Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

“Truth” in Psychotherapy

Originally posted on September 9, 2017

The idea that one theory for mind is true and the others less so is based on an idea that truth is one, whereas I think it likely that what’s true for one “level” may not be true for other levels or categories. What works for    elementary arithmetic may not be true for psychology. It’s entirely plausible that there be many theories and all are true in what they affirm; but all are false insofar as they deny the truth of other approaches. This requires a venturing into a more complex system of epistemology —the philosophy of how we know what we think we know.

For example, knowing yourself seems obvious unless you undertake a more meticulous search and are sensitive to discrepancies. Ultimately it is possible to be rather agnostic about yourself, other than noticing strong preferences or dislikes. I tend to agree with Carl Jung who notes that the unconscious contains levels we can not know about. They’re not pushed away, as Freud hypothesized. He felt they were pushed out because they were forbidden. Some of this may be true, but Jung looked deeper. Some parts of the unconscious were so super-conscious as to be not accessible except through symbols—and even then, inadequate.

Another explanation, not as mysterious, comes from the approach of Alfred Adler. I truly liked his rather common sense approach, not only because he gave old Sigmund a run for his money, but for other reasons. Other pioneers offered other explanations, and all may be true, and more.

In the 1930s they were pioneering and health versus illness was blurred. Today, people found to be “sick” are imagined to have chemical imbalances, and truth be told, medicine often are effective. But the idea that healthy people don’t "need" therapy is also off the mark. Healthy people are facing challenges of “overload” unknown a century ago. So deepening, becoming more resilient, applies to everyone—but it shouldn’t be thought of in the same way as those in the “sick role.”

For example, some do well by finding ways to express their creativity. I’m lucky in having art in my personal role repertoire, and song and dancing, too. Now I’ve created an alternative fictional reality that channels some of my intuitions. I pity those who don’t have weird channels because ours is a very weird world!

So while I agree that all can partake in personality development using a variety of what used to be therapy, I don’t like the blurring of categories. We therapists should not take it on ourselves to bring people back to our crazy form of sanity. In other words, although people who need therapy are pretty "sick"—and there seems to be room for such a category, daring to hold relatively sane people to a standard amputates their creativity. They should be encouraged to channel—however they might—their ways of synthesizing their own colliding archetypes. In other words, don’s just tolerate eccentricity, promote it for everyone.

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