Book attempts to indict psychologists
DAVID BLOOMBERG David Bloomberg is the chairman of the Rational
Examination Association of Lincoln Land (REALL). August 2,
The first paragraph of Dr. Tana Dineen's book, "Manufacturing
Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People"
(Robert Davies Multimedia Publishing; $16.99), grabs the reader
and makes Dineen's point known immediately: "The foundation
of modern psychology, its questioning and critical thinking,
if not an illusion from its inception, has at the very least
been largely abandoned in favor of power and profit, leaving
only the guise of integrity, a show of arrogance and a well-tuned
attention to the bottom line."
Dineen, a psychologist herself, closed her clinical practice
because of her belief that psychology had changed from a caring
profession to an "industry" that churned out victims
and churned in money. Unfortunately, she has not proven her
case well enough here.
While there is little doubt that there are therapists out
there who have essentially discarded science in favor of their
own pet beliefs -- witness the "repressed memory"
movement -- Dineen maintains that the "psychology industry"
pervades our culture and is trying to place more and more
people in therapy.
Indeed, she provides a number of examples of cases in which
some psychologists have gone out of their way to promote "victimhood"
among people who might otherwise have never thought about
In one case, parents are encouraged to seek counseling for
children doing well in school, because they might become victims
of their own success.
Dineen notes that there are enough real victims in the world
without psychology creating more. One set of such real victims
she refers to repeatedly are Holocaust survivors.
These people who lived through death-camps and slavery and
other horrors are true victims; yet most are now well-adjusted
to their lives. Meanwhile, some therapists are telling people
that if they just see violence on a movie screen, it might
affect them psychologically and they had better seek counseling!
Real victims would never have chosen the path of victimhood
But the "victims" created by therapists sometimes
clamor to gain that status. Victimhood as a part of our culture
has been examined in many previous publications, but Dineen
links it to the "psychology industry," stating that
the industry is responsible for creating the atmosphere in
which victims thrive. Why? Because the industry then profits
from all the victims it has created.
There are undoubtedly bad therapists who encourage victimhood
where none exists. The " repressed memory" and "Satanic
ritual abuse" debacles have shown that in excruciating
detail. If that weren't enough, the "alien abduction"
accounts solicited by some therapists certainly push it over
And psychology has indeed strayed from the scientific basis
it is supposed to have. Dineen explains how subjectivity has
often replaced the objectivity that is the hallmark of good
science. For psychology to be taken seriously, it needs to
impartially examine itself, its diagnoses and its methods.
When therapists state that they are interested only
in "helping" the client, rather than in finding
out objective facts -- as many have done when treating supposed
victims of ritual abuse -- it's time for a change.
Is it truly possible to help while ignoring reality? This
seems to be an extension of the old "ignorance is bliss"
cliche when, in fact, therapists should focus more on "the
truth shall set you free."
But some poor science and bad therapists do not equate to
proof that the entire "psychology industry" is at
fault and part of an overwhelming conspiracy to take our money.
Dineen has not adequately shown that the entire psychology
promotes poor science and victimhood just to cash in on clients.
She has tried, but the results are not as convincing to the
reader as she would probably like them to be.
That is not to say this book is without merit. Indeed, it
would behoove many therapists to read it and examine their
own practices, and patients should read it as well to see
what she has to say about the treatment they may be receiving.
Psychology, as described by Dineen, does need some correction,
but the extent of the problem
appears to have been a bit overstated in this book.
Copyright 1998 The State Journal-Register