Friday, July 7, 2017

The Long View: Being, in no particular order, 25 things I've bumped into along the way and have not forgotten. Yet.

20. Psychiatry
Psychiatry was invented to battle terrible darkness and untangle sorrow and depression. Though it's been around in some form for centuries, the word first emerges in 1808, created by Professor Johann Christian Reil in his paper “On the term of medicine and its branches, especially with regard to the rectification of the topic in psychiatry”. American Indians would give an agitated, confused person a big tangle of string to untangle, hopefully untangling their own thoughts, emotions and delusions in the process. It worked sometimes. Freud and Jung developed other methods of varying effectiveness, later came Rollo May, Fritz Perls, Carl Rogers, and the humanist-centric talking cure, therapy. There's been more to it than that, of course, but those were some of the high spots introduced in the mid to late 20th Century, techniques that seem to work for many, to alleviate suffering. Anti-psychotic drugs continue to be used widely, they can be a godsend. Carl Rogers, especially, was a champion of the talking cure -- "I hate my father," you tell me. "So you hate your father," I say back to you. "Yes," you say. "He refuses to take me seriously." I say, "I understand your father doesn't take you seriously. Why is that? How does it make you feel?" You think, then reply, "Makes me feel terrible and angry." I ask, "Does hating your father make you feel better?" And we continue on in that vein for an hour or so, reforming words and sentences to dig down into the bedrock of your feelings about your father and get at your sorrow and anger, start to heal your feeling and thoughts, bring them out into the light. It can be a long process, decades sometimes, but it can turn a life around, put people back together who've become hopelessly estranged and bitter. I've seen it happen. It's a force for good.

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