunctional, alienating dynamics, that caused crisis: "It's not enough, that you are who you are. I only listen to you, if you pay me money for it." (...) It is as it is. Unfortunately, we need that industry. A lot of other things would have to change, before we could do without it. And I think, the really "good" ones inside that industry actually can contribute to bringing some change around through their work - that they need to get paid for in order to survive."

I don't think what really matters when it comes to helping people in crisis would be the ability to practice certain, during several years of academic education and clinical training acquired therapeutic techniques. I think what really matters is the ability to establish a genuine human relationship. - And indeed, I think that years of academic education and clinical training actually have the potential to destroy that ability in an individual. I'd even go as far as to say, they are designed to destroy that ability. - Can human relationships be genuine when they are offered as a paid-for service, as consumer goods? Isn't this, too, kind of a "toxic mimicry" of what would be natural?


Anonymous said...

I would not be here without my clinical psychologist and I she has provided me with hours and hours of unpaid help outside of her office for which she can not bill. She would not be of help to me without her training, albeit in the past when training was much better. How is she supposed to live with no payment at all, at this point given the amount of free time she has spent on me I worry how she lives now. To call this "abuse" trivializes real abuse and is offensive to me as a recent nearly not survivor of real abuse in the mental health system from which my psychologist is helping me recover. Let's stop bashing the good guys, okay?

Marian said...

hymes: I definitely don't want to bash the good guys - and I know, they're out there, since I maybe wouldn't be around, me neither, without the help of one of them. What I want to "bash" is a society, that promotes and defends alienation, also when it comes to help for those, who can't handle the alienation any longer. I regard alienation the root cause of all abuse. This is a piece on social politics. Not on therapy seen as an isolated phenomenon.

As for the training-part, I guess we'll have to disagree.


Moiiiiiieow said...

Yes, very fascinating subject. The whole idea of "relationships" needs a retooling. The simple, sad fact is that we are led around by our noses by people who capitalize off of our emotions. It is interesting to note the ties between the gradual destruction of our natural environment for money's sake while we wallow in emotional quagmire trying to "find the one" and "make our marriages work." It is in the capitalizing vampires' interest that we reduce our intellectual and emotional potential to going to school, entering a series of emotional-rollercoaster-like relationships only to finally settle on one that is devoid of life or happiness, get married, have children, and die. The world is literally crumbling while we remain blind and distracted by meaningless and parasitic "relationships." It's time for people to either wake up or be swept away, undone by their own myopia.