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Are there too many psychotherapists for our own good? One Nation Under Therapy Book Review

ONE NATION UNDER THERAPY

HOW THE HELPING CULTURE IS 

ERODING SELF-RELIANCE


By Christina Hoff Sommers
 & Sally Satel


Reviewed by


Geoffrey W. Sutton






I like to return to New York City on occasion to remember my arrival in the United States. On one visit after 911, we stopped in a Barnes & Noble bookstore and I came across this interesting book, “One Nation Under Therapy.”

I’ve been a psychotherapist for years. And like many clinicians, I’ve seen people with a broad range of symptom severity. Some of course struggled so much they required 24-hour care. Others were quite healthy but wanted a confidential sounding board-- nothing wrong with that.

But the authors of One Nation Under Therapy have a point-- some in our culture are probably too dependent on outside assistance and have not learned the skills needed to independently manage the rough and tumble of daily life.

As I look back on what I wrote, I think this dependency may be true of many facets of life. For example, we are forced to see physicians to obtain routine medication and the responsibility for pain medication seems to be more and more in the hands of physicians instead of patients in pain. Naturally, physicians are concerned about their patients' well-being. But I think we've placed too much responsibility on them. We need to be responsible for our pain.

 In fitness centers, people hire trainers to run through quite mundane routines-- nothing wrong with that. And some may benefit from the accountability. However, I value freedom and setting my own goals. I suppose people get used to different ways of obtaining fitness.

And churches employ a raft of staff to cater to the expectations of congregants--nothing wrong with that for those who want to support the expense. I think it's more of what you get used to. Many of us get by with encouraging words from friends, inspirational music, books, and videos.

I think people become too dependent on others for well-being, but I remain concerned about those who do not seek treatment because of persistent stigma.

Maybe some psychotherapists do not encourage patient responsibility. However, I do not see anything amiss with healthy people focused on personal growth.

Perhaps some people are overly self-reliant and need to reach out for support.

If you are interested in these issues, I think you will find the ideas in this book worth reading. Not every person needs a psychotherapist. But then again, many who need psychotherapists cannot find one or cannot afford one.

****************
Here’s a link to the full review published in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. It is a free pdf download.

Academia Link to my review:  Geoff Sutton

ResearchGate Link to my review: Geoffrey W Sutton

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