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From Animal Farm to Brave New World

December 10, 2007

A great letter to Therapy Today from Janet Low on the issues associated with blind adoption of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the UK which was the subject my earlier post Animal Farm. For those not on up on the plot we are seeing an attempt to create a single approach to therapy which focuses on solving problems by making people happy rather than by understanding what the problem is in the first place. The arguments seem to be ideological and economic rather than based in any real professional discourse. It is even more worrying with the use of computers to replace therapists, and linked initiatives to teach people to set up happiness lessons in school. This is Big Brother magnified, a Brave New World (to mix my literary metaphors) in which contentment is instituted by Government fiat to remove problems by creating a compliant population.

I find the main prophet of this new cult of happiness really scary. He is Professor Emeritus the Lord Layard who previously took the position that the main purpose of schools should be to teach children ‘the secrets of happiness’ and is now the driver behind the Government happiness centers in therapy. Now I am happy (sic) that children should be happy, but happiness comes through engaging teachers, good education etc. etc. That is to say happiness is a symptom of a good education system not a means to create one when you have otherwise failed.

I am also reminded on the new Nichole Kidman film I saw on the flight from Sydney to Singapore. The film is an old plot badly remade (rather like happiness therapy) in which alien spores take over humans and make them happy thus ensuring world peace. I get the impression that the good Lord may secretly approve, or possibly is an alien life form. In which case would someone please, and quickly find the antidote before we are anesthetised by platitudes, poor science and a poverty of theory, let along practice

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