I recently gave this presentation at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, in Toronto, and here is a pdf of the slide show. It’s bound to be somewhat bumpy, because the slide show is meant to support an ongoing lecture/commentary, but it contains a lot of good information that may be useful. Another bump: as a pdf, it doesn’t have the built-in animations that synched with the lecture/commentary and helped the flow.
Therapists and teachers often describe their approach to psychotherapy as a system or method, such as cognitive-behavioral or psychoanalytic. Many other approaches, when you look into them, are some sort of inspired hybrid, such as Emotion-Focused Therapy, Internal Family Systems or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. My approach to therapy, like my approach to consultation with therapists, doesn’t rely on a system or a method, although it is methodical and systematic in its own way. It places experience, and the observation of experience by client and therapist, first. In my work with each client in psychotherapy, and each therapist in consultation, I am focused on exploring the experience of the client, the experience of the therapist, and the experience of the therapeutic pair. This is a highly reflective process, and it includes the exploration of behavior and its meaning. Psychologist George Kelly–a teacher of one of my teachers–said, “Experience is not what happens to us, it’s what we do with what happens to us.”
I had a very unusual introduction to psychotherapy, because of coincidences (or, if you prefer, luck, or grace) in my life. While still an undergraduate at Goddard College, in Plainfield, Vermont, I met, and became an apprentice to, Eugene Eliasoph, MSW, LCSW, co-founder and co-director of the New Haven Center for Human Relations. Gene was a therapist, psychodramatist and leader of therapy and personal growth groups. For a year, II was able to participate in Gene’s groups, along with licensed therapists and Yale post-docs, and receive undergraduate credit for an off-campus field experience. Goddard’s educational philosophy, influenced by John Dewey, prioritized experiential learning and the role of students in pursuing what they wanted to learn, on campus and off. Even then, I was finding my own way.
Psychodrama, for readers unfamiliar with it, is a way of exploring situations in our lives, in groups, by acting them out rather than talking about them. The person whose situation is being explored is the “protagonist,” the leader is the “director,” and group members play the various people involved in the situation. There is a role in psychodrama called “auxiliary ego,” which Gene often asked me to play. The auxiliary ego, also called a “double,” is sent by the director to join with the protagonist (or other member of the psychodrama) and express what the person might be thinking or feeling, but not saying. This was part of my introduction to psychotherapy. The experience of the person I was doubling with was more important than any theory, method, concept or system. My task wasn’t to label what the person was struggling with, or analyze how they were doing it, it was to find my way into the person’s experience and express it in a way that helped move the exploration forward.
In his other therapy and personal growth groups, Gene included me as a “model member,” who was there to learn and participate authentically. Gene had a lot of knowledge and experience about facilitating therapeutic and personal learning in groups, and later became President of the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. His focus was always on the experience of the people he was working with, and he had a way of being and working with them that helped them feel encouraged and secure enough to explore issues that might otherwise have felt too vulnerable and disorienting to get into. He had psychoanalytic training, at both Austin Riggs and William Alanson White, as well as psychodramatic training with J. L. Moreno, the creator of psychodrama; all of which informed his work. But he also bought his own life experience to his work. Among other experiences, as a soldier in W.W. II, he had been captured and escaped, and this contributed to a deeply existential view of human nature. He had also been influenced by the writings of Harry Stack Sullivan, which he had studied at William Alanson White (which Sullivan had helped found), on the importance of interpersonal relationships. Gene was also a jazz musician, as I was at the time–he on clarinet and me on guitar–and we shared a love of improvising together within a structure. This is similar, in some ways, with the experience of psychodynamic psychotherapy (for a unique consideration of this dimension of therapy, see “The Musical Edge of Therapeutic Dialog,” by Steven Knoblauch, https://www.amazon.com/Musical-Edge-Therapeutic-Dialogue/dp/088163297X).
I later came to understand part of Gene’s systematic approach in the psychoanalytic concept of the “frame” of psychotherapy. The frame is the set of mutual roles and responsibilities of client and therapist, which creates a safe relational space, at least compared with most other relationships in our lives, within which clients can let down their guard and accept help in exploring intimate and difficult issues.
Later on in my academic and professional education, I was exposed to lots of theories, methods, and systems of therapy. They all seemed to me to have some truth, mixed up with expressions of the personalities of the founders and their followers, and their attempts to achieve stature and the appearance of theoretical consistency. This is a problem that started with Freud and continues to this day. I’ve worked around it by studying neuropsychology and neurocognitive science, as well as spiritual psychology, and developing a model of how psychotherapy works. That model, under continuous revision, is based on brain structure and function, neural networks and their interaction, the experience and behavior of multiple self-states, the social and economic dynamics of human communities past and present, the dynamics of identity and meaning, and how all those processes are instantiated in the client’s issues and the psychotherapeutic relationship. (See my review of Pat Williams’ “Which You Are You?” https://psychatlarge.com/a-review-of-which-you-are-you-by-pat-williams/). I call it an “expanded psychodynamic” model, and it easily incorporates what I find useful in psychoanalytic, cognitive, and other therapeutic approaches. It enables me to be methodical and systematic without being confined within any method or system.
For more on consultation to refine therapists’ perceptions and skills, see my earlier blog post at https://psychatlarge.com/consultation-to-refine-therapists-perceptions-and-skills/
I’m not a “one size fits all” psychologist—quite the opposite—but one of my favorite one-stop teachings about human nature and therapy is “Which You Are You?” by Pat Williams. Originally released as a spoken CD by Human Givens Publishing, in the United Kingdom, “Which You Are You” is now available as an mp3 from the Human Givens website, https://www.humangivens.com/category/cds-mp3s/mp3s.
Journalist, playwright, author, storyteller, and therapist, Williams speaks, in “Which You Are You?,” both as a therapist to other therapists, and as a deeply thoughtful person sharing an important understanding of human nature (see her interview at http://www.brightontherapypartnership.org.uk/pat-williams-interview/, and her memoir http://portobellobooks.com/king-kong-our-knot-of-time-and-music).
Williams begins “Which You Are You?” with a kind of “human given:” “Every one of us, and we see it the minute we think about it, has many ‘minds’ rather than just one…These divisions in our psyches are a matter of daily personal experience. We are unmistakably made up of many self-contained personalities, some of which are helpful allies, some delinquent or even at war with each other, and some of which we are utterly unaware.” Although “we think of ourselves as whole,” our real condition is a continuous transition of “what psychologists call sub-personalities.”
The basic idea is not new. “Unsurprisingly, the knowledge of sub-personalities is in fact centuries old, found in many traditional religious and esoteric practices, and presented in various forms,” including the differing characters of the Hindu gods, and the beliefs of ancient Greeks, “who saw humans as intrinsic to the dramas of the many gods above.” In medieval times, “people believed that they could become possessed by a whole bestiary of demons, devils and imps…capable of causing disabling mental states…We find it too in the Gospel according to Mark, when Jesus meets a man possessed by demons. When asked for his name, he replies, ‘My name is Legion, for we are many.’”
Coming up to the present, “When we come to relatively modern times, and look at Western psychology, we find Freud describing personality as a continuing struggle of elements within a divided mind, and Jung talking, even before Freud, about divisions in the psyche. We see the ideas surface in Maslow’s work, and in (Roberto) Assagioli’s, where the work is to unify the sub-personalities. It’s there in the work of Gurdjieff, and in quite a bit of the psychological literature in recent decades.”
Multiplicity of personality reflects the structure and function of the brain. Williams introduces “Multimind,” the 1986 book by psychologist Robert Ornstein, saying “I think he may be the first in modern times to make the connection that our multiple selves, some of which are valuable allies, and others of which can give us a great deal of trouble, are actually a reflection of how we are made. Given the machinery of the brain, it could hardly be otherwise.” https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1883536294/ref=ox_sc_sfl_image_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
This dovetails with my own view of personality; not surprisingly, since “Multimind” is foundational to it. My “elevator speech” about therapy is: “Personality exists in parts, as neural networks in the brain, adapted to the conditions in which we grew up. When circumstances change, and the parts and configuration are no longer adaptive, we have to revise and reconfigure them. That’s what therapy is for.”
Williams notes the look of surprised recognition in her therapy clients when she describes this view of personality. “The fact that we are a congregation of minds, many (of which) have no idea of, or even interest in, what another of their number is doing, is so familiar that we take it for granted.” She invokes Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”
The “small minds” are “states of locked, internal focus; in other words, trance states.” This recognition helped generate a metaphor in Williams’ work with a client, which she has since used often with other clients. This woman loved opera, and Williams drew the distinction between opera, in which there can be several characters on stage at one time, following directions, and the “opera of our lives,” in which “we normally can have only one character on stage at a time, and sometimes it’s the wrong character” for the situation, “hogging the spotlight and refusing to stop singing or get offstage.” Similar metaphors—a ship and its crew, for example—have provided ways of helping clients to achieve a distance from their problem, and take “greater, sometimes almost exquisite, control over their own states of mind.”
The sub-personalities don’t become the whole focus of therapy in William’s approach; bringing up the metaphor when needed makes it more powerful. The “observing self,” described by psychiatrist Arthur Deikman, “equates with the director of the show,” while “positive and negative trance states and emotional arousals are the characters. Clients are thus separated from their problem,” and their resources for self-awareness and self-regulation can be “recognized, named, and brought into play.” Williams encourages her clients to name the various parts of themselves—playfully, not too seriously— that claim the stage. One of my clients, using this method, identified “The General,” who comes onstage whenever he feels slighted, while another client identified the “C.O.O.” (chief operating officer), who takes over in the absence of a C.E.O. (chief executive officer). Another metaphor I’ve found useful in therapy is that of an orchestra and conductor, used by neuropsychologist Elkhonon Goldberg to describe the role of executive functions (the conductor) in his The New Executive Brain. https://www.amazon.com/New-Executive-Brain-Frontal-Complex/dp/0195329406/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514583481&sr=1-1&keywords=the+new+executive+brain+frontal+lobes+in+a+complex+world
“Naming anything…brings a measure of control,” Williams says, “and this is certainly true in the case of the characters. Naming the character requires the client to move into his or her observing self to take a look.” Williams highlights the “power of naming,” to shift the locus of control. “Once you’ve named them, then whenever you feel disturbed in some way, you can quickly identify which small mind is creating this impact, and become aware that you need to move it out of the way.” Williams then gives several examples, from her work with clients, of how identifying sub-personalities, such as “Valerie Victim”—essentially states of mind established long ago in response to circumstances that no longer apply—were usurping control and undermining them. By helping her clients identify their sub-personalities and then learn to direct them, Williams helps her clients reclaim control over their inner lives; for example, by replacing “Valerie Victim” with “Confident Connie.” Each character brings its own style, varying in attunement to our current situation and needs, replacing the one on stage before. “Whenever a new character arrives, the one before is forgotten,” Williams says; recalling, for me, Elkhonon Goldberg’s description of consciousness as, “a neural network operating at a sufficient intensity for a sufficient period of time.” When one neural network replaces another, consciousness changes.
Williams describes self-undermining states as emerging from “An over-alert amygdala, pattern-matching traumatic memories to vaguely analogous situations…The whole point of drawing attention to these switches is to help people break out of imprisoning trances, and also develop an ease and flexibility which allows them, deliberately and consciously, to shift between states, or to pull back into the observing self.”
Because we have this kind of personality structure, we are always vulnerable to one self-state coming forward to dominate the others. “We all know people in whom one character, self-pity maybe, or a dominator, is more or less permanently on stage.” Williams gives several examples from her work with clients of the importance of our becoming capable of identifying such controlling selves, moving them off stage, and replacing them with selves who are more attuned to, and competent for, the situation we are in.
The metaphor of an opera can be effective in couples work too. “Even if two people love each other, some of their characters may still be slugging it out.”
These inner characters—states of self—have their own attitudes and histories, plusses and minuses. Sometimes the state we need isn’t available in our internal array, so we have to import it, as it were, from outside; from people we know who can be, for example, good at interviews. “Identifying with the psychological skills of others…connects us with the same potentials in our own minds.”
“Which You Are You” envisions the goal of our being in the right state for whatever situation we are in. “What you’re learning is that you can bring whatever character you need on stage, allowing you to handle a situation skillfully. And you’re also learning how readily a mismatch between a part and a situation can generate problems…What an extraordinary sense of control and personal power, when you know and appreciate all the different parts of yourself.”
It’s important not to be too perfectionistic or serious about this. “In all of this…a light touch is crucial, an essential safeguard against self-absorption or pretentiousness.” Keeping it light helps us regain our balance. “When we have identified sufficient characters in the dramatis personae, we can look at any of them evenly, without judgment…Lighthearted naming lessons tension and helps pull us back into the observing self…Any of the characters can be allies, just as long as we have them rather than them having us.” And, “Any character will hold up the show…if something else is needed…I have never seen anyone, after encountering their ‘opera,’ exclusively identifying with any character, although they may have done so…before that.” Williams quotes Nietzsche, : “Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener, but only the soil of the plants that grow in him.”
Williams, like Deikman, has a spiritual perception at the core of her understanding of personality. The approach that she’s describing “leaves the essence of what we are, the heart of us…always intact. Who we are can perhaps be thought of as partly material, partly transcending that, but it is always safe, because it is the bit that nobody can ever get at…Awareness of our many minds opens up a trail leading well beyond the bounds of therapy.”
In addition to being “an invaluable, commonsense way of helping us begin to know our many selves,” this approach helps us to know others too, Williams says. “Societies and nations have their multiminds too, and operas of their own. I sometimes think that if we were able to identify and manage their characters, with the same purpose, clarity and success that we can learn to manage our own, how different perhaps the life of human communities might be.”
I LOVE this presentation, because it contains so much useful information about our minds and how we get stuck and can get unstuck in our lives. “Which You Are You?” illuminates human nature and experience as they are, rather than trying to fit them into some dogmatic theoretical, philosophical or other package, as so many presenters on therapy and human nature do. Much as I love it, however, I have two hairs to split, and a bone to pick, with “Which You Are You?”
First, Williams uses the word “psychodynamic” as a synonym for “psychoanalytic,” as many psychoanalysts and others do, in order to differentiate her approach. But if we understand “psycho-dynamic” as I prefer to, to include any model of mind in which parts are engaged in dynamic (energized) relationships, “Which You Are You?” fully qualifies.
Second, there sometimes seems to be a nuance of difference between how Williams uses the term “observing self” and how I understand Deikman to have used it. Deikman was an investigator of the mystic tradition as well as a psychiatrist; the subtitle of his “The Observing Self” is “Mysticism and Psychotherapy.” https://www.amazon.com/Observing-Self-Mysticism-Psychotherapy/dp/0807029513/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514583673&sr=1-1&keywords=the+observing+self+deikman He distinguished between the “object self,” which can be viewed like any object, and the “observing self,” pure awareness, which cannot be seen as an object. When Williams advises her client that “They (the sub-personalities) come and go, you are always there…You are the same person you always were, and that’s all we can say about it,” she is drawing from this well. Yet she also sees the observing self as a director, switching selves on and off the stage, which seems to me to be an object function. This is something that I’ll need to meditate on.
Third—this is the bone to pick—Williams’ case examples seem to suggest that therapy can be done on a short-term basis with complex clients through the application of metaphors of self that include multiple parts under some sort of direction, in the context of a supportive and guiding therapeutic relationship. In therapist peer study groups I facilitate, when we’ve discussed “Which You Are You,” my colleagues welcomed its description of mental life and use of metaphors in therapy, but didn’t see how that would lead to successful brief treatment with most of the clients with whom we are working.
In “Which You Are You?,” Williams is speaking from the Human Givens approach to therapy. Human Givens is a short-term treatment approach which encourages the therapist to get right in there and deal with what’s happening with the client. That’s great, but I haven’t seen, in the Human Givens approach, a recognition that clients can present with multiple complex issues that may have to be discovered and dealt with in therapy over time; reflecting clients’ need to develop psychological capacities they didn’t possess, to the necessary extent, when entering therapy.
“Which You Are You?” presupposes a fairly highly developed ability, on the part of our clients, to detach from their sub-personalities and observe them in action, given therapeutic guidance. Many of our clients, however, don’t come to therapy with much of that ability, so the dynamics of the sub-personalities, as they affect the issues that the client has come to therapy for, may take time to become evident to client and therapist; sometimes a long time. For example, a client with whom I’ve been working for over five years, with an early traumatic history that itself had taken some years to emerge in therapy, has only recently begun to identify a kind of vigilant guardian self that has been firmly in control throughout much of his life, protecting him and others at the cost of greatly restricting his experience of self and others, and his capacity for relationship. Another client, with whom I’ve worked for over ten years, listened to “Which You Are You?” perhaps three years into his therapy. He immediately grasped the principle of the of the selves, and it has contributed often and meaningfully to the value and depth of our therapeutic conversation, but it hasn’t shortened it. It’s great when therapy can be brief and successful, but it’s by no means, well, a human given, that it will be. The parts of our personality are neural networks in the brain, and so are the abilities to observe and redirect them. It can take time to grow the neural networks to observe, adapt and redirect the neural networks that are the sub-personalities.
In fact, “Which You Are You?” has a lot to contribute to psychodynamic therapists who do long-term work, like me. One contribution is to deliberately focus the therapy on the cultivation of, and access to, the observing self. In my view, this is often more of an unintentional side-effect of therapy than a main focus, but it is responsible for much of the actual value of most therapy. Another contribution is to help therapists avoid approaching our clients with theoretical presuppositions about what the parts are—ego, id, superego, Oedipal complex, archetypes, for example—and instead to keep an open mind to discovering them as the client experiences them, in the collaborative therapeutic relationship.
“Which You Are You?” is a favorite single source of information about how our minds work and what our experience is really like. I regard it as a better source of information about what really happens in the psychological dynamics of our lives, and how we might reorganize them adaptively in therapy, than most of the books I’ve ever read about therapy, put together.
During the 1970’s I began to hear about “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety disorders have emerged as leading causes of mental and emotional distress today, and are one of the leading motivators for people to seek therapy and medication, as well as being one of the main causes of abuse of alcohol and drugs. Anxiety plays a substantial role in eating disorders, cutting and other forms of self-harm, compulsive disorders, and contributes to overeating and the complications of obesity, such as diabetes. Anxiety contributes to disorders that have a psychosomatic aspect, including cardiac and gastrointestinal disorders. And anxiety underlies a widespread behavior pattern that doesn’t really have a clinical name but has to do with either underperforming, as a way of avoiding the risk of failure or the challenges of success, or overperforming, as a way of trying to extend one’s control over life.
But where does all this anxiety come from? I think that there is a key relationship between anxiety and trust. We have an excess of anxiety, in my opinion, because have a deficiency of trust. This is the first of two columns in which I’ll explore that relationship.
As I often say, it’s no accident that psychotherapy evolved just as Europe was running up to the huge transformations of the first Great War, which led to the redrawing of the global political and socioeconomic map. Psychotherapy, an attempt at a rational approach to understanding unconscious process and healing unconscious rifts, was born more or less at the ending of the great Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian empires, with repercussions that are still being felt today, in Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. World War II, a continuation of the first, facilitated the end of the French and English empires, and, reaching to the Far East, led to revolutionary upheavals in the Japanese and Chinese empires, and elsewhere.
Social, political and economic upheaval has affected virtually every family, in ways that are bred into the “DNA,” the behavioral and emotional memes, of family cultures down the generations. To this instability and insecurity are added the vast changes brought about by technological innovations in industry, agriculture, economics, medicine, and communications, which we can see expressed in the culture and even the language of the “new generation” that emerges among adolescents every 5 years or so.
A key result of all this change and transformation has been the loss of trust in the stability of how things are and how things are done; how we communicate, relate, make a living, what we can expect and take for granted. During most of human history, people lived in times when conditions were quite stable, and even the dangers of life were familiar. Things didn’t change much over the generations, let alone during the course of a single lifetime. Indeed, I’m told that, during most of human history, most people lived their entire lives in groups of 30-50 people, to most or all of whom they were related. Those days are gone, for nearly everyone on the planet; although the search for new “tribes” is one of the motivators, and sources of anxiety, in modern life.
It is not only empires that were swept away in the abrupt, tumultuous, often bloody transformations of recent history, but the role and authority of institutions upon which populations depended for stability, including the religious, academic, legal, political, and cultural institutions which where the adhesives that glued the old order together. The resulting psychological challenge of modern life is that we have to learn to trust change rather than stability, which is very hard to do. In order to trust change, we need to understand it better, and to have the roots of our stability anchored in values, relationships and experiences that are deeper than those which are changing.
A key psychoanalytic insight is that the self can dissociate or split into different parts, which may not recognize, or be “unconscious” of one another. It’s also possible to think about a model of mind that is inherently multiple, as in the “Multimind” model described by psychologist Robert Ornstein (http://www.ishkbooks.com/books/MULT3.html), and Human Givens therapist Pat Williams (http://www.humangivens.com/publications/publications/Which-you-are-you-CD.html). In this model, different “selves” come into prominence at different times, rather like actors on a stage; except the director may be absent, and the troupe may be working from an old and fragmentary script. (By the way, it seems to me that the difference between “psychoanalytic” and “psychodynamic” concepts is that psychoanalytic ones postulate a single self that has split, in various ways and for various reasons depending on which analytic theory you buy, while “psychodynamic” concepts can include that as well as multiple self and multiple levels-of-consciousness models of mind.)
Now, here’s where all this comes together. Anxiety is one reason for the evolution of psychotherapy during these revolutionary planetary changes, and anxiety is related to the untrustworthiness of the key institutions upon which we depend for stability and meaning in our lives. It may be that there is a natural process of fragmentation of self, and need for subsequent reunification of self, that is just part of the human condition; the ancient stories certainly indicate that. However, the conditions of modern life encourage fragmentation, without giving much guidance about how to achieve the subsequent unification. It seems to me that that’s where finding the roots of value deep within ourselves, in our relationships with one another and with humanity as a whole, at a deeper level than such transient institutions as government, temple, school, court, etc. can provide, becomes a key part of healing our inner fragmentation and resolving our anxiety.
The old institutions are not entirely irrelevant, of course. They continue to provide a kind of social stichting-together function. In addition, each institution contains, within itself, traditions of access to deeper and higher values. Religions, beyond their role of organizing populations and telling people what to do and believe, included access to spirituality through esoteric and mystical affiliates. Academic institutions, beyond requiring rote learning and preparing students for roles in society, included access to the deeper questions of the meaning of life, especially through philosophy and the humanities (science, a late-comer, is still getting oriented there). Legal institutions, beyond maintaining laws, enshrined devotion to justice, and sometimes exemplified it. Government, in addition to administration, aspires to uplift the well-being of all. Even today, people who feel they can trust their social institutions seem to have less anxiety than others. But sooner or later something happens to undermine their trust, so they do have to deal with being unanchored in life, one way or another. The commitment to the fundamental values of spirituality, meaning, and justice, along with their discernment, seems to have diminished in the practice of religion, education, and law–everywhere, as far as I can tell from what I see around me and glean from newspapers and other media. The result has been that, at a time of great change, when people are in greatest need of connection with perennial human values, the institutions upon which societies have relied to maintain and transmit those values have been less and less up to the job. There are individual justices, reporters, ministers, teachers, administrators, who exemplify highest values, and some organizations do a better job than others of instilling them into the culture. But the institutions, on the whole, are a pretty sorry lot, measured against higher values. They neither embody nor represent such core values, and as a result people are unable to trust them; and, often, one another.
So we can’t trust our social institutions to be what they are supposed to be, and when we ourselves are part of those institutions, we often have to conform, to go along and get along, or else stand against the tide and perhaps get swept away. The resurgence of fundamentalism in religion, and the fundamentalist variant of strict constructionism in legal and judicial practice, seem to me to reflect the misguided attempt to return to the times when the institutions of religion and law were more closely connected to spirituality and justice, respectively. However, that’s like focusing on the utensils we ate with years ago, because we are hungry now. As to education for meaning in life, our academic institutions seem to have pretty much given up on it, except for those which go in for brainwashing, and the odd teachers and schools here and there who persist in trying to help students connect with themes of meaning in life, albeit against the tide of rote learning for high stakes testing, indoctrination in social beliefs, and education for vocational preparation. The attempt by departments of education across the country to develop a common core curriculum (see my post of April 16th, 2012), is an attempt to establish fundamentals in education, but it focuses on behavioral objectives that can be measured, so it must, of necessity, omit the crucial dimension of meaning of life and connection with the real core values of experience. And so, in the midst of our busy lives, we are adrift.
As a psychotherapist, I find that issues of spirituality, meaning and justice in life (expressed through family and other personal relationships, as well as relationships with teachers, employers and other institutions) often underlie anxiety, although that is not something you will find in the professional literature, such as the DSM-IV (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders). As the great psychologist Abraham Maslow pointed out, when these issues are identified and clients are able to make progress by establishing or reestablishing their connections with their own spirituality, sense of meaning, and love of justice (what Maslow called the “being-values”), anxiety tends to diminish. But that is not taught in our therapist training programs today either, since it can’t be reduced to a measurable behavioral objective.