Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Subjectivism and Objectivism

     When I talk to myself (which I think is very healthy), I keep catching myself being amazingly subjective.  Instead of saying something like, "The world is a beautiful and wondrous place," I say, "To me/For me the world is a beautiful and wondrous place."  I think that the distinction between the two is cavernous.  The first depicts a world as a truth inevitable.  There is right and wrong in this kind of world.  If, to fit the example, one would disagree with the notion that the world is indeed beautiful and wondrous, he or she would be incorrect without possibility of revision.  But all should ask themselves, is a sunny day beautiful?  To me, rainy and overcast days are beautiful.  So obviously total objectivism is not valid in this world.  At the other end of the spectrum, total subjectivism can't be correct either.  If we think of "correctness" as a morally acceptable (which opens up a whole bunch of cans of worms, but I'll take it here as an assumption), then those with antisocial personality disorder, who think stealing and killing are OK, are also correct (or at least not wrong).  Are their motivations really OK?  No.  Obviously either extreme end of the spectrum is a bit much.  Like most things, living or working somewhere in the middle is better . . .  it provides a level of comfort, adaptability, and safety that most people thrive on.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Correctness of Psychotherapeutic Theories

     By trying to disprove previous theories of psychotherapy when there is documented proof that improvement has been made, are we really trying to help create better theories or just disprove old ones for abstract reasons?  I think that if there is documented proof of improvement, then something about the therapeutic relationship has helped them (if we assume that outside factors and time healing are not - or at least minimally-contributing factors).  Perhaps it is the case that psychoanalytic theory is wrong, but, again, something was going right.  Maybe it had nothing to do with the client's drives or motivations, but just the fact that someone is listening in a nonjudgemental fashion could be more of a common therapeutic factor.  So, by that logic, Freud did not have it all wrong (perhaps, even, psychoanalytic theory is 100% correct!).  He started everything that we do - sitting with clients, listening, etc.  He was the foundation.  Therefore, he was right, to a degree.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

More on Religion (and Some About Science)

     Unfortunately this entry is going to be about religion again.  I still have some issues with it.  A doctrine built around a faith structure - a good idea?  I don't think so anymore than I did the last time I talked about it.  But is it a bad idea?  No.  At least, not when correctly philosophized.  What is religion more than rules about official conduct and beliefs about phenomena yet unexplained?  So, by that logic, is not science a religion?  It talks of proper behavior or etiquette - a certain level of sophistication and civility in this scientific age - as well as explanation of the unexplained - for instance, why does anything with a positive charge attract that with a negative?  I don't know . . .  They don't know, but we will give them names and observe them still.
     This brings me to to two points.  First, science is the obvious next step of religion.  And second, if science is indeed a religion, it is most likely not a good idea to listen to everything said.  If, by the stream of thought anchored from the first point, religion has spawned science and science is yet another religion unto itself, why are scientists not worshipping Reason and Logic?  Most likely in order to further themselves from formal religion and because practice, experimentation, and invention are they new praying, confessing, and sacrifice (and the former disallow the same attitude as the latter).  But, more to the point, I think that it used to be the case (and well still might be) that clergymen were the most educated men of their time.  This practically made them the scientists of their time (if such thought was not prohibited to begin with).  No, they did not experiment, for this was not their means/practice, but they observed, taught, and explained.  They did all they could with the resources they had.  Most likely it is true that most Renaissance thinkers were religious.  Many (thought not all, and the number is decreasing steadily) of our current scientists practice even while believing in more "old world" religions.  As technology progressed, and the fruits were received, it seems to me that the change in god figures only makes sense.  We could actually see changes and reasons for being through this new mode of understanding.  To a degree, just like the Greek/Roman gods are no more worshipped as they once were, technology and science are the new gods a la mode.  Old religions were in existence to explain the unexplained.  We now have "better" answers through this new apparatus.  The swift changeover from superstition to hypothesis is only logical.
     Could it be the case that science, like religious indoctrination, can lead to the closing of minds as much to the opening of them?  Yes!  Do we believe in the supernatural anymore? No, because it's not logical - even though there is plenty in the outside world that we don't understand.  It is very true that science has made the world/universe smaller; it has taken away some of its majesty through computation and through educated conjecture.  Science re-invents itself frequently as theories are proven to be false.  This means that everything we know is either a lie or an estimation (like modern physics).  Call me cynical, but it almost seems that creating astrophysics is akin to creating Demeter - another variant to explain another phenomena.
     Does this mean that science or any religion is bunk?  Absolutely not!  Far be it from me to take away someone else's meaning in life.  Should we all become Luddites?  Should we all throw away our science because we are afraid of what is to come?  No.  Indeed progress is very important.  Do progress and religion share every meal? . . . Maybe.  Very probably.  I think that we are only as un-evolved as our understanding of ourselves and our universe.  Science tells us a great deal about he latter, but the former?  Only we can know ourselves.  Only by really understanding who we are in this moment and understanding where we want to be in the future will we be free of all shackles of formal re-education.  A healthy dollop of personal understanding with a grain religion is, for me, perfect.  Goes down smooth, without worry of worry, cynicism, or self-hate.  The next question to answer is:  Who am I?  Were it that I could answer that question to its conclusion.  Unfortunately, I lack the cerebral skills and linguistic development that would allow an answer that is coherent and pleasing to read. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Most Important Letter in Psychotherapy

     I remember sitting in one of my classes early this year and hearing my professor begin many of his interventions with "Gee."  As in: "Gee, I wonder why you're feeling that way, " or, "Gee, do you maybe think that Sandra feels differently than you?" This brought me to the conclusion that G is the most important letter in the alphabet in psychotherapy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Continuum of Psychotherapeutic Theories

     One of my professors, William Casile, showed our Group Therapy class a really interesting graphic depicting different psychotherapeutic theories on an x and y plane.  I am going to present it quickly and take it a step further.  The x axis portrays the continuum of objective versus subjective theories.  Said another way, this axis shows the theories' views on reality.  Is reality a construct of the individual (subjective) or is there a distinct and cohesive reality that everyone is part of (objective)?  The y axis's continuum attempts to discern between an empirically-based theory and an experiential/growth-related non-empirical theory.  The former is capable of experiment or correlation, while the latter is less data-oriented and therefore less able to be quantified for a journal or publication.
     Where empirical methods and subjective methods cross, existentialism and psychoanalysis result.  Should existentialism be here?  I don't like, first of all, that existentialism is organized with psychoanalysis.  More importantly, it is hard for me to believe that existential psychotherapy is easier to research than Rogers' common factors (as Yalom's book on group psychotherapy can attest).  That being said, I think that Casile, being an existentialist himself, knows better than I on this one.  This area's title is Rationalism.  This could possibly be because these two orientations are the deepest, most roots-based approaches.  But rational?  The use of psychoanalytic metaphor is one of the less rational approaches I know (not necessarily saying it's false - metaphor can be a powerful thing).
     Humanism is the convergence of experiential and subjective.  Humanism is all about the client.  But not only.  Humanism is also all about the therapist.  While growth and personal reality are important in the client's life, I think that it is just as important to the therapist.  I think that the best and perhaps most vocal of experiential proponents was Carl Whitaker who always wanted the client to act as his therapist.  I think that everything in the Humanism category is also more feelings-based than its polar opposite, Empiricism.  Experiential models are inherently more about affect anyway.  
     Empiricism is more the polar opposite of Humanism.  It does not dwell on emotions, but rather on behaviors or cognitions.  Both behaviorism and cognitive-behavioral therapy are testaments to that.  They are both the most empirical theories to date.  They also espouse a relationship that is one of teacher and student.  The client is actually being taught how to cope better or become more active in their own lives.  This teaching underscores the "correctness of reality" that its place on the x axis denotes.
     I can't say that I know much about the last category.  My program does not intensely teach the more collectivist theories (outside systems-based family approaches).  I honestly don't think that systems theories should be in this model at all.  It seems to me that systems and multicultural competencies are better used as a z axis.  What to call such as axis?  At this point, I do not know.  Perhaps later I will find a phrase that rolls off the tongue eloquently enough to sit somewhere beside such an educational model.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More Thoughts on a Unified Theory

     Upon further thought about some kind of Unified Theory, I have realized a major flaw in the logic of the primary idea.  To create some kind of non-varied theory, that would, in essence, require 1) an agreement among professionals and 2) a change from theory to process/fact.  The latter point is distressing because we would be changing a theoretical construct (something that can be further developed or altered) and change it into a globally-accepted idea.  If something is accepted by everyone to such a degree, it becomes de facto fact.
     People are not the same!  Sure, some theories have shown empirically better results than other, but those results are most likely pulling mostly within two standard deviations of the mean.  There are always outliers.  To use such a Unified Theory would leave these individuals out in the cold and would staunch further development by professionals.  Sure, there would be fringe development, but such action would be seen as para-science by professionals and would include only minor numbers, decreasing its academic potency.
     This is not to say that a therapist-based theory is not worthwhile to cultivate (keeping in mind that it would not function for all clients).  Instead, I think that it is of great import for any therapist to understand their own core methodology with room to alter for fringe cases.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Psychotherapy Library

  1. Behavior Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Martin M. Antony and Lizabeth Roemer
  2. Cognitive Therapy:  Basics and Beyond by Judith S. Beck
  3. Becoming a Therapist:  What Do I Say, and Why? by Suzanne Bender
  4. Games People Play:  The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis by Eric Berne
  5. Feminist Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Laura S. Brown
  6. Person-Centered Psychotherapies (Theories of Psychotherapy) by David J. Cain
  7. Case Approach to Counseling and Psychotherapy by Gerald Corey
  8. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Michelle G. Craske
  9. Cognitive Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy)  by Keith S. Dobson
  10. Family Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by William J. Doherty and Susan H. McDaniel
  11. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy)  by Albert Ellis and Debbie Joffe Ellis
  12. Thirty-Five Techniques Every Counselor Should Know by Bradley T. Erford
  13. How to Fail as a Therapist:  50+ Ways to Lose or Damage your Patients by John V. Flowers
  14. Interpersonal Psychotherapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Ellen Frank
  15. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  16. The Descriptive Phenomenological Method in Psychology:  A Modified Huesserlian Approach by Amedeo Giorgi
  17. Emotion-Focused Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Leslie S. Greenberg
  18. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Steven C. Hayes and Jason Lillis
  19. Relational-Cultural Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Judith V. Jordan
  20. If You Meet Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!:  The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients by Sheldon B. Kopp
  21. On Becoming a Therapist by Jeffrey Kottler
  22. Brief Dynamic Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Hanna Levenson
  23. Where to Start and What to Ask:  An Assessment Handbook by Susan Ries Lukas
  24. Narrative Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Stephen Madigan
  25. Counseling and Therapy Skills by David G. Martin
  26. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature by Abraham Maslow
  27. The Discovery of Being:  Writings in Existential Psychology by Rollo May
  28. Love and Will by Rollo May
  29. Man's Search for HimselfI by Rollo May
  30. Gestalt Therapy by Firtz Perls (et. al.)
  31. Basic Counseling Techniques:  A Beginning Therapist's Tool Kit by C. Wayne Perry
  32. What Therapists Don't Talk About and Why:  Understanding Taboos that Hurt Us and Our Clients by Kenneth S. Pope
  33. Client-Centered Therapy by Carl Rogers
  34. On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
  35. Motivational Interviewing:  Preparing People for Change by Stephen Rollnick
  36. Against Therapy by Dorothy Rowe
  37. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  38. Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Jeremy D. Safran
  39. Career Counseling (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Mark Savickas
  40. Existential-Humanistic Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Kirk J. Schneider
  41. Psychotherapy Integration (Theories of Psychotherapy) by George Stricker
  42. The Basics of Psychotherapy:  An Introduction to Theory and Practice (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Bruce E. Wampold
  43. Case Studies in Psychotherapy by Danny Wedding
  44. Reality Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Robert E. Wubbolding
  45. Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom
  46. The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom
  47. Love's Executioner by Irvin Yalom
  48. Lying on the Couch:  A Novel by Irvin Yalom
  49. The Schopenhauer Cure:  A Novel by Irvin Yalom
  50. The Spinoza Problem:  A Novel by Irvin Yalom
  51. The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom
  52. When Nietzshe Wept by Irvin Yalom

Major Psychotherapy/Psychological Theories and their Progenitors

  • Erik Erikson - Psychosocial/Developmental
  • Sigmund Freud - Psychoanalysis
  • Carl Rogers - Person-Centered/Humanistic
  • Albert Ellis - Rational Emotive Behavior
  • Aaron Beck - Cognitive
  • Irvin Yalom - Existential/Group
  • Carl Whitaker - Experiential/Emotion-Focused
  • Virginia Satir - Experiential/Emotion-Focused
  • Salvador Minuchin - Structural Family
  • Murray Bowen - Bowenian/Natural
  • Carl Jung - Jungian Analysis
  • Milton Erickson - Brief/Reality/Family/Solution-Focused
  • Nathan Ackerman - Marriage/Family
  • Alfred Adler - Individual/Adlerian
  • Mary Ainsworth - Attachment/Family/Developmental
  • Viktor Frankl - Logotherapy/Existential
  • Karen Horney - Psychodynamics
  • Rollo May - Existential
  • Abraham Maslow - Maslowian/Humanistic
  • Fritz Perls - Gestalt
  • B. F. Skinner - Behavior
  • Eric Berne - Transactional Analysis
  • William Glasser - Reality
  • John Gottman - Couples
  • John Bowlby - Attachment
  • John Watson - Behavior

Friday, October 26, 2012

Emotions and Thoughts

     It's very weird to almost have to pick between "majoring in" thoughts and emotions in psychotherapy.  It seems to me that a lot of therapists consciously choose to unfamiliarize themselves with one of them (normally emotions).  But shouldn't they be considering both?  Since when was it wrong to feel?  Sure, thoughts can lead to emotions, but does that mean that we should subscribe to one or deny ourselves the riches of the other?  Emotions, I believe, can also lead to profound thought.
     Thought allows us to understand the world.  Thinking is what led us to create all the amazing things around us.  But what if we had all our computers and video games and electron scanning microscopes, but were disallowed human contact and love?  We could fill the world with the latest technology, but would it mean anything?  Would the world really be full?  It would be like having atomic particles without a positive or negative charge.  The matter would simply float along and away.
     Therapists need to allow themselves to feel.  Perhaps more behavioral or cognitive-behavioral orientations are popular because they don't require the amount of emotional empathy that experiential theories do.  Do we use them to avoid burnout?  Maybe.  Is it worth it?  Better asked:  Is it fair?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Four Theaters of Psychotherapy

     No one will ever agree 100% with anyone else about the validity of psychotherapeutic orientations.  Obviously a Rational Emotive Behavior therapist will disagree fundamentally with a psychoanalyst.  But, as we have seen time and time again, even those who study or partake of the same theory have different views on how to apply it.  With all this in mind, I will now try to do the impossible:  to create a unified theory for psychotherapy.  This is ultimately self-defeating, but it's at least a fun thought exercise.
     I think, at this point, that there are four theaters of psychotherapeutic application.  These include the world, the immediate environment, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.  The world, in my definition, would be analogous to the macrosystem in Bronfenbrenner's Systems model.  This include fundamental ideas and archetypes in a person's (indeed, in each person's) life.  Immediate environment refers to the room in which the therapist and client(s) find themselves.  The interpersonal theater is an idea that there is a certain mode or fashion to how a therapist and client interact.  The last theater is intrapersonal.  Whereas there is a dialogue between people, I think that there is also a dialogue in a person's hand.
     But the real question here is how to use specific theories in each one of these areas.  What is appropriate?  I will be using more popular and basic theories because they are easier to obtain and study than more obscure theories.

    Starting from the outside and moving toward the inner theatres, we come to the world.  Understanding the world is a difficult thing.  Obviously every theory in psychotherapy is attempting to answer some/many/all (though the audacity of that last type would be staggering) questions about what is "out there."  So my goal here is not to do that.  The goal is to be able to come to terms with large ideas.  I can't think of a better orientation in this realm than existential psychotherapy.  This theory leads to thoughts and ideas about some of the larger issues in life.  The real issue is how to help the client prepare for (or help them prepare themselves for) the large issues in life.  I think that techniques and a deep understanding of existentialism can help these issues to be addressed.
     The environmental theater of things is an amazingly simple ideas as all the tenets have been exampled, tested, and applied through Rogers.  Everything he says about genuineness, unconditional-self and -other acceptance, and empathy pertains to this idea.  Perhaps, at this point, I should make a more detailed distinction between environment and interpersonal.  I do this because genuineness etc. can be communicated verbally.  But I think that these can be communicated through body language and the set-up of the room as well.  As I write this, I realize that the difference is tenuous at best.  Something to come back to later.
     How we talk to a client and what method we use with our words is very important.  How do we get a therapeutic relationship started and keep it sustained?  At this point in my limited career, I think that an author by the name of Kottler,  who wrote On Becoming a Therapist said it amazingly well.  He said that (paraphrasing) we learn to counsel through the power of our personality.  I love that statement.  I know that that has absolutely no theory, evidence, or respectable orientation behind it.  Honestly, I think that the interpersonal part of therapy is really what the inter-theory scuffle is about.  At this point, I haven't found one that satisfies me yet.  This will have to do for now . . .
     The last theatre is intrapersonal.  This one is fairly straightforward.  The question is: How does one better himself when the counselor is not around?  Better said, how does the client counsel themselves when the counselor is away and all they have is the voice of their conscience in their head?  Albert Ellis found a pretty good answer to that.  REBT teaches a person to keep their thoughts/emotions/actions in control by understanding how each of them are interconnected.  It's something that someone can do by themselves.
     Perhaps the Unified Theory isn't really about the specific theories used in the different theatres, but rather the model of theatres itself.  This is, of course, a little more difficult to change in the World and the Environment.  Again, this whole thing needs to be discussed more when I have more time to think about it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

On the Subject of Altruism

     I define altruism as the drive to save another, or decrease their suffering, through total non-accountance of self.  I thinkt hat the most common example of altruism (and most likely the only situation in which true altruism can be shown, if not proven) is a death situation.  Better said, a situation in which one dies for another without any though of self-preservation.  I've thought about this, and I think it would be very difficult to prove total altriuism beyond the shadow of any doubt.
     Perhaps an example is in order.  Were a parent to save their child by pushing them out of the road of an on-coming vehicle, only to be struck themselves, does this show true altruism? I'm sure that many would say yes - this parent thought nothing of their safety in order to save their own blood.  But if we search for the underlying reason for the action, could the answer not lay in evolution and genetics?  Perhaps a parent inherently knows that to save their child would preserve the family.  Perhaps the only way a parent will truly live on forever would be to ensure that their genetics live on in their offspring.  So, in this situation, there was a self-interested erason for saving the child!
     Even taking the child's parentage out of the equation does not prove true altruism.  Saving a child from someone else's family still protects the "collective" by seeing that another offspring survives.  Perhaps a better way to say that is that saving another human helps ensure the specie's survival as a whole.
     Taking this idea one step further, if we were to take same-species situations off the table, there are still bars to true altruistic sacrifice.  If anything - a dog, a paper clip, a glass of water - is important enough for a person to sacrifice all or part of themselves, a certain feeling of accomplishment oress" must crop up in the sacrificer's skull.  This feeling of being in the right place in order to save somethign that must be saved is enough to shake altruism.  One must first ask himself if the person is sacrificing in order to feel this sensation or if he is feeling it due to the sacrificing.  Obviously the first situation is more sacrifical dare-devilry than true altruism.  The latter is much different.
     There are also certain actions that are done to avoid negative outcomes or feelings.  While a feeling of "rightness" or accomplishment is positive and may push a person to sacrifice, avoiding a negative outcome is just as much of a motivator.  Not saving that child might bring on a punishment which would be unfortunate and possibly severe enough to abhor lack of sacrifice.
     Intent is the most important part of this.  Why was this happening?  Split reaction to a problem shows no intent, so it has nothing to do with altruism.  A truly altruistic situation is one in which the person has absolutely nothing to gain from an action - not even a feeling!  I think that intent is one of the most important part of psychotherapy.  If there is no intent, then the action or thought has no merit (unless one wants to mention the depth of the intent - overt or unconscious). 
     So . . . if one sacrifices themselves utterly without intent, they cannot be seen as truly altruistic because they are supporting something else.  But to be without intent, I argue that one cannot be truly altruistic either.  This situation yields only insanity or, as mentioned previously, reaction.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yalom and Religion

     I read most of Yalom's The Gift of Therapy.  He mentions religion a couple of times in his book and a few of them, his own opinions on the matter are quite clear.  While I grew up in a semi-religious household, I see myself as agnostic or spiritual.  Religion, I think, is a wasted doctrine that has no singular value.  Its meaning is lost to re-telling and outside opinion.  Religion could be anything - money, a deity, the rain, science... whatever.  I would rather put my faith in something I can stack in my favor - people.
     That being said, I would like to apply religion to the four constants in existential psychotherapy.  These include death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness.  Death is simply the fact that someone (everyone) will die.  It is an inevitability.  Freedom actually refers to freedom of responsibility/choice; everyone has the ability (or perhaps better put, the possibility) of making choices and having responsibility over themselves.  Isolation is intended to mean that everyone in the world is alone.  The last term, meaninglessness, is perhaps the most important and sought after ideal of the list.  People need meaning to survive.  They need a reason to live.
     Religion drastically changes the meaning of death.  To a certain degree, the act of dying changes from an inevitable end to a portal to some other plane (whether that be Paradise or Pit).  It causes many to decry finding meaning in his own life for that in another.  Death becomes just another tick on a timeline.  The budding scientist in me scoffs at the idea of such a belief in something that cannot be documented.
     Freedom in and of itself becomes meaningless (especially in Western religions) because everything is pre-ordained.  People don't have control of their lives anymore.  This means that piously religious folk trust everything to their faith, making decisions that are important or everyday not their problem.
     Isolation, that feeling of being alone, which makes us all connect with one another becomes a farce because we're never alone.  People can live with their religion instead of each other.  The idea of dying alone also becomes defunct.
     Meaning.  Now isn't that what religion (and philosophy) are all about?  Why are we here?  Rather than figuring out our own meaning (or perhaps coming to the end conclusion that a search for meaning is itself meaningless), religion gives us false hope.  It tells people that their meaning is the same as everyone else's...  Is that true?  Is everyone the same as everyone else?  That's doubtful.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Addition to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

     This entry is all about potential.  I read a very interesting story by some rogue philosopher who dramatized a meeting with "God".  The whole thing is about the vast potential of a species when they manipulate their environment.  Those who simply adapt, the articule explains, are merely surviving and not aspiring to be something greater.  The paper talks about "we" a lot.  I'm not the biggest group person - in the sense that I, at THIS moment, value the individual more than I do the system in which he finds himself.  A collective, though, is a very comforting concept as it infers a certain amount of security with a group of people who exist for, or are merely operating at this time toward, a certain goal.  With these two things in mind - the ultimate potential and the collective - I propose a change to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
     Originally, Maslow's pyramid looks like this:

 But I think that a small change can be made in order to show the philosopher's point.
     If we assume that Maslow's original model is correct (though I'm pretty sure that quantitative research is inconclusive on that point), when we're assuming that these needs are met from the foundation to the top, with it being stated fact that one cannot achieve self-actualization without their physiological needs met.  So, if we also assume that ultimate potential is met by these individuals becoming part of a combined collective, would it not be appropriate to place an attachment onto the top of the pyramid?
     Before I draw the graphic, I would like to mention that, so far, I have not come up with sections for the additional attachment.  Here it is:
     I think that this picture accurately portrays the fact that the "collective" is based on the individual.  Without an individual, nothing would get done - innovation, invention, or ground-breaking creative research would not occur, ultimately stagnating the species and leading them to a quiet extinction.  Because such a hive mindset would come from individuals from this model, it actually bases off of the idea of self-actualization.  That being said, would this ever happen?  Probably not.  In order for such a theory to occur, there would have to be a mass of self-actualized individuals who would life society to heights not before experienced.  Because there aren't many self-actualized individuals (and by all accounts, self-actualized people would probably not have the interest for such an over-all regime shift).
     Perhaps, due to that last parenthetical phrase, I should define my own definition of self-actualized.  For me, a self-actualized individual exhibits, obviously, none of the needs/has his needs fulfilled.  He understands himself, or at least has the potential to fully understand his own actions, emotions, and thoughts due to a lack of background noise.  It occurs to me that everything from Maslow's Hierarchy is external to the individual.  Everything on that model can be done to him, be accepted by him without necessary intrinsic thought or action.  It almost seems that this model allows thought only when a person meets the self-actualized level.  Does this mean that one out of a thousand people can truly think for themselves?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Measure of Investment

     I think it is important, when defining yourself and your place in a relationship, to figure out the correct measure of investment.  I, as a person, am amazingly scared of losing myself in the "us."  When I look around at the other couples, it seems there are three kinds of relationships that have to do with this "measure of investment":

  1. Inaction through Fear - I think that there are many that feel that entering a relationship will end with a total eclipse of their own personality - a loss of self into the other.  These are the individuals that either enter no relationship with others or constantly push others away in order to deter such a possibility from occurring.  I think that everyone has a friend who enters many relationships only to spurn the other and complain about intimacy.  These are the people who, in an attempt to gain nothing from other, invest nothing themselves.  Perhaps the relationship is just as unwanted from the "other's" side due to this level of inaction and fear of amoebic possession.
  2. Total Takeover - The other end of the spectrum finds another who is so into the relationship that he is willing to either totally give up his identity to the other or have himself integrated into more of a collective (a la Borg).  There is a certain sense of safety that comes with any collective (political party, religion, etc.), but this type of investment leaves nothing in its wake.  Whereas the individual was once a distinct spirit, his status changes to one who requires permission for the simplest thing.  Could it be that these individuals have so little separate personality to begin with, that to sacrifice it was an easy and relatively unmolesting process?
  3. Healthy Investment - Luckily, there are those who can find a happy medium between these two extremes.  These people find time to be themselves, but have the ability to relate to another in a semi-collective way.  But how is such a thing possible?  Surely it is easier to operate at an extreme, adhering to a simple black/white set of rules, rather than juggling distinct responsibilities of both camps without gaining fear of integration or need for over-investment.  One of these individuals how to make constant overt and covert decisions at every single turn in order to keep their identity intact as individual/related.


     This Venn diagram shows my current thoughts on a healthy relationship.  The people in this relationship are heterosexual only because it is what I have personally experienced.  This shows the people as having issues that they deal with.  A nod to existential psychotherapy is here because I believe that we all do die a lone and must deal with the majority of our issues alone, as well.  That being said, some are very much a responsibility of both people and should thus be decided together.  But, as said, the majority of issues are singular as can be seen by the amount of space outside of the "united issues" field.  While it may seem rather callous that I mentioned that most decisions should be made by the individual, that does not mean that the other should not be concerned with personally-made decisions.  A net of "care" is around each person.  This, however, does NOT mean that outrageous inquiries shoudl be made into personal decisions.  Trust is key here.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Musings on Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Theory and Other

     People change due to what is around them and can, in turn, change the things around them.  I like the diagram of Bronfenbrenner's theory because it helps me realize that we are a product of everything around us, but that we have the ability to alter our surroundings.  That being said, I do not believe that anyone has the ability to change anyone else.  Any intra-personal change that can be made must happen due to a choice from the individual.  When therapists talk to clients, the client must make a conscious choice to do something.  Even listening in the first place denotes a level of sub-conscious choice either in response to the person or his/her message.
     If the client makes a conscious choice to deny the message, then the therapist can do nothing for them . . . except appeal to their subconscious.  I don't know how to define the subconscious . . . perhaps the base of what makes us human . . . desire, passion, humor, sadness.  Emotion.  Perhaps the problem, when someone shuts down from help, is that they don't feel close to the therapist.  Perhaps its their relative positions; perhaps race; perhaps any number of things.  That is somewhat immaterial.  Appealing to their emotions can get you past that.  Tell a joke.  Be funny.  Disclose (carefully).  At that point it may be possible to bypass their conscious and talk to their feelings.  This process would probably take quite a few sessions, but it is a start.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Entry

     I'm starting to understand more and more that 1) all psychotherapy is actually no more than individualized applied philosophy, 2) studying and, dare I say it, understanding psychotherapy is a slippery slope (akin to "understanding" quantum physics), and 3) there is no way that anyone studying therapy cannot change or expect no change to occur.
     I understand that therapy is derived, at its roots, from both ancient and modern philosophers.  Sure, Socrates was a philosopher, but I find the chance scarce that anyone could masterfully argue that Rogers, Ellis, or Freud didn't work in the same vein.  My reading into each author's work forces not only queries specific to technique and therapeutic intent, but also those general, unanswerable questions about life, the universe, and everything.
     It is this study and self-questioning that leads me to sit in my recliner in the twilight of the evening, understanding nothing.  This lack of understanding, or, better put, this surplus of questions with a marked deficit in answers pushes me forward to study more in the vain hope that I will find these answers.  Is it all for naught?  I'm not even at the end of my theoretical quest (will I ever be?) and already I know that it will be worth it.  This is one of the many situations in life where the journey is much more worthwhile than the goal.
     Already, even in my relative infancy in this program, I have found my place along the theoretical spectrum, my temperament, and my view of the outside world changing.  I firmly believe that program, more specifically, as class such as this requires introspection and personal change.  Without this flexibility, how am I to effect real change in anyone else's life?  To not be altered or to not be open to being altered by such an experience is akin to an unforgivable sin in this course of study.
     I'd like to end this entry with one thought:  When I was little, my parents told me to always be positive.  I don't believe this is possible.  When I was in college, my instructors told me to always be skeptical.  I don't believe this to be healthy.  Now I believe that it's enough to always be thoughtful.