The Rage Therapy

I have been wanting to put up a clip of Divided Memories for a long time. I use this documentary in nearly all of my classes as a cautionary tale about psychotherapy that loses sight of the professional relationship and common sense. In prior discussions of various reorientation methods, I have cautioned against the use of highly emotive techniques and here is a brief clip of descriptions of what was called by Genesis Associates: rage therapy.

19 thoughts on “The Rage Therapy”

  1. We must think beyond ourselves and ask “how should I treat my fellow human being?” It’s “do unto others”.

    Michael, obviously you’ve been paying WAY too much attention to that Jesus guy. He was always saying crazy stuff like that.

  2. I agree with David: “Morality based upon fear of retribution is a weak, self-serving morality.” In fact, Kohlberg puts this type of “morality” (obedience/punishiment oriented) on the bottom rung of his theory of the devlopment of “moral reasoning.” It’s God with a big bat waiting to bop you on the head if you disobey. It’s all about YOU, and your fears — not about what is just and loving or what is in the best interest of your neighbor.

    There are are five more stages, each one a bit more complex and abstract. “Morality” moves from the child-like and egocentric “fear-of-punnishment” to a more mature sense of morality based upon “principled conscience” and universal ethical principles. It’s a morality based on EMPATHY — not an arbritary and confusing list of do’s and don’ts and threats of eternal torture if you got the list wrong. We must think beyond ourselves and ask “how should I treat my fellow human being?” It’s “do unto others”.

  3. As I see it, this thread got off track early. Questioning whether the objective of aligning one’s life with one’s belief is appropriate is a non-starter. People in conflict will decide that for themselves even if there are no therapists to help them. I would rather create a framework to offer assistance rather than critique the religious values of my clients.

    The Rage Therapy video illustrates a misguided technique that was designed to facilitate a reasonable goal: emotional catharsis and lessening of depression. There are better ways to get there, just as I believe there are much better ways than beating pillows and screaming to work toward alignment of action with attitude.

  4. Psychotherapy which induces thoughts, feelings and values is not therapy, it is a proselytizing.

    Secularists as well as Reorientation therapists are capable of it (anyone who believes my experiences and values have a right to highjack your therapeutic goals can do it).

    Honoring the pace, goals, sensations and values of the client is honoring the image of God in them (we each are the fingerprints of God, unique), and the soveriegnty of God working in them.

    Anger is a greatly misunderstood and misused emotion in psychology…

    I think the technique used in this video is very common for some cults, which use the “compress and release” method to break down a sense of self and break down attachments that might compete with the cult and increase the level of attachment and bond with the cult.

  5. There is something that Grantdale overlooks & that is parents of minors have a right to forbid adolescents to engage in H&L behaviors.

    What about parental right to tell their minor kids that they can’t engage in sexual behaviors?

  6. Hell is for children–Pat Benetar (?) or is it Joan Jett (?)

    I digress.

    I would prefer a cuddly God…

    I agree, obeying God out of fear alone is the most restricted kind of relationship…shrinking in the shadows, risking nothing, carefully gathering merit points, hoping the amount to enough to appease.

    Morality based upon fear of retribution is a weak, self-serving morality…but I think it is the trump card that God holds and is willing to use when all else fails (like obeying out of love, compassion, to be the hands and heart of God on earth).

    “God is Watching Us…from a distance” –Bette Midler

  7. A slight modification:

    Hell to me is a place that tells me and ensures that I no longer have choice in my life. That I am solely at the mercy of a whimsical and capricious diety and that I must act as a robot to the dictates of some power outside of myself.

    Because I do not believe that God is some mad monarch that delights in punishing his creation for living according to the way he created them, I can hardly believe the notion of eternal punishment for living consistent with the orientation God designed for me.

    Anon2, you most certainly have choices in your life. And I don’t know ANYONE who would say that you have no choice as to whether you can seek to structure your life according to your values. But if you need to achieve a different orientation in order to find peace, then I am certain that indeed your life must be Hell.

  8. Might I humbly suggest that those who obey God out of a fear of Hell have no greater relationship with the Creator than a child who obeys his father out of fear of being beaten.

  9. Hell to me is a place that tells me and ensures that I no longer have choice in my life. That I am solely at the mercy of my predetermined genetic makeup and that I must act as a robot to the dictates of some power outside of myself.

  10. I have to say I mostly agree with the points raised by Grantdale. I agree that “there are solid parallels between that type of therapy (uncovering respressed memories) and therapy that offers sexual reorientation.”

    I also agree that we need to really look at the forces that may propel a client into therapy to change their sexual orientation in the first place. The threat of being tossed by God’s angels into a fiery and everlasting Hell, simply for loving, making love to and being committed to my male life-partner. is an idea I strongly reject. I don’t believe in that sort of God. In my mind, that’s an irrational and abusive idea for a “therapist” to reinforce in a client. (I don’t think Warren does this, by the way.)

    I don’t think gays go to Hell for acting on their sexual orientation any more than I believe He actually commanded his people in the Old Testament to commit genocide (including children and babies) — and yet the Bible says He did. Sometimes, I think the Biblical authors got it wrong. Our “morality” ought to be based on the Golden Rule, not the threat of Hell.

  11. Grantdale:

    I think I am on the right string, your quote:

    “Would you consider raising a child to believe that acting on their same sex attractions will result in them going to Hell to be a “highly emotive technique”?

    Hell is a very useful idea…especially if it actually exists…especially for those of us who call ourselves Christians and yet hate our brother. I am reminded of the proud and deceptive Christian who on judgment day Christ says will be separated from the Wheat and burned….youch!

    To quote Jonathon Edwards: A greater absurdity cannot be thought of than a morose, hardhearted, covetous, proud, malicious Christian.

    Hell as a possible future which informs our behavior in the present, A just God holds a mirror in front of us all about a variety of things. At times we see His nature in us; at times the opposite. Many of the rewards here on earth are fashioned to pay off for pure self-interest, many times at the expense of the weak and vulnerable.

    Hell is a highly emotive technique…to examine our daily behavior in light of a just God and a final judgment day. It has been used effectvely for a couple of thousand years to hold leaders and other power brokers accountable, who have no other higher authority.

    Bill of Rights

    Rights of Children

    Womens Rights

    End of Slavery

    Civil Rights

  12. David B — is your comment in the wrong post string?

    And no, for us, we’d never say “there is no hell”. Nor would we say “heaven exists”. Either would require a public admission of religious faith, and we don’t go there 😛

    “Hell” is a useful concept though, at times.

  13. Warren I apologise for putting “you” in section 1). I was being careful not to do that, but obviously not careful enough. It should say “they”, because this isn’t about you; as such.

    I don’t wish to debate past experience vs future choices either, and I have not mentioned this in those terms. You also know very well that we do not disrespect those live according to their faiths (or any other value systems). It was gratuitous and wrong for you to say that, regardless of whether we have confused you by putting “you” in the above post.

    But… there were/are indeed therapists (bad or mad or plain wrong) who set clients up for (at times) dreadful consequences as a result of “inventing” repressed memories etc. These clients ended up with very warped perceptions, and also made “choices” about their lives and their relationships based on those warped perceptions. Techniques for “uncovering” repressed memories do indeed pander to whatever else is going wrong in the client’s lives — including delusional thinking. I don’t think you disagree with any of this, although you may word it differently.

    There are solid parallels between that type of therapy and therapy that offers sexual reorientation. Whether that is what you do or do not offer is not what we raised — but your guidelines fail to adequately address those therapists/techniques that do.

    There is nothing new or all that exciting about helping people make choices based on what they value in life. School career counselors do it. Workplace mentors do it. Psychologists do it with inmates in gaols. Parents do it. Friends do it with each other. Religious leaders do it. And honestly — so what? We don’t have any issue with all that.

    What your guidelines fail to adequately address is the social, cultural and family forces that propel homosexual people into a therapy for their sexuality. This is particularly so when discussing adolescents who are extremely vulnerable to such outside pressures. Any discussion about therapy for sexuality needs to consider the poor information and high coercion that surrounds people from particular backgrounds. Specifically, I don’t think it is a stretch to state that the thinking is often wrong and heading at times into the delusional: and we will not pander to any such nonsense as public or professional policy even if it has a basis in a religion.

    Other than offering the brief advice to parents that forcing an unwilling teenager into therapy will probably be unsuccessful, you appear to be stonewalling on the ethical issues surrounding parents, young people and the choices that will be made when immersed in an anti-gay environment. I think it was Shidlo(?) that directly asked you about that during an on-air interview, and you stonewalled him on that occassion. It has been raised by other therapists, and long noted in professional circles (Haldeman, as example, from over a decade ago).

    The problem with sexual reorientation therapy has never been about helping people make informed, rational decisions about their lives. Guidelines are hardly required for that — and they already exist in any case.

    I’m not going to suggest that you don’t understand what the concerns are. In fact, I think you understand them only too well. But this itself does make others wonder why you have avoided the subject of anti-gay prejudice in your guidelines. If there is to be discussion about values and choices based on those values, then the reality of anti-gay prejudice needs to be included.

    It seems to us that the parallels between repressed memory therapy and sexual reorientation therapy are a useful way into discussion about professional ethics and client choice. For one type of therapy you have no qualms about stating your firm views, the other you appear specifically avoidant of except to nibble at the edges about whether a particular type of intervention is practical or ethical (eg Cohen’s holding therapy).

    Guidelines that fail to cover a core issue when homosexually-attracted people attend a therapist about their sexuality are not — by definition — in fact guidelines at all. Halfway there perhaps, but not complete.

  14. Hey Warren,

    Sorry to go off topic; delete this if you’d like. This note is to let you know that I’ve awarded you the Thinking Blog Award for blogs that make you think. If you’d like to participate in this award:

    1. Simply add the graphic to your blog and link it back to The Thinking Blog.

    2. Write a post awarding 5 of your favorite blogs that make you think.

    3. A link back to the person’s blog who awarded you would be appreciated =)

    That’s all there is to it! I’m presenting this award to you because your blog make me think on a regular basis. Be blessed and pass it on!

    The graphic can be found here:

    That is also the link to the post detailing the award which you should link your award to.

    Here’s the link to my post mentioning your blog:



  15. I don’t even know where to start on that (possible future – possible past). I won’t debate the similarities and differences between the experience of past and the values based choices in the present. Your phrase “pandering to delusion” shows a complete lack of understanding and/or disrespect for what I have proposed and for the lives of people who align themselves with their faith.

  16. Warren,

    You already know we have carefully read that framework, and you also know where we saw considerable gaps in the ethics. You sent us a pre-release copy, and we’ve sent you our comments. We don’t need to be directed back to something that has plainly not answered our concerns.

    We understand if you do not wish to devote any time to our questions, but that does not address the two major concerns:

    1) “inventing a now or future” of course directly concerns those homosexual clients that you collaborate with and help project into a heterosexual identity. They aren’t heterosexual, of course, but you collaborate with them to create their illusion of another sexuality than the one they have — they begin to think they have another sexuality now, or that they will have it in the future.

    2) ethically, how is a therapist who collaborates to construct a possible future different to one who collaborates to construct a possible past? Either could be desired by a client, and outwardly help them deal with today’s reality.

    If you need it even more briefly: what are the professional ethics around pandering to delusion, regardless of what the client demands today?

  17. If I addressed all of those questions, I would need a day to do it. I don’t really understand some of it (inventing a now or a future?). At any rate, I think the best way for me to answer is that we wrote a framework for how we think therapists can ethically handle these conflicts which addresses at least some of your questions.

  18. Warren,

    Would you consider raising a child to believe that acting on their same sex attractions will result in them going to Hell to be a “highly emotive technique”?

    How would a teenager who begins to understand they have same sex attractions and who was also raised in such an environment present to you? Particularly if they have been offered little opportunity to explore religious diversity.

    Do you explore other religious viewpoints with them, or do you curtail treatment because you are unwilling to do that?

    What could the curtailment of — or the possibility of curtailment of –treatment from a specifically sought religiously inspired therapist (and one specifically sought for that reason) signal to either the child or the parents? Would that alone be highly emotive?

    While the two therapies — a search for a memory, or a grasping for a future — appear to be opposites; what actually divides the two in terms of how the therapist behaves?

    If a client comes to the conclusion that they were abused, as example, and this “helps” them (even if this memory is false) — what harm is done? What if the client wants to do this?

    Ignoring whatever professional rules are in place for the moment: we could all speculate why, but other than offering the opinion that “repressed memory” etc is open to abuse you have not said why it is a priori a bad way for a therapist to behave.

    Surely all therapy is open to abuse?

    What divides inventing a memory from inventing a now or future? Some believe they were sexually abused in the past and they say that helps them. Some like to believe being sexually attracted to their own sex doesn’t make them homosexual and they say that helps them.

    One you support. One you reject. Why?

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