Untimely Observations

The Friendship Racket


One of the saddest things I've ever read is an article from the Hoover Institute charting the rise of the therapy industry. In the first paragraph, it is pointed out that there are over a million people involved in this industry in America today. One hundred years ago, when Americans still had to contend with things like dying of typhus and Indian raids, there were none. Double digit numbers of Americans need mind-altering drugs to get through life. All my great grandparents had were whiskey and cigarettes.

I have often wondered at people who go to therapists (and as a resident of the Bad Area, I encounter many). Don't they have friends? This article is one of the first ones I've read by a serious thinker to make the same connection. A therapist is someone who fakes like they are your friend for money; a sort of emotional prostitute. How socially atomized have we become that 1/300 people in our nation are professional emotional prostitutes?

Perhaps I do the profession a disservice; perhaps this profession provides some superior mental technology not available through the old-fashioned resorts to friendship and character. I have yet to see a convincing example of it, if so. Entire nations seem to get on without it. A friend of mine once pointed out, when contemplating the weak ninnies who populate the West Coast: a substantial portion of these people's ancestors took a wagon train across America and fought off savage attacks by natives. Yet a good fraction of these people feel a need to engage in pathetic "rent a friend" behavior. As such, one can only look upon the "caring industry" as a sign of extreme cultural decadence.

The article touches on several important points. For one thing, it is rarely commented upon that people are a lot less happy than they used to be. No conservative can emphasize this fact enough: we used to be a happy people, and we no longer are. Even today, conservatives tend to be happier; this seems to me the ultimate utilitarian argument against  "progressive" insanity. Tradition is there because it works. The scale and pervasiveness of therapeutic thinking is also rarely commented upon. While there are many large professions which did not exist 100 years ago, there are no other large professions which touch upon the human soul. The fact that the therapeutic complex is the enemy of the family, nationalism and traditional social institutions is also not emphasized enough, nor the idea that this social atomization was engineered. It is also not often noted that political correctness and speech codes have their roots in the therapy industry.

The age of caring is a more skeptical age, but also a more tolerant one, expressing a distrust of authority and an antipathy to old enthusiasms that wavers between laughter and disgust. It would be wrong to say that people today deny the world; they simply prefer to ignore it, presenting a blank wall of indifference to how people live and what they believe. They prefer meeting their psychological needs through a therapy session rather than through a community of blood brothers.