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Friday, March 07, 2003
Psychological treatment and other trips to the cleaners

Somewhere during this month, someone or some organisation claimed that stress counselling was not the best treatment for distressed people. (I am sorry that I cannot provide a link for this story.) The argument said, if I remember rightly, that having to bring up the subject again and again to discuss it made things worse, not better. The recommendation arising from that thesis was that a stiff upper lip was part of the best treatment. "Get on with your life the best way you can," was the consequent advice.

The bandwagon effect led to much derision aimed at trick cyclists, shrinks, and phrenologists. The criticism seemed to cover treatment for all forms of mental problem: depression, social ineptitude, and playing the lottery. Even alternative medicine treatments were not spared.

I report this debate dispassionately; some of my best friends are psychoanalysts. (With whom could I talk, were I to fall out with them?) So, in stream of consciousness mode, here is an old contribution to the debate.

In a 2002 TV Omnibus programme, John Bayley told an interesting story about the late Iris Murdoch, his wife (Iris Murdoch: Strange Love, Broadcast on BBC1, 23rd January 2002, produced and directed by Kate Misrahi). An unidentified friend told Iris that she was planning to have psychoanalysis. Murdoch exhorted her to write a book instead. ‘You’ll get there much quicker that way’, she said.

Brilliant. How about book writing as a form of therapy? Or even

This reminds me that it is currently impossible to buy a hard copy of Mrs Dalloway. With all the interest in The Hours, people have started reading proper literature again. In case you want to read it, an etext version of Mrs Dalloway can be found here. It doesn't take long to download, either.

One of the advantages (and there are very few) of downloading books is that you can do a word count. I was interested to do that measurement on Mrs Dalloway Amazingly, it's exactly the same length as the accumulated Josh's Joshings...

And yes, I feel better already.

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