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Venting 'doctrine' challenged

August 04, 2008

Re: [“Go Ahead, Hold It In,” July 28]: Half a century ago, when I was a student at UCLA taking psych courses, there were psychologists who thought that talk therapy in general was ineffective and that repression might actually be a useful way to deal with unpleasant memories. Some challenged talk therapists to demonstrate scientifically that anyone was ever helped by talk therapy.

Such a view then, and even now among many, was heresy deserving of mockery, if not excommunication, defrocking and banishment from the priesthood of therapy.

This idea of "venting" came, of course, out of Freudian psychology. Freudians believed that by talking repeatedly about an unpleasant event, then the memory would lose its emotional charge, and that view became doctrine. As your story points out, it might make things worse.

Virgil Jose

Apple Valley

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