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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Psychotherapy is a kind of maieutics, or midwifery

Thomas Moore shares the desirable traits of a therapist in "Psychotherapy and the care of souls" for readers. This piece has four sections:
- To Serve the Soul
- The Travail of Birth
- Overcoming Our Complexes
- Guide of Souls, Leader of Rituals

Moore describes his response to the common therapeutic approach:
"The modern therapist seems to think of the problems that come to him or her as deviations from the standard of normalcy and health. The point is to restore a person to a point where the presenting symptoms have been removed, as if by psychological surgery. I don’t see it that way. People come to me because deep down they can’t experience the joy of being who they are. They don’t feel in the positive flow of life. They may feel stuck in some repeating pattern that seems to go back far into their history. They may be focused on, or better, mesmerized by some symptom like an obsession or paranoia or anxiety. Generally, it’s the nature of life to flow, like a river, and not to be stuck or stopped." 
He stresses autonomous aspects of soul:
"I think of the soul as the life in us that is immeasurably deep. Sometimes it feels like a spring or font of existence, making us feel alive and giving us something of a direction and identity. To a large extent it is autonomous, having its own purposes, desires and intentions. When you delve deep into it, you encounter basic human themes and patterns, what Plato and Jung and others call “archetypes.” The need for love, the desire to create, the comfort of home, the excitement of travel — these aren’t the characteristics of any particular person. They are, at least potentially, ways in which all people may experience life."
"Soul is intimate, embedded in life, vital and energetic. It seems to constantly want more life and vitality and therefore can be a threat to the status quo. As you tend your soul, you may try to sense what it needs and wants, and you may discover that its needs may not dovetail with your own wishes."
Throughout the article Moore considers therapists' own deepening while responding to their patients' unfolding: "He has adapted to the mysterious nature of his work by being himself a mysterious person, not too easy to read and comfortable being neutral in the face of another’s passion."

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