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Latest Activity: Aug 11, 2016
Started by Sujatin Aug 11, 2016.
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Michael - as far as I am aware it is the same book just two different editions and the later one is not a revised text. So this same text is the basis of the Buddhist psychology course.
There is a long and fascinating article in today’s NY Times entitled Talk Therapy Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns to Drug Therapy which is about how payments by insurance companies in the US are inducing psychiatrists to turn away from psychotherapy in favour of psychopharmacology. The article focuses on an experienced psychiatrist from Pennsylvania named Donald Levine who, in spite of his strong belief in the effectiveness of psychotherapy, has now become a dispenser of drugs for the simple reason that it pays more to do so. In the past, Levine would spend up to twelve long sessions before reaching a diagnosis; now he is forced to make one in his first fifteen minute session with a patient. And in these brief sessions he often has to cut patients off from discussing their problems in excessive detail on the grounds that the conversation is becoming too psychotherapeutic. Levine does encourage his patients to go into therapy, but as the article notes, few of them actually do. His job now is to offer his patients relief from their symptoms as quickly and as cost-efficiently as possible.
I find this a deplorable way to approach psychological suffering, but it does reflect the values of a society that is increasingly driven by materialist values. It’s easy to blame the insurance companies for forcing the values of accountancy on psychotherapy, but this is what such enterprises do. Levine, who appears in the article in a sympathetic light, could be criticised for choosing to practise psychopharmacology over psychotherapy in order to keep his income high. But however disappointing his decision might be, the problem goes far beyond the personal decision of one psychiatrist. The matter is very complex and raises all sorts of issues about treating a variety of psychological conditions and how such treatments should be funded. But it is hard to avoid the conclusion that in its frenzy for minimising costs and increasing profits, a consumerist society simply refuses to make allowance for personal growth. In the UK, the NHS has decided to put more emphasis on talking therapy in recognition of its proven superiority to drug therapy. Perhaps this should be seen as a welcome development, but the same cost/investment mentality which guides US insurers appears to be at work in the UK, too. NICE, the NHS body that is charged with assessing clinical effectiveness is only interested in results, that is to say, quantifiable outcomes. Where then, is the space for the belief that psychotherapy of its own necessity must be more interested in process than results?
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