Cognition & Reality

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Specifics

Filed under: Books,Emotion,Psychotherapy — drtone @ 10:23 am

Specifics trump theory every time. Although I admire the new Robert Masters book, Spiritual Bypassing, his chapter on “boundaries” demonstrates how that discussion without specifics is empty and useless. He talks about being “overboundaried” and “underboundaried,” and about being “overprotected” and “underprotected,” but without specifying by examples or otherwise what these terms mean. Abstractions are rarely helpful, even in the most high-level discourse. As I read, I could feel my own places of confusion, such as how hard it is for me to grasp viscerally the meaning of an “object relations gestalt.” Therefore, I drew the preliminary conclusion that Masters has problems with boundaries. Without specifics, however, I remain uncertain.

I find more and more that what I ask of my clients is that they provide specifics: Not “Joe and I aren’t getting along,” or even “We fought about the way Joe relates to the kids,” but “I didn’t like it when Joe put our son down for playing video games,” or “I nearly lost control of the car on the freeway on the way here when Joe said that I don’t signal for turns.” Stipulating that any such report is a “story,” I can work with stuff like that. In addition, vagueness is a great defense against almost anything. The effort to specify what happened or is happening offers a gateway through which feelings can emerge.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] I’ve written before on the importance of specifics in discourse, clinical and otherwise. […]

    Pingback by Details & Specifics « Cognition & Reality — Monday, 15 November 2010 @ 3:19 pm | Reply


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