Letters – Letter to the Editor

Letters – Letter to the Editor – Brief Article


Your self-help issue (“Self-Help: Shattering the Myths,” April 2001) addressed an important problem: sifting bad psych from top psych. As your articles state, a reader is “safer” with professional psychology sites. However, sometimes, if we take risks in life we get further. The most important thing is keeping a critical eye. Also in your articles, you suggest the only way to feel self-esteem is to rid oneself of those who are critical of you. My mother is a big source of constructive criticism for me. I don’t think removing her from my life would help my self-esteem, or any other aspect of my life.

Alan Weitzman Via e-mail


I question several points in Steven Reiss’ “Secrets of Happiness” (February 2001). First, he implies that “feel-good happiness” (joking or having sex) is not important to long-term happiness. Yet, we know that people who choose to find humor in life, rather than focusing on misery, are usually much happier, Humor is almost always ranked as one of the top predictors of success in business and relationships. Why, then, is it denigrated as joking around?

Also, Dr. Reiss includes “revenge” as one of the 16 keys to “value-based” happiness. Why stop there? Why not include the seven deadly sins? Surely there are as many people motivated by greed, sloth and lust? And where are such values as creativity, love of nature, the arts and feeling meaningful in the lives of others? Surely these are as important as eating. Perhaps “writing letters to the editor” should also be included as a value.

Leigh Anne Jasheway, MPH via e-mail


Leigh Anne Jasheway’s letter is based on a misunderstanding of our work. The 16 basic desires were not theoretically derived from my personal values or observations. Rather, these desires represent the factor structure of end motivation as revealed in nine studies with diverse populations. We developed a comprehensive list of elemental motives by asking nearly 7,000 people novel questions regarding their desires and values. The results of our factor and validity studies suggest that many complex human motives reduce to some combination of our 16.

The desire for beauty, for example, falls under the desire for sex. If there were no significant correlation between lust and beauty, many people would embrace ugly sex (sex with partners they perceive to be unattractive). Since nearly everybody tries to make themselves look attractive rather than ugly before sex, our finding of an association between beauty and lust is valid–hence, many people with high libido need to experience beauty more often than average.

Jasheway’s viewpoint that fun-loving people are superior to serious people is an example of what I call “self-hugging,” or our natural tendency to impose our own motivations on others, believing it to be for their own good. Self-hugging leads to everyday conflict between romantic partners, between parent and child and between boss and worker. We are individuals to a much greater degree than many psychologists have realized, so everybody should not try to be fun-loving, nor should everybody try to be serious. People should live in accordance with their individual natures, not in accordance with some “one-size-fits-all” mold that medicalizes normal personality differences.


While I enjoyed Deirdre Barrett’s article (“The Power of Hypnosis,” February 2001), I disagree with the author’s advice to “seek out a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker.” She referred to two organizations that “keep lists of qualified hypnotherapists,” and although SECH and ASCH keep lists of licensed practitioners who use hypnosis as one of their many therapeutic tools, often they have less practical experience than an unlicensed, full time hypnotherapist for whom hypnosis is an area of specialization.

Rather than a license, I recommend the following criteria for selecting a hypnotherapist: find one who practices clinical hypnosis full-time; has a formal education in psychology, a business location and business license; sees clients by recommendation and prescription from those who are licensed; has professional insurance, professional affiliations and engages in continuing education; and can provide legitimate testimonials from satisfied clients.

Ginny Lucas, DCH Stockton, California


I was glad to see your recent article on hypnosis. However, I disagree with some points. For example, gazing at a steady object to block distracting visual stimuli is not needed to induce hypnosis. Anyone staring at a spot above the normal line of vision will have heavy eyelids. Even window light makes it uncomfortable for some to relax.

I also disagree with the advice that a person seeking hypnosis should only go to a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. I am a certified hypnotherapist and Reiki master and have received my training from professionals in the medical and psychiatric field. This may be an advantage because clients often feel more comfortable with someone who is not a psychiatrist.

Barbara P. Gaudio, CH, CRMT Westbrook, Connecticut

In the article “The Prince of Reason” (February 2001), the word masturbatory was used incorrectly. Ellis coined the term “musturbation” his word for subjecting oneself to “shoulds,” “oughts” and “musts.” It was changed to “masturbation.” He says, “It’s musturbation I’m opposed to. I’m in favor of masturbation.” We apologize for the mistake.

PT Staff


Richard C. Atkinson, Ph.D., President, University of California

Nathan H. Azrin, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Nova University

Gordon Bower, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., C.S., and D.J. Davidson Professor, Claremont Graduate University

Albert Ellis. Ph.D., President. The Albert Ellis Institute

Gregory A. Kimble, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Duke University

Ellen Langer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Washington

Jerome L. Singer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Washington

Robert J. Sternberg, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Yale University

Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

COPYRIGHT 2001 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group