Psychoanalysts contend that things are much more complicated. For one thing, psychological pain needs first not to be eliminated but understood. From this perspective, depression is less like a tumour and more like a stabbing pain in your abdomen: it’s telling you something, and you need to find out what. (No responsible GP would just pump you with painkillers and send you home.) And happiness – if such a thing is even achievable – is a much murkier matter. We don’t really know our own minds, and we often have powerful motives for keeping things that way. We see life through the lens of our earliest relationships, though we usually don’t realise it; we want contradictory things; and change is slow and hard. Our conscious minds are tiny iceberg-tips on the dark ocean of the unconscious – and you can’t truly explore that ocean by means of CBT’s simple, standardised, science-tested steps.
This viewpoint has much romantic appeal. But the analysts’ arguments fell on deaf ears so long as experiment after experiment seemed to confirm the superiority of CBT – which helps explain the shocked response to a study, published last May, that seemed to show CBT getting less and less effective, as a treatment for depression, over time.
Examining scores of earlier experimental trials, two researchers from Norway concluded that its effect size – a technical measure of its usefulness – had fallen by half since 1977. (In the unlikely event that this trend were to persist, it could be entirely useless in a few decades.) Had CBT somehow benefited from a kind of placebo effect all along, effective only so long as people believed it was a miracle cure?
Now it was while they were on the way that the report came to David, saying, “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left.” Then the king arose, tore his clothes and lay on the ground; and all his servants were standing by with clothes torn.
As London weeps Theresa May begins the talks about us leaving the EU.
The Tories have given us 7 years of austerity but who has suffered most from this?
The poor, the old, the refugees, the unemployed, the disabled.
A man with terminal cancer was labelled fit for work
All but the rich tremble