Bad Therapy: Why The Kids Aren’t Growing Up, by Abigail Shirer.

In this book, Abigail Shirer sets out to show how the modern-day obsession with therapy has made the American world worse, especially when it comes to children. With a few qualifications here and there, she largely succeeds. Can therapy have side-effects? Are there any negative consequences to asking people to talk about their feelings? Why does gentle parenting seem to be raising weaker and less-prepared children than older approaches to parenting? Does the body really keep the score? Shirer aims to answer these in the book.

If you have experience with the world of therapy, you will recognize many patterns and ideas in her descriptions.

We should always be careful when we hear of a non-expert wades outside their field to demolish idols. On multiple occasions throughout the book, Shirer speaks from her own experience. To balance that out, she appeals to recognized experts within the field that disagree with the methodology of the day. It is up to readers to decide whether they find them persuasive or not.

Shirer’s book has applications outside the US as well. A lot of these therapeutic devices are exported around the world under the guise of being scientific and up-to-date. At the very least, Shirer’s analysis should make us be more careful in accepting them.

On parenting:

Successful parenting became a function with a single coefficient: our kids’ happiness at any given instant. An ideal childhood meant no pain, no discomfort, no fights, no failure - and absolutely no hint of “trauma.”

On side-effects in therapy:

Most therapists have no idea who has been made worse by their therapy because they make no effort to track side effects. The profession does not require it.

Therapists can make kids’ anxiety worse […] …adding monitoring to a child’s life is functionally equivalent to adding anxiety.

Other reviews: Denny Burk, Matthew Loftus, Breakpoint Colson Center
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