To the editors:
Your interview with Jeffrey Masson [December 2] shows him to be the renegade, bad-boy critic that he is. Masson correctly points out the potential in the therapeutic relationship for abuses of power. However, Jungian analysts have long been aware of, and struggled with, the dangers inherent in the unequal power relationship between therapist and client that can lead to abuses, such as sexual acting out between therapist and client (see “Power in the Helping Professions” by Guggenbuhl-Craig).
Masson puts forth valid criticisms of the moral cowardice of some early “father figures” that dominated the early history of psychoanalysis. However, Masson misses the boat and goes too far, I think, by wanting to get rid of the practice of psychotherapy. Toppling human gods is one thing but eliminating the whole process is another. Not until you come up with a viable alternative that helps people live more full lives, Jeffrey, will I consider jumping ship.
Timothy Beneke replies:
It is ironic that you would point to Jungians as therapists who have struggled with abuses of power, since Masson has shown in Against Therapy that Jung himself sexually exploited his client Sabina Spielrein.