David Jacobs, Ph.D.

David Jacobs View Specialties

I am a licensed clinical psychologist (PSY10926) in practice in La Jolla, California and analyst/critic of contemporary American psychiatry.  I am an experienced psychotherapist as well as author. My work as a therapist focuses on undoing the stubborn negative influence of the past so that the person is more free to live happily and successfully in the present and enjoy life and other people. I have extensive experience treating addictions (including sex addiction). I have been licensed as a psychologist in California for over 20 years. I received a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago in 1989. I have authored numerous publications in peer reviewed journals in psychology, psychoanalysis, and medicine. I serve as Associate Editor of The Journal of Mind and Behavior and also, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry.

My work as a therapist is congruent with my publications. I do not think of myself as treating specific disorders. What I treat is persistent bad feelings, problematic behavior, and having difficulties with other people. There are unlimited variations on this theme, so it makes little sense to try to classify them. You do not have the same problem as anyone else, although there will undoubtedly be overlap and similarity with others. People have the same disease in medicine because a medical disease is a physical something. Physical things can be the same for all intents and purposes (e.g., the same strain of virus that causes herpes in one person causes it in another). But no two people have had the same history, faced the same adversity, tried to cope in the same way, and in consequence developed as a person in the same way. Similarity in some respects, yes. Identity, no. Since you are not the same for all intents and purposes as anyone else and neither is your personal problem, therapy requires getting to know you.

People are products of their history. Like a sentence or utterance taken out of context, the meaning of your distress and so on only becomes comprehensible when it is contextualized. The formative past, the life experiences that have really mattered to you and shaped who you are, cannot be outrun, however pleasing it is to think they can be. There are times in life, mostly when young and new horizons are opening up, that it does seem that the formative past can simply be forgotten or no longer matters. Over time this understandable wish shows itself to be an illusion– in romance and marriage, in parenthood, in work, in activities relied on for soothing and excitement, etc. Therapy involves both addressing the roots of what is problematic in living and managing the difficult legacy of the past in the present. Altering the legacy of the past requires effort and time. Therapy is more like physical rehab than medical treatment because therapy requires active participation rather than passive acceptance of a treatment (therapy is not like taking your medicine, which works automatically once you take it because it instigates biological and biochemical processes). The motivation to be in therapy and do the work of therapy is to make the future different from the past and the present.

Real people do not (usually) have simply defined, unidimensional problems that are segregated from the person’s overall way of being in the world and relating to people. We are all accustomed to thinking in this manner because since 1980 American psychiatry has promoted the idea that simply defined, autonomous personal problems exist as part of its effort to medicalize personal problems. The reality is otherwise. Even if a conspicuous problem precipitates seeking professional help (drug abuse, sexual addiction, etc.), it soon becomes apparent that the conspicuous problem does not exist in isolation but is rather one aspect of a person’s difficulty being in the world and having deep and trusting relationships with others. To repeat a theme, therapy must be both about managing conspicuous problems in the present and addressing the legacy of the past. Easily identified and named problems tend to persist if their productive dynamics are not addressed. This is a crucial component of therapy that makes a difference in the long run, and we are in it (life) for the long run.

My published work concentrates on two broad areas: (a) in numerous papers I show that the position taken by the American Psychiatric Association since 1980 that psychiatry is legitimately a part of medicine and that the “disorders” identified in theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are real and independent clinical entities awaiting medical discovery as to cause are both self-serving fictions (i.e., they are fictions that serve the interests of psychiatry), and (b) I try to show that the “evidence” that supports the claim that psychiatric drugs are safe and effective is very flimsy; in fact the manipulations perpetrated in this area amount to a scientific scandal. For people unfamiliar with the scholarly literature on psychiatric diagnosis and drugs the preceding summary points may appear extreme, radical, or worse, but within the scholarly literature itself the failure of psychiatry to scientifically support its diagnostic manual and the safety and efficacy of psychiatric drugs is well-known. Despite massive skepticism and debunking by scholars in this area, the influence of psychiatry and the use of psychiatric drugs to treat practically everything under the sun continue to grow. The reason for this is that a massive, multifaceted industry (including the pharmaceutical, insurance, and hospital industries) creates its own “realities” and growth opportunities (like the military-industrial complex, which is so powerful it creates its own “realities” and reasons for continuous growth).

Dr. David Jacobs Reaches

La Jolla CA