lucy-the-psychiatrist

Imagine a doctor who does nothing but recommend aspirin to every patient who comes into his office. Colon cancer? Take two aspirin. Gallstones? Take two aspirin. Infection? Take two aspirin. Well, that’s not going to go on for too long. That doctor’s operation is going to be shut down pretty quick.

But let’s say that 99% of the people who come into his office suffer from tension headache. He’ll cure just about all of them. They will proclaim him to be an incredible doctor!

What about a therapist at a public clinic who relies on relational therapy? Let’s say that 99% of the people who come into her office are having difficulties with their friends, their family, their coworkers. That therapist will be seen as quite effective. She’ll develop a very fine opinion of herself. “I’m an amazing therapist!”

What happens to the outlier who comes into the office: someone in the 1%, not the 99%. That therapist will be absolutely discombobulated by that patient. “He’s attacking me!! But all my other patients love me. I am an amazing therapist. What’s wrong with that patient?”

Well, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the picture. There’s an essential truth here.

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