Jung At Heart

Pity the Kids of Shrinks?

My children have the blessing, or curse, depending on your point of view, of being the offspring of two psychotherapists, both of whom tilt Jungian. My daughter has said she didn't realize until she was in high school that not all families share and discuss dreams over breakfast. I'm guessing that they were not too badly scarred by their upbringing, though, as my son has recently begun his own journey as a psychotherapist, being a newly minted MSW.

Still, people seem to assume that the children of therapists must have more than usual kinds of problems, which exposes a kind of negative idea about therapy and the kinds of people who become therapists. Michael Toub, whose new memoir is about growing up the child of two Jungian analysts, reports he encounters surprise when people meet him that, given his parents, he is so normal.

Take a look at Jessica Grose's piece in Slate to read more about her take on this topic -- she too is the child of a therapist. Now I have to see if Toub's book is available as an eBook. Oh, and BTW, so far as I am aware, what research on children of therapists that there is shows them to be pretty much like other kids of educated parents.

Just as...

Just as it is reported that treatment by meds alone is rising, we have this report today:

Broad Review of FDA Trials Suggests Antidepressants Only Marginally Better than Placebo

A new review of 4 meta-analyses of efficacy trials submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that antidepressants are only "marginally efficacious" compared with placebo and "document profound publication bias that inflates their apparent efficacy."

In addition, when the researchers also analyzed the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial, "the largest antidepressant effectiveness trial ever conducted," they found that "the effectiveness of antidepressant therapies was probably even lower than the modest one reported...with an apparent progressively increasing dropout rate across each study phase.

Now this should not come as a shock as there have been reanalyses and meta-analyses of data showing this for at least 12 years. But the weight of them seems to be beginning to register. 

Treatment by drugs alone rises

We've a wedding in the family this weekend so not much time for a detailed post. I did see this in Reuters this morning:

"More Americans with psychiatric conditions are being treated with drugs alone compared with a decade ago, while "talk therapy" -- either by itself or in combination with medication -- is on the decline, a new study finds.

The implications of the trend, as well as its underlying causes, are not fully clear, according to researchers. But they say the findings indicate that outpatient mental health care in the U.S. is being redefined.

The results, reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, are based on data from two government health surveys conducted in 1998 and 2007.

Over that period, the percentage of Americans who said they'd had at least one psychotherapy session in the past year remained steady -- at just over 3 percent in both 1998 and 2007.

However, among Americans receiving any outpatient mental health care, the proportion being treated with drugs alone rose from 44 percent in 1998 to 57 percent in 2007.

Thinking More About Merkin

In the last week or so I have read a fair number of comments about Daphne Merkin's NY Times piece on her 40 years of psychotherapy and most of them, including my own first impression, have been at least somewhat critical of the process she has been engaged in. But in the past few days I have been thinking more about it and wondering why, given that she says she has benefitted from her treatment though she is not "cured", so many view a long experience in analysis as a failure.

What made me begin to rethink this is a conversation I had not long ao with an acquaintance who has been taking one or another antidepressant for at least 25 years. She was told by a psychiatrist at some point that she should think of her medication the way a diabetic thinks of insulin, something she will have to take for the rest of her life and she has never questioned that. There is no sense that her medication as "cured" her but she feels she benefits from it.

I know of many people like my acquaintance, people who have been and expect to remain  on antidepressants for years on end. Yet no one says of them that their treatment is a failure for having gone on so many years.

Fat Space and Thin Space

Fat is one of those things I can't talk about as if these issues do not effect me. In fact I must say I don't really trust someone who has never been fat yet claims expertise about what being fat is like and what the struggles are. So that lays one of my biases right out there. 

Why write about this? Well, every day I and all of us are bombarded with pretty simple theories about why people get fat and what we should do to get thin. But almost never does anyone ask a fat person about her experience or feelings or thoughts. In my small way, I am trying to add that voice and to explore some of the meaning of fat and expose the prejudice that fat people encounter, especially in health and mental health settings, and to think about meaning in all of this.


"... the fat body is ... always visible: the only people they are trying to persuade to accept fatness are themselves. While constructing a visible “body of acceptance” does prove that it is possible for fat bodies to be beautiful, it does not directly address the audience who needs to be persuaded: the public who construct and consume norms of beauty.”1

Indictment of psychoanalysis?

Just a quick post to note that a long piece by Daphne Merkin, which will be in the NY Times Sunday magazine, is available to read now. In it she describes some 40+ years in analysis. In my quick read of it, it seems to be a bit of an indictment of psychoanalysis, or at least of analysis of a certain kind. I am curious how others see it and wonder what a good response to her would be? Take a look and let me know what you think. Merkin's "My Life in Therapy"



© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.