Thats a damn good question. I think my unconscious and conscious worked together – there was this strange life-shock experience, but then the insights from that had to be systematised, and thats what CBT / ancient philosophy did. But I left that experience to the end of the book because im not sure what it was, and am trying to write for theists and atheists, skeptics and stoics etc – so didn’t want to put people off. but anyway, i think you’re right – my core beliefs were changed by that experience, and that helped me a lot to put the work in on CBT, because a bit of me already believed that if i stopped caring so much about other people’s opinions i would be happier.
but the thing is – we can control our conscious thoughts and beliefs. im not sure what we can do about the unconscious, or about the Atman / daimonic self (as it were). it sort of does its own thing and occasionally gives us pushes in the right direction. so thats why i emphasise doing work in the conscious world with things like philosophy and CBT – its what we can do practically now rather than waiting for our unconscious to do all the work. i think there’s an alignment there. but yes, to answer your point, i dont think the unconscious is merely the dumb, primitive and irrational part of us – i agree with Plato, there’s some weird and wonderful stuff there, and some wisdom which the conscious mind cant always access.
cbt, to me, is depressing cos it is unisex, thus not recognising the sanctity and wonder of our different make-ups, which could be a reason to celebrate that is lost, but which we greatly need.
however, it and stoicism is useful in an eclectic approach, i think.]]>
I also dont consider myself a 100% stoic – i make some criticisms of it in the book: its too individualist, it puts too much emphasis on the perfectly self-sufficient rational individual, it doesnt admit that we need others, it is culture blind and supposes the individual can exist as a citadel of rationality amid a toxic culture, its politically and culturally pessimistic (society will always be screwed so concentrate on your own inner freedom) etc. I do the same for the other Socratic philosophies, none of which seem perfect to me. But i write 3 chapters on the Stoics, and only 1 on all the others, so I guess Stoicism is still particularly interesting and useful for me. I also love Plato’s books, particularly the Republic, which just blows me away.
Anyway, I have heard of Emmy Van Deuzen and Im sure will meet her one of these days. I think certainly the UK and London in particular is an exciting place for this fusion of CBT, philosophy and public policy.
My book is coming out in Australia in two weeks – im not sure the publishers have done much in the way of publicity so spread the word!
all the best
I’ve been subscribed to your PoW email for a while and you have been re-igniting my old love of Stoicism. A decade ago in my early twenties I started reading Epictetus and Aurelius, but Iater put them aside due to certain inherent problems with Stoicism that I perceive. However, I’ve never found a philosophy that I could assert was ‘the answer’ (and I spent my 20s searching), and I have been coming back to Stoicism recently in my private and professional life and am enjoying the effects on my inner world. Thank you for your part in that.
I studied philosophy at university, and my drive was not so much academic as spiritual (i.e. big picture, meaning) and therapeutic. So I dropped my post-graduate thesis to study counselling, and now enjoy working as a therapist from a distinctly philosophical perspective, especially an existential perspective (regarding which you have some of the best stuff happening in your own city – has it interested you to explore and write about that? Say, Emmy van Deurzen and the like?), but I am becoming very interested in integrating Stoic therapy into my work due to my recent growing interest.
As I say, I have long had some serious concerns about Stoicism from my (what could be called) tragic humanist perspective, but I think it’s time to explore it once again – I mentioned that one lesson I have learnt is there is no particular philosophy that I can subscribe to as sufficient, but at the same time the task of doing real philosophy is a hard and creative one that often invites re-invention of what has been handed down. Also, like a lot of reflective therapists (the many non-’technicians’ among us) I recognise serious limitations to CBT both in its common practices and ideologies, gained from my own reflection and my clients experiences, but again no therapy is sufficient in a broad world and it is exciting to see – as you spend your time showing – the interesting ways in which CBT invites a revival of something as potentially rich as Stoicism in modern therapy.
So keep up the interesting work. If you ever come to Melbourne, Australia, give me a hoy. And tell me, have you thought of looking at one of the other innovative philosophical therapy movements that is happening in London – the likes of van Deurzen?