Cognition & Reality

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

If It Ain’t Broke…

Filed under: Emotion,Psychotherapy,Radical Constructivism — drtone @ 9:09 am

Because the process of psychotherapy also depends on a story, one about receiving “treatment” for a “problem,” it consists in a self-contradictory story. In that story, I am damaged and someone else, a “therapist,” comes along and fixes whatever is wrong with me. Not only does such a story depend on a static medical model, with a doctor ministering to a passive recipient, but it also involves the false portrayal of the entire situation as a transit from illness to health. When we renounce attachment to our narrative about repairing the Self, we discover that there was nothing broken in the first place.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a maxim to live by. Once we recognize that the true self manifests constantly, we can begin to examine why that is not apparent to the conscious mind. Suffering does occur. Under no circumstances can arrangements in the world meet every need. Life outside is not like life in the womb. It can be uncomfortable and unsafe, a discovery an infant continues to make from birth onward. In response, we develop defenses against the elements of experience that do not comport with feelings of comfort and safety. Psychotherapy is somehow about reaching behind those defenses without disrespecting them.

A client suggested to me, when we discussed psychotherapy and the question of “fixing,” to consider the meaning of the word “fix,” which is about preserving the status quo. In photography, for example, the “fixer” bath prevents the newly developed photo from changing. Fixing, thought of that way, is against change. Therefore, the client suggested, psychotherapy, at its best, is about “un-fixing.”

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