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Crazy Therapies

Crazy Therapies
File:Crazy Therapies.jpg
The hardcover edition
Author Margaret Singer
Janja Lalich
Country United States
Language English
Subject psychology
Genre nonfiction
Published 1996 (Jossey-Bass)
Media type Hardcover
Pages 263
ISBN 0-7879-0278-0
OCLC 34699480
616.89/14 20
LC Class RC480.515 .S56 1996

Crazy Therapies: What Are They? Do They Work? is a book by psychologist Margaret Singer and Janja Lalich published by Jossey-Bass in 1996. Singer and Lalich explore myriad wildly controversial claims often made in the psychotherapeutic industry.


Singer and Lalich's intended audience is psychiatric and psychotherapy patients. They discuss a list of severe warning signs that psychotherapy patients should avoid, regardless of the psychotherapist's credentials or reputation. They discusse these in detail and quantifies them into ten classic behaviour patterns. These include potential sexual abuse; asking the patient to perform menial chores; discussing the psychotherapist's problems in detail; asking the patient to cut off relations with friends and family; diagnosing the patient's condition before thoroughly discussing the issue; claiming the patient must be hypnotized in order to sort through past memories; treating patients as if they all have the same psychological root cause of illness; claiming to have a magical miracle technique; utilizing a checklist to find out if the patient suffers from an illness that the psychotherapist specializes in; and finally, demanding that the patient accept certain religious, metaphysical or pseudoscientific beliefs in order to continue psychotherapy. Specific therapies include those that espouse beliefs in "possession by spirit entities, past-life regression, alien abduction, primal screaming and other unverified cathartic therapies, reparenting, rebirthing, neurolinguistic programming (NLP), facilitated communication (FC), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Neural Organization Technique (NOT) and a host of other unscientific notions".[1]

According to Singer and Lalich (1997:167), "crazy therapies" are promoted using several techniques. “One is to start a certification program soon after conjuring up a new procedure” and “another is to seduce customers with rash promises and endorsements from acolytes and sycophants.” Singer and Lalich (1997:195) advise that if a therapist is saying “I don’t understand it but it sure does work”, that could be a red flag. "Or if he’s answering your questions with a lot of jargon you don’t understand, insist on straightforward explanations. Or if he’s telling you that its tried and true, do some independent research and find out what the critics are saying”. “In many cases such fad therapies are promoted by people who are (1) imposing an agenda that may not fit your needs and (2) abandoning testing and science. Well meaning as they may be, remember, its your emotions and your pocketbook that are being played with”.[2]


The book was reviewed by Philip Zimbardo, who wrote in Behavioral Intentions that the book revealed situations in which therapists can become "persuasive agents of destructive influence".[3]

Carroll stated that the book describes "surreal pseudoscience at its worst." He added that Singer and Lalich had helped to expose "some of the worst psychotherapy has to offer".[1]

According to Norcross et al. (2006) "the burgeoning evidence-based practice movement in mental health attempts to identity, implement, and disseminate treatments that have been proven demonstrably effective according to the empirical evidence".[citation needed] Crazy Therapies is one of a few books by evidence-based practitioners that has attempted to expose pseudoscience and quackery within the psychotherapy field. The stance is one of scientific skepticism. A poll was conducted of experts opinions on a range of treatments they rated from "not at all discredited" to "certainly discredited". Examples of rated as "almost certainly discredited" psychotherapies were also included in Crazy therapies such as angel therapy, the use of pyramid structures, orgone therapy, and crystal healing.[4]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Review, Crazy Therapies, May 29, 1997, Robert Carroll.
  2. Singer, Margaret & Janja Lalich (1997). Crazy Therapies: What Are They? Do They Work?. Jossey Bass, p167-195. ISBN 0-7879-0278-0.
  3. Zimbardo, Philip, Behavioral Interventions, April 2001, [1]
  4. Norcross, JC, Garofalo.A, Koocher.G. (2006) Discredited Psychological Treatments and Tests; A Delphi Poll. Professional Psychology; Research and Practice. vol37. No 5. 515-522 doi:10.1037/0735-7028.37.5.515

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