Bad Therapy, Weak Parenting, Broken Children | Abigail Shrier

Added: Mar 1, 2024

In this podcast episode, Abigail Shrier discusses her new book "Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren't Growing Up" and her previous book "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters." She highlights the rise in transgender identification among teen girls and the potential negative impact of therapy on young individuals.

Key takeaways


Shrier urges for critical evaluation of therapy practices, highlighting the potential harm of false diagnoses and affirming self-diagnoses.


Social media platforms play a significant role in shaping perceptions of gender identity, particularly among young girls, contributing to the rise in transgender identification.


Parents are encouraged to prioritize their children's well-being over societal pressures, providing guidance and support in navigating challenges like gender dysphoria.


Shrier emphasizes the importance of fostering resilience and independence in children, allowing them to make mistakes and learn from experiences to navigate modern society.


Transmitting parental values to children is crucial in shaping their character and providing them with a sense of identity and purpose in life.

False Diagnosis and Harmful Effects of Therapy

Shrier points out that therapists often affirm and reify the self-diagnosis of their patients, leading to false diagnoses and harmful outcomes. She mentions a case where a young woman, Chloe Cole, was not provided with essential information about the normal emotional changes during puberty, leading her down the path of irreversible hormonal and surgical interventions. Shrier emphasizes that therapy should focus on treating the actual mental health issues rather than creating new ones.

Social Media Influence

Shrier argues that the rise in mental health deterioration among youth cannot be solely attributed to social media. She questions why no significant action has been taken to address the negative impact of social media on mental health and suggests that therapists play a significant role in exacerbating these issues.

Overdiagnosis of Mental Health Issues

Shrier discusses the iatrogenic effects of therapy, where the treatment can cause harm to individuals who do not necessarily need it. She highlights the overdiagnosis of mental health issues among young people, leading to a reliance on therapy and a lack of personal agency. She notes that therapy should be reserved for individuals with severe mental health problems rather than being applied broadly to the general population.

Shrier highlights how children are increasingly being diagnosed with mental health disorders and how this has become a part of their identity. She points out that this trend is reinforced by the benefits and differential attention that these children receive for having a diagnosis. The focus on feelings, constant rumination on sad moments, and questioning everything before acting are all highlighted as toxic behaviors that are encouraged by the therapeutic culture.

Therapeutic Intervention in Schools

Therapists are increasingly involved in guiding parenting practices and providing trauma-informed care in schools. Shrier observes that this widespread therapeutic intervention has led to a generation of young adults with an external locus of control, a lack of agency, and a dependence on treatment. She suggests that therapists and schools need to reevaluate their approach to mental health care and focus on addressing the root causes of mental health issues rather than exacerbating them.

Criticism on Parents

Parental involvement in this trend is also discussed, with Shrier mentioning how parents often hand over their children to therapists at the first sign of any deviation from the norm. She criticizes parents for not asserting their authority and allowing therapists to become the primary influencers in their children's lives. The lack of feedback mechanisms and the failure to track the harmful effects of therapeutic interventions are also highlighted as major issues.

Criticism on Therapists

Shrier delves into the role of therapists in perpetuating this culture, pointing out that they are incentivized to keep clients coming back for longer periods of time. She discusses how therapists focus on feelings and constantly reinforce a sense of victimhood in their clients, leading to increased anxiety and depression. The emphasis on self-esteem and constant validation has led to a generation of children who are afraid to take risks and lack agency in their own lives.

The Importance of Competition

The podcast also touches on the impact of competition and the eradication of competitive games in schools. Shrier argues that by removing competition, children are not learning how to lose gracefully and develop resilience. The fear of trauma and the desire to protect children from any form of failure has led to a generation of young adults who are ill-equipped to handle challenges and setbacks.

Misplaced Maternal Instincts

Another aspect discussed is the role of women in the educational system and the therapeutic industry. Shrier presents a hypothesis that the overgrown nursery-like environment in schools may be a result of women misplacing their maternal instincts. She suggests that the transformation of educational institutions into spaces where everyone is treated like an infant may be a consequence of women's proclivity to nurture and protect.

Overprotective Parenting

Shrier points out that modern parents are more focused on protecting their children from any potential harm, which has led to a lack of resilience and independence in young people. With fewer children and more resources, parents tend to be overly involved in their child's life, preventing them from facing challenges and learning to navigate conflicts on their own. This overprotective parenting style has created a generation of young adults who are ill-prepared to handle the ups and downs of life.

Lack of Intergenerational Wisdom

Another factor contributing to the challenges faced by young people is the erosion of intergenerational wisdom. With families becoming more isolated and less connected to their extended relatives, young parents lack the guidance and support that previous generations relied on to raise their children. The loss of this wisdom has left young adults feeling adrift and unsure of how to navigate the complexities of adulthood.

The Role of Parents in Fostering Growth

Shrier encourages parents to model independence and resilience for their children by pursuing their own interests and responsibilities. By showing children that adulthood offers opportunities for growth and fulfillment, parents can inspire them to aspire to become capable and confident individuals. She highlights the importance of creating a supportive environment where children feel empowered to take on challenges and learn from their experiences.

Impact on Gender Dysphoria

Shrier also touches on the rise in transgender identification among young people and how it is influenced by the current cultural climate. She highlights the importance of allowing children to grow up and experience puberty, as many cases of gender dysphoria resolve on their own as individuals mature. The pressure to conform to certain gender identities and the lack of guidance on navigating adolescence contribute to the confusion and uncertainty experienced by many young people.

The Influence of Social Media and Peer Pressure

Shrier highlights the significant role of social media in shaping young girls' perceptions of gender identity. She explains how platforms like Instagram and TikTok promote transgender narratives and encourage adolescents to explore gender transition. Peer pressure also plays a crucial role in influencing girls to identify as transgender, as they seek validation and acceptance from their peers.

The Role of Mental Health Professionals

Shrier discusses the impact of mental health professionals in affirming and supporting teenage girls' transgender identities. She raises concerns about the lack of critical assessment and exploration of underlying issues that may contribute to gender dysphoria. She argues that mental health professionals should prioritize thorough evaluation and holistic treatment approaches to address the complexities of gender identity issues.

Parental Guidance and Support

Shrier emphasizes the importance of parental guidance and support in navigating the challenges of gender dysphoria among young girls. She encourages parents to prioritize their children's well-being over societal pressures and to provide a safe and nurturing environment for open communication. Sheadvocates for parents to be actively involved in their children's lives and to instill values that promote resilience and self-confidence.

Challenges Faced by Parents

Shrier acknowledges the challenges faced by parents in addressing gender dysphoria and supporting their children through difficult decisions. She discusses the pressure parents face from external influences, such as schools, mental health professionals, and social media, which may conflict with their own values and beliefs. She encourages parents to trust their instincts and prioritize their children's long-term mental and emotional health.

The Need for Resilience and Independence

Shrier emphasizes the importance of fostering resilience and independence in children to navigate the complexities of modern society. She advocates for parents to allow their children to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from their experiences. Shrier believes that promoting independence and self-reliance in children can help them develop critical thinking skills and emotional maturity.

The Impact of Parental Values

Shrier discusses the significance of transmitting parental values to children and instilling a sense of identity and purpose. She highlights the importance of parents communicating their values to their children and guiding them towards making ethical and responsible decisions. Shrier emphasizes the role of family traditions and connections in shaping children's character and fostering a strong sense of community.


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