A Daily Arm Wrestle

Monday, October 18, 2010

Over at Spiked is an interesting look at a daily struggle between the trapped Chilean miners and the patronizing team of psychologists in charge of helping them through their ordeal.

One of the medical experts at San Jose -- part of a team of 300 people that oversaw the men's health and needs -- said there was a "daily arm wrestle" between the miners and the psychology team. That isn't surprising. The mental-health experts overground used a system of "prizes and punishments" to try to control the men's behaviour -- for their own good, of course. So when the men assented to hour-long phone calls with the mental-health team, as they did when they were first found to be alive 17 days after getting trapped, they were rewarded with prizes such as access to TV shows. But when they refused to talk to the psychologists, as they started to do in mid-September when their health and body weight were improving as a result of sent-down food and they insisted that "we are well," the psychology team would deprive them of luxuries. As one on-site doctor put it: "We have to say, 'OK, you don't want to speak with psychologists? Perfect. That day you get no TV, there is no music -- because we administer these things.'" [minor format edits]
The article comes across as more dismissive than critical of psychology, but it is worth a read.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...


I think that this is the microcosm of what Cass Sunstein would like to impose upon the nation at large with his notion of "Nudge."

The Obama team would like to reduce us to the same level of helplessness so that they can assume the parental role and discipline us into being better people by their standard. Which is subservience, most particularly to the nanny state.

Note here that the fact that the miners, with physical support from the outside, dealt with their spiritual issues on their own accord. And when they rejected the busybody psych types as being counterproductive to their own well being, the psych types threw a tantrum. "Well, then, you're not getting music today, buster. Go to your ROOM!" One almost expects them to break out into "Because I'm your mother and I said so!"

That these psych types aren't universally held in contempt is evidence of the tolerance western society has for credentialed idiots. Including putting them into Executive Orbit. The aforementioned Mr. Sunstein being only one example in the Obama crew.

C. Andrew

I think it would have been an interesting role reversal to have sent the pysch types down into the mine after the rescue and let the families of the miners "nudge" them in the same fashion for the same time period. Likewise, I think that it would be instructive to strip congress of their ill gotten gains; pensions, campaign war chests, fruits of corruption, and require them to live under the regulations and at the same economic levels that their strictures have imposed on the citizenry. But I always did have an attitude problem vis a vis bullies with power.

Gus Van Horn said...



Interestingly, a friend sent me a link the other day to a blog post which, although it suffers from the same unprincipled conservative approach as this article, comes tantalizingly close to identifying a common personality trait in our culture, which these psychologists and people like Obama and Sunstein share:

"I think it's hard on them to be told that they don't have a say. And I'm not justifying any thing to them."

The blogger comes across as a subjectivist, which would be wrong, of course, but he is right on the money about such little dictators.

If Obama is as small a man as I think he is and the Republicans clean up in November, things will get quite interesting. That's concern, rather than gloating.

kelleyn said...

Until I read this, I didn't realize that trauma mongering was being used against big, burly men too. I thought I thought was mostly for use against women, because all of us have been molested as children, you know. Silly me. I should have known that these mind lampreys will attach to any living thing that they can get a hold of.

Gus Van Horn said...

Oh, they are! I even have some first-hand experience (scroll down to "reminds") with that sort of thing. To the extent that the left infests psychotherapy, it's open season on anyone with ashred of self-esteem.

kelleyn said...

You know, I have recently become aware of the type of scenario that you discussed at that link, and of the irrationality and injustice toward men. I hadn't seen it as part of the bigger picture until now. The stereotype is that men (and parents, employers, etc) are bullies and women (and children, employees, etc) are victims. But when I look at it objectively, I remember that I and other women have endured inappropriate bullying interventions just as often as we have endured inappropriate rescue attempts, and analogously for men.

The truth is that those artificial roles are two sides of the same coin, and anyone can fall into and/or appropriate either or both of them on any flimsy pretense. The insight that it is all an attack on self-esteem makes that clear, and bearing in mind the attackers' moral premises is indeed the answer. Thanks.

Gus Van Horn said...

You're welcome. I'm glad you found this helpful.

"The truth is that those artificial roles are two sides of the same coin, and anyone can fall into and/or appropriate either or both of them on any flimsy pretense."

And that's a good insight, too. Too many men and conservatives focus too much on the more common side of that coin to see that bigger picture.