This is a continuation of previous posts.
I went on sick leave in February 2012 after having been a French teacher for Lakeshore School Division in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, for three and a half years. (For details of my decision to go on sick leave, see A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Eight and A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Nine).
In order to receive at first short-term disability benefits and then long-term disability benefits provided by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), if the issue is not purely physical, it is presumably necessary to be subject to psychiatric evaluation and then psychological “care” (provided the psychiatrist furnishes an assessment, I assume, that justifies not being able to work for an employer). To receive such benefits, the worker must “agree” to both the evaluation and the care.
But what is the Manitoba Teachers’ Society? Its Facebook page indicates the following:
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is the collective bargaining and professional development organization for all of Manitoba’s 15,000 public school teachers.
Founded in 1919, the Society provides assistance to local associations in collective bargaining, offers professional development workshops and lobbies government on legislation that affects education, students and teachers.
As well, MTS provides a range of wellness services including the Disability Benefits Plan and Educator Assistance Program.
It also provides publication services for teacher organizations such as Special Area Groups and publishes the teachers’ newsletter, the annual handbook, annual report and an extensive range of brochures and other handbooks
MTS is thus not a union as such, but it is more like a union of unions; it provides services to specific teachers’ associaitons and, through them, to the members of the specific teachers’ association.
Under the terms of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society Disability Benefits Plan, I had to be under the “care” of a psychologist; in Winnipeg (where I lived at the time), I was under the “care” of Alan Slusky, a clinical psychologist. In my last post, I quoted one of Mr. Alan Slusky’s summaries of his psychological assessment (see A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Ten) and indicated how I felt oppressed by his “care.”
In part to escape Mr. Slusky’s oppressive “care,” I moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the end of August, 2013. I was still subject to control by a psychologist, this time by Silvina Galperin. Of course, I had little choice over whether I was to receive “therapy” or not.
From One Oppressive Situation to Another Oppressive Situation
Ms. Galperin, like Alan Slusky and Degen Gene (another psychologist whom I did voluntarily see while I was still working as a teacher under the Employee Assistance Plan of MTS due to the great level of oppression to which I was subject–see A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Eight) also used “cognitive behavioural therapy” (CBT, or mindfulness) to try to “cure” me of my oppositional ways. It did not work.
I quote Ms. Galperin’s initial assessment below:
October 8th, 2014
Mr. Harris attended 5 sessions of psychotherapy with this writer. His first session was on August 29, 2014 and his last session was on September 29, 2014. He attended all the schedules sessions.
On mental status exam, Mr. Harris is a 57 year-old man of slight build appearing younger than his stated age. He wore loose clothes. His facial expression was sad and his posture slouched. He appeared tired. He made infrequent eye contact with this therapist and kept his eyes half closed. His attitude was open and cooperative with the interviewer but showed an oppositional approach towards society in general. Speech was slow and volume low, at times difficult to understand due to blurred speech. Orientation for person, place and time was unremarkable. He presented as moderately depressed. There was no indication of suicidal intent.
Mr. Harris reported feelings of disappointment, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, irritability, frustration even over small matters, sleep disturbances, tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks seemed to demand a big effort for him. He explained that he requires resting and taking naps during the day due to lack of energy. He also explained that he suffers from anxiety and takes medication for a heart-related condition. Physical symptoms of anxiety included wobbliness in legs, heart racing, feelings of choking, difficulty breathing, abdominal discomfort and numbness or tingling.
Mr. Harris had a very difficult childhood. His father was alcoholic and his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and intermittently living in and out of psychiatric hospitals for several years. Mr. Harris witnessed at the age of 5 years old, men taking his mother out of their home in a straightjacket, which was very traumatic. He lives with his father, who was violent and disciplined him and his brother physically and using the belt.
He reported that he worried about our society functioning and believes that all the employers exploit their employees. The client presented an emotional state of frustration and discontent, fixating on situations where he became involved with the legal system, the RCMP, his ex-wife, the Children Aid Society, and health-care professionals with whom he got involved. He feels that all these people betrayed him and therefore cannot trust in this system. Mr. Harris argued that he is a fervent Marxist and that for him Marxism is the only acceptable societal structure for humanity.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5) Mr. Harris meets the diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder and Other Specified Anxiety Disorder.
Mr. Harris does not believe in the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy model. He explained that his years in university studying philosophy shaped him to question every theoretical concept. He wrote several pages challenging numerous parts of the book Feeling Good by David Burns, a widely accepted volume used by psychologists. He used a philosophical method to question each concept.
Goals for treatment included teaching Mr. Harris techniques to cope with his depression, anxiety and to challenge his generalized mistrustful beliefs about people. As the client manifested that he does not agree with the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy theory, the initial approach has been to allow the client to talk about his past difficulties, his current situation and to offer strategies to deal with specific concerns. Mr. Harris reported that talking about his difficulties with this therapist helped him to process his angst and sorrows.
Dr. Silvina Galperin, C. Psych.
I engaged in criticism of the psychological approach by sending her some of my articles and, by coincidence, writing something that is relevant to the Covid pandemic:
Since you indicated that the article was too long, I am sending a shorter article—it is almost finished. It is part of my volunteering.
I have also rethought the issue of the report. I would like a copy of the report via email as soon as possible.
Since the issue of compassion came up, I thought that the issue of the ebola crisis would be relevant. According to the Saturday Toronto Star, the WHO reacted too slowly to the crisis because of budget cuts. Such budget cuts are endemic to the neoliberal onslaught. How many people have died needlessly because of such cuts? Where is the compassion of the ruling class and the politicians? Where is the compassion of those who talk about compassion but are blind about the need to struggle if compassion is to be really realized in this world?
Time to put Ebola into perspective (page WD3):
“But lost in the debate is something central to the future. According to many experts, the Ebola outbreak has been an entirely ‘avoidable’ crisis that can largely be traced to the impact of budget cuts. It was made possible by a series of brutal [interesting adjective] reductions—supported by the world’s industrialized [re: industrialized capitalist] countries], including Canada—to the UN’s main health organization, effectively preventing it from responding to the outbreak earlier. In addition, several countries (including Canada) cut budgets to national health institutes, which have delayed research for a vaccine.”
Typical of psychologists is how they try to reduce the concerns of individuals to purely “individual” issues. My experiences as a father are simply an extension of the common experiences of many people throughout the world.
Dewey, by the way, originally published a work on psychology (1887), when philosophy and psychology were very close. He branched out into educational philosophy (mathematical education, 1895; Dewey School, 1896-1904, How We Think (1910), Democracy and Education (1916)), logic (a work in 1903 and his magnum opus Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938), ethics (1908 and revised 1932), naturalistic metaphysics (Experience and Nature, 1925), politics (Public and its Problems: An Essay in Political Inquiry (1927), art and aesthetics (Art as Experience, epistemology and linguistics (The Knowing and the Known (1949). Compared to what I have observed about the capacities, judgements and ethics of psychiatrists and psychologists, Dewey, despite his ultimately reformist position, stands far above them, theoretically and practically.
Ms. Galperin talked about compassion and forgiveness in one of the sessions. Here is my response:
Attached is the finished article from the draft.
With respect to compassion and forgiveness. Some facts (from Robert Albritton’s Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity):
1. Every 30 minutes there are 360 pre-school children will die of starvation and malnutrition–about 6 million pre-school children a year.
2. The news media are generally silent about this [as are most intellectuals and other professionals].
3. What the media does report is how rising food prices are good for business in general and investment in particular.
I fail to see where the compassion exists in ignoring such statistics. The term “compassion” is, to the contrary, often used to cloak such facts. I also fail to see where “forgiveness” comes into play. To forgive such needless deaths is to be complacent about the conditions that persistently lead to such deaths.
Or again, another email:
Attached is something that I sent my 20-year old daughter some time ago. It pertains to the distribution of land in the department (equivalent to a province administratively) where Francesca studied Spanish (Antigua is the city where she studied).
The issue is: why is the distribution of land so skewed? Where is the “compassion” of people? Of the ruling class? Where is their “forgiveness”? How many people suffer because of such distribution? How many die?
Ms. Galperin had no answers to my questions–her training had prevented her from dealing with such facts. Her CBT or “mindfulness” approach itself could not deal with such human experiences.
This “care” that could not deal at all with the actual oppressive experiences of the majority of people in this world–is it not just another form of oppression under the guise of “care?”
What do you think?