While I think most professional helpers have good intentions when they use these interventions, they may be bad for clients in the sense that their self-confidence and hope may be negatively affected. They may start to feel they are abnormal and have serious problems and they may become emotionally dependent on the professional. Professionals may not always have the best intentions in mind when they apply these problem induction interventions, however. If they were primarily commercially driven and not too much bothered by their conscience, these interventions would be an ideal way of getting clients and holding on to them. Canadian psychologist Tana Dineen, author of the book Manufacturing victims, claims this is common practice in the psychology discipline. She says that psychology has turned into an industry which in its eagerness to sell its products and services is constantly selling the idea to people that they have problems and need psychological help.
Today, I came across a quote from the book The management myth which is a dramatic example of ruthless deliberate problem induction in order to make money. The author, Matthew Stewart, looks back on his days as a management consultant and describes the method in which clients were hunted and made dependent on the consultants:
- Marketing (The luring). Fly in the "experts" from around the world, never to be seen again. Hold "conferences". When that doesn't work, offer to do a quick and painless "diagnostic" at a steep discount, with a money back guarantee. Whatever it takes.
- Diagnostic (Halloween). It's trick and treat time. First, scare the pant off them. Crater their self-esteem. This requires what is known in the trade as a "trick'. A trick is a quick and easy analysis that will produce predictably horrifying results -predictable for you, horrifying for them. Consultants spend years honing these tricks. Second, offer to give them their self-esteem back in exchange for your treat! Choose the implementation plan that is likely to generate the largest volume of consulting fees.
- Implementation (Eating the Brain). They key to establishing an enduring presence is to colonize key functions in the client's central nervous system. A good place to start is the planning function. Send the existing staff on long and impossible errands, and the steal their office space. Make it impossible for the client to think without you.
- Follow ons (Metastasis). You're already expanding deep inside the client organization, so think like a cancer. Look for subsidiaries, foreign branches, or other departments where you can replicate.
- The Breakup. Yes it's hard to do but at some point the client either wises up to you or just gets tired of your smell. And, frankly, you're fed up with making reports that vanish into the bureaucratic ether. So try to end it gracefully.