Review of Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology
Industry Is Doing to People, Second Edition. Montreal: Robert
Davies Multimedia Publishing, 1998.
Review written by Dr. Susan Sarnoff
This review was prepared at the request of the
Womens' Freedom Network. It was never published. So
much for 'freedom.'!
| As the accompanying interview demonstrates,
Tana Dineen is a dangerous womanso dangerous that charges
are pending against her for being "a threat to the television-watching
public." She is also a very gutsy woman, having closed a thirty-year
psychology practice due to her disgust with her profession; and
now operating a Bed& Breakfast to afford the "luxury"
of time to write an expose of the increasingly unprofessional nature
of her former profession, which she refers to as the Psychology
Industry. As she puts it, "There can be no pride associated
with belonging to a group which is intent on interfering in people's
lives as it promotes its own interests under the guise of an established
science and the deceptive image of a responsible profession."
And, having given up on the idea that change might come from within,
Dineen has written her book for the potential consumers of psychology
"products," including those of us who support them through
While some have tried to vilify Dineen as a gadfly or worse, Manufacturing
Victims: What the Psychology Industry Is Doing to People, is thoroughly-researched
evidence of the worst she has to say about psychology. And its second
edition, which is being published [this month/in April], offers
even more examples than did the original of bogus "treatments,"
ignored research demonstrating psychology's ineffectiveness and
the economic and social costs not only of labeling people victims,
but of affixing that label to people for whom it is not even remotely
Dineen explains how the profit motive increasingly guides not only
individual psychologists, but the professional associations that
represent them. Demonstrating the insidious effect of "advocacy
statistics," she explains how the Industry has redefined "victims"
so that nearly anyone can "qualify" for the label. She
calls them "fabricated victims," created by reducing real
experiences to theories, labeling all victims damaged and blurring
the line between ordinary and extraordinary experiences. In doing
so, she notes out how the Industry shuns real victims for people
whose problems are more easily overcome; and she also points to
studies that show that victims are far more resilient that the Psychology
Industry admits, and that individual coping styles are hardly affected
by therapeutic interventions.
The most impressive as well as most controversial section of the
book explains how little scientific research supports the Psychology
Industry, and how that little is generally ignored or misinterpreted;
while satisfaction surveys, placebo effects and "spontaneous
remissions" are passed off as "proof" that psychology
works. Even more disturbing are Dineen's accounts of research that
demonstrates the negative effects of therapy, such as encouraging
dependency, false optimism and externalized responsibility. Of course,
Dineen addresses the fallacy of "recovered memory therapy,"
but, to her credit, she places it in the context of the Industry's
overall attempts to convince patients of its beliefs while ignoring
both research and concerns that clients can be harmed by any inadequately-tested
therapy. Her analysis suggests that "recovered memory therapy"
did not simply grow out of psychology's infatuation with repression,
but in response to the shift in attention (and funding) from "health
and welfare" to "law and order." Dineen offers another
interesting analysis when she suggests that psychology has been
"taylored" (referring to industrial psychologist Friedrich
Taylor's division of work into component parts requiring minimally
skilled labor), with marginally skilled practitioners working with
single issues, such as substance abuse or trauma, and seeing all
clients through their single, exceptionally small, lens.
Dineen concludes the book with several prescriptives, including
making therapists legally responsible for poor outcomes, cutting
insurance coverage for therapy and eliminating recognition of psychologists
as court experts. However, her most important prescriptive is stated
in the title of her final chapter: "Taking Back Our Private
Lives." For at the core of Dineen's thesis is the concern that,
among the current obstacles to women's independence, are the exaggerated
fears of victimization, labels of psychopathology and seductions
of abuse excuses which not only drive some women out of the wider
world, but lead them to believe that doing so is their choice. Manufacturing
Victims is a powerful means of overcoming these obstacles, offering
hard data to counter these ridiculous, but pervasive, beliefs. It
should be required reading for anyone who has ever been in therapy,
anyone who might consider therapy, and all of us who are paying
for the therapy of manufactured victims.