Empathic therapy vs. modern psychiatry: The future of human services
by Peter Breggin, MD
March 12, 2013
Three years ago my wife Ginger and I decided to form the Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education and Living (a nonprofit 501c3). The organization is founded on twin principles of equal importance: First, modern psychiatric theory and practice does more harm than good. Second, all human services, from self-help through therapy and education, must begin with a caring and even loving attitude toward the individual.
The organization already has an outstanding Advisory Council of more than 70 professionals , advocates and family members. Its free newsletter has more than 3,000 subscribers and its first two April conferences Syracuse has nearly filled its 210 capacity. Future conferences are being held in partnership with other reform organizations.
So what is this all about? What is it and why is it necessary?
Empathic therapy is not a specific form of treatment. The Center’s Advisory Council and other participants include a broad spectrum of therapeutic, psychological, spiritual and educational approaches. They hold in common that human beings do not need psychiatric diagnoses and drugs, they need each other. It’s a good motto: People not pills!
The concept of Empathic Therapy has many roots. The Person-Centered approach. Existential psychology with its focus on values. Humanistic psychology and The Third Force in Psychology. Modern psychoanalytic theory. So how is the Empathic Therapy movement different? What’s new?
None of the other reform movements, and few if any of their leaders, have faced the fundamental conflict between these empathic approaches and modern psychiatry with its genetic and biological theories, diagnoses, shock treatment, and drugs. At best, they have turned a blind eye to psychiatry with a “live and let live approach.” At worst, and far more commonly, these groups and their leaders have sought to collaborate and to gain power from their affiliations with organized psychiatry. Instead of resisting psychiatric power and authority, they have feared and even envied it.
Now that psychiatry has gained such overwhelming control over the public discourse about human suffering, and now that the pharmaceutical industry has gone so wholly into partnership with psychiatry, the battle would seem to be lost. That’s all the more reason for one umbrella group to a take stand and to build coalitions with individuals and group who say no to psychiatric objectification and abuse and say yes to empathic approaches.
Empathic approaches, increasingly crushed by the psychopharmaceutical complex, must stand up for themselves and in opposition to psychiatry. It’s no longer sufficient to be caring toward our patients and to empower them to live responsible, loving, and creative lives. They simply won’t accomplish their goals as long as they are simultaneously convinced that they have biochemical imbalances, suffer from psychiatric diagnoses, and need drugs.
The Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education, and Living is holding its third annual conference in Syracuse, New York on April 26-28, 2013. That’s little more than one month away. It will continue to fulfill our twofold purpose of providing trenchant critiques of biological psychiatry while presenting the frontiers of empathic therapy. There will be dramatic demonstrations and presentation about how to help people. These will draw sharp contrast with equally dramatic testimonials, descriptions and scientific analyses of the damaging effects of modern psychiatry.
This year the Empathic Therapy Conference is cosponsored by “Its About Childhood and Family” and by “Mother Bear Community Action Network.” We are building strong coalitions with these other organizations to oppose psychiatric abuses and to promote empathic approaches.
Our Empathic Therapy Conferences are not only humane, caring, and scientific–they are healing events for the participants. Many describe it as fulfilling and educational, and among the best they have ever participated in. The public is welcome. Come join us April 26-28, 2013. The world needs the changes we are making and you can make a difference.
Originally published in Natural News.