People lose so much apprehension of the world through the habit of compartmentalizing–in their understanding of and conduct within relationships, community, profession, etc,. For instance, in regards to religion, the people with the most mystical view of the world are those who make pretensions at being guided by reason, such as atheists.
Atheists view the stories in the bible as though they were written for them and their limited understanding of statement and purpose completely disregarding the fact that these stories were told for entirely different communities to address issues from an entirely different time and place–and retold for different communities and circumstances, etc,. They assume such stories should fit into formats such as scientific dissertation or journalistic rigor. Meanwhile, they ignore the crisis with which the church has had to contend in pursuit of a common good for an extended community–subject to all the jaded agendas of personal ambition as any other organization of human effort. They so easily haul up absurdist banners of symbolic depiction, such as an old man in a gilded gated community suspended in the clouds and then pat themselves on the back for dispelling such absurdities with their own disbelief–as thought they were the first in the world to do so. This is a Marxist kind of hubris… the extension of which is the notion that, [one person can make sense of the world and all others should discard their own understanding and fall into line with the new thinking]. Others think that Science dispels the mythology of religion as though accountancy and arithmetic could replace the study of law.
More to the point, the therapist patient relationship is tainted by the fact that the patient is expected to open up to a complete stranger their most intimate experiences with the only reason for that trust being a professional expectation and the exchange of money for service. The relationship sets up a bizarre power-dynamic in which the one person, bound by nothing more than a bit of professional dogma and remuneration knows all about the patient and the patient knows almost nothing about the therapist. What happens in the lives of the patient when they have found such a cheap and artificial intimacy and exit from their own isolation, loneliness and suffering?!
Well, they aren’t searching for that kind of intimacy in those other relationships… or if they are, those pursuits have been tainted by that defining relationship with the hired servant… the therapist. Only, with the power-dynamic reversed… that intimate outside the doctor/patient relationship now takes on the role of subordinate. The Patient has rendered themselves vulnerable to the doctor in the first instance and in the second…. has fully contrived the terms of self evaluation with the true, would-be, intimate–that is the one who listens without being paid to–is merely set up as a listener and not the more organic and real role of active participant in the taking down of those barriers of loneliness and isolation; to personal suffering and self understanding.
This absurd marketplace manifestation of professional psychology is brilliantly lampooned in the animated series, Dr. Katz. Dr. Katz’s patients are comic acts performing their own “slouching toward” life. Their deliberate misunderstanding and lack of self-awareness merely a show for a captured audience. Meanwhile, Dr. Katz derives his sense of self and place through his own well tended relationships with his son and pals at the bar–even his anomicly disengaged receptionist helps keep his ship on course if by glaring beacon of where the rocks lay, where not to steer, alone.
Not to say that the profession of therapy doesn’t have a legitimate role… there are instances were certain experiences are simply beyond the understanding of an intimate… such as with abuse, trauma from war or the like, etc,. But, there is another venue where there is a greater structure for trust between a semi-professional confidant and confider–a relationship which will always be vulnerable to the foibles of human failing, such as lack of understanding or simple exploitation.
But this brings me to a grand instance of the failure of the psychological professions and the epidemic of anomie in contemporary culture. When one’s melancholy, or depression is linked to what is termed as [world-wide] problems… such as say, an employment market which reduces one to a smiling through gnashing teeth, servile and expendable service associate… a mere ghost in the machine… the goal of therapy and the psychological professions is to find strategies for coping–up to and including the use of powerful pharmaceuticals.
Compare this with the experience of the subjugation of the young Russian Christian communities by a ruthless and much more primitive Mongol Empire. At the beckon call of the Khan the Rus King would ride thousands of miles to kowtow at the Khan’s convenience in a city of tents with little assurance of safe return. And at the slightest perceived insult, and as buttress to the Khan’s renown and power, would ride with his horde thousands of miles razing everything in it’s path to exact revenge. And yet, it was the church and church bell ringing in it’s steeple which would summon the community back together from death and ash. Over and over again, until the strength the church inspired outlasted the self-destruction of the animist primitive.
And this is what this session and the psychological professions overlook, our common struggle for human dignity. The thing which SHOULD bring us together in common effort… where our personal suffering becomes a beacon for understanding the best path to pursue to avoid just that kind of suffering. Instead, the solution to ones personal suffering is the erection of an ego which justifies ones own pursuit of sensational escapism into the depths of idiocy and separation from the broader community–unless as common participants in a particular brand of escapism.
Finally, this issue of the church being there just to judge and not to support is a common misunderstanding. Perhaps the Protestant churches could take a page from the Catholic on this account–as long as you don’t mistake the judging of the self righteous parishioner for the true mission of the church–where the Catholic Church is not a church of saints, but rather a relater of the tradition which illuminates the struggles of people with power for the sake of dignity and in contest against human suffering–seeking God’s vision. Rather than, paying someone to tell you that whatever you say is fine and whatever you do is fine and you are the end of all means for the sake of that bill paid for each session… for the sake of your employers satisfaction to the point you are empowered to pay that bill for each session.
It is important to remember that it wasn’t a priest employed by the Bush administration to help refine methods of torture; that was left to paid psychologists. Where religion is a science of human dignity, the profession of psychology seems to be more and more concerned with observing, identifying, cultivating and exploiting human idiocy.