Therapy Beyond Good and Evil

Subtitled “A nonjudgmental psychology is failing patients who need to hear hard truths”, this article by James Mumford has been published on The New Atlantis website. It begins:

“It appears innocuous at first. The psychologist writes one word at the center of the whiteboard: values. He circles the word, stands back, admires it, and turns to his audience — an audience of inpatients, bored, drugged-up inpatients, stretching like cats and yawning like hyenas.

I’m in psychiatric hospital in central London and the psychologist is taking us through a ‘values-clarification exercise.’ I’m interested in what the psychologist has to say about values, because I used to teach ethics, at the University of Virginia. But now I’m the student, because I’m the patient. And I’m about to be given a strong dose of moral relativism. I’m about to be told that there are no objective values and, by implication, that good and evil are merely projections of our minds. This, apparently, is going to make me feel better.

‘What does the word ‘values’ mean to people?’ the psychologist begins. ‘What are some of our values?’ Unfazed by an unresponsive group — a circle of depressives is not always the most forthcoming of audiences — the psychologist circulates a handout. It’s a list, including the following words …”

You can read more from here.

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