Social Therapy is a Marxist-based psychotherapy movement which rejects conventional psychology in favour of group therapy techniques claimed to be derived from Marxism, particularly the work of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky.
It is often characterized as a rigid cult devoting unquestioning subservience to its founder Fred Newman (who died in 2011), and criticized for its advocacy of free love practices (called "friendosexuality" within the movement) which can have the potential for abuse in the context of psychotherapy situations. Indeed, in the early 1970s Fred Newman's therapy group sometimes held group therapy sessions in the nude.
Newman later attempted to mainstream this fringe form of group therapy by writing Let's Develop for the popular self help book market and with his cultural and artistic endeavors such as the Castillo All-Stars, in which members of his therapy groups put on musicals and plays. The latter successfully got a $50,000 grant from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of an initiative by the mayor to fund more than 100 cultural groups (and, a cynic might suggest, returning the favor after the Fred Newman-controlled NYC branch of the Independence Party gave Michael Bloomberg its ballot line).
In 1974 Newman's Social Therapy movement was in a brief alliance with Lyndon LaRouche's National Caucus of Labor Committees, but that fell apart because Newman's and LaRouche's messiah complexes made it impossible for the two to work together.
Fred Newman is also the founder, along with two-time third party presidential candidate Lenora Fulani, of the left-wing New Alliance Party, which was often characterized as a front group for Social Therapy, and the more secretive revolutionary Marxist-Leninist cadre known as the International Workers Party. More recently this group tried taking over the Independence Party of New York, which was the New York state chapter of the Reform Party. Those who go to Social Therapy groups seeking help for psychological issues are encouraged to become active in Fred Newman's ever-shifting political enterprises as part of their "therapy" on the basis that their problems are rooted in class, race, and gender oppressions and therefore radical political activism is "empowering". Conversely, those who get involved in Fred Newman's political groups because they like their political positions find themselves under pressure to attend Social Therapy sessions. The end effect in either case was to entrap the participant in a mindset in which their continued happiness and well-being was entirely dependent on continued subservience to groups led by Fred Newman.
Transformational Social Therapy
Social therapy must not be confused with the french thérapie sociale, which is called Transformational Social Therapy in the United States. Transformational Social Therapy was developped by the psychosociologist Charles Rojzman, and is used to resolve intergroup violence and conflict.
- Re-evaluation Counseling: An unrelated group, also based in Marxism, making similar claims to free its participants of societal oppression.
- Dennis King's blog
- Bruce Shapiro, "Dr. Fulani's Snake-Oil Show", Nation magazine, May 4, 1992
- Fred Newman, Writer and Political Figure, Dies at 76, The New York Times
- Mating Game: Bloomy Loves Fred Newman, All Over Again, The Village Voice
- Fred Newman and the Historical Roots of the Newmanites, Publiceye.org; also discussed here in an internal National Caucus of Labor Committees paper from the LaRouche POV
- Dr. Fulani's Snake-Oil Show, The Nation