Friday, April 15, 2005

MH - Buzzards? Or Grief Councelors?

A great line from a fascinating column by Rich Lowry at NRO, on the Red Lake school shootings. Seems the grief councelors aren't doing much business in the wake of this tragedy:
The Washington Post reported that some grief counselors were sitting alone at the makeshift grief centers, because tribal members wanted only to talk in private, with loved ones. The counselors have the best of intentions, but whenever such a tragedy strikes, it brings to mind an old New Yorker cartoon. Two cowboys look at something in the distance. “Hard to tell from here,” one of them comments. “Could be buzzards, could be grief counselors.”

Imagine that - wanting to talk to loved ones instead of strangers. If that don't beat all.

Lowry makes great points about the obsession we see in modern culture with "letting it all out." You see this all the time in Corporate America, with the touchy-feely Human Resources department wanting to know "what's on your mind," "how can we help you achieve your life goals," and all sorts of gobbledy-gook. As Lowry says,
The descent of the counselors on Red Lake is in keeping with an article of contemporary American faith: The talking cure cures all. Expressing or dwelling on your emotions eases grief, cures cancer, lifts your spirits and enhances self-understanding. Yes, many people benefit from therapy, and the depressed and mentally ill should seek help. But our belief in the miraculous power of talk is as unjustified as it is pervasive, according to Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel in their new book, One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance.

Whether we're talking about grief, or any other myriad number of problems that make up human suffering, "getting it all out" isn't always the best thing. Oftentimes, it serves only to work you up even more and make everyone around you feel worse in the process.
Dwelling on your feelings can be a problem, especially if you’re feeling down. A researcher who compared depressed individuals told to ruminate on their feelings with those not so instructed found that over-thinking tends to “impose a lens that shows a distorted, narrow view of our world.” Indeed, it can “take you down paths to hopelessness, self-hate and immobility.” All of this means that there is a risk in forcing therapy on the bereaved, who might be perfectly capable of handling their loss on their own (some people, of course, will not).
Of course, all this is part of the New Age way of "getting in touch with our feelings," and it ties in nicely with the liberal mantra that none of us are capable of taking care of ourselves without the help of some kind of Big Brother. Sure, we need help, but we're not helpless - or didn't use to be, anyway. Whether this way of thinking came first and led to other disasterous consequences of this pop psychology, or whether this was merely an outgrowth of that distorted thought process, I'm not sure. But Lowry hits it square on the head, in all it's glorious and troublesome irony. Read the whole thing, and if you need more proof ask yourself this: who cuts the more heroic figure, Gary Cooper or Woody Allen? Then ask yourself who is the more well-balanced.

I'll bet you come up with the same answer to both questions.


  1. A young man I know lost his father while this young man was in jr highschool. He was forced to attend couseling sessions at the school and when he would not cry in front of the counselor, he was labeled "emotionally retarded" and despite an IQ greater than 130, was removed from regular classes and placed in "Special ED"

  2. I'm sorry to hear that Terry, but not surprised. Unfortunately, nowadays we have an "expected" way of behavior out there, and anyone who acts in an "unexpeted" way automatically brands him or herself as a nonconformist, and therefore there must be something wrong with him. Almost like a Kafka novel. Thanks for reading the blog; hope you come back soon!



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