[5 minute read]
I think the loftiest goal of a competent psychotherapist is to get a patient to wholeheartedly reject the language of psychology–to authentically recognize its insidious risk of more harm than good. To shred the vocabulary of personality disorders, and phrases like “letting go” and “moving on/forward” and “healing.” To genuinely abandon the notion of being broken and needing to be fixed. That would be as far away as possible from why people seek psychotherapy in the first place: Judgment, by self and others.
To set the patient free is to let them write their own self-help book, according to the sacred idiosyncrasies of their soul.
My favorite psychotherapist would lead me to that threshold of freedom, then leave the rest up to me, the individual, the person, informed by my soul. The purpose of therapy beyond that point would be only to help me identify when I have relapsed back to that point, or thinking in psycho-vocabulary terms. Conformity to externals.
Peterson rose to fame in large part because he contested legislation mandating “inclusive” language. In that sense, I think the best aim of psychotherapy is to transform a patient’s thinking from psychology’s collectively inclusive language to the patient’s own personal and individual voice of truth.
That is very tricky business for a therapist. Like many scientists (and I am a scientist), they are trained and indoctrinated with skills and knowledge which weight the objective more than the subjective. I think this collective conditioning is what disturbs Peterson (and me) deeply. Scientists and scientific psychologists have, in a very real and grave sense, been trained to stick within the realm that keeps patients and themselves stuck in the loop of diagnosis and treatment and further diagnosis… making it a challenge to venture out of that loop and sense the soul’s freedom. The common parlance of psychology is complicit in this iniquity.
Psychology’s knowledge and skills for feeding the soul are only IMplicit in the discipline; their tools are far from explicit for the purposes of achieving that sole soul goal.
Responsible psycho-professionals are careful to guard their own psyches and to employ their own therapists or spiritual directors. But it’s also no secret that many people drawn to psycho-professions are drawn by self analyses of their own challenges. Freud seems to have analyzed himself much more than he analyzed his handful of patients!
It may well be that a psychotherapist who has not yet explored the depths of their own soul’s dark dynamics is unqualified to help me do it. This is a principle very deep in the heart of Peterson’s doctrines. My dark depths may be not only unfamiliar to them, but uncomfortable too. I do think responsible psychotherapists are well aware of that peril, which makes them cautious and aware of their own need for self-care, but it doesn’t *necessarily* qualify them to safely encourage me to leap off the precipice and wander about in my own unfamiliar soul.
The journey into one’s soul, it seems to me, cannot proceed *consistently* forward from the first leap. It is an exhausting journey peppered with relapses back to the gate at the precipice (and sometimes farther back from there). A growing awareness of the soul’s expanse is inevitably frightening and tiring. Consequently, growth tempts the grower to return to their pre-leap numbing with even more intensity. Acting out during relapses is often more intense than before. For therapists, that potential must loom very large as they approach the gate with me. Relapse is failure, though good for business:)
Responsible therapists know this inevitability, and it is their gentle compassion with us which keeps us from abandoning the gate-ward course.
In sum, psychology is only qualified to take us to the limits of our conscious. Stepping beyond must be a solo act. I feel wariness about reliance on a therapist relationship which cannot help me on the journey past the gate. I think this is why therapists pursue for their patients a course toward a deeper sense of self. Because it is only my relationship with my Self which can guide me in the expansive unknowns of my infinite soul. That journey is glorious, but also scary and lonely if I am not a best friend to the only company who walks it with me, vulnerably, in the bare naked presence of the divine: Me.
[Continue to Soul Therapy, Part 3 of 3]
I describe the end of conscious knowing and the entry to the soul as a gate and a precipice. It’s a threshold, and here’s an article about the liminal space of the soul.
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