Psychologist, heal thyself

This is why therapy is reliably doomed to failure:

Confessions of a depressed psychologist: I’m in a darker place than my patients.

I am sitting opposite my sixth patient of the day. She is describing a terrible incident in her childhood when she was abused, sexually and physically, by both of her parents. I am nodding, listening and hoping I appear as if I appear normal. Inside, however, I feel anything but.

My head is thick – as if I’m thinking through porridge. I find myself tuning out and switching to autopilot. I put it down to tiredness – I haven’t slept well recently; last night I managed just two hours – but after the session I’m disappointed in myself. I’m worried that I might have let down my patient and I feel a bit of  a failure, but I tell no one.

One week later, I am in my car, driving across a bridge. Everything should be wonderful – my partner has a new job, my career as a psychologist in the NHS is going well, plus it’s almost Christmas, the second with our young child, and we’re readying ourselves for a move to London.

Yet, my mind is thick again. My only lucid thought is, “What if I turned the steering wheel and drove into the bridge support? What if I stuck my foot on the pedal and went straight off the edge? Wouldn’t that be so much easier?”

I grip the steering wheel and force myself to think, instead, of my partner and child. They are the two people who get me home safely.

It is the sort of anecdote I have heard from clients time and time again. I became a psychologist because I have a natural nurturing tendency – I never dreamt I would be the vulnerable one. But 10 years ago I found myself suffering from an extremely severe episode of depression that lasted three months, left me unable to work for six weeks and, at my very lowest, saw me contemplating suicide.

Would you go to a plumber whose toilet is overflowing? Would you hire a computer programmer who didn’t know how to use a computer? Then why would you ever talk to one of these nutjobs in order to fix whatever mental issues you might be having? In addition to the 46 percent of psychologists who the NHS reports as being depressed, “out of 800 psychologists sampled, 29 per cent reported suicidal ideation and 4 per cent reported attempting suicide.”

There is very little scientific evidence of the benefits of psychology. I read one recent study which showed that neurotic individuals actually stabilize on their own at a higher rate than those who seek therapy. This is no surprise, as the foundations of psychology are literally fiction. One might as reasonably base one’s economics on Isaac Asimov novels.

How many people do you know that have gone into therapy and never exited it? Those who advocate therapy are rather like fat people testifying to the efficacy of diet plans on which they never lose any weight.