Monday, February 20, 2006

psychotherapy, the importance of actions

N. Branden on psychotherapy:
As I propose to make clear, psychotherapy is properly to be conceived as a process of education through which the patient is (a) led to understand the deficiencies in his method of thinking, and the errors in his values and premises, that underlie his problems; and (b) taught how to improve the efficacy of his thinking processes, and to replace irrational values and premises with rational ones.
And that's all there is to it. When I look at those words, I get a feeling of clarity, as if I'm on the verge of some breakthrough; that I'm close to making a brilliant mental connection that will solve my problems, or at least initiate a process that eventually leads there. That's never the case though (although it is helpful).

The problem is often that I read/hear something that makes perfect sense, while at the same time I have no idea how to use it to my advantage. The added knowledge has some value in itself, of course (it will help future though-processes in numerous ways).

Most of the time in past, though, I've been perfectly content with just stocking my subconscious with truths of various (relevant) kind, but now I've beginning to think more about how I can translate it into action.

From the same essay as above:

As we have discussed, many elements are involved in therapy: helping the patient to identify his feelings and desires, teaching him more effective ways of thinking, leading him to understand his conflicts, etc. Nevertheless, it is vital to keep the patient thinking of his problems in terms of action. By what actions (psycho-epistemological or existential) did he contribute to the creation of his problem? By what action can he move towards the attainment of the kind of life he wants?

Monday, February 13, 2006


I don't always realize the significance of motivation. I tend to think that motivation is nice, but not necessary. That work can be done even if I lack motivation, just that it's harder. However, that's probably not true. Lack of motivation is a barrier as real as a concrete wall. It makes work not only more difficult, but literally impossible.

Some interesting questions:

What kind of thing is motivation?

How can it be developed, long term?

How can it be increased short term?

How can one discover which motivations oneself has? (I mean all of it, some things are pretty clear.)

What is the relationship between motivation and values? (Except for the obvious, that values motivate.)

The relationship between motivation and feelings? (Again, except for the obvious...)

Okay, stop it. I can just go on and on with questions, and then feel that I have to work on all at once, and feel overwhelmed and kind of helpless, and give it all up. (This is the feeling of mental overload, which itself is an interesting topic for analysis, but not here and now.)

How can motivation be strengthened?

It helps to believe that you can reach your goals. First, that requires having goals. Second, you need self-confidence. And self-confidence can only be achieved by in fact being capable of achieving your goals, and knowing that you are. And to have that capacity, you need to be rational. Which means, having an active, reality-oriented mind.

I think the above reasoning holds, but it somehow feels empty and I'm not sure where to go from here. How does that apply to me and what do these abstractions mean concretely?

For starters, which are my existential goals, and what inner state do I hope to experience by achieving them?
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