Popular therapy programs fail in the end; they start, but cannot finish. The truth is too dark for toxically positive self-improvement or healing recovery.
Why be wary of popular self-help books and recovery/therapy programs? Because they are popular! That means they appeal to mass markets, and what mass markets want is, fast and easy. Like a Big Mac and fries. That will satisfy hunger, but is it nourishing? Transformative?
Popular programs will satisfy your hunger. They supply a vocabulary to express what you may have previously had trouble recognizing / expressing. Words like “codependency, dysfunctional, narcissism, people-pleasing”…
This new vocabulary enables you to enter a game. The “name game.” Now you can put a specific name to how you have been victimized or manipulated, how your relationships have been dysfunctional, how you have been mistreated. And a good label for the people who have mistreated you. The name game.
The name game ALWAYS, by necessity, includes a second game. The Blame Game. But this is far less explicit in popular therapies. Why? Why does the Name Game of popular help resources dance around or altogether neglect the implied blame?
If the veiled Blame subgame of the popular Name Game were more explicit, those programs wouldn’t be so popular!
Talking about blame is a negative topic. And popular programs rely on toxic positivity. They cannot talk about any fixes that would be hard, or slow, or drawn out. And they can’t involve potentially negative topics like blame. Yet, popular programs are always incomplete when it comes to transformation. Popularity dictates avoidance of the dark or negative in the reader or participant. It’s too risky as a turn-off. Too hard.
Our culture conditions us to want the Big Mac as a fast fix to our desperate hunger. We dismiss our endurance capability for many, small healthy salads instead of a Big Mac, and salads rarely taste as good. So they don’t appeal to masses that are quite as massive. They can’t be quite as popular. They might include some dangerous elements of hypocrisy or shame, and those topics are too dark when what we want is an escape from suffering.
If we want to escape suffering, we want to avoid the smallest risk of encountering suffering, so we cannot *talk* about suffering (unless shallowly, as caused by someone else, and we are the victims). Too risky. The potential market might narrow.
The farthest they will dip into that direction is to elicit from you a confession that you are not perfect. That is usually as far as the masses are willing to go.
“I’m not perfect, but…” my victimizers are less perfect; I win. They’re bad; I’m less bad. In fact, I’m practically good. And as I practice more of my program’s programs – which I’ve already begun just by using their vocabulary and granting intellectual assent to their premises, which has practically fixed me already – I will be more and more good. I will be on an irreversible and infallible trajectory toward healthy healing and recovery. I will be fixed. And my victimizers will remain losers, while I win.
Cynical? Test it out with some brutal honesty.
Try it out with the prayers or affirmations that conclude each section of your favorite popular self-help resource. Prayers? Of course. We need God’s help for something we cannot achieve on our own. And, “I have God on my side, but my victimizers are judged negatively by God.”
“They are more broken or fallen than I am, so my sins will be fixed and redeemed – I know the vocabulary and exercises, and how to word the conclusion – but they’re going to hell.