I Just Love Invalidating Innocent OPs

In an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group on Facebook, somebody asked:

“How do I persuade my mind that something isn’t really a threat?”

My reply:

“Easy. Just expose yourself to the thing you’re afraid of and learn from experience that it’s not a threat.”

This was denounced as invalidating, glib, “a command”, and I was accused of assuming the poster hadn’t made any effort to do anything.

Of course, none of that was going through my mind when I wrote the comment. Instead, I was trying to provide information about how the mind works, for someone to do with as they see fit.

It got me thinking: is it irresponsible to drop free information like that, without concern for how it might be interpreted?

It certainly is true that someone might take the info and run with it in the wrong direction.

But, I don’t see any strong reasons to believe something bad will happen. I mean…it might…but it could go the other way, too.

So, I tend to err on the side of making things available.

It seems a bit paternalistic to do it any other way.

I can think of many times in my life when I’ve said “huh? you withheld that in order to protect me? that’s not right.” I can’t think of my times I was glad somebody withheld info, and I can think of many times I was glad they just put it out in the open.

The Professional Rescuers of Facebook

On Facebook, there are a couple things going on:

  1. There are SO MANY answers to questions. There’s a lot of wrong information out there, and it needs to be balanced out with right information.
  2. It’s not only the person who asked the question who reads the answers. There are onlookers. And, the people complaining aren’t the ones looking for the info. They’re professionals and rescuers. If I’m sitting down one-to-one with somebody, that’s a different situation, because I can tailor my response based on how they’re receiving it. But, on Facebook, with the hit-and-run culture…

(Frasier : Well, Lilith, what brings you to Seattle, the constant rain?

Lilith : I’m here for a convention, and I happened to hear your voice on the radio. I kept hoping you’d introduce Pearl Jam’s latest hit, but much to my chagrin, you were doling out worthless little advice pellets from your psychiatric Pez dispenser.)


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