Former psychologist says profession is self-serving

On the Couch by Carol Milstone, PhD

National Post 06/25/2001

'I haven't always been on the outside, throwing stones at my own profession," began psychologist-turned-critic Tana Dineen at a recent meeting of the Crisis Workers of Ontario in Belleville, Ont.

Before 1993, when she abandoned the psychology profession in protest, Dineen assumed that psychologists recognized "an obligation to scrutinize their ideas, to question assumptions, and to raise questions about socially sanctioned beliefs."

Instead Dineen, author of the book Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry Is Doing to People, found that most therapists are just "swept along by their own opinions and their own beliefs."

When she was practising psychology in the 1970s, it was fads like primal scream therapy and Gestalt therapy, while today it's regression therapy (which she believes can cause false memories), thought field therapy (TFT), eye movement and desensitization reprocessing therapy (EMDR) and alien abduction therapy.

"This is the kind of junk that the colleges of licensed psychologists will do nothing about," laments Dineen. "These therapists are dangerous people, and people continue to get sucked into their beliefs."

Also disturbing, says Dineen, is the profession's habit of convincing people whose lives are normal that somehow their lives should be more fulfilled and that psychologists can help.

"Because they hear this stuff [from talk shows, self-help books and workshops]," says Dineen, "there's this idea out there that psychologists have all the solutions. But they don't."

Dineen told the nearly 200 therapists at the conference that, when she practised psychology, she often felt little different than her clients. She thought many of their problems were just normal ups and downs.

"But I couldn't say, 'That's nuts. Go home. You're OK.' They would just turn around and go elsewhere," claims Dineen. "And what I'm finding today," she adds, winding up for one of her biggest beefs, "is this tendency for the profession to help their clients ignore responsibility with psychologically endorsed excuses [like post- traumatic stress syndrome]. And they are taking these excuses into the courts to help the accused. The victim motif is very strong in our culture."

Copyrigh t© 1998-2007 Tana Dineen,