CBT promises change just as swiftly. Unwanted character traits or symptoms are no longer seen as a clue to some inner truth, but simply as disturbances to our ideal image that can be excised. Instead of seeing a bout of depression or an anxiety attack as a sign of unconscious processes that need to be carefully elicited and voiced, they become aspects of behaviour to be removed.
The market has triumphed here, as our inner worlds become a space for buying and selling. We pay experts such as life coaches to teach us how to change in the desired way. Aspects of ourselves, such as shyness or confidence, become commodities that we can pay to lose or amplify.
Leader bemoans the popularity of CBT with government agencies and is critical of Lord Layard, the so-called 'happiness tsar', for persuading ministers to divert resources from more traditional therapies based on rather more complex views of the human psyche. He compares this development with government plans to regulate mediums and spiritualists:
It will not longer be up to us to believe in them or not, but a higher power will tell us who is legitimate and who is not. Just as a new rhetoric of 'science' tells us that CBT is the best treatment, so it will arbitrate the 'other side'.