The 3 Most Dangerous Alternative Psychologies
Maybe William Shakespeare was right when he said that “in friendship, as in love, we are often happier through our ignorance than our knowledge.” While this quote has some hint of truth in some contexts, there are fields and realities where it shouldn’t be directly applied. These fields have to do with our health, both physical and psychological. In fields like these, there is no alternative. It’s always better to know, and the sooner the better.
In this sense, we’re talking about scientific knowledge, not fictitious knowledge that pretend to be alternatives to psychology, that only seek to profit those who practice them. False alternatives can not only aggravate certain illnesses, but they can also make them much more resistant to subsequent treatments, sapping the patient’s energy and hope.
Remember that the techniques applied by trained and educated psychologists during their sessions are tools that have been validated by studies that demonstrate their efficacy. While they’re not perfect for everyone, they’re better than any known alternative, which is precisely why they are used. Psychology, like many other fields, has unfair competition that confuses the consumer and undermines its prestige.
“The first step towards ignorance is the assumption of knowledge.”
Three examples of harmful alternative psychologies
1. Rebirthing therapy
Julie Ponder and Connell Watkins established that adopted children suffer from attachment disorders. This is supposedly due to the lack of a biological bond with the mother. They believed that treatment was necessary to return the child to the womb to be “reborn” and reestablish the bond.
In reality, the application of this “alternative psychology” resulted in the death of a ten-year-old girl. “Rebirthing” therapy involved returning the girl to the “womb” by wrapping her in a sheet. In this process, the psychological torture was barbaric and ended in the death of the girl, who suffocated under the weight of four adults over her small, feeble body.
This barbaric therapy involved cutting her hair, manipulating her, and shaking her body, while she kicked her feet for hours and then stopped moving. They did all this to recreate the womb and recover the biological bond.
Obviously, Ponder and Watkins were found guilty and sentenced to 16 years in prison for child abuse resulting in death. The trial lasted barely two weeks, because the videos of the therapy sessions were enough proof to demonstrate the cruelty of this supposed alternative therapy.
Another dangerous alternative psychology that we should run away from fast is “psychoenergetic” psychology, postulated by Dr. Jordan Weiss. According to this doctor, in the harmonious relationship between the body and soul and the fourth dimension lies the limitless capacities of the human mind that we can tap into through holistic work.
With the pretext of synchronizing the body and mind with the universe, Dr. Weiss offered treatments that included vaginal massages of female patients, the removal of their clothes for no reason, and the prescription of narcotics. As you can imagine, two patients ended up reporting this doctor’s practices, and he got his medical license taken away. Meanwhile, these patients received treatment for their initial problems and those caused by Weiss.
3. Revival therapy
Dr. Dicke created the “revival” theory to treat victims of sexual abuse. He proposed that the patient should recall as many details and experiences they suffered as possible so that they could reorient their memories and anxieties. It even got to the point of reenacting the traumatic events in order to understand their feelings better.
However, the reality of this therapy was quite different. The patients had to take of their clothes and simulate postures and positions provoked by the sexual assailant. The doctor himself even participated in the “show.”
Finally, after the parents of a patient complained, Dicke was unable to credibly demonstrate the efficacy of his therapy. His license as a psychologist was taken away, and he never helped any of the people he treated improve their condition.
The danger of alternative psychologies
These are only three examples of a market that has been filled with opportunists who use their imagination and creativity to offer hope to people who wish to cling to something, whatever it might be, to escape their distress. So before putting yourself, your mind, in anyone’s hands, you should critically evaluate the treatment possibilities they’ve planned for you.
“Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.”
Don’t forget that submitting yourself to an unsubstantiated therapy can be more harmful than beneficial. It’s your mind, your psyche, your well-being, and ultimately your happiness that’s at stake.