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+4 votes
It's pretty obvious that anarchists would oppose paying an expert by the hour to hear them tell them how to live...However, I think it's impossible to conceive of people living anarchistically if they weren't able to deal with the "dark sides of their souls" so to speak...

There was one guy mentioned in several anarchists magazines who came up with an idea to get a bunch of people together, have them put one of their hands behind their backs and slap each others butts as a game and then talk about how society conditioned them to react to it. I don't really have any opinion of that of my own other than the thought of it makes me laugh. There's my conditioning, right there!
by (2.3k points)
i guess it would depend on what you mean by "therapy". what passes for that in today's capitalist world of "health care" is every bit as pathetic as the rest of what passes for "health care" in this clusterfuck of mass society. sometimes you get lucky, mostly you don't.

i would think an anarchistic approach to health care, which includes "mental" health, would start with ever increasing self-awareness and a strong desire to have control over one's own life; to have absolutely minimal reliance on experts/leaders, capitalists and the state.

therapy can take many forms. going off to the forest; sitting by the ocean; hiking some rough terrain, hitting a heavy bag (or a person that needs a good ass-kicking); indulging in one's mind-altering substance of choice with inward-focused intent; writing in a journal; playing and/or listening to music; eating a tasty, healthy meal; watching/listening to some good comedy; and oh yeah... sitting down and talking with someone that you trust. these have all, at various times, been somewhat successful as therapy for me over the years.

some of the more common approaches to therapy seem geared primarily towards perpetuation of the status quo, particularly the victimization and moralism that dominates so much of life these days. most of the effort is in dealing with symptoms and creating/extending reliance on the overarching system(s): the experts, drugs, techniques, laws, etc that serve to perpetuate and concentrate their power.

so unless you are asking specifically and solely about professional psycho-therapy in the current capitalist context, i don't see why any thinking person would oppose individuals doing what they can to feel better and enjoy life more. in this hellhole, that's about the best most of us can hope for.
i don't disagree with anything f@ says (sigh), but i would add that a therapist in the current world can work as a voice that is outside of our social circle, and since social circles can absolutely be part of the problems of our lives, having a way to get a caring, thoughtful, experienced opinion from outside it can give a very helpful different perspective.

that said, it does require luck, as f@ said too.
I think that works as an answer too if you would like...

I personally ask this question because I see feeling good as an important means to re-taking control over our lives...because fuck this hellhole...I really wish there was a way to escape domestication and society all at once, and this impulse gets re-converted back into facism.

I was thinking about earlier how Stirner talked about that there is no such thing as "freedom", only being free from something, and also how George Orwell makes this one of the elements of his functional dystopia that people would forget about "freedom" as a concept, and in the dictionary it only spoke about being "free" of something, a complete elimination of the idealism that Stirner didn't like...to Owell's credit, ideas are a form of therapy for people. Since I'm such a hardcore stinerist/nihilist I don't find much therapy in ideas/concepts as I do in imagined false solutions. But then there is always truth in false solutions and ideals, being able to sort that out has been more helpful to me than "mindfulness" or "equality" or "peace", the list goes on...
dot: yes indeed, talking to someone not involved in the personal issues one is dealing with, can be very useful. i should have mentioned that.
in one sense, therapy is the commoditized form of a social relation, conversation. so yes, most anarchists would be opposed to that.

i'm wary of the idea of an "objective" opinion from outside your social group. i can't quite put my finger on it. it just seems off that some one outside your social group would help heal relations inside said social group. but i'm welcome to being proven wrong.

if an outside opinion is desired, ask one of the regulars on your bus route or some other near stranger. it's a lot cheaper.
oh come on seraph. i never said anything about objective. if you're a drug user, and all your friends are drug users, then it can be helpful to get an opinion from someone who's not a drug user but who has experience with drug use/users. for example.

although i do like the idea of being open to the wisdom of strangers, i don't live in a place where people on the bus give a shit about my life or values.
yes, dot, the difficulty comes in trying to find someone who gives a shit about your life outside of your social circle (within it seems hard enough!). then, enter the monetized and professionalized relationship....and i know i don't want that. some of the writing from people on this website helps me to a certain degree (and i hope i contribute something to others too), but experiencing someone listening to you deeply feels a lot better.
it's not the really the pretension of objectivity that i have a problem with; that is secondary to the pretension that the therapist gives a fuck about you.

meanwhile, if you see the same stranger everyday, might as well strike up a conversation. ask if they'd like to hear your story, or if they'd like to tell theirs. build a mutually beneficial relationship of trust as opposed to one of commodity exchange.
seraph, when you post an answer, if you go back to edit it, there is a box you can check to make the answer a comment. very easy.
I go to a psychiatrist, but only for prescription anti-depressants and anti-convulsants. I don't give a damn about the "doctor's" anaylsis or commentary, only his prescription pad and chemistry knowledge so I can self-medicate.

Three-quarters of the time I hate my brain for making me feel sad and angry. We all know that feelings are produced by chemicals. As funkyanarchy says, it is possible to play with the balance of those chemicals through sensory input, but I would like to add that it is possible to play with those chemicals directly.

Most of us have too many people depending on the simple inertia of our existence to make self-destruction ethically acceptable, so we can't really just stay in bed, or take debilitating, heavy drugs. Personally, considering I don't really love myself or life, there isn't much temptation to be selfish. As such, the goal is simply to manage to exist as expected by others without dragging everyone down. The goal of psychiatric help is just to get your self-awareness to stop being a whiny bitch.

It is hard to enjoy this "hellhole," as you put it. It is silly to believe in "progress" or any ultimate goal, destiny or eternity for humanity, self, life or the universe. Yet, here we are !  Existence is our current state of motion, and the burden of justification lies with she who would change that state. I can find no justification for ceasing to exist or hurting other biengs' feelings, but I can justify seeking therapy: get your brain to stand up and take it like a man - by any means available. (sorry feminists, just a figure of speech!)

Conclusion: Anarchists are likely to be thinkers. Thinkers are likely to suffer from varying degrees of depression. Looking around, we see it isn't very common for non-human living things to just give up or drop out, so fighting on pointlessly must be the norm. Who are we to challenge that norm? We have weapons we can use in this fight. In certain cases, those are intelligently-applied mind-altering chemicals. Professional therapy can get them for you. If you are going to fight, fight hard and use what weapons you can get your hands on. If your own brain is the enemy, fight it.

Don't say my outlook is sad. It is glorious. It is the glory of the lost cause. I just need therapy to keep the will and energy to fight on to the death. I might be wrong, but I'm guessing Nihlist (by choice of pseudonym and this very question) is with me here.
Maybe I should also add that watching funny pet videos on youtube is also a good way to find the will to struggle on. ;)

"It is the glory of the lost cause"

this reminded me of blessed is the flame, which is a book i'm really happy about.
i have some disagreements, but the only thing that bugs me in this comment is your claim that chemicals make feelings.

to the extent that i concede the existence of chemicals ( ;) ), i expect they come from feelings.

"Maybe I should also add that watching funny pet videos on youtube is also a good way to find the will to struggle on. ;)"

i appreciate that sentiment.

though having a personal relationship with non-human animals is much more fulfilling to me than even the periodic hysterical or deeply touching youtube vid. 

which is not to diminish the unfettered joy i feel from seeing a lion - released into the wild after being raised with humans - jump on and hug and lick a human they have not seen for a year. there are numerous reasons i could find to hate shit like that, yet i choose to let the deep-rooted joy it evokes to manifest.

@Syrphant: I do agree with your last paragraph, but certainly not your advice of "fighting" your brain, never seems to help me much. Tricking it? Maybe....Working with it? Maybe....but there's is much to be learned from understanding your inner conflicts rather than fueling one side against the other.
Why would anarchists be opposed to paying people by the hour? It's a net-benefit relationship.
"Why would anarchists be opposed to paying people by the hour? It's a net-benefit relationship."

Is it? Would you call paying someone almost nothing to work in a mine a net-benefit relationship? Is the universe only a place where goods are exchanged, and products are produced? Does paying a woman for the "privledge" of saying really degrading things to her come out as a "net-benefit" in the end?

I actually think cost-benefit analysis is a good/useful way to look at things, but you have to include any cost you can think of...

2 Answers

0 votes
Well no most anarchists wouldn't be against therapy, its the type of therapy and the intent behind the therapy. If its Conversion therapy for LGBT people then yes we're against that because your trying to change something that doesn't harm the individual, while therapy for depression that harms the individual and the people around them. If your also talking about therapy for things like Autism then for the most part we'd be against it because again Autism most of the time doesn't do harm to the individual its the people around them who are "disgusted" that their son/daughter doesn't think like they do, thus by trying to change that your infringing on someones right to be Neurodivergent which to many anarchists should be and is regarded as a right.
by (120 points)
In my experience, therapy for the autisms is less about potential harm, but more about trying to turn them another laboring drone and to fit in with society better. I wouldn't say the people around me are disgusted because I may or may not think in a similar fashion to them, but rather they honestly believe they're helping, regardless if they are or not. I think they're conditioned to hold such a view point by society. Honestly, I have difficulties believing that autism is real per se, but rather something created by today's society as some sort of rationalization for why some people behave outside of the status quo.

I don't believe that I, or anyone for that matter, have some sort of right to be neurodivergent, as you say. I don't even know how that could be enforced since rights need someone or something to enforce it.
+2 votes
I'm sure some do, but I don't in principle. Like a lot of social relationships, the relationship between yourself and a therapist has to be evaluated on a case by case basis, and the only person who is responsible for that evaluation is the one on the receiving end - only you can tell whether your mental health carers are dominating you, and really it's up to you to do something about it if they are.

Of course that's problematic for a number of reasons, first being that all mental unwellness is in some shape or another a state of diminished free will (or perceived free will), and often diminished agency. If your free will (or perceived free will) and agency are diminished then you're not in the best position to interrogate or change your relationships with those who are trying to 'restore' you to a state of wellness.

Second is that sometimes professional carers have institutional authority over you. They have the power to name your problems and forever label you with them, what drugs are acceptable (or even mandatory) and how you take them, and most terrifyingly whether you're allowed to live outside of the 'asylum'. I'm treated by a doctor who has all these powers over me, and it scares the bejesus out of me, even though I trust that he has my best interests in mind and won't deliberately use them to abuse me. The problem is that it's very hard to communicate any mental experiences with anyone with any precision, but diagnosis and treatment hinge on being able to precisely communicate your subjective experience of being mentally unwell to this person who can force you to take drugs that could fuck you up even further, with the backing of the state.

Third is that if you have access to modern mental health care then you live in a society that's structured around the division of labour, specialisation and experts. Many of us are used to not challenging specialist or expert authority (the authority of the boot maker, in Bakunin's terms) in our personal lives; sure we're comfortable wheeling out our own opinions when an academic economist is on TV or writes an op-ed, but (just as an example) in the five years I was at university I saw students directly confront and contradict a teacher's opinion maybe two or three times, and that's including the one memorable time I did. In the societies we live in we are assigned worth (not exclusively of course, and men more than women generally) by how expert we are in a specialised field of work, and anything DIY is seen as inherently inferior to its professional counterpart. We're socialised into not interrogating the power dynamics in our relationships with professionals, and resigning our agency to them instead, which is an obstacle to becoming responsible for your mental wellness.

Fourth is that that the boundaries between free will, rationality, being unwell and irrationality are all blurred and fluid, but the modernist approach to diagnosis and treatment that psychiatry (and mental health care more generally) takes wants everything to be quantifiable, objective, and carries with it all kinds of norms about wellness and illness that are external to the individual and their living experience; so if you and your therapist disagree on what constitutes 'recovery' for you, you've got a problem that you need to take into your own hands (and carefully navigate so that they have as little institutional authority over you and your recovery as possible). Cognitive behavioural therapy is a good example of this - practitioners tend to focus on cultivating a consciously rational mindset as a way to treat mental illness, attempting to use logical internal reasoning to address irrational behaviour, but not everyone finds this kind of therapy useful or the shape of its intended outcome desirable.

These are some of the reasons why I think the most important aspect of recovery is empowerment, both in the sense that the role of the carer in my opinion is to empower you, and that you need to empower yourself. You need to be the one that defines 'wellness' for you, and if you're an anarchist who isn't always mentally well (like me), then you need to develop and cultivate strong insight into your own condition, so that you're able to recognise when your agency/free will/etc is diminished and know what to do about it. Therapy becomes an anarchist issue when there's some kind of authority or domination involved in your relationship with your therapist, which is unfortunately the norm, but there are ways to fight back without shooting yourself in the foot. The best way I've found to avoid domination and authority in this kind of relationship is to be my own therapist as much as I can be.

That's all I got for now, I might come back and expand on a few things.
by (6.3k points)