Friday, 18 April 2014

‘Talk therapies’ don’t work here.

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

In the seventies, I was a practicing psychiatrist in Spain and I frequently observed a curious phenomenon of conformity selfregulation in groups. At that time, there were numerous groups of young people living in the countryside, sharing a communal life. As much as there may have been a noble, idealistic and counter-cultural aim, they all looked weird to everybody else. They were all carbon copies of each other in clothing and physical appearance. This is how they expressed their rejection of the rest of us in suits and ties.

Life inside these communes was pretty intense, even if their members told you otherwise. There was a tight, unwritten set of rules which held the community together. Under the appearance of a free world, there were lots of borders and ‘regulations’, even if the latter were not recorded in a Standard Operating Procedure manual. They were typical cases of the Dios los cria y ellos se juntan’.

This environment attracted lots of young people from many categories: disillusioned youngsters, counterculturalists, those rejecting their parents, people wanting to save the world or refusing to join the capitalist society, music lovers, love lovers, sex lovers, drug lovers and chronic hippies. It also attracted mentally ill people.

In psychiatry, a delusion is a firm, unshakeable belief in something that has no basis in reality. For example, my thoughts are stolen by a third person. The thought process behind this belief is solid and unbreakable. Rational counter-arguments don’t work, because there is nothing rational about the logic of interaction of the deluded, mentally ill person. A psychotic person thinks and behaves in a strange manner and changing that will not happen by any rational means. That is why psychotherapy or ‘talk therapies’ don’t work here. As you can imagine, there was a lot of irrationality in those communities and very often it was difficult to distinguish between the counterculturalist with an intact brain (or perhaps a brain partially challenged by a recreational substance) and the psychotic who was convinced that an extra-terrestrial visited him every night and took energy from him.

For more visit

No comments: