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Page Contents: Is a psychotherapist’s job to care for a client?                    


How can people whos [ sic ] jobs are to care be such a [ expletive ]? Stop being an [ expletive ]; your [ sic ] a dumb [ expletive ] head.


I don’t get much hate mail, but the little I do get comes from persons whose orientation to life stands upon a seething mass of unconscious hostility and anger and who object when, in my own political incorrectness, I dare to say so. And why are you so consumed with anger and hostility?

Well, your bitterness derives from the fact that your parents didn’t really love you—that is, they didn’t care for you as a child needs to be cared for with real love. Instead your parents manipulated you emotionally and treated you like an object, leaving you emotionally crippled, with a fear of love. Wanting a psychotherapist to care for you is just a way to avoid admitting the truth that your parents did not care for you.


Have you ever heard the term cognitive dissonance? In music, dissonance refers to tones that do not harmonize with each other; in psychology, cognitive dissonance refers to perceptions or beliefs that do not harmonize logically with each other.

Consider what happens to many children during childhood. To establish the trust for their parents that allows for basic survival, children have a natural belief that says, “My parents love me.” But then many children experience a parent doing things that cause emotional or physical harm to them. Thus the children experience dissonance between the belief that says, “My parents love me.” and the perception that says, “My parents do not love me.” To resolve this dissonance, many children take up a new belief that seems to make sense of the perception that parents “who are supposed to love me are hurting me”—thus the children tell themselves, “I don’t deserve to be treated with love.”

In essence, without being able to express the truth that their parents are psychologically dysfunctional, children take the blame on themselves, believing that they are contemptible failures and don’t deserve love.

Sadly, the problem compounds itself, because unconsciously any child knows the truth—“My parents really do not love me”—and yet fears to admit it. Thus unconscious anger at the parents builds up but, because it cannot be expressed, it gets directed at the world around the child, and the child ends up pointing at everyone else saying, “You don’t care about me!”


And this leads right into the authentic value of your “question.”

Is a psychotherapist’s job really to “care”?

Well, in the technical sense, no. A psychotherapist’s job does not involve being a nanny, a friend, or confidant; it does not involve making you feel good about yourself; and it does not involve supporting you in pointing blame at someone or something else, either personally or politically. The psychotherapist’s job should be nothing more than helping you recognize the structure of your unconscious motivation so as to confront your pain honestly—and change your behavior in the process.

Is a psychotherapist just a “paid friend” 
or an “emotional prostitute”?

To do the job well, though, the psychotherapist must be willing and able to probe into all the dark and unpleasant areas of your psyche that you, in shame and guilt, would prefer to keep hidden.

Moreover, here is where it gets sticky, because many psychotherapists are themselves caught up in the very social illusions that secretly conspire to deny the nature of the psyche’s dark, and often unpleasant, reality. So how can such persons—these bad “therapists” I often mention in these pages—have any deep healing influence? Well, in many cases, they can’t. And so, it comes to this: only those who care enough about their job to cultivate, through rigorous scrutiny, their own self-honesty will, in the end, be able to show that they really care about you. It’s a genuine caring, and it cares nothing for political correctness.


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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
San Francisco




A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



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