Back in graduate school (aka "therapy school"), an assignment in one of my classes was to read "The Myth of Mental Illness" by Thomas Szaz, a Hungarian psychiatrist who was a critic of the influence of modern medicine on society, in particular psychiatry. What I then thought was yet another boring assignment became an eye-opening journey that turned into a core influence on my career and the way in which I would come to practice psychotherapy. The quote that was the catalyst for that journey was "it is hard to be sane in insane places."
Szaz wrote a number of books, including "The Manufacture of Madness", "Ceremonial Chemistry", and "The Myth of Psychotherapy." This reading, tempered by the clinical experience I would later gain outside the academic setting, convinced me that psychotherapy and medicine had drifted away from their original intention and both had become a business. For much of my 40 years of clinical practice, I had searched and searched for the "right combination" that would truly help to bring about lasting and effective change. It seemed like everything I found to be useful was considered "outside the box" and therefore not given the support that it deserved by my profession.
After attending a symposium given by the Dalai Lama in 2014 and receiving wisdom from his teachings, I was very grateful to see that the "outside the box" approaches that I had found useful were finally starting to gain the recognition that they deserved. Today I am very pleased to offer effective services to my clients that includes diverse approaches such as mindfulness based cognitive therapy, hypnosis, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and Radical Forgiveness. It is a great blessing to practice with my colleague, Alison Brooks, N.D. Alison is a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor who is trained in integrative energetic medicine and who is also completing an apprenticeship in shamanic medicine. Both of these approaches are extremely effective. Together, we can provide a unique and very effective approach that will truly help our clients achieve the life changing results they deserve. I would like to think that Dr. Szaz (who died in 2012) would approve.
I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from Dr. Szaz:
"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget."
"If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; if God talks to you, you are a schizophrenic."
"People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates."
"Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is."
"Two wrongs don't make a right, but they do make a good excuse."
"The proverb says that "You should not bite the hand that feeds you." But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself."
"Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence."
"In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined."
"When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him."
"Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, man mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, man mistakes medicine for magic."
Jim Harger, M.Ed., LPC