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March 02, 2024

BAD THERAPY: Why the Kids Aren't Growing Up

press dept ed.jpg

No matter how profoundly they've failed, their response is always:

"Give us more money. Give us more power. Let us do more."

Abigail Shrier

How Bad Therapy Hijacked Our Nation's Schools - Free Press

* * * * *

If you want to climb a mountain, don't go two steps and ask, 'How do I feel?'

Nearly all public schools offer some type of counseling, mental health or "wellness" lessons, writes Abigail Shrier in Free Press. But kids are more troubled than ever. Often, these interventions "target the healthy, inadvertently exacerbating kids' worry, sadness and feelings of incapacity."

In her new book, Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren't Growing Up, Shrier complains that social-emotional learning has gone far beyond teaching students how to disagree respectfully or "get a grip." It's become "a curricular juggernaut that devours billions in education spending each year."

Teachers are encouraged to start the school day with an "emotions check-in." At a conference for California teachers, counselor Natalie Sedano shared her check-in: "How are you feeling today? Are you daisy-bright, happy and friendly? Or am I a ladybug? Will I fly away if we get too close?"

What could possibly go wrong? Maybe something like this?

A Salt Lake City mother told her about an "emotions check-in" for fifth graders in which the teacher asked: What "is making you really sad right now?"
. . . one boy began mumbling about his father's new girlfriend. Then things fell apart. "All of a sudden, he just started bawling. And he was like, 'I think that my dad hates me. And he yells at me all the time,' " said Laura, a mom of one of the other students.

Another girl announced that her parents had divorced and burst into tears. Another said she was worried about the man her mother was dating. Within minutes, half of the kids were sobbing. It was time for the math lesson, but no one wanted to do it.

See more, plus references, at the link.

* * * * *

When Every Day is a Mental Health Day

Via J.J. Sefton's Morning Report, Feb. 28, Kay S. Hymowitz reviews Abigail Shrier's new book, Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren't Growing Up

Abigail Shrier's first book, 2020's Irreversible Damage, launched the mother of all cancel campaigns. Because the book attributed the sudden and inexplicable rise in juvenile gender anxiety to social contagion rather than the activist-approved explanation of social progress, Shrier, an occasional contributor to City Journal, was branded a "transphobe." Amazon employees demanded the company remove the book from its virtual shelves. Unlike the suits at Target, who briefly did exactly that, Amazon stopped short of cancelling the book and settled for banning any paid advertising. Despite growing questions about juvenile transgender treatment, including among practitioners, many libraries continue to treat Irreversible Damage as radioactive. Only last month, a Japanese publisher reneged on plans to publish the book, proving that, whether or not transgenderism is contagious, the urge to cancel those out of line with approved ideas unquestionably is.

Shrier's new book Bad Therapy, an astute and impassioned analysis of the mental-health crisis now afflicting adolescents, may cause a similar emotional meltdown in some corners of American culture. Shrier's target is more expansive than it was in Irreversible Damage; she aims her fire at the therapeutic mindset that pervades not just the offices of psychologists and counsellors, but elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, best-seller lists, middle-class homes, and government agencies. It's a pernicious development because a therapeutic mindset easily paralyzes kids' natural defenses and resilience, hence the crisis we confront today. Assuming a Bad Therapy backlash comes, it is unlikely to be as heated as it was in the case of Irreversible Damage -- therapists, who have the most to lose if Shrier's analysis were to win out, are a more sedate crowd than trans activists -- but one hopes that for the sake of the rising generation, any pushback won't prevent people from heeding the warnings of this important book.

Shrier's general thesis is that Gen Z's distress is iatrogenic in origin. That is, it is caused in large part by the treatment -- in this case, bad therapy -- meant to cure it. . .

I'm not sure that the academic set and the federal bureaucracy supporting it are easy opponents. They may not be pushing the end of all that is "normal" like proponents of Queer Theory, but the left is the left. They already have a history of pushing the more traditional psychologists (say, those who do not support pathologizing maleness) out of universities.

Shrier's chapters on the schools' contribution to this era of bad therapy make the most compelling case for iatrogenesis. Schools are now wedded to Social and Emotional Learning, one of the latest of the recurring fads that regularly excite American educators. SEL has the effect of promoting "unceasing attention to feelings" and nourishes hyper vigilance and, she argues, anxiety. Teachers schedule "mindfulness minutes" (to bring attention back to the present moment) and "emotion check ins" (how are we feeling today?) Though untrained and without any thought-out theory of the juvenile mind, teachers encourage kids to share thoughts making them sad or angry -- their parents' divorce, a fight with a father -- in front of other kids. Woe to the shy or introverted child: educators seem intent on subjecting their students to the stares and gossip of their classmates, though they may be effectively preparing them for the TMI spirit of social media.

Moreover, as in the case of the nurse with the child-suicide inventory, SEL-inspired professionals are quick to insert themselves between parents and children. In a number of states, laws allow 13-year-olds to go to a counsellor without notifying their parents. In a number of school districts, a similarly misguided deference for juvenile privacy applies to kids who ask teachers to change their pronouns and names in an effort to change their sex with no parental input. "Social-emotional learning," Shrier quips, "turns out to be a lot like the Holy Roman Empire, neither social, nor good for emotional health, nor something that can be learned."

When fragility is adults' default assumption about children, when trauma is assumed to be omnipresent -- Atlantic writer Derek Thompson notes that the TikTok hashtag #Trauma has more than 6 billion views -- it has a pernicious effect on children's perceptions. It frames their expectations and understanding of their experience, denying them opportunities to learn how to exercise their natural resilience. By the time they are in high school, they are walking psychiatric manuals, casually reciting all their friends' maladies. . .


* * * * *

Getting out in front of censorship of Shrier's new book

Her message is hopeful. This is one thing we can change!

Gemini cannot decide who affected civilization more negatively, Abigail Shrier or Mao.


American kids are the freest, most privileged kids in all of history. They are also the most anxious, depressed, and medicated generation on record.

What's going on?

Bari Weiss (podcast included)


In California, if you take your son to the doctor for a stomachache, a large man with a clipboard comes in and asks you to leave.

When you exit the room, the large man starts asking your son whether he ever considered whether his family would be better off if he were dead.

Richard Hanania


It's called The Joe Rogan Experience for a reason. There's nothing like it.

Thank you, @joerogan, for this incredible opportunity.

Abigail Shrier


Elon Musk checks in.

Put "Never Went to Therapy" on my gravestone



Long interview with Coleman Hughes

* * * * *

Music and Dance

Dancing can be pretty good therapy sometimes.

Does this look like West Coast Swing to you?

* * * * *

Hope you have something nice planned for this weekend.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

* * * * *

Last week's thread, February 24, Why all good Americans must be afraid of "Christian Nationalists"

Comments are closed so you won't ban yourself by trying to comment on a week-old thread. But don't try it anyway.

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posted by K.T. at 11:04 AM

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