David Smail

Taking Care

Taking Care
An Alternative to Therapy

Dent, 1987; Constable, 1998.
Published by Robinson, 2001, in the double-volume
Why Therapy Doesn't Work, along with Illusion and Reality.

Psychotherapy cannot be expected (even though it claims) to be able to cure the ills which are inflicted on people as they grow up in a noxious, consumerist culture which is manipulated on every side by commercial interests. The damage done cannot be undone, however much we may wish to believe otherwise. Our experience is acquired like the growth rings on a tree: it cannot be erased, and neither can we magically alter the past by reinterpreting it.

If we are to alleviate human distress, we have no alternative but to consider prevention rather than cure, to take care of people as we do of plants (by careful tending) rather than trying to repair them as we do machines. Personal distress is more a political than a psychological issue.

Chapter headings:-

1 Dreaming and wishing: the individual and society
2 The pursuit of happiness
3 Magic, interest and psychology
4 Faults and reasons
5 Change: the limits of therapy
6 'Relationships'
7 Growing up and taking care
8 Morality and moralism