Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More On Therapy Culture...


It took a sex therapist a little under two hours to diagnose Ulrika Johnson with sex addiction. And the defining moment, apparently, was when Ulrika admitted that ‘sex makes me feel like a different person’. The therapist stated the fucking obvious came up with the startling conclusion that Ulrika uses sex to feel better about herself. That she seeks a sense of completion through the sexual union with another. That her repeated ‘falling in love’ temporarily transforms her emotional world. No shit, Sherlock? Give her a cigar and call her Dr Freud.

I thought that this was just how we, with our human frailties and our inherent drive towards contact-in-relationship, seek to make intimate connections. Granted, it’s not the ideal way to meet all of our relational needs although – hang on to your hats here – it probably is the best way to meet our sexual needs. (Needs which, astonishingly, failed to get a mention on last night’s programme.) Yes, we sometimes use sex as a shortcut to intimacy. Yes, this is not always in our best interests. Yes, we often expect our relationships to transform our lives and feel disillusioned when they don’t. But I always thought this was a part of the human emotional landscape which may or may not require psychotherapy, depending on the impact on the individual. Silly old me. No, apparently this is a disease called sex addiction, which is soon to be an epidemic and – get this bit – requires an industry of sex addiction centres to make these people normal again. Ouch. Get thee behind me, capitalism.

And it got better. Ulrika was then invited into ‘equine-assisted psychotherapy’, complete with an ‘equine therapist’ who was either a 15-hand chestnut or a woman with unfeasibly long hair tied back in a very swishy pony tail. You know how owners start to look like their pets? She couldn't quite shoo the flies away yet, but you could imagine her practising in the privacy of her bedroom. It was not clear who was the therapist, or indeed, who actually knew what was going on here. Ulrika cried because she picked the first horse that she saw. This, observed the woman with the unfeasibly long hair, is also "her blueprint for picking a mate", thus demonstrating consummate assessment skills considering she had only known Ulrika for a few minutes.


“After these revelations, it isn’t taking much to destabilise Ulrika” said the voice over. I think we missed the boat on that one some time ago. Ulrika was then invited to tell the horse what she was feeling, which I suppose just about beats talking to a cushion.

“It is hard to believe that Ulrika has just revealed one of her deepest insecurities to a horse”, said the voice over. Hard to believe? I was wetting myself. The horse was starting to look a bit embarrassed. He’d only taken the gig to get his equity card, and he was clearly wondering whether his TV career was already over.

Ulrika was given some cod psychology by Peter, Paul and Mary about how she attempts to find herself through relationships,* prescribed a year’s abstinence and advised to ‘learn to love herself’. She then went home for a shag.

My prescription for Ulrika is to avoid the tendency of advanced capitalist cultures to attempt to manage our alienation from our core relational needs by pathologising any emotional twinge into a condition that requires treatment.

* More on this later. Yes, much more on this later.

Cartoon by Cathy Thorne at everdaypeoplecartoons.com




58 comments:

Apotheosis said...

I think the real question is whether the therapist was Freudian or Jungian! Hehehe!

Kostas
www.sarampalis.org

Dandelion said...

I think the real question is whether the lightbulb really wanted to change.

Dandelion said...

No, but seriously...this is a fab post - one for Post of The Week, I think.

The concept of "sex addiction" is rather dodgy and not just because of the excessive pathologising of emotional discomfort.

Sex addiction in a man is counted as quite a manly thing. In a woman (eg an attractive blonde one), it's the stuff of porno. As a cultural phenomenon, it's just another part of the market for titillation. Even if the woman in question were Anne Widdecombe, because of the implied power dynamic in sex addiction, I reckon the programme would still have been a goer.

Dunno what the gender split is in sex addicts - wouldn't be surprised if the majority were women (for the reasons you discuss).

rivergirlie said...

ooooh - cynical! i love it. and not just a 'condition requirement treatment' - it must be a condition requiring expensive treatment, preferably with some other overprivileged slebs in a nice, secluded mansion in the country. or maybe switzerland.
did i tell you i'd moved to wordpress? i've brought ben jonson along with me to prove my bona fides

Reading the Signs said...

But look at it this way, Ms M, you'll never be short of clients. I mean, looking at that questionnaire I reckon my grandma must have been a sex addict because she loved Pride and Prejudice (the film) and went to see it a lot.

Lovely post - helps me sit out the temporary absence of the fab Ms Pants. Look forward to more!

That's so pants said...

This is so funny I very nearly recovered my mental health when I read it. Thanks Ms M.

trousers said...

"My prescription for Ulrika is to avoid the tendency of advanced capitalist cultures to attempt to manage our alienation from our core relational needs by pathologising any emotional twinge into a condition that requires treatment."

I couldn't have put it better. Its been a very in thing for a while to symptomise non-pathological ("normal") behaviours and hence prescribe therapies, whether chemical, talking or whatever.

Having typed "pharmaceutical" into the Guardian's site and filtered it to "most relevant first", this article came up tops: http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianweekly/story/0,,1807960,00.html

And I'm sure you know this one already Ms M, but for anyone else, it makes very interesting reading. http://www.stanford.edu/~kocabas/onbeingsane.pdf

Sorry, hope I'm not going too far off track here - it was funny reading about Ulrika, but the really sad thing is that that's just one example of how things have become commodified over a long period of time.

Years ago someone said mental health issues and emotional/ psychological problems were stigmatized because they "weren't sexy". Looks like they (the ubiquitous "they" - sorry I don't mean to come over all conspiratorial) are doing their best to rectify that, Ulrika's "plight" being but one example.

Shit, I think I'd better have a lie down...

trousers said...

Sorry, for the sake of clarity, the second link I posted was "On being sane in insane places" - an experiment in which a bunch of U.S. psychiatrists got themselves admitted into mental hospitals, and where they found that the staff saw practically all their behaviours in terms of symptomology. Its fascinating and troubling stuff.

*Lies down again*

Stray said...

I nodded so much Ms M I fear my head has come loose.

I read 2 reviews of this programme in the papers today and they were very much along the same lines but not nearly as good as yours :) You should write for them!

I agree this could be Post of The Week.

I went through a 12 step programme (for boring conventional un-titilating addictions, no excessive-frottage for me) and got thoroughly sick of people seeing every behaviour they (or anyone else) had as dysfunctional. Sometimes eating 2 pieces of cake is just what it looks like ... not an eating disorder requiring yet another set of rules, therapies and possibly drugs.

I actually believe that there are people addicted to being in 12-step programmes.

Like you say - who doesn't use sex as a way of making themselves feel better by enjoying the sensation of being wanted / needed / close / accepted / loved / physically appreciated? I bet they'd score high on Antisocial-PD if you tested them!

Trousers - I totally agree. It's terrifying. The moment you have "mental health patient" attached to you as a label, everything you do becomes a 'symptom' of your 'illness'.

Ms M you are very very clever and I think you should be in charge of more things.

Sx

Janejill said...

I had a friend ( a friend??) who once told me I was too indiscriminate in the choice of men I slept with (this from a woman who tucked in to a large Sunday lunch at my home, excused herself , then went up to the bathroom to shag another friend's fiance...) I still cannot work out where she thought I had gone wrong.. my point, I think, is that low self-worth means poor vetting.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi apotheosis - I suspect they wouldn't know their Freud from their Jung from their Klein to be honest. This definitely came from the Janet and John school of psychotherapy. Thanks for dropping by.

Hi Dandelion - Ann Widdecombe, sex addict. Now you are scaring me. On their criteria we are all sex addicts, I suspect. Now, where is that 12 step programme...

Hi there Rivergirlie - how exciting that you are back! Will check you out later...

Hi Signs - I am deeply honoured that you compare me to Ms Pants, uber blogger if ever there was one. Thank you xxx

Hi lovely Pants - we miss you! Please don't recover your mental health, though. Life will never be the same again.

Hi Trousers - thanks so much for the links. The Stanford experiment was groundbreaking, but unfortunately things get worse rather than better. And I think some aspects of psychotherapy (ie last night's shambolic lot) have a lot to answer for. Will check out the links later. I am away for a couple of days running a residential, so I will be in the mood for some sanity when I get back.

Hey Stray, excessive frottage sounds like fun to me. Is there a 12 step for that?

Hi Janejill - thanks for dropping by. Low self worth is definitely part of the process here. Whether or not that adds up to 'sex addiction' is an entirely different matter. I admire your friend's style, by the way!

Daniel said...

On Ulrika... I liked her far better when she usd to tell us that it would be sunny tomorrow. Ah, those jumpers she used to wear. Oh christ & Anne and Nick. Right, memory STOP!

On sex addiction... a way out of the family - the joy of being hidden and the danger of being found. Love surely is the return to the family.

I'm paraphrasing Phillips here, but "some people would never have known, if they had never have heard of knowing" which he must have ripped of from the great La Rochefoucauld "Some people would never have fallen in love if they had never heard of love"

yellowduck said...

Cool.

This is about sex.

I quite like sex.

Don't know about Ulrika and horses, though :(

Do I now need therapy?

bobo said...

Thanks Ms M for keeping my finger on the pulse, cursed as I am without a telly in my current temporary houseless reduced circumstance.

Sex can be an addiction? I hope autoerotic activities don't count otherwise I'm in Big Trouble.

Really, the next thing you know they'll be drugging boys for being naughty and slapping a DSM IV label on them.

As for Ulrika, what she really ought to be saying to the hapless horse is, "I seem to be addicted to appearing on trash telly, my life made transparent for the entertainment of sofa voyeurs."

PS: I'm not sure how Klein would help, I'm sure Ulrika already knows Calvin personally, if not intimately.

charlotte said...

I was going to say what Bobo said - I think Ulrike should be more worried about her addiction to being on telly than her sex addiction.

Thanks for a great post.

Boris said...

If Ulrika really is addicted to sex, can I have her phone number?

Liz said...

Talking to a horse? WTF! Heaven help us all.

sheepish said...

This post made me fall about laughing, absolutely brilliant.When will people stop taking themselves so seriously.

By the way I talk to my horse all the time!!!!!!!!!

Luckily he hasn't replied yet.

Janejill said...

Yes.. she certainly had style... they even managed to get back in time for apple crumble...

Katy said...

Glad you've returned, your posts are reliable for amusement!

Caroline said...

I haven't been able to comment - I was in denial. Now I accept. I *need* sex therapy ... will it be supplied in a group session or one-to-one??????

And Bobo has a new photo ... I am terrified ...

xx

nmj said...

As for Ulrika, what she really ought to be saying to the hapless horse is, "I seem to be addicted to appearing on trash telly, my life made transparent for the entertainment of sofa voyeurs."

I agree with Bobo, though I didn't see the programme. So Ulrika likes to have lots of sex, and falls in love with the 'wrong men': I find it very hard to care.

bindi said...

I used to love Mr Ed (the talking horse, do you remember him on the telly?). It was a fantasy of mine to have a horse who talked only to me.

Is there a name to describe this syndrome?

http://bindinestor.wordpress.com

Calamity Jane said...

Ulrika. Sex. Horse. Hmmm

bobo said...

Oh dear Caroline, I thought my new photo would be less threatening. Just a clever monkey with glasses (that's how you know he's clever), wearing clothes and a bit of facial hair.

So sounds like me.

Clare said...

Blimey, what a lot of comments.

How refreshing to read someone talking sense about the Ulrika claptrap! I turned it off after 15 mins cos it was annoying me. Your post is much more entertaining.

(P.S. Did you know the font colour for the "Post a Comment" bit and various other bits is so pale to be practically illegible? Took me ages to find where to click to post a comment)

Stray said...

yes miss m, it is invisible on mine too, I will email you a screenshot if you like?

yey for you being back :)

Sx

Caroline said...

I have ;-)
x

Stray said...

sorry. I meant Ms M. of course. naughty stray!

Sx

Daniel said...

From Adam Philips', On Flirtation, pp39 to 41 - an essay therein entitled "On Love"

On checking, he did purloin it from La Rochefoucauld.

From the blurb: "... Phillips uses the idea of flirtation to explore the virutes of being uncommitted, to people, to ideas, to methods - and the pleasures of uncertainty..."

From the cover: "...The Psychotherapist of the floating world..." - which I kinda like, but I bet he hates.

As an aside I just noticed Phillips is published by Faber and Faber - F&F was set up by T S Eliott - I am rather tickled by Psychotherapists being published by Poets.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey again Dan,
some people would never have known, if they had never have heard of knowing
I love that - give me a reference, I would like to read more. And please don't ever mention Anne and Nick on this blog again.

Lovely Duck, you may need therapy with a horse if you are lucky. You get to do all the talking and you can pay him in hay.

Sorry BoBo, but overindulging in autoerotic activity might well count as sex addiction. Suggest you ring up channel 4 for advice. I lined up the Calvin Klein joke especially for you. You owe me one...

Hey Charlotte, thanks for popping in. I agree, and it would have made a much more informative programme. There is something much more pathological about wanting to expose yourself on national TV than getting it off with a multitude of partners, methinks.

Lovely Boris, you keep turning me down, and yet you want Ulrika's phone number? What is wrong with you? You need more therapy.

Liz darling, I know, I know. And what's worse, the 'equine therapy' is only available at selected sex addiction centres in the US. You lot have so much to answer for!

Hey Sheepish, I think it's lovely. Just don't pay them and don't expect them to resolve your internal conflicts.

Hi again Janejill - sex followed by apple crumble. How fab!

Hi lovely nmj - you make me smile! Yes, I don't really care much either. I do care, though, that people start to diagnose themselves with these trumped up conditions. I bet I start getting calls this week after people have seen the programme.

Hi Katy - thanks for the lovely comment.

Lovely Caroline, you are very naughty. I will not answer that comment. Ask for group sex on your own blog. (Plenty of google traffic for a few days with that one...)

Hey there Bindi - suggest you watch The Horse Whisperer. That will surely put you off. Bloody terrible film.

Hi CJ - yes,indeed. Oh yes indeed.

Lovely BoBo, please stop scaring Caroline. You are a very naughty boy. Now go and have a shave.

Hi again Clare, hope you are feeling chipper. Haven't been to yours for a while so will drop by this weekend. It was sheer will power that got me through it, plus the fact that I was writing my blog post whilst watching. Don't know why the colours are so pale for you - they look fine on my system (white on green background.) Is anyone else having difficulty with this?

Now this is all out of sync! I deleted and re-did the comment cos I scrolled too quickly and missed some people out. And now more comments!

Cheers Stray and Caroline - will play around with the colours.

Thanks Dan - will check that one out. I like the sound of it.

Cheryl said...

Effing brilliant. You make me sorry I missed (ran a mile to avoid) the programme, now, but I laughed all the way through this post!

bindi said...

Hmm I read the Horse Whisperer ages ago. It was an ok book. Didn't feature talking horses enough for my liking. The descriptions of sex in this book are cringe-worthy (the author definitely lost the plot if he was trying to appeal to female fantasy in these bits).

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Cheryl - I started watching out of curiosity, but found it utterly compelling in it's crapness. I love shouting at the tele when they start talking therapy crap.

Hi Bindi -did you ever see the film? God, it's sentimental crap!

bindi said...

yeah, the film was wishy washy - the book was much better. I posted my review of the 'Horse Whisperer' novel on epossums today.

Shell said...

oh wow how brilliant is this post?? i'll read the comments, equally superb i am sure, later - just for now ... i have to howl with delighted laughter ... oh, and find a horse by midnight .. i love horses but after 12 they turn into hamsters, omg, am i saying too much?? lol

Shell said...

but on a skim read i agree with what people have said about the Horse Whisperer ... book AND movie scampered away from what should have been central ... they diluted and exploited half-insights, probably because truth can't be coped with by humans and if they dare to get close they run for cash ... *snarl*

Political Umpire said...

Superb. This deserves a link. I managed to miss the programme, but doubt I missed much ...

Dandelion said...

Congratulations, Mrs M. This one's been voted Post of The Week! And deservedly so.
Fame and fortune beckons.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Shell, I tend to agree with you about The Horse Whisperer - there was a sniff of the screenplay in the book, and a large snort of playing to the lowest common denominator in the film. Mostly disappointing.

Hey there P-Umpy, good to see you again. Reckon you didn't miss much? On the contrary, it was the bloody funniest thing I've seen on the tele box in weeks!

Thanks for the nomination Dandelion. I have thanked you more fully in my acceptance speech xxx

China Blue said...

Fab post (found you through Umpire). I think I will have to start visiting regularly :-)

It sounds as if Ulrika is better off acquiring a Rampant Rabbit than getting deep in conversation with Mr Ed.
Joking aside, it's apparent to me that addiction is an attempt to numb a pain which is coming from somewhere else entirely.
It's not enough for Ulrika to say that she uses sex to feel better. I'd be more interested in what her problem really is: 'What's Eating Ulrika Jonsson?', as it were.

Political Umpire said...

Glad to have introduced the inimitable Miss China Blue to you Melonchoholic. And I also said you had post of the week. I also thought of Mr Ed when reading your post - this despite the fact that neither CB (according to her blog/myspace) nor I are old enough to have watched the programme - is his hold over the public psyche still that strong after all these years? Frightening, more so even than Ulrika having sex.

Funnily enough it all sounds like the cod psychology dished up every week by Simon Barnes, the chief sports writer of the Times (who should know better). He once went off on some ridiculous rant about how Shane Warne is possessed by demons off the pitch, which compelled his text-mania and ensuing dalliances with barmaids.

To which I say boll£cks, Warne was away from home and tempted by a tart with large assets and few inhibitions. Where the psychoanalysis comes into it I don't know.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi CB, thanks for dropping by. I like the idea of'What's eating Ulrika' - certainly more interesting than 'What's Ulrika Eating' anwyay, as a crisp bread and low fat spread do not interesting tv make.

Hey again P-Umpy - twice in one day? You must be feeling energetic. Get home whilst you still have the energy, I say....Mrs P-Umpy will wonder if Christmas has come early x

Political Umpire said...

That's three times, actually, though if you didn't notice it probably wasn't something to brag about. I am at home, actually, and Mrs Ump is out, so um best get going now while I still can. Junior ump is trying to hit the keyboards now, if he only knew what we were saying I'd be in trouble. Phew. I come here for some sanity after Ms B and the Englishman have been up to all sorts at my place and, well, let's just say I hope your patients leave yours feeling a lot more settled than I do now . . .

Ms Melancholy said...

I am at home, actually, and Mrs Ump is out, so um best get going now while I still can

That made me laugh! Boys and their playthings! Popping over to yours as we speak...I always love it when Ms B causes a riot.

xxx

Political Umpire said...

I'd never call you my 'plaything'!

Still waiting for an answer as to why you think I'm scary (thinking of composing a song, borrowing from Rod Stewart)

Ms Melancholy said...

Lovely P-Umpy, I would love it if you called me your plaything. It might make you seem less scary (!) I am not sure why I think you are slightly scary. You have a stern tone to your blog, which makes me think of a middle aged barrister type. It's a class thing. I do realise that you are only a 12 yr old boy with ideas above his station, though...

Was Mrs P-Umpy happy last night, or didn't you wait for her?

Dandelion said...

Ms Melan? Can I ask you something?

Lovely P-Umpy, I would love it if you called me your plaything.

Do you say this kind of thing to people in the flesh, or is it just online? I'm curious.

Political Umpire said...

She's yet to say it to me in the flesh, for fear of ending up in jail on child molestation charges given my age (12). Meloncholy's psychiatric skills have enabled her to determine that Mrs Umpire is, in fact, my Mum. I just hope she doesn't tell the Periodic Englishman (aged 72).

"Middle aged" infers I'll be dead at 24. Hope not.

Political Umpire said...

That aside, I'm always intrigued as to the guesses I receive on my age. If someone was sufficiently interested (sad) they'd be able to find it out by trawling through my blog and putting the pieces together (or asking me), but it’s far more interesting when they guess from the cankerous ramblings instead. The main inspirations behind the Umpire are Stephen Fry’s character Donald Trefusis, an octogenarian barrister Francis Bennion who used to write a daily blog, and the American comedian Tom Lehrer. I’m nowhere near as talented as any of those chaps, obviously (or I’d be able to do it for a living). But I always liked their dry put-downs of the annoying things in life. And somehow that seems better coming from someone older and (even) more embittered with life than myself. Incidentally, the Englishman guessed very close to the truth, more so than yourself or Lady Baroqueney ...

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Dandelion - I would happily say it in the flesh too. Flirting makes the world go round, after all. I wouldn't say it to a client though. That seems just a bit unprofessional!

Hey, P-umpy - so that's why you seem scary. I feel reassured.

Political Umpire said...

You used to call me Pumpy, I preferred it that way. And I had no idea you shamelessly flirted with everyone, I thought I was special .... (*) - tear stain.

Ms Melancholy said...

Darling Pumpy, you are very special to me. But don't tell Mrs Pumpy, or Mr Melancholy for that matter. Or Ducky. Or the Englishman.

My Marrakech said...

I can't tell you my need for laughter therapy today. So thank you. Maybe I could use a little sex therapy too, but perhaps this is the wrong blog for that...:-)

文章 said...

avdvd,色情遊戲,情色貼圖,女優,偷拍,情色視訊,愛情小說,85cc成人片,成人貼圖站,成人論壇,080聊天室,免費a片,視訊美女,視訊做愛,免費視訊,伊莉討論區,sogo論壇,台灣論壇,plus論壇,維克斯論壇,情色論壇,性感影片,正妹,走光,色遊戲,情色自拍,kk俱樂部,好玩遊戲,免費遊戲,貼圖區,好玩遊戲區,中部人聊天室,情色視訊聊天室,聊天室ut,成人遊戲,免費成人影片,成人光碟,情色遊戲,情色a片,情色網,性愛自拍,美女寫真,亂倫,戀愛ING,免費視訊聊天,視訊聊天,成人短片,美女交友,美女遊戲,18禁,三級片,自拍,後宮電影院,85cc,免費影片,線上遊戲,色情遊戲,日本a片,AV女優

gaohui said...

huhu

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone,

I truly enjoy this website, I'll be back soon!
Tell me what you think about my theories on hypnotherapy.

Hals said...

If you hate going to the gym and confronting people, these integrated exercises will help you get into shape, all in the comforts of your home or garden. Functional fitness workouts are specially beneficial for those of you,
cacaobean bag chair