On January 7, 1998, I interviewed Dr. Tana Dineen, the author of
Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry Is Doing to
People (Robert Davies), the second edition of which will be released
Why did you write Manufacturing Victims?
I can give you a "rational" reason and an "irrational"
one. The "rational," factual one is that, in 1993, concerned
that my profession had become so opinionated that it was like a
religion, I closed my practice in Toronto and moved to California.
One day, while reflecting on what had happened to psychology with
an old acquaintance, Sam Keen, a former editor of Psychology Today,
I asked, half jokingly, whether he thought that psychologists might
soon start leaving the profession the way dissenting priests had,
some time ago, begun to leave the Church. His response: "Not
a chance. There's too much money in it," stuck in my head and
I forced myself to begin looking at psychology as "big business."
The "irrational," symbolic reason is that, in 1991 I had
a dream in which an old woman with a scar across her face screamed,
"Never call me a victim." She literally kicked me out
of my bed; I woke up on the floor. Five years later it was to her
that I dedicated Manufacturing Victims.
How does the second edition of Manufacturing Victims differ
from the first?
The simple answer is that it has "more meat." I have added
new examples of absurd legal excuses, such as the novelist Janet
Dailey's defense that professional and personal stress caused her
to suffer from the "disease" of plagiarism. I have also
added more information on bogus treatments, such as "llama
therapy" to combat stress. But more importantly, I have included
new research which questions the role of psychology. While the Psychology
Industry proudly boasts of its ability to help people, using consumer
satisfaction and selected, flattering bits of "data" as
proof, it ignores the serious research that challenges its effectiveness.
The Psychology Industry is similar to the tobacco industry, which
has recently been exposed for hiding research that shows smoking
to damage health. The Psychology Industry tries to ignore the studies
that challenge its claims. One dramatic example, presented in the
second edition, is the Fort Bragg study, an $80 million, publicly
funded project, the devastating results of which shocked the Psychology
Industry. The public is not being informed. I think that people,
as consumers, deserve to know!
Do you still practice, and if not, do you feel there is any efficacy
to treatment at all?
Although I am licensed as a psychologist in two Canadian provinces,
I do not practice and I think that it is basically unethical to
do so. Curiously, I get calls from people who have read my book
and want me to be their therapist. I suggest that they read my book
again and then ask themselves why the still believe they need a
Can I assume, then, that your writing is lucrative enough to
provide your sole support?
No! I would have starved long ago had I been so naive as to expect
that my writing would provide an income. I run a Victorian Bed &
Breakfast which is my livelihood and it subsidizes my research and
Why do you think, as you state in the book, that psychology
has shifted "from questions to answers, from curiosity to certainty,
from modesty to pretentiousness"?
I think that psychology has been seduced by political power, social
influence and money. As I researched the history and growth of psychology,
I discovered that there has always been an arrogant and paternalistic
segment of the profession whether it was selling its skills to the
military in WWI and II, telling parents (particularly mothers) how
to raise their children, or persuading employers that it knew how
to increase worker productivity. However, the number of psychologists
was smaller then and the discipline of psychology, as a science,
was stronger. It was the scientific group that asked the questions,
expressed curiosity and displayed some modesty. As the number of
psychologists grew exponentially in the 1970s and 1980s, it became
necessary to create jobs and to sell society on what psychologists
could offer, even if they couldn't deliver.
Your earliest research observed that "personal beliefs
and subjective theories" influenced psychologists' diagnoses
and treatments more than observable information about patients.
Has this changed quantitatively or qualitatively since then?
The situation is worse both quantitatively and qualitatively. The
research that you refer to was done in the early 1970s and looked
specifically at the influence of psychiatrists' belief systems.
I found that these beliefs were far more influential in determining
how people were diagnosed and treated than the patients' histories,
stated problems, behaviors or symptoms. I thought that, because
of our research backgrounds, psychologists would be different. But
I was wrong. At that time, psychologists strongly opposed the application
of the medial model which turned psychological problems into diseases;
but now psychology promotes its own "germ theory," attributing
almost all psychological problems to an "infection" of
abuse or trauma. Everything, from a failed marriage to overeating,
shopping too much to committing a murder, is assumed to be due to
earlier trauma, remembered or repressed. This psychological orthodoxy,
which extends beyond the consulting room into education, politics
and culture, implicitly defines people, especially women, as wounded,
hurt and damaged, weak and vulnerable, having someone else to blame,
and needing to be healed and protected. Quantitatively, the problem
has increased as the ranks of psychologists have swollen and as
many other groups of licensed, certified and self-proclaimed "experts"
have joined the Industry.
There is so much controversy around the use of hypnotism in
treatment, which I note that you used in your practice. What is
your opinion on the appropriate use of hypnosis?
I wrote my first paper on hypnosis in 1968 and I used it in my practice
in two ways, the first being for the relief of pain with, for example,
sufferers of migraine headaches, and the second being for "play."
Sometimes with patients magical things, which I will never understand,
did happen when people played with fantasies and symbols. Unfortunately,
the Psychology Industry, by misinterpreting and taking too literally
what people experience under hypnosis, has killed the mystery and
the magic. Today fantasy and reality are so easily confused and
the powers of hypnosis have become so exaggerated that I think it
is too dangerous to use hypnosis in this way. Likely, the only appropriate
use now is in some very specific medical applications.
Given your negative feelings about psychologists, do you believe
that the professions should have higher standards, or that standards
should ignore professional orientations for more generic ethics
Psychology should never have become a profession and should cease
to be one. It does not have a sufficient knowledge base to qualify
as a profession. Licensing of psychologists began in the 1950s,
when the medical establishment was threatening to designate psychotherapy
as a medical procedure. It was to protect themselves that psychologists
established the profession. Once that was achieved, they focused
on using their licenses to create monopolies and to qualify themselves
for third-party payments. Some argue that ethical standards protect
the public. But, in truth, the licensing boards have reduced ethics
to a to a set of rules and regulations which serve more to maintain
the fraternity (or the sorority) than to protect the public. A case
in point is that of "recovered memory therapy," a treatment
which can put clients at great risk of harm. What has been done
to control this practice or warn the public? Nothing!
What do you think motivated psychology to move away from its
The discipline of psychology, which involves research into memory,
perception, thinking and behavior, is not quite dead. But this scientific
orientation is threatened both by lack of funding and by lack of
interest. Answers sell. Questions don't. Clinical psychology, which
spawned the Psychology Industry, never was really scientific despite
its initial attempts to appear so. These psychologists just used
science, like a Gucci label, to lend credibility to their work.
Psychology is a very immature discipline, with very few tangible
answers; so, anecdotes and opinions abound. The voices of the serious
researchers are rarely heard above the marketing noises of the Psychology
Women are both the primary recipients and, increasingly, the
primary providers of psychotherapy. How do you perceive gender as
a factor in the manufacture of victims?
Since the time of the hypnotist Mesmer, women have been the primary
targets of therapists and healers. Despite accusations of paternalism
and misogyny against Freud, he was only part of a whole culture
that considered women to be weak, fragile and prone to psychological
and emotional problems. At the turn of the 20th Century, it was
women who sought the "cures" for their "wandering
uteruses" and bouts of hysteria. Except for brief periods in
this century, when women struggled for independence and equal rights,
not much has changed. In the 1890s, women were considered too fragile
to leave the house; in the 1990s, women are portrayed as fearful
and helpless at home and at work. In 1914 a Good Housekeeping article
described motherhood as "the last stand of the amateur;"
now, if a prominent Wisconsin psychiatrist has his way, women will
need licenses to qualify as mothers. And as lovers, women, in the
1990s, are again portrayed as objects, lacking passion, incapable
of seduction and powerless in relationships. A married woman who
has an affair is just exhibiting "stress-induced straying."
To put it bluntly, the Psychology Industry preys on women as customers
and cannot afford women to see themselves as competent, responsible
adults. Some areas of the mental health field, such as social work,
have always been predominantly female. And clinical psychology,
which used to be a male-dominated profession, is now two-thirds
female, with the balance continuing to shift by 2% each year. Women
assume that this is good and that women are treated more empathically
and respectfully by women. Many female therapists have found that
they can create a niche for themselves in the field by supporting
the messages "women are safe" and "men are dangerous."
This may be one of the reasons that the "don't trust men"
message is so much a part of current practice and why it is so popular
to portray men as villains and the cause of most of women's problems.
I think that what these women are doing is perpetuating the same
old arrogant know-it-all attitude and I'm starting to see them,
not only as part of the Psychology Industry, but as "the patriarchy
What kinds of responses have you received about your book a.)
from colleagues? b.) from patients? c.) from the media?
Aside from Dr. Laura Schlesinger, who has publicly declared herself
to be my fan, most of the supportive colleagues I have heard from
tend to express their concerns to me privately. Those colleagues
who are the most vocal are those who condemn me, usually without
even reading the book or listening to what I am saying. I have been
accused of "writing a conspiracy book," "traumatizing
psychologists," and of being a bad therapist. I have been diagnosed
as suffering from a range of disorders, including "burnout"
and "depression." And one psychologist, after watching
me on a national television program, lodged a complaint with my
licensing board in Ontario; so, I am currently being investigated
as " a threat to the television-watching public." A few
patients have contacted me wishing they had read the book before
they began therapy and thanking me for making sense of their experience.
An increasing number of Christians have shown interest because they
feel that their churches are being harmed by psychological theories
and practices, which are destroying the essence of their religion.
However, the most frequent calls are from lawyers. Last year, I
was invited to address the National Association of Provincial Court
Judges, and, in a few weeks, I will give a talk entitled, "Are
We (Psychologists & Lawyers) Manufacturing Victims?" to
a meeting of lawyers specializing in sexual harassment litigation.
The LA Daily Journal, the largest law newspaper in the U.S., recently
did a story on me entitled, "This Gun Is Not For Hire,"
challenging the use of psychologists as experts in court. As for
the media, when the first edition was released, reports went over
the Canadian news wires with the lead: "Psychologist calls
her profession a sham!" That got attention from some but, as
I quickly discovered, many in the media chose to ignore the book
and its unpopular message. But I have discovered as well that there
are media people who are curious and enjoy getting their teeth into
challenging topics; a number of reporters have done provocative
articles. When the second edition comes out, we'll see what hits
the news wires and who responds. Naturally, I want the book to get
Dr. Paul McHugh considers "recovered memory therapy"
a "fad" that is already on the decline. Do you agree?
If so, do you care to hazard a guess about what the next mental
health "fad" will be?
I would not call "recovered memory therapy" a fad. It
has done too much harm to be dismissed so flippantly. I prefer to
think of it as the first psychology "product" in history
that made people aware of how harmful a psychological service can
be. Other questionable "products," including trauma counseling,
grief counseling, marriage counseling, play therapy and violence
prevention are being vigorously marketed. I hope that these, all
of which research studies show, at best, to be ineffective, will
come under scrutiny as well. In terms of new trends or products,
I can foresee two. I can see a shift toward interpreting everything
according to a biological model. With psychologists now actively
seeking the right to prescribe drugs, we can look forward to a lucrative
collusion between two large industries, the Pharmaceutical and the
Psychological. There will be a lot more prescriptions handed out
for Prozac and other already overused medications. As well, I predict
a "repackaging" of many therapies under labels that make
them look as if they are effective treatments. I suspect that more
and more psychologists will be claiming to specialize in "cognitive-behavioral
therapy" and other forms which the Psychology Industry claims
have been proven to work and for which insurance companies are willing
to pay. Caveat Emptor!
To order Manufacturing Victims, contact your local Barnes &
Nobel or Borders bookstore, or visit the book's web site at http:/scholefieldhouse.com/mv/