Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Maybe we should all get therapy...

I have a friend (no, really, it's not me) who is seeing a therapist. S/he has only been a couple of times, but is already looking forward to her/his next session. While s/he and I debated the merits of dream interpretation (we both agree it's little better than astrology. S/he and I were able to list a few truly universal archtypes for humans, but even so, culture diversifies how we relate to those archetypes far to radically for anyone to be able to compile a book with universal symbols and their meanings in dreams.
For example, everyone has a mother, a father, everyone is born, and everyone dies. Now, it might seem obvious, but think about how you view those universals, then start thinking about how other people you know relate to those, if indeed you know. I am close to my mother, not very close to my father, but don't have a deep, overt emotinal relationship with either. None of us talk about fears, hopes, etc: emotional stuff. I'm pretty hip on humans, so I'm pretty wild about birth, but I neither have a vagina, nor see one as a sexual object, so my views on birth are fairly clinical. I don't for an instant believe in a soul, so I think death is oblivion, the same as before I was born. Thus, I don't worry about reward or punishment, but nor do I really have a terror of death, as I really can't do anything about it, yet I've no idea when, so why worry about it. Compare my views on those archetypes and contrast them with yours. There will be differences which would make any universal symbolism problematic to explain and justify. S/he and I both agree that those who advocate dream interpretation as something beyond a personal, subjective interpretation, as a science even, are not only jumping the gun, but may be running in a race that doesn't even exist), we both agreed that psycho therapy is...theraputic.
I asked if it is because when explaining one's situation to a stranger, one has to rethink the issue at hand in order to get the relevant points across. This has the effect of forcing the teller to KNOW what the issues at hand are, which is invaluable in self-reflection. I also wondered if having an objective stranger made her/him more likely to tell the therapist things s/he hasn't and/or wouldn't tell her/his friends. The answer to both was yes.
Interestingly, my friend told me those deep, dark secrets. After testing them outloud, s/he found that they really weren't all that earth-shattering, and it was easy to put them into context and perspective. Additionally, it appears that therapy such as this is all about the afflicted discovering the answer for themselves, via some savvy questioning to be sure. It's an exercise in assigning meaning to the events and feelings in one's life, without all the baggage (which is often, but not always desirable) that comes with friends and lovers.
It all sounded pretty healthy, and it made me wonder if everyone wouldn't benefit from, at the least, having the option of therapy. I thought about this because of the monstrous health care debate in Washington. There is a bit of merit to the idea of "increasing access" to healthcare, but what's really meant, I think, is advanced testing, and prophylactic medical care. In truth, anyone in the country can get emergency care, so access to immediate medical care isn't an issue. What I wonder is if a little mental health access wouldn't do worlds of good more for everyone than complicated, expensive (we'll pay the same for our health care one way or the other: either up front or in taxes) insurance plans for physical care.

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