To the editors.
On just now belatedly reading your article "The Case Against Therapy," written by Timothy Beneke in your 12/2/88 issue, I wanted to comment.
As a former psychiatric nurse whose experience was still in an era ('66-'68) of hushed-voice awe of Freud, and as one who experienced much of Masson's isolation when I voiced frequent reservations about the therapy experience as I observed it, I found much to agree with in the article. My own objections at that time took a slightly different course--it seemed that one pathology was being replaced with another (the frequent "out-of-it" syndrome on admission being replaced with fulminating hatred of whomever was seen as responsible for their illness as the initial symptoms were allayed with pharmaceutical therapies); the ignoring of much research even then available that seemed to point to genetic or biological precipitants; and the disgusting attempts on the part of staff and therapists to fit retroactively one's case history to the diagnosis on the patient history, among other things. But that is peripheral.
I am writing because the hypocrisy of both author and Masson was very distressing, although it was obviously not conscious. And that has to do with the criticism of Jung's remarks on Hitler in 1938. Jung may have been sympathetic to Hitler, although the quote given did indeed seem to be descriptive rather than complimentary--I don't know enough about Jung to assess his overall stand.
But this much is obvious--Hitler in 1938 had less of a track record than the Communists have today, yet both the Reader, in articles too numerous to detail, and Masson, obviously are, in either moral blindness or moral cowardice, sympathetic to an ideological system that has been the primary cause of death in the 20th Century.
(To quote Masson, "Otto Fenichel, one of Freud's leading followers, had been a hero of mine. He was a member of the Communist Party and very aware of social injustice"--a quote that would lead one to believe, if one never read the newspapers, that the Communist Party and its followers are sensitive to social injustice, when quite the opposite is true. The Reader will not be quoted as it would end up being the size of a Sears, Roebuck catalog.)
Righteous indignation, when consistently applied, can serve a useful purpose. When that same moral indignation is applied to someone who not only did not have the benefit of historical hindsight, but also did have considerable amount to gain or lose--unlike both the Reader and Masson, who can be sympathetic to Communist ideology in spite of its record, and without mitigating circumstances of threat of loss--both the Reader and Masson do not come off looking like white knights in that particular area of concern.
The Reader and Masson face no threat of loss, yet choose to defend (or at least remark in a sympathetic tone) an ideology with a worse track record than Hitler's; some day, providing the republic stands, some reporter will scathingly analyze the Reader's sympathies, with the same moral indignation now applied to Hitler's apologists, or more.
And may I remind you that Hitler's party was the National Socialists (NAZI)?
Happy New Year!
Caroline K. Kallas