Blogging allows writers to explore a bit. One of my favorite writers is columnist Jon Rappaport – who has some brilliant things to say about many esoteric things. As an athlete – we look to the positive in order to enhance performance. Many people however, are stuck in negative thoughts. Jon had a recent column about psychology that I thought would be well worth putting in a blogspot (with my editorial, of course). Here is is with some of my comments attached:
The whole thrust of psychology, during its history, has been "resolution of the negative." I fully realize that psychology covers a wide territory, and there are exceptions to the rule. But all in all, the modern field of therapy is focused on "solving issues." Remedying problems whose roots are thought to be in the past.
Psychological "research" is fashioned to resemble the conventional practice of medicine, in which "negative elements are removed."
Psychology's public relations fronts and political connections have enabled it to gain an astonishing position in society. And this helps make people believe its central premise is true. But is it? People, particularly patients, are malleable. Tell them that negative factors, traumas or conflicts out of the past are the reason they're unhappy in the present, and they may well sign on the dotted line.
"Well, that makes sense. For instance, my father and I...and then there was my grandmother...she lived with us for a while...she was a martinet...always hounding me..." Psychology maintains that "resolving" these past relationships will bring a greater sense of peace and normalcy to life.
But suppose there is a much larger unexplored territory in consciousness where the concerns are quite different, and far more profound?
I'm talking about everything that involves living a truly creative life. Imagination, invention, vision, and vast untapped energy. Most of what's called psychology doesn't tread in these deep waters. And that is evidence of massive ignorance. Massive distraction.
It is futile to try to convince a conventional psychologist that the creative life should be his central focus. If it were, it wouldn't be psychology.
In the end, the overall effect of therapy, even at its best, is relatively superficial.
The creative life exceeds the norms of society. A life lived through and by imagination breaks through the ceiling of the universal fixation on problems.
James Hillman, psychologist and director of studies at the Jung Institute in Zurich, co-authored the book, We've Had a Hundred Years of Therapy & the World's Getting Worse. Here are two Hillman quotes about psychology:
"Where a case history presents a sequence of facts leading to diagnosis, soul history shows rather a concentric helter-skelter pointing always beyond itself ... We cannot get a soul history through a case history."
"Our lives are determined less by our childhood than by the traumatic way we have learned to remember our childhoods."
People learn how to "think about life" through the lens of psychology. People who should be keeping their heads down or, God forbid, reading a novel, are suddenly experts on human behavior.
As a result, a putrid kind of brain-addled pop psychology floats like a foam over the crest of society.
And when, in its own defense, advocates claim psychology is a science, they may as well be saying that an anthropologist, sitting in the jungle making notes on monkeys, is discovering vital facts about humans. The monkeys, if they knew what was happening, would, I'm sure, treat the whole enterprise as a fantastic joke. Just as we should, when shiny new psychology PhDs emerge from universities to treat the mind.
If all of psychology, its fatuous notions, and our memory of them disappeared from the earth tomorrow, much of society would come face to face with an interesting void. And then real exploration would begin. Again.
Thanks, Jon - an interesting perspective. With all of the psychological issues in today's society - this excerpt resonates well. EPD