Sunday Best

Posted by on Feb 25, 2007 in Uncategorized | One Comment


Not really.

But a bit better than yesterday. Been reviewing the last post and don’t think I really nailed what I was trying to say. So here’s another shorter go:

i. most of the traditional talking cures can’t put much of a case together for bringing about long-term change in the individual patient’s happiness
ii. this is largely because of their conception of humanity as being a separate-independent type of species rather than one which is first, foremost (and just about everything else) a social one…
iii. also because they tend to assume that ‘thinking’ of some ‘deeper’ sort is what drives behaviour (so that’s where they focus (similar errors dominate the thinking of the pharma obsessed psychiatrists…)
iv. when there is some evidence of superior efficacy (as there is with CBT) it is dismissed because it is “clearly” too superficial and too quick-fix…which just reveals the underlying assumptions about how this stuff works…
v. they bitch a lot at and with each other (if nothing else, Freud’s ideas gave a lot of folk a lot of opportunity to quarrell with each other of precise definitions of abstract conjectures…)

Frankl’s point is this: let’s be sensible. Sometimes causes are deep and profound (and thus need deep and profound tools to unpack); mostly they are neither. So let’s have a modicum of commonsense in psychotherapy and in other attempts to change behaviour like marketing, please. Mostly behaviour has superficial causes and corresponding superficial levers for change. Just because something’s powerful doesn’t make it deep…(insight department files F9 button here)

My additional point is: let’s be pragmatic. The “I” view of things has helped to a certain degree to take us all this far but beyond that it’s less than useful for the kind of behaviour we are now looking at – social media, networks, etc etc. “We” however seems much more likely to deliver the goods so let’s spend some more time seeing where it can take us. I believe that the latter is not just likely to be more useful; I also happen to think it’s a more accurate description of human behaviour. But that doesn’t really matter right now: the key question is which is going to be more useful to us?

1 Comment

  1. Johnnie Moore
    February 25, 2007

    Hi Mark: Funnily enough, your original post has been on my mind too. You’ve opened a nice big can of worms and I can identify with the struggle of articulating it. I’ve been meaning to reply and can only do so by allowing myself to ramble, not as coherently as I’d like, as follows:
    I’m a bit wary of generalised statements about therapists. I certainly think there are those who have a highly relational view of us humans. Not least those working in the attachment-based area, who seem to have drawn strength from the science showing how profoundly our brains are affected by the bonding, or lack of it, in early life. When you learn that the physical chemistry of the brain is changed, permanently, by the quality of partental bonding, you get to see how deeply relational a species we are.
    It seems to me they understand the point about “we” quite profoundly.
    I rather agree about the perils of over-rating thinking as a prime cause of behaviour. That’s sort of my beef about CBT and things like NLP even though they do seem to work for some folks.
    Along with thinking, let’s not underestimate the enormous power the language itself has. In particular, in shaping the world as made up of objects doing things to other objects.
    That’s another of my beefs about some therapy – that notion of the doctor operating upon the patient.
    I don’t know if the fact that some therapists disagree really proves them wrong. The Change or Die guy suggests that the main indicator of “success” in therapy is not technique but the quality of relationship.
    I could conceive of two therapists who disagree about technique but both of whom, in their different ways, create some kind of healing relationship with their clients.
    As for marketing, I hope they don’t take the herd idea and just think they’ll get smarter at managing the herd, and not notice that they are part of it!
    We’re all in this myserious business of life together…
    End of ramble, look forward to talking face-to-face.