reaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good


Following is a part of the judgment of an appellate court, of a case of a psychologist breaching patient confidentiality.  What this decision was all about, was determining to what degree a plaintiff in such a case must prove an emotional “impact.”  After all, as this says at the end, if  people don’t have a lot of responsibility to prove something that subjective, plenty of whiners could file frivolous lawsuits.

The psychologist, Eaker, broke the confidences of both members of a married couple that came to him for marital counseling, telling both of them the secrets of the other. He figured that to keep the marriage together would mean that the couple would be living a lie.  What results from both that, and the feelings of helplessness and betrayal that would naturally result from the therapist breaking their confidences, was far more than just hurt feelings.  Yet the advent of self-help psychology occurred with the advent of Reaganomics, and both of these would say:

There’s the old way of resolving disputes in which one person suffered the effects of what another did, and the new way.

The old way could be called “victimology,” getting what one wants through proving that he himself is a victim.  Assertively standing up for one’s own rights, should seem good.  Yet psychologists are likely told to operate in the new way, the way that would make their clients more stolid, and, therefore, more likely to succeed.  Assertively standing up for one’s own rights would seem bad, since anything that one might say would reflect his own SELF-WILL in a whiny fashion, and wouldn’t be as self-efficacious as would physically changing one’s own problems.

The new way could be called “self-help,” getting what one wants through physically taking response-ability for one’s own welfare, one’s own problems.

The new way hates moralism, since it’s subjective at best, manipulative and restrictive at worst.

Sure, The entire unredacted Serenity Prayer as originally written by Reinhold Niebuhr, says, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen,” and it should be obvious from even the famous first sentence that no matter what your problem is then you’ll simply have to deal with it, but the new way says that that’s what dealing with reality, means.



If the way in which you’re leading your life could be called counterproductive, yet that’s what feels right to you, then your psychologist blindsiding you to stop this would benefit you.  ♥♥♥♥♥

As Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind says, the American culture has taken to German ideas about the ineradicability of aggression and other destructive impulses from the id, without also including the German awareness of what the consequences of this are.  “Freud was very dubious about the future of civilization and the role of reason in the life of man....  [Max Weber’s] science is was formulated as a doubtful dare against the chaos of things, and values certainly lay beyond its limits.”  This would give a good idea of who modern psychological thought is reluctant to hold accountable.  The Serenity Prayer would give a good idea of who modern psychological thought is very ready to hold accountable.  In order for a problem to be resolved, someone would have to be held accountable.  It’s all too easy to define “reason” as the realism that says that as long as someone does solve the problems that result from the ineradicable aggression, civilization would keep functioning.

The new way says that even when obviously unethical behavior disrupts your life in ways that would obviously result from this behavior, those defending it could still hold that it wouldn’t have disrupted your life if, as Schopenhauer put it, you had represented your own experiences to yourself as being fairly innocuous, then you wouldn’t feel and act so unconfident.

Such psychologists are very likely to break the rules in ways that don’t benefit themselves at all, and are supposed to benefit the clients.  It would seem that only manipulative or restrictive moralists would these psychologists should have followed the rules instead of encouraging independence.  As any self-help book would tell you, you’d be ridiculous if you cared more about what certain rules say, than about the sacred freedoms and self-reliant principles that these rules would interfere with.

Sure, the courts that deal with lawsuits operate in the old way, where if the more unserene is the victim of the kinds of sinfulness for which one could sue, the more money he could get.  Such lawsuits would be all about a mollycoddle “victim-power,” which post-Reagan trends hate.  This fits right in with the stereotype of civil plaintiffs’ lawyers being get-rich-quick exploiters.  The more that people suing psychologists for emotional distress, could prove that they’re distressed, the more that it could seem that the mollycoddle logic of civil courts is rewarding them for acting like victims.  In civil court, objectively proving “But you owe me!” is the whole idea, whereas to a Newthinking psychologist, objectively proving “But you owe me!” would seem manipulative, controlling.  Anyone who sues a psychologist could seem to fit the dangerous pattern of an untermensch, trying to get rich by playing the victim and having someone else marked as a victimizer, though the supposed untermensch could be labeled as psychologically impaired, probably in a way that could imply weak character.  Since Eaker’s problem, the lawsuit, resulted from guv’mint power and victims’ victim-power, that couldn’t be labeled and minimized as “just one of life’s inherent imperfections, which we all must accept.”  Psychologists who lose lawsuits are forced to reward their former clients for acting like their victims and accusers, the ultimate sacrilege against victim-correcting spirituality.  With lawsuits against psychologists, those who play the victim role aren’t just parasites, but predators.  The psychologist couldn’t learn from experience from this, since that would mean agreeing with those supposedly mercenary whiners who damaged his record, that their whining and victim-power that they were using at his expense.

We hear a lot about how besieged medical doctors are by malpractice lawsuits.  At least these medical doctors would have never have had to figure that for their patients’ own good, the doctors would have to do something that would look immoral to most people, including jurors when the doctors would get sued.  The Wagnerian mentality behind a lot of psychology (but no medicine or law), would say that sometimes we MUST go against moralistic repression.  When a psychologist stands up for gutsy human nature against repression and/or victim-posturing, the heroes and victims could look like villains, and the villains look like heroes or victims, but courts of law, juries, etc., wouldn’t take to this sort of “logic.”  As you could see in Robin Norwood’s self-help books, self-righteousness seems bad, especially when its aim is to sue, getting money from the supposed free spirits that this passes judgment on.  One big reason for lawsuits involving the violation of people’s boundaries is a sense of validation, but many psychologists could hold that to validate people’s sense of victimhood, and that it entitles them to something, would only hurt them in the long run.  The fact that this lawsuit meant that the guv’mint made Eaker marked for life, which is far worse than anything he could have done to a client, could seem to prove Nietzschian notions about weak and moral people being more dangerous than strong and amoral people.  Eaker may have been one of those who prided himself on going against the grain and/or conventional morality, but when sued, conformists and conventional morality would be what would be judging him.  Such self-motivated and unconditional conceptions of personal responsibility are

Sure, this might sound like just a rationale that all psychologists sued for malpractice would naturally want to use since this rationale would let them evade responsibility, unless they’d intended to exploit the clients.  Eaker would no doubt hold that he lived up to the standard of care expected of psychologists, since the only reason why he broke these clients’ confidences is that he cared about what would do them good in the long run.  A professional and scientific standard of care implies seeing all the material distinctions of a given situation, yet when one looks at conflicts through Wagnerian eyes, the only distinctions that would seem to matter is what one does or doesn’t have the power to change.  Yet this is very much along the same lines of what psychologists would try to get their clients to believe in and feel good about.  After all, if they all chose to think in a stolid and Stoic fashion, they could cope with a lot more than if they didn’t.  Psychologists who strive for this sort of gutsy self-reliant pragmatism are likely to do the sort of morally bankrupt things that would likely get them sued, but those who sue could then be treated as untermensch wussies.  Hitler saw Jews in general as manipulative “parasites,” so he clearly was extremely obsessed with the idea of fighting manipulative parasites.  This is all very systematic.  As the Philadelphia Grand Jury report on their Archdiocese’s enabling of pedo-priests put it,

This fits the usual pattern as the unquestionable moral bankruptcy that one sees in self-help psychology, as in:


 he Tragedy of Victim Correction as a Panacea~




As the above says, this is Al-Anon approved literature, for Alateen.  You couldn’t make this stuff up!  Persuading people to think like this works best with Groupthink, but if you, on your own, must deal with a devastating reality in order to fit in and function, then you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and our self-responsible cultural norms (“Everybody knows that The Serenity Prayer is good.”) would provide the Groupthink.  As Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop?, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, says, in a survey of addicts’ family members, “...the words that everyone used were powerfully negative: ‘devastating,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘horrible’.”  Yet no concerns that would interfere with the victims’ self-responsibility could matter, since in the long run, caring about them would only mollycoddle and weaken the people who’d have to take care of themselves optimally.  Victim-blaming is incentives-based.  George Vincent wrote, “To survive growing up in an alcoholic family is second only to surviving the Holocaust,” but the big difference is that despite the fears that addicts’ kids feel, they aren’t really in mortal danger, so Buddhists, etc., could say that these fears are only illusions.  Victim correction as a panacea could be called chicken soup for the soul, unconditional serenity and courage.  If that’s stooping to the lowest of the low, then sometimes we’ve got to stoop to the lowest of the low in order to make sure that problems get solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them.  Moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism; “Your righteous objections are only your opinion!” becomes, “Your righteous objections are only your self-righteous, resentful, manipulative, controlling, unpragmatic, whiny, judgmental... opinion, and you simply can’t afford those disgraceful victim attitudes!”

Yet though it might seem only natural to want to feel better by practicing Buddhistic self-discipline and self-re-education, and this doesn’t involve any medication, this is hardly natural.  In the words of Ayn Rand, “We the Living” could very much object to this sort of de rigueur coping with helplessness, Stoically!  Yet though a Marxist mentality of, “Love your brother,” is supposed to degrade the natural human spirit, a requisite mentality of, “As long as it’s your problem, ‘self-responsibility’ means courageously changing whatever you can and serenely accepting whatever you can’t,” mustn’t, or you might have problems coping with reality.  (Everybody loves The Serenity Prayer, right?)  In general, we do revere self-responsibility for one’s own welfare, and don’t revere self-responsibility for how one’s own choices affect others.  Victim-power seems to be the tyranny of helplessness, though, “But look at how helpless I am about what I did!” is the ultimate tyranny of helplessness.

In general, this sort of self-help is cognitive therapy, the modern version of behaviorist psychology, so this can be given the title of behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s classic book, Beyond Freedom & Dignity, pragmatic in such a way that’s far more important than such abstract niceties.  This represents what is good, what most motivates people to do what must get done, which is what those who have the problems should want.  If, instead, the advisee insisted on drawing his own honest well-founded conclusions about what was happening to him, he’d be told that he’d better realize how important it is that he think in whatever ways would maximize his chances of self-reliant success in solving such big problems.  What else could Alateen members, etc., be told, “Go right ahead and fail to deal with your problems adequately.”?

This self-help logic could be used interchangeably for all sorts of problems, including exploitative lovers of every variety, unemployment, and literally even cancer and getting up the mettle to fight it.  Responsibility for one’s own choices means blame, naiveté, and controlling (As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, “The power necessary to control the wicked is the danger, not the wicked,” and chances are that most of what contributes to our very unnaturally high rate of depression, isn’t even truly malicious.), while response-ability for one’s own problems means self-reliance, realism, and freedom.  Claiming, “You caused your own problem,” makes Victim Correction as a Panacea sound the most justifiable, while, “You’ve simply got to take response-ability for your own welfare, your own problem,” is the fallback position, since all problems must get taken care of.  The self-help formula for conflict resolution is for general public consumption, and it works.  If such sophistry weren’t so predictable and absolutist, just think of how often people could: lose faith, play the victim role, not do what needs to get done (by those most motivated to do it), etc.  Like Sarah Palin, this has both the appeal of going rogue, and the appeal of conformity.  America’s latest, most trendy, patriotic song begins, “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.  And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.”

In theory this means self-responsibility, self-reliance, gutsiness, anti-controlling, good coping skills, realism, conventionality, respectability, etc., but in practice this means that nothing except, “Can I change this?” including the most basic morality and concern for the weak, can really seem to matter.  Sure, you could recognize that destructive sinfulness is destructive sinfulness, but in the end you’d have to forgive it, or you’d be maladjusted and suffer the consequences of this weakness.  (“YOU VILL ENJOY!”)  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” (Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes Buchman in its list of currently trendy “Messiahs.”) said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  This was the same Himmler who said, in his speech on October 4, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, “Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand.  To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions caused by human weakness—to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard,” but that personal strength concerned one of the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like.  It’s pretty obvious what the “Dear Abby” version of that would advise those in trouble, who are members of an honored group of people who are working on their own resolute and impassively accepting attitudes.  Anything less than, “Happiness is an inside job,” (in general), or, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” (in general), would have been too weak-spirited and blaming for Himmler, so he was their perfect “Dear Abby.”  The only suggestions that Himmler would have made in a Dear Abby letter, including one to an addict’s family member, would have been, (1) courageously change what you can, and, (2) serenely accept what you can’t, since anything else would have mollycoddled WEAKNESS.

Himmler Logic, after all, would focus on whether the person with the problem seems to have a weak (as in literally WEAK) character, and would be quick to interpret inadequacies in problem-solving as weaknesses of character, so the weak seem contemptible, blameworthy, and, possibly, insidiously dangerous.  This self-responsible self-help approach is also like the “exemplary dualism” of the Militia Movement, like classifying people as redbloods or mollycoddles, or as übermenschen or untermenschen; this preaches that those who seem to have (literally) strong characters are the allies of decent people so are at least forgiven, and those who seem to have (literally) weak characters are the enemies of decent people.  This leads to some predictable distortions in our conceptions of right, wrong, shame, etc.  Take the Nazi might-makes-right ethos, remove the racism and war crimes, and you’d have what Western culture considers to be the only conception of personal responsibility that works, which is what Hitler’s Wagner’s and Nietzsche’s main inspiration, Schopenhauer, actually wrote about.

This was the original middle-class going rogue with conformity.  As It Can’t Happen Here says, “Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious—than America,” and devotion to anything that would imply, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would require obsequiousness of Biblical proportions.  The question of whether “it” can happen here, all depends on whether or not “it” includes the aspects of Nazism and Himmler that Buchman’s formula for living didn’t include; if not, “it” happens every day.  The “it” in It Can’t Happen Here included merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude racism (“It was understood... that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy at having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe....  The allegiance of all such Negroes as had the sense to be content with safety and good pay instead of ridiculous yearnings for personal integrity Sarason got by being photographed shaking hands with the celebrated Negro Fundamentalist clergyman, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Nibbs, and through the highly publicized Sarason Prizes for the Negroes with the largest families, the fastest time in floor-scrubbing, and the longest periods of work without taking a vacation.”), so the “it” in modern America could include merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude form of the strong horrifying the weak.  A classic cliché expression is, “There is no alternative,” to the power dynamics of our economy, and another way to say this is that there is no alternative besides dictatorship and/or Zimbabwe-style economic failures, so every time that these power dynamics horrify us, we should be grateful that we’re not instead dealing with dictators’ outrages, and/or economic failures including massive unemployment, irrespective of any indefinable abstractions such as integrity.  If you’re in a Wagnerian conflict, and you simply must deal with your realities, then you simply must deal with them as Schopenhauer prescribed.  The psychology of, “You don’t want to think/act like a weak person, do you?” could be called a form of neo-Nazism.





Yet, in a society with rampant depression, one could just as easily call that “pragmatic logic”: the weak courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else), and what one deserves is completely irrelevant.  You can’t change your enemies, except for one.  Yet the limits of the threshold of human endurance are a fact, and if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.

“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is all about what the weak should do, believe, and take responsibility for.  Even sophisticated psychology tends to classify people, aspects of human nature, desires, etc., into categories that are very German, Freudian: übermensch means ineradicable so at least forgivable, while untermensch means true shamefulness, suspiciousness.  (And, of course, treating this moral bankruptcy as necessary for realism seems a lot better than does treating this as admirably open-minded and gutsy.)  These Oxford members no doubt tended to take his ideas about coping skills, to heart, since they wanted self-improvement that would build fiber.  After all, we must accept that if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose.  That self-responsible self-motivation is also how, and why, market discipline works; we must discipline even perfectly innocent failures.  The more that the weakness of the weak is blamed (What exactly is to blame when someone doesn’t protect himself well enough to succeed?): the more that they’d be motivated to take responsibility for taking care of themselves, the more hope that they’d have that they could change what causes their problems (themselves), and the more that we could all have faith in this red-blooded worldview.   Prejudice against the weak means an optimistic and patriotic faith in The System, and focusing on how the weak could hopefully solve their own problems if only they made themselves worthy, changed what they can.   Übermensch imperfection such as sinfulness would have to seem at least forgivable, while untermensch supposed imperfection would have to seem to be an insidious (as in “the hidden lie,” and, “We are all victims of victims.”) expression of weak people’s SELF-WILLS.  Dictator or no dictator, just about all of those in any society must define “personal responsibility” in basically the same predictable way and truly believe it, or different people would play by different rules, and plenty of people wouldn’t take the rules to heart when fortitude would be most necessary.  No doubt plenty of Oxford members who weren’t Himmler’s advisees, could have been just as easily, since they were just as free of whiny resentment; all “good” members followed the same school of psychology.



As far as self-help is concerned, the bottom line is that you’re simply going to have to deal with your own problem whatever it may be, and expectations that one simply deal with normal problems are interchangeable with expectations that one simply deal with an addict in the family.  “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.  As Langdon Gilkey’s On Niebuhr says, “Thus transcendence is perhaps the key word in Niebuhr...”  For anyone in trouble, this would be: self-help, self-responsibility, self-care, self-protection, self-actualization, self-empowerment, etc.  As any conservative social analysis would say, you, that teen who looks like Archie, etc. could think productively, or think counterproductively (though if you’re the problem person, then probably we’ll just have to accept your counterproductive thinking, since people aren’t perfect and we mustn’t try to re-engineer human nature).  The effects of “Archie’s” dad’s actions are short-term (since others are motivated to resolve them), but the effects of Archie’s reactions are long-term (since others aren’t).  Twisting reality in “positive” ways is realistic, since it increases people’s chances of success.  Archie’s non-addicted parent (who’d really have to have a Gelassenheit “productive” attitude, what with all that she must do to make her family as normal as possible), has just as much autonomy as does the typical adult, since addicts’ power over others is physical, not authoritarian.

In general, motivation is everything; irrespective of moral responsibility, addiction or lack of it, etc., the only personal responsibility that we could count on is one in which those held responsible for problems are those motivated to take responsibility.  Charles P. Pierce’s Idiot America, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, says, “The [conservative] movement swallowed whole the quack doctrine of supply-side economics, adopting it with almost comically ferocious zeal,” and self-help, also, must follow this pattern, since in a gutsy and as-uncompromising-as-reality fashion, it holds that no matter how much others are responsible for your problems: if you win you win and if you lose you lose, that’s what’s realistic (what most reliably works), and that stupidity is a virtue in the name of freedom.  (We all know where intellectualism leads.)  Idiot America also says about a Cuban-American refugee who worked with AIDS patients in the early 1980s, “The situation reminded her a little of the way things had worked in Cuba, where the government would tell you something that you knew from your own experience could not possibly be true, yet people seemed willing to believe that it was, and to act upon that belief, until the manufactured reality displaced the actual one [which is also the classic definition of brainwashing, washing the brain of “bad attitudes”].  She felt she was working in parallel worlds.  There was the world of the disease, and of the people who had it; and then there was another world, in which everything was a symbol and in which her patients stood for something,” and one could say the same thing about this sort of self-help, where there’s the world of what people like Archie must actually deal with, and then there’s the world of what they symbolize: our duties regarding the never-ending virtues and necessity of response-ability for one’s own welfare, which shape what we should believe irrespective of what we’ve learned from experience, e.g. that Archie looks at himself.  (Marxism applies how cultural conditioning works, to shaping “the ideal society,” right?)



It’s amazing which moral norms could (i.e. must) seem less important than whether or not the person with the problem is doing what’s necessary for him to overcome it successfully.  That seems good; “whining” seems bad.  What’s most important in practical terms, might go very much against what we’d like to believe is important.  Banalities get things done.  Realism is the ultimate mandate.  This is the sort of Populism that H. G. Wells called “magnificent stupid honesty,” adamantly anti-manipulative-morality, so this sort of supposed populism would adamantly accept what causes 15% of the adult population to suffer serious depressive disorders in any given year.  (This “honesty” often has big unintended consequences, but could seem all-important.)  “Stop doing that, since it’s judgmental and controlling!” would probably make you at least hesitant, but, “Stop doing that, since that sort of thing has been proven to contribute to our very unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders!” would probably seem judgmental and controlling to you.  If this weakness-anathematizing conception of personal responsibility weren’t that absolutist, plenty of problems wouldn’t get resolved well enough, yet the fact that this is that absolutist, is pretty scary.  (Yet, the fact that so many stupid and reckless people got such important jobs on Wall Street, shows that even this very costly way of motivating winning could fail in very important ways, though they could always be excused as “inevitable human imperfection.”)  Sure, on Larry King Live on August 11, 2009, economist Ben Stein said, “Big government is a terrifying subject” (i.e. the kind that you could openly and proudly get terrified about), but you don’t dare say, “Big depression is a terrifying subject,” even if you’ve been there, or, “Big Wall Street greed is a terrifying subject.”  Also, on an interview on a Christian radio network, Stein said, “ leads you to killing people.”  Magical thinking like this could seem more acceptable to economists, since they could always figure that consequences don’t really matter, since those who have the problems are always motivated to solve them; that “works.”  Self-help’s conception of which freedoms, self-determination, personal rights and responsibilities, etc., do, and which don’t, seem to matter, sounds like something right out of The Communist Manifesto (and certainly plenty of others in the 19th Century noticed this, too), “ place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade,” and since someone must take responsibility for the consequences of adversarialism, “self-responsibility” must mean that in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered forms of personal responsibility, we have set up that single, unconscionable personal responsibility—response-ability for one’s own problems.  (A better word than freedom might be right, i.e., “I have a right to expect something better!”  “No, the only right that you have is to become a winner by protecting yourself better, with proud self-reliance!”)





In fact, though we’re supposed to take addictive behavior as a given since addiction is a disease, the law certainly doesn’t treat addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity, one can’t be brought out of real legal insanity through “hitting bottom” or an intervention.  Addicts’ family members, who can’t change them, must minimize their responsibility and magnify the responsibility of their own reactions, but the law, which can change most addicts with whom it comes into conflict, doesn’t have to minimize and magnify.  As the publishers’ notes of Gene M. Heyman’s Addiction: A Disorder of Choice says, “He shows that the causes of addiction, its control, and its potential reduction are the same as the causes, control, and reduction of all voluntary behavior.”  (Certainly you could imagine what would result if someone said at an Al-Anon meeting, “But when he relapsed, it was because he got angry and chose to, not because he saw something that triggered a compulsion to drink!  That means that my objections are legitimate!” or even, “But the person who caused this problem, whom I can’t change, isn’t addicted!”)  Yet whether or not addiction is involved, you could always find some sophistry to make courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t seem legitimate, and ignore any facts that would disrupt this pragmatism; form follows function.  This, also, could be called “pragmatic logic,” applicable to any realities that contribute to our rampant depression.  Both an acceptance of an addiction, and an acceptance of aggressive human nature, are fatalism about unrestrained desires, what the pleasure centers of our brains make us do, etc.  What works for AA is what works for addicts, i.e. for addictive personalities, which would single-mindedly insist on: excuses to do what one pleases, stopping righteous indignation and “controlling,” etc.  The more that we serenely accept übermensch, active, imperfections, the more that we can’t afford to accept the untermensch, passive, imperfections of those hurt by them, and who, therefore, must deal with them in order not to be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.  If this wasn’t as simplistic and resolute as Reagan, their awareness that they’re victims would leave them both too weak by feeling helplessness and making unrealistic expectations, and too strong in that they could insidiously get the benefits of victimhood.



Your realities are whatever they are, and either you deal with them or you suffer the consequences.  NOTHING CAN LIMIT HOW MUCH ALL THIS COULD AFFECT YOU.  To paraphrase a Catholic riddle: “What’s the difference between a victim corrector and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist.”  As pioneering behaviorist John B. Watson wrote, “The raw fact that you, as a psychologist, if you are to remain scientific, must describe the behavior of man in no other terms than those you use in describing the behavior of the ox you slaughter, drove and still drives many timid souls away from behaviorism,” and the only real difference between behaviorism and cognitive therapy is that it credits humanity with self-control abilities that animals don’t have, such as the ability to choose to serenely accept hardship and sinfulness; training people who are motivated to be trained is a lot easier.  (This self-control would benefit the person who serenely accepts the hardship, sinfulness, etc. that he’s helpless to change, whether or not the person who caused the problem is addicted. )  As Paul Krugman wrote, “The truth is that good old-fashioned demand-side macroeconomics has a lot to offer in our current predicament—but its defenders lack all conviction, while its critics are filled with a passionate intensity,” and one could say the same for debates between those who stress personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own choices, which could usually be called “blaming,” “guilt-based,” “controlling,” etc., and the gutsy people who stress red-blooded personal response-ability for one’s own welfare, which could always be called “self-help,” “self-empowerment,” “realism,” etc.  As the Great Crash of 2008 shows, some things will never change.


THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE, AIG ad from 2001, so if you tried to restrain this you’d seem profoundly: weak, whiny, defeatist, controlling, unrealistic, counterproductive, opinionated, manipulative, negative, moralistic, etc.  Sure, post-scandal AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said, “I have seen the good side of capitalism.  But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism,” but one could also call the gutsiness of AIG in its PIG era, “character-building,” giving plenty of backbone and fortitude.



Sure, Rush Limbaugh is more unpopular than Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, and conservatives could be afraid that such aggressiveness looks “ugly” to the public.  Yet, especially if you’re in big trouble, if you thought like Limbaugh and the other attack politicians then you’d face up to your problems more serenely and courageously, and we dare not care how profoundly ugly is coaching Archie, etc., into having attitudes of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!”  If Himmler had sent you some “Dear Abby” letters that didn’t mention the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like, the advice that the letters would have given would have helped you become more resilient, courageous, self-responsible, realistic, and abiding by Gelassenheit (a fatalism that teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration if you’re helpless to get what you want or need), so you would have ended up with a stronger character.  Victim Correction as a Panacea, is Gelassenheit and similar all-encompassing attitudes about physical response-ability for one’s own problems, exactly what a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., would most need.

Sure, Niebuhr wrote that he was shocked about Buchman’s admiration of Hitler, though The Serenity Prayer summarizes the book that most shaped Hitler’s thinking, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation:   As with a panacea, we must see the entire world in terms of the ineradicable SELF-WILLS of the sinful, the ignominious and surreptitious SELF-WILLS of victims who don’t represent their own bad experiences to themselves as being as innocuous as possible (“Those manipulative whiners want to believe that someone owes them something!”), and, therefore, our responsibility to do this.  Niebuhr wrote that Buchman’s faith that dictators, business tycoons, etc., should use their power to push Christianity, vapidly ignored how realpolitik would affect the outcome, “The slightest acquaintance with the history of Christian thought on the problem of the relation of the absolute demands of the gospel to the relativities of politics and economics would prove its childishness,” but the same could also be said about applying a simplistic sloganeering spirituality to the situations that contribute to our rampant depression.  It isn’t possible to get any more vapid than,“Serenely accept everything that happens to you in a society with rampant depression, that you’re helpless to change.”

The wave of the future, the “new economy” of self-responsibility, requires that we want to be responsible members of society, take response-ability for our own welfare.  With that approach you’d be more likely to succeed, and that’s good, maybe irreplaceable.  Your natural objections to this would be counterproductive (though you’re free not to hold others personally responsible by these standards, as long as you hold yourself responsible by them).  The same would go for minimizing any “whiny” lessons we might learn from the Great Crash of 2008.  If we can’t change wretched excesses on Wall Street but can change victims’ not fixing the consequences adequately, then either we correct the victims or we’ll have a dysfunctional society.  Since we simply must solve our problems, our perceptions must be distorted in order to fit in with this; there is no alternative.




(Cartoon generated by “Build Your Own Meat”)


Nothing can drive anyone away from this sort of cognitive therapy, just as nothing can drive Archie away from his unconditional and immoderate, contrived serenity and courage, though Gelassenheit is very unnatural social engineering.  In self-help books about codependency, stories in which the problem spouses are addicted are absolutely interchangeable with stories in which the problem spouses simply choose to act like buttheads, since in both cases the victims are equally unable to change the victimizers’ behavior.  Whatever you must do to take care of yourself, is whatever you must do to take care of yourself, so you must look at yourself when you’re looking for things that you could correct in order to solve your own problems.  Sure, the Financial Times on March 10, 2009 quoted Bernie Sucher, the head of Merrill Lynch operations in Moscow, as saying, “Our world is broken—and I honestly don’t know what is going to replace it.  The compass by which we steered as Americans has gone.  The last time I ever saw anything like this, in terms of the sense of disorientation and loss, was among my friends [in Russia] when the Soviet Union broke up,” but Americans have been culturally conditioned to serenely accept economic difficulties, and not to accept supposedly manipulative whining about them.  Those with plenty of “personal strength” would tolerate Wall Street Darwinism and its effects.  Archie could “get on with life” since folk wisdom, common sense, says that that’s what everyone must do; everyone could “stick it out.”  (On June 19, 2009 [just before the threatened bloodshed began, “On 9/11 we were all Americans, and tonight we’re all Iranians.”], when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that they were going to crack down on the protests of the election fraud, he said, “If the political elite want to ignore the law or break the law then they are taking wrong measures...,” so dogmatists of all stripes excite their followers by condemning the supposed intellectual elite.)  Archie, and others who are powerless, couldn’t afford the dysfunctionality of feeling disoriented or lost.  Realism requires that this self-responsibility be the lynchpin, so any concern that would conflict with this must be shrugged off.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  We all must adjust to and deal with reality, and others determine what is reality for you, which tends to mean that the strong (whether or not they’re addicted) determine what is reality for the weak.  Resiliency is everything.




Wall Street, August 23, 1929,  “As I wrote last March, those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief….  That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”—Alan Greenspan, testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008



That’s why self-help in general tends to admire Al-Anon, The Serenity Prayer, etc., and this self-reliant ethos.  The only thing that really matters is what you do and don’t have the power to change.  This is how the ideal American faces his own problems.  Since Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA who wrote much of their Big Book, was a stockbroker around the time of the Great Depression, one could call this The Great Depression Stockbroker’s Approach to Self-Responsibility; we’d have to be firm with those victims and whiners who object to productivity that involves strong character, such as “creative destruction,” and, “Your problem is your problem.”  The economist who, just after the Great Depression, came up with the concept of creative destruction, Joseph Schumpeter, also wrote during the Depression that recovery from it, “is sound only if it [comes] of itself.  For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depressions undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustment, new maladjustment of its own which has to be liquidated in turn, thus threatening business with another [worse] crisis ahead.”  Daniel Gross’ Dumb Money says that Maestro Alan Greenspan, in an interview, “had an abstract fervor for the glories and potentials of creative destruction,” and, in the abstract, saying that alkies’ teens, etc., should have an attitude of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!” sounds just as proudly productive.




For More On Correcting Archie,
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“Philosophically, my view of politics is just evolved tremendously because, you know, the whole—I think what’s wrong with our world, our policies and the like is this notion of the survival of the fittest.  We can all be independent, self-reliant, you know, don’t need anybody else.  We need each other.  We all need to depend on each other and we can’t do it alone.  And the more realize we are part of the greater community, and as Dr. King said, you know, ‘We are all interdependent.  What affects one affects all indirectly.’  The more we realize that, the better off we’ll all be. ”—Rep. Patrick Kennedy, on the effects of his recovery from addiction.  But how does one get this message from having preached at you, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference....  Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it..., so those who’ve been hurt shouldn’t whine resentfully”?





Those who sue a psychologist could be told that no matter how much they claim to be victims, his power wasn’t absolute in that they could choose to work out and deal with whatever discord he caused, whereas their power would be absolute if the lawsuits, findings that he broke his ethics, etc., led to his not being able to continue as a psychologist.  This absolute power would be the responsibility of the dreaded guv’mint.  One could add this to the question that this legal question answered: that lawsuits that are on the grounds of hurt feelings, naturally have certain dangers.  Even psychologists who obey their ethics (see the Code of Ethics here) could hurt feelings in ways that could seem egregious, especially when plaintiffs are trying to make them seem egregious.  Some of those ethics have pretty high standards, especially for post-Reagan psychologists, when they act as if their mission is to make their clients more red-blooded and, therefore, wouldn’t take to rules that, by Reaganist standards, could seem to mollycoddle them.  Sure, the introduction of that code of ethics says, “The Ethics Code is not intended to be a basis of civil liability,” but if one breaks enough of those sensitive rules, that could very easily be portrayed as falling short of the standard of care.

If one’s goal is to fight victimology, victimhood, unrealistically restrictive morality, etc., then some concerns have to go by the wayside, including those sensitive rules.  Many medical schools include courses on how to reduce the risk of malpractice suits, and such courses in schools of psychology may be a good idea unless, somehow, though what suits of psychologists are based on is abstract, and supposedly the average psychologists’ client is more manipulative and whiny than is the average medical doctor’s patient, these patients are more likely to hoke up reasons to sue than are these clients.

Another thing worthy of note, is this: The problem that the Eaker suit was all about, could have been prevented, and probably would have been, if he weren’t so devoted to a moral bankruptcy that’s very similar to “Archie’s.”  Obviously, neither Eaker, nor the psychologist in the MacDonald v. Clinger case referred to here, had any selfish motivation to break their confidentiality with their clients.  Obviously, both psychologists thought that sure, conventional morality might have convinced their clients that they’d rather that certain facts remain hidden from the other spouse, but for their own good, they should know the truth.  This obviously seemed more important to such psychologists than did the fact that even if they really were right and their clients really were deluded by untermensch attitudes, this broke a well-known ethic, this would mean that they’d have the helpless experience of having their very important confidences broken, this obviously put the psychologists in danger of lawsuits, etc.  After all, the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines fiduciary as, “involving a confidence or trust,” and a liberated and proactive person could always figure that if a marriage is maintained by some facts remaining secret, then if he doesn’t bring those facts to light, he doesn’t really deserve trust.

Yet Ben Franklin said that one should go into marriage with both eyes open and afterward keep one eye closed, and he certainly wasn’t a traditional moralist.  Breaking such confidentiality was very likely to cause the clients big problems, such as the disruptions and financial costs of divorce, which could have included some of “the feminization of poverty.”  Yet those with this sort of strength-loving and weakness-hating moral bankruptcy, could always insist that independence is more important than that.

One can only wonder who decided to appeal this case on the grounds that lawsuits based on how much a non-physical injury had emotionally impacted a person, would lead to to whiners trying to get free money through manipulative machinations, a resourceful lawyer, or this psychologist who’s so in love with red-blooded self-reliance.  Of course, it would be impossible for a psychologist to commit physical malpractice.  Also of course, no matter how warranted would be a client’s emotional reactions to what the psychologist did, he could always say that the client’s outlook played a big part in his reaction, and if he’s paid for his pain he’s naturally going to see what happened as being worse than he otherwise would have.  The much-beloved Serenity Prayer certainly doesn’t make allowances for feelings that are warranted.  Of course, if he also believes that any desires to preserve a marriage by keeping secrets, are necessarily unhealthy, then it would really seem that their feelings are just illusions!  The stronger you are, the more likely you are to have what’s exciting, pro-freedom, übermensch, red-blooded, self-reliant, etc., on your side.



This is basically self-justifying.  As long as a modern psychologist breaks his ethics because he thinks that his clients are too moralistic about saving their marriage, he could defend this by saying that wise people simply can’t be deluded by such stultifying and manipulative moralism.  It’s pretty safe to say that there’s always an out, in that if the person who has the problem wants to be well-adjusted and non-passive, then she’ll see how what caused the problem is at least excusable, and how much she plays an active role.  No doubt plenty of cognitive therapists’ clients go to them in order to be trained to have a Stoic attitude towards such non-malicious imperfections, and that was all that Eaker was expecting these clients to do.


Any psychologist would have to operate under the presumption that in the real world, coping skills can’t be limited to what’s reasonable.  Plenty of psychologists, especially the kind that think that moral bankruptcy has a Nietzschian virtue to it, would figure that the sort of logic that could lead to winning lawsuits, could also make one a loser in life.  In the real world, Nietzschian virtues could make one most likely to succeed, and look honorably self-reliant.  In court, if you prove that you’re right, you won.  In the real world, if you prove that you’ve been hurt, you’d probably just look like a whiny wimp.  Someone who, when assertively standing up for his own rights in the real world, went by the rules of good faith that govern the courtroom, could still look manipulative in counting on abstractions rather than objectively taking care of his own problem.  It would be pretty unusual for a court’s final judgment to say, “You’ve just got to accept that life isn’t fair.”  Those who defend themselves against such Nietzschian judgments could seem self-defeating.

Psychologists could be the only professionals whose jobs consist of propounding Nietzschian self-help strategies.  When a psychologist commits malpractice, the consequences would be non-material hurt feelings.  These same Nietzschians could get outraged by the untermenschen who proceed as if, if only they could make a compelling enough case that their feelings were hurt enough, they’d be rewarded in court.  This reward would be at the expense of psychologists who, for the rest of their lives, could seem to be lawsuit risks who intentionally break the rules, especially if they don’t change their ways.  As far as these Nietzschians would be concerned, changing their own ways would mean thinking like the very same untermenschen who just ruined the psychologists’ lives with their moralizing and victim-power.  Such psychologists would probably figure that they have to continue the Nietzschian beliefs, since if they mollycoddled clients who could prove their own victimhood, this would encourage them to think like victims.  Of course, if these übermenschen really did believe that the untermenschen were looking for opportunities to sue, then the übermenschen would have been more careful not to give them the opportunity.  Those who think of victims as opportunists who get what they want by proving that they’re victims, would think of breaking ethics in ways for which they could be sued, as basically throwing chum to fish, and being surprised when they go into feeding frenzies.

In fact, if any cognitive therapists accepted any skepticism towards how Nietzsche viewed feelings of helplessness, then they’d have to accept their clients’ justifiable feelings of helplessness, even when they wouldn’t have felt helpless if they’d represented their experiences to themselves in a Stoic fashion.  Who’s to decide whether any justifiable feelings of helplessness, are still unpragmatic, so should be washed from the person’s brain?  Some of the times that psychologists break the rules “for their own good,” they wouldn’t sue, but in order to err on the side of caution, taking the rules literally every single time.  It’s all too easy to make the supposed redbloods (which usually means the strong) seem to be on the side of the angels, and the supposed mollycoddles (which usually means the weak) seem to be on the side of the devils.  Lawsuits, in general, would seem to be moral hazards, epitomized by plaintiffs’ lawyers, who get their money by jerking the tears of judges and juries, tears that villainize people who worked to build their careers and businesses, in order to get the money that they or their insurance companies and their policy-holders, had earned.  People have to be motivated to earn rather than whine.  While some lawsuits against psychologists would be about their exploiting their clients, those that are about malpractice would be about the psychologists doing things that, at the moment, at least, they thought would help the clients.

Not only that, since Eaker was so determined that this couple know the truth about each other rather than maintain the marriage by hiding the truth, it’s very likely that he did the same with other clients of his in the same situation.  If they all sued him together, he could really look like a monster.  Yet the entire time, he would have done this because he thought that these clients’ lives would be happier if they knew the truth.  If only they realized that he did this to benefit rather than hurt them, they’d have an attitude of gratitude, which cognitive therapy says that everyone in similar situations should choose to have!  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As any cognitive therapists would tell you, of those who are in similar situations, some could have attitudes of gratitude, while the others wouldn’t.  Those who do would feel and act more confident.  Sure, most psychologists’ clients would feel pretty helpless to begin with.  Those who were treated like this could legitimately feel even more helpless.  Yet that wouldn’t change the all-important fact that those who had attitudes of gratitude would feel and act more confident.  Yet those who had attitudes of gratitude, couldn’t sue for pain and suffering.

The untermenschen are the only ones who could legitimately seem scary.  On my Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea webpage, I list the standard rationales that I’ve run across, numbered so that when you hear them applied to a certain situation, you could respond by saying, “Oh, yeah, right, that’s standard rationale #7...”  The behavior of Eaker in this case includes rationales #1, “But This Would Benefit You!” #5, “Schopenhauer’s Idea of Manipulation” (in that this lawsuit was supposed to consist of manipulative tear-jerking), #10, “Mental Filter” (in that it seemed that certain things that naturally would seem to matter, didn’t seem to matter), #19, “That’s Exciting.” and #25, “Open Secrets,” in particular how divorce seemed natural and keeping the marriage seemed unnatural though our high rate of divorce is no doubt contributing to our unnaturally high rate of depression.

One might be shocked that Joe Cultrera’s film about his brother Paul’s molestation by Massachusetts perv-priest Joseph Birmingham, Hand of God, shows Bishop Richard Lennon, who at the time was serving as Law’s replacement, saying to Joe as he was filming the chancery, “Sir, if you think you’re going to make me feel bad about this....”

Cultrera responded, “I know you guys don’t feel bad.  You don’t feel anything.”

The discussion ended with Lennon saying, “It’s all in your head, sir.  You’re a sad little man.”

Paul Cultrera responded later, “It is all in your head, and they put it all into our heads.”

Yet it’s absolutely true that the basic idea of cognitive therapy is that all objections to anything, even the most warranted, are all in the heads of the objectors.  All thoughts and feelings are all inside the heads of those who think and feel them.  “Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists... concentrate on a person’s views and perceptions about their life, rather than personality traits,” so what matters is that it’s all in your head, not what or who put it into your head, since correcting your own internal weaknesses is always what’s pragmatic.  Since this sort of thinking arose in the 1960s based on the then-popular Eastern transcendence, this could be called “Calcutta survival skills.”  Those who have this transcendent spirituality, are those who’d be the most aware of this, and therefore, the least likely to be “sad” and “little,” due to their problems in the material world.  “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,” and then you correct whatever weaknesses of character are making you more unhappy than you have to be.

This is exactly the sort of “sublime” spirituality that Schopenhauer promoted in the book that most shaped Hitler’s thinking, The World as Will and Representation, which included, “Wrong through violence is not so ignominious for the perpetrator as wrong through cunning, because the former is evidence of physical strength, which in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race.  The latter, on the other hand, by using the crooked way, betrays weakness, and at the same time degrades the perpetrator as a physical and moral being,” and, “The concept of good is divided into two subspecies, that of the directly present satisfaction of the will in each case, and that of its merely indirect satisfaction concerning the future, in other words, the agreeable and the useful. The concept of the opposite, so long as we are speaking of beings without knowledge, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case.”

The basic premise is that humanity’s aggressive WILL is ineradicable.  Therefore, the victims will simply have to represent to themselves, the consequences of this, in such a way that would make themselves feel serene about it.  If they don’t, that would seem to reflect the striving of their ignominious untermensch WILLS, expecting this sinful world to be as they’d have it.  And this is how one sees the entire world, not just situations where the victims really are overreacting.  It’s all in the victims’ heads.  This is the modern version of a monkish mindfulness that gets control over the flesh, and for centuries, Zen states could have been empirically proven to work.  If you don’t want to be at peace with everything that happens to you, you could be labeled “self-defeating.”  If this doesn’t apply “in each case,” it could seem that anyone could satisfy their own strivings by playing the victim role, “almost all parties who claim damages for emotional distress to survive dismissal of their actions despite speculative, or even fictitious, claims of emotional injury which the rule was designed to prevent.”  And plenty of those who’d make “speculative... claims of emotional injury,” would sincerely believe that they’re entitled, since naturally they’d want to believe that.  When it comes to sizing up each of the day-to-day traumas that contribute to our very unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders, who’s to say which claims of emotional injury are speculative?

For example, the Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website, says, “If you have depression, this sad mood along with other symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years if not treated.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition, but there are ways to successfully treat depression....  Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.





Everyone knows that what’s at fault, is inside the millions of victims.

Sure, some of this depression is simply among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, but about that that isn’t, we could say, “It is all in your head, and they put it all into our heads.”

We’re to have the same faith in this failsafe sort of self-responsibility, that we’d have in any other cultural norms, as if it’s a universal truth that will work forever.










Cite as 837 So.2d 348 (Fla. 2002)

Donna GRACEY and Joseph

Gracey, petitioners,


Donald W. EAKER, Respondent.

No. SC00-153.

Supreme Court of Florida.

Dec. 19, 2002.

Patients brought negligence action against psychotherapist, alleging breach of confidentiality....



Nolan Carter and Karen R. Wasson, Orlando, FL, for petitioners.

James B. Thompson of Thompson, Goodis, Thompson, Groseclose & Richardson, P.A., St. Petersburg, FL, for Respondent.


We have for review Gracey v. Eaker, 747 So.2d 475 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999), in which the district court affirmed the dismissal of an action initiated by the petitioners, Donna and Joseph Gracey (“Graceys”), a couple allegedly injured by the counseling activities of a psychotherapist, against Dr. Donald W. Eaker (“Eaker”).  The Graceys sought the recovery of emotional distress damages that were allegedly inflicted by Eaker’s actions in revealing the most confidential of information disclosed to him by each individual during and only as part of a confidential and fiduciary relationship.  In affirming the dismissal of the Graceys’ action, the district court held that their complaint sounded in negligence and failed to adhere to the “requirement [of the impact rule] that some physical impact to a claimant... be alleged and demonstrated before the claimant can recover [emotional distress] damages.”...


In a fourth amended complaint, the Graceys averred that Eaker is a licensed psychotherapist who, for profit, provided treatment to them in individual counseling sessions, ostensibly seeking to intervene in the most personal of matters directed to marital difficulties.  They also alleged that Eaker, during individual therapy sessions,

would inquire about, and each of the [petitioners] would disclose to him, very sensitive and personal information that neither had disclosed to the other spouse at any time during their relationship.  [petitioners] would disclose this information because they were led to believe, by [Eaker], that such information was necessary for treatment purposes.

The petitioners further alleged that a direct violation of Florida law occurred in that despite being under a statutorily imposed duty to keep the disclosed information confidential, Eaker nevertheless unlawfully divulged to each of the petitioners “individual, confidential information which the other spouse had told him in their private sessions.”  Subsequent to these disclosures, the Graceys set forth that they realized that Eaker had devised “a plan of action... designed to get [them] to divorce each other.”  The Graceys claimed that such actions by Eaker constituted “breaches... of his fiduciary duty of confidentiality [that was] owed [individually] to [them].”

With regard to the damages resulting from Eaker’s actions, the Graceys alleged that

they have sustained severe mental anguish upon learning of [the] actions of the other spouse, of which they individually were not aware, and that [Eaker’s] disclosure [of these actions] has caused irreparable damage to any trust that they would have had for each other.... [Moreover, they alleged that Eaker’s] actions have caused great mental anguish for the[m] individually in their personal relationships with others due to their inability to trust the others in those personal relationships.

Additionally, the Graceys asserted that they have incurred substantial costs and expenses in undergoing further treatment ‘in an attempt to correct the mental damage inflicted upon them by Eaker’s actions.

In upholding the trial court’s dismissal of the petitioners’ action, the district court expressed that it was “constrained to agree” with Eaker’s assertion that a dismissal was proper, “because Florida law does not recognize a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress without an accompanying physical injury.”  Gracey, 747 So.2d at 477.


Decades ago, we commented on the nature of the fiduciary relationship:

If a relation of trust and confidence exists between the parties (that is to say, where confidence is reposed by one party and a trust accepted by the other, or where confidence has been acquired and abused), that is sufficient as a predicate for relief.  The origin of the confidence is immaterial....

The Florida Legislature has recognized and found that one’s emotional stability and survival must be protected to the same extent as physical safety and personal security.  Our representatives have declared for the people of Florida that “emotional survival is equal in importance to physical survival.”...

In addition to our stated public policy and statutory structure of protection for certain confidential relationships, we have recently recognized the fiduciary duty generally arising in counseling relationships in Doe v. Evans...

With this backdrop of both common law and statutory protection the source of Eaker’s duty to the petitioners is easily identified.  The statutory scheme clearly mandated that the communications between the petitioners and Eaker “shall be confidential.”...

[4,5] The elements of a claim for breach of fiduciary duty are: the existence of a fiduciary duty, and the breach of that duty such that it is the proximate cause of the plaintiffs damages...

[12] The emotional distress that the Graceys allege they have suffered is at least equal to that typically suffered by the victim of a defamation or an invasion of privacy.  Indeed, we can envision few occurrences more likely to result in emotional distress than having one’s psychotherapist reveal without authorization or justification the most confidential details of one’s life.  Our reasoning in Kush thus provides ample support for the notion that the impact rule should be inapplicable to the instant case.

Furthermore, in MacDonald v. Clinger, the New York appellate court considered a case very factually similar to the one before us.  In MacDonald, it was alleged that during two extended courses of treatment with the defendant psychiatrist,

[the] plaintiff revealed intimate details about himself which [the] defendant later divulged to plaintiff’s wife without justification and without consent.  As a consequence of such disclosure, plaintiff alleges that his marriage deteriorated, that he lost his job, that he suffered financial difficulty and that he was caused such severe emotional distress that he required further psychiatric treatment....

HARDING, Senior Justice, dissenting.

While I am sympathetic to the wrong petitioners allege, I see no reason to depart from the long-standing public policy and jurisprudence of this State requiring a plaintiff seeking emotional distress damages to show that the alleged emotional distress is evident in some form of physical injury, i.e., “impact.”  With this decision, the majority, in effect, puts the whole camel under the tent, as it is more than likely that this Court will be presented with equally compelling scenarios of alleged emotional trauma which will be difficult to distinguish from this case, and thus the public policy requiring the rule will no longer be policy at all.  Indeed, there will be no requirement of impact, and this case is sure to become precedent allowing almost all parties who claim damages for emotional distress to survive dismissal of their actions despite speculative, or even fictitious, claims of emotional injury which the rule was designed to prevent.





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Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

Herbal Experiences for Women

Some Ideas for Rapport