You can capture the essence and the danger involved in a Molyneux “convo” in three words: Therapy, Socrates, and Debate. Together, those three words combine to become the destructive triangle in your head.
Let’s start with Therapy. Molyneux says he is not providing therapy in his “convos,” but it sure sounds like he is. It sounds to me like a confused version of cognitive behavioral therapy.
But hey—don’t ever take my word for it. If you want a tiebreaker, find a licensed therapist and play for him or her any of the Podcasts in which Molyneux helps an FDR member realize that the bad feeling (whatever it may be at the time) they’re feeling right now is a result of some childhood parental abuse. Ask the therapist this question: “Does it sound to you like this guy is trying to provide therapy?” I’ll go with whatever answer you get back.
On to Socrates. In the past, Molyneux has said he uses the Socratic method when he teaches his followers/students—helping them see the light through precisely chosen questions. That sounds great, but I’ve never heard any of his followers wonder whether Molyneux has any actual skill in this type of thing or even if he knows which questions to ask, which was something that was fairly important to Socrates. That’s a “fail” when teaching philosophy, but a disaster when you’re conducting pseudo-therapy. In a recent interview with crackpot therapist Daniel Mackler, Molyneux says:
12:04 …as far as I understand it, the therapeutic relationship is an authority relationship. The therapist is assumed to be an expert, has training, and has a goal in mind which is sort of revealed over time, which he’s leading the person toward, the patient towards, on a long-term basis. It’s a series of questions which, in a sense, the therapist is asking because he believes he already knows the answer.
This probably horrified Mackler, which is saying something! It is the very definition of a bad therapist. Even Socrates would know the therapeutic difference between:
“How did that make you feel?”
“I’m going to suggest a theory here—and I could be totally wrong—but your parents used guilt to control you every day of your life. Right? Right?”
The third part of the destructive triangle is captured in the word Debate, which you already saw a bit of in the above paragraph. The role of a therapist is to be your learned companion, your sherpa as you find your own way. But that doesn’t seem to be happens in a Molyneux convo.
It isn’t enough that Molyneux has already decided your lousy feelings are a result of your lousy parents, or that he’s asking questions not to discover anything about you but to guide you where he’s already decided you need to go. Nope. On top of that, he’s going to push pretty hard for what he believes is true until you’re convinced. Because he’s a debater. Whether you realize it or not, you’re in a debate.
And he plans to win.
Trying to sort out some troubles in your life and planning to Skype with Molyneux? Just think—Therapy. Socrates. Debate. Are you sure?