Smug Dipshits, Idiot Assholes and Stupid Fucking Professions, Part One....

(Blogger's note: This is a two-part post. The second half of the post will be posted sometime in the next day or two or whenever I decide to get around to it. Thanks.)



So...yeah,  I'm a therapist/counselor. That's my job. I sit in a room, and I talk to people about their problems, I tend to give them some feedback they rarely listen to, and then their lives somehow get better (often they either they get themselves into a new romantic relationship or they get out of one) and then they thank me for my help. Or, I am of no help, their lives don't get better, and they just stop coming to their sessions. Either way...

Ok, so that's not entirely accurate. There's more to being a counselor than that. I actually take a lot of pride in my craft, and I have known a lot of talented, effective therapists in my day. And eventually, later, we'll get to all the good shit about my job, all the reasons why, even though a lot of people seem to think it is, it really isn't a stupid fucking profession.

But before we get to the good parts, I have to admit: it is kind of a stupid fucking profession.

Now, I still don't really know how I became a counselor. As I said, it is in some ways a stupid fucking profession and a bizarre craft to dedicate one's life to. If you stop to think about it (though why would you?) only smug, self-satisfied dipshits believe they are in any kind of position to "help" anyone else. And, yet... they've gone ahead and made this entire profession specifically for such smug dipshits.

That's why, at first glance, it was a fitting profession for me to fall into, although I do prefer to think of myself as more of an "idiot asshole" than a "smug dipshit." As an idiot asshole, I know I don't know anything of value, and I know I have nothing of value to offer anyone, but yet I continue to offer my valueless-ness, regardless.

When approached from the angle of being an idiot asshole, counseling was a terrible profession for me to fall into. And, yet, here I am, and here I am seeming to be fairly effective at it. How does that happen?

As of right now, I'm not sure I have any kind of coherent, intelligible answer, beyond that mistakes often happen. And while they happen less often, happy mistakes also happen. And me becoming a counselor has been some kind of (mostly) happy mistake.

None of which, by the way, changes the fact that I'm an idiot asshole in a stupid fucking profession. It should already be abundantly clear that I'm an idiot asshole, but maybe--if you don't already assume that it is-- you're wondering why it is that counseling is a stupid fucking profession. Well, in order to understand that, we need to understand just what, exactly, counseling as a profession is.

Modern mental health counseling is basically some sort of mutant scion that evolved from a number of earlier, "human health" fields including that of the psychoanalytic psychiatry begun by, one, Sigmund Freud, the career counseling innovations of Frank Parsons and the social work movement begun by Jane Addams in early 1930s Chicago.

Now, before we proceed, let us note that both Addams' and Parson's crafts were admirable ones. Traditional social work and helping people determine a fitting career choice are noble and beneficial to both the individual and to society. Hell, one of my great regrets is that I, myself, never crossed paths with a talented career counselor before I stumbled haphazardly and irresponsibly into the stupid fucking profession I stumbled into. So, Parson is off the hook, and so is Addams. And therefore any career or guidance counselor is off the hook. Most of those folks are neither smug dipshits nor idiot assholes. Nor are their crafts stupid fucking ones.

Freud on the hand....

Yeahhhh. My god. Where do we even begin? Freud had issues, man. Freud needed his own counselor, but he was the original smug dipshit, so he would've been a terrible client. Every counselor abhors the smug dipshit client, but that's mostly because, again, most counselors are smug dipshits themselves. And while I give Freud a well-deserved hard time, he was a deadeye shot on a few things, one of them being his idea of "projection." Smug dipshits hate other smug dipshits, because smug dipshits hate being reminded that they too are smug dipshits.

...Anyhow, in order to expand the scope of our technical vocabulary a bit, we will heretofore no longer refer to Freud as the Original Smug Dipshit. We will, instead, refer to him henceforth as "The Broken Clock." A broken clock, after all, is right twice per day, but, like Freud, a broken clock is also utterly, profoundly, atrociously and insultingly fucking wrong the rest of the time.

The Broken Clock's big insight was the idea of the "subconscious." He got the time right on that one, oh boy. The Broken Clock was correct that human beings generally don't actually have any clue why we do the things we do. We don't understand our own motivation. And he was (mostly) right a second time when he though it might be useful for us to try to figure out all the rusted-out, usually self-destructive plumbing carrying the psychic flow below the surface of our conscious thought.  The Broken Clock wanted to us the tools of language and communication to look under the foundation of consciousness and to look at the sewage pipes, clear out all the shitty clogs and buildup, and get the plumbing of the human mind running smoothly again, so that all the water flowing above ground in consciousness was clean and clear and safe and nourishing. The Broken Clock wanted to understand why some plumbing systems ran better and cleaner than others, and how to apply what he learned about each  to help each pipe allow the flow of psychic energy to flow more precisely and efficiently.

Where he went wrong is that he looked under the home of conscious thought, saw all the pipes (and, trust me, in Freud's defense, there has been, is not, and probably will never be a machine or system as complex as the human mind) and had no fucking clue what he was looking at. And instead of admitting as much and trying to figure the pipes out one piece at a time, he had to go and be a smug dipshit and pretend that he not only knew where some of the individual pipes went to and from, but he knew how the entire plumbing system worked. Suddenly, instead of taking time to truly understand what people were going through, that little pervert Freud came up with a bunch of bizarre, borderline insane theories. Sons wanted to...erm...uh...you know...bed their mothers. And daughters wanted to...umm...you know... do the same thing to their fathers. Everybody was uptight and pissed off all the time because someone yelled at them when they doo-doo'd in their pants when they were toddlers. Women hated having vaginas and held a secret desire for their own genitals to be penises. And so on, and so forth.

Which is patently ridiculous, obviously. Not even most men are happy with their penises, so what do women know about it?

Regardless, the big idea that Freud had that is still pretty much the crux of the entire "talk therapy" field is that the subconscious can become conscious. That some, if not all, of the subconscious motivations that influence our thoughts and behaviors can be made conscious and, therefore, addressed or confronted, thereby leading to a change in both our thoughts and behaviors and, subsequently, improving our lives. And this core concept remains the centerpiece upon which all of Mental Health therapy is built upon. Whether you believe people's difficulties stem from the unconscious way they think about things (the REBT/CBT approach), or the unconscious ways they tell their stories about themselves (the "Narrative Therapy" approach), or their unconscious lack of insight into the choices they have and make (the "Choice Therapy" approach) or their unconscious understanding of how society and its various, corresponding structures impact their behaviors (any "Systemic" or "Constructivist" approach), the idea is generally still that the client needs to make conscious some impetus or motivator they are mostly to utterly unaware of.

The obvious questions, at this point, are: what does any of this have to do with counseling being a stupid fucking profession, and why do I hate Freud so much.

One, I don't hate Freud. I owe my entire ability to earn a living to him and his ideas--both the pretty good ones and the really shitty ones.

Two, this is a two-part post, remember. And we're going to get into why exactly it's a stupid fucking profession, and why it's also not a stupid fucking profession, in the next post.

Comments

Popular Posts