The institution of psychology exists within the story of P-B and is limited, sometimes severely limited, by that worldview, especially when the practitioner relies too heavily on the intellect. Each of the treatment strategies is hampered in its own way by its basic assumptions about the nature of reality. Using an article in The Denver Post by Dr. Richard Friedman we can cite examples of what we mean.
“It’s practically an article of faith among many therapists that self-understanding is a pre-requisite for a happy life.” I would hope that all, not “many,” therapists would consider self-understanding basic to happiness and good mental health. The key here is the definition of self-understanding which obviously has to be related to worldview and identity. Failure on the part of therapists to recognize that a client’s worldview determines their identity which in turn drives their behavior makes any treatment strategy pointless if a truly “happy life” is the goal of therapy. It is clear from the perspective of Simple Reality that neither self-understanding nor “happy life” has been profoundly defined in the institution of psychology—but more about that later.
Learning to live in the present moment is a desirable and practical goal for a relatively healthy human being. A person diagnosed with clinical depression would have to be treated successfully before they would be ready to become self-reliant within the context of Simple Reality. The following case mentioned by Dr. Friedman illustrates the futility of not starting with a healthy context in treating a neurotic client.
“Not long ago, I saw a young man in his early 30s who was sad and anxious [a good definition of neurosis] after being dumped by his girlfriend for the second time in three years. It was clear that his symptoms were a reaction [italics mine] to the loss of a relationship and that he was not clinically depressed.
“‘I’ve been over this many times in therapy,’ he said, He had trouble tolerating any separation from his girlfriends. Whether they were gone for a weekend or he was traveling for work, the result was always the same: a painful state of dysphoria [depression] and anxiety.
“He could even trace this feeling [afflictive emotion] back to a separation from his mother, who had been hospitalized for several months for cancer treatment when he was 4. In short, he had gained plenty of insight in therapy into the nature and origin of his anxiety, but he felt no better.” Friedman goes on to label the client’s symptoms as “psychological distress.” What would be the conventional psychoanalysis in such a case?
“What therapy had given this young man was a coherent narrative of his life; it had demystified his feelings, but had done little to change them.” In other words understanding the origin of his suffering had not enabled him to cope with it in a healthy way. Again those of us living in the Simple Reality paradigm recognize that the “insight” as to the origins of his “psychological distress” is not the real source of his suffering at all. The insight, in fact, has become more like an excuse to avoid taking responsibility, a reason to assume the identity of a victim. Therapy has failed to empower this young man with the profound insight which forms the basis of P-A, namely, that we all possess the inner wisdom to “feel” the truth of Oneness as the context of our personal narrative and hence the identity necessary to “change” his “feelings” or emotional reactions.
Notice the language used by Dr. Friedman. “…therapy had given this young man a coherent narrative of his life” (that coherent narrative is P-B, an illusion and it therefore compounds the confusion related to the client’s psychological distress), “it had demystified his feelings” (giving him a plausible source of his distress which were in fact not the fundamental source of his suffering further putting a true self-understanding further out of reach), “but had done little to change them.”
The goal in the context of P-A is not to “change” emotional reactions but to use the Point of Power Practice to stop having the “feelings” or emotional reactions. In other words the “psychological stress” is realized to be a conditioned reaction which can be controlled using the client’s own inner resources. In a sense the client becomes his own therapist developing his own, and more profound insights, through meditation, and his own coping strategies with an identity that stops identifying with the body, mind and emotions.
By transcending the victim-centered narrative, the client will then have internalized an authentic, not a delusional story, in which he is empowered to understand and respond to life as a healthy joy-filled person. Let us look a little more deeply into common psycho-therapeutic techniques.
Why didn’t the client’s insight enable him to relieve his distress? “Was this because his self-knowledge was flawed or incomplete? Or is insight itself, no matter how deep, of limited value? Psychoanalysts and other therapists have argued for years about this question, which gets to the heart of how therapy works (when it does) to relieve psychological distress.
“In fact when two different types of psychotherapies have been directly compared…it has often been hard to find any difference between them….Researchers aptly call this phenomenon the Dodo effect, referring to the Dodo bird in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” who, having presided over the most whimsical race, pronounces everyone a winner.
“The meaning for patients is clear. If you’re depressed, for example, you are likely to feel better whether your therapist uses a cognitive-based approach, which aims to correct distorted thoughts and feelings, or an insight–oriented psychodynamic therapy.” For those of us who are self-reliant within the context of Simple Reality we can recognize the limitations if conventional psycho-therapy in this case. Correcting “distorted thoughts and feelings” is not possible, whatever that means, or even necessary to transcend the suffering of psychological distress. A truly profound insight would have given the client a new story and a new identity whereby he could begin the systematic process of transcending the afflictive emotion of psychological distress or reactions (not correcting them because they are fundamentally illusions).
If therapy does not give the client a healthy way to cope with his suffering which results in self-reliance, we would have to label the process a failure.
References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry:
Who Am I? The Second Great Question Concerning the Nature of Reality
Where Am I? The First Great Question Concerning the Nature of Reality
Simple Reality: The Key to Serenity and Survival