How a Psychotherapist Can Be a Capitalist

Somebody recently asked me, “As a therapist, how can you be in favor of capitalism and limited government, and against the welfare state?” My reply was, and always is, as follows. I write columns, books and essays on the psychology of a healthy life. Central to emotional health is a willingness to set boundaries. For example, I write of how people are not entitled to your time, nor are you entitled to theirs. I write about how self-assertion is a necessary skill to “enforce” boundaries in one’s life. All of this contributes to a sense of serenity, a core belief that one is entitled to live for one’s own sake, not feel guilty about it and to enjoy everything life has to offer, while still being productive and self-responsible. If I actually believe all these things I write, then why would I adopt political views that undermine all of these points the moment legislators go into session?

I don’t agree with “liberalism” or “conservatism.” Liberalism is the view that the central purpose of government is to transfer wealth from some members of society who have earned it to others deemed needy by politicians. Liberalism utilizes the force of law to literally steal from one individual to give to another, to take from members of one group to give to another. They call this “compassion,” while evading the fact that no such thing is true. If I broke into your house and took some of your money, claiming that it was for someone more needy and deserving than you, and that I had the police on my side, would you call this compassion? Liberals would howl louder at this act of tyranny and intrusion than anyone, especially if it happened to them. As for “conservatism,” it’s nothing more than liberal-lite with religious belief thrown in. According to conservatives, the welfare state should exist, but it shouldn’t grow as fast as liberals want. Further, according to conservatives, all people should be religious and the force of government should be used as a means to promote religion.

As a therapist who advocates boundaries, self-determination, individualism and self-esteem, why on earth would I ever subscribe to either liberalism or conservatism? If I advise people to value their lives and their selves, why would I ever endorse a political system that sacrifices half the population for the alleged sake of the other half? Politicians under today’s system are the abusers. Quite frankly, so are their supporters. I’m on the side of their victims — specifically, those who don’t want to be their victims.