“The ideal of growth makes us feel stunted; the ideal family makes us feel crazy.” As I have traveled down this journey called “recovery” I have come to learn that many of the self-help programs buy into the psychological paradigm that there is something immature and in someway we are incapable of developing ideas that could foster human growth, and help other people. That is the problem that I am up against now. All of my psychological work, all of my working of the steps begins with the premise that I need something outside of me to make myself healthy, or better.
When I read where Hillman said the idea of maturity or growth is nothing more than the ability of psychology itself to keep people, patients like me, needing them to figure out this path called recovery, I was at first in disbelief.
Then I remembered that the people who were in the field of psychology and psychiatry aren’t any different than the people who aren’t in psychology or psychiatry. I have seen many, many people who think that they know how others should live and they attempt to use their “psychological prowess,” to affect that.
There is something quite beautiful about a life. But you would not think so from reading psychology books. Therein lies the whole paradox of self-help. I go to meetings because I need to remind myself of what my potential is when struggles come. But where I am in my 12-step program and how I perceive how the field of psychology looks at people like me in general, comes into conflict when the idea, the main premise is that I am “in recovery.”
My question is to them and to you is what am I trying to recover? What did I lose, what was taken away from me, what didn’t I learn, or don’t understand about life. Why is it that we think it is going to be attainable only by working the steps, going to therapy, seeking outside “help.”
Am I going to be “more comfortable,” in my skin? Am I going to be just as disturbed as I was then? Am I going to be sufficiently “mature,” to not be idealistic? I wonder seriously if idealism and maturity can both be attained or coexist in a person at the same time?
I look at James Hillman as a role model. I remember reading one of the interviews that he was doing with someone. The first thing the interviewer said was how ornery Hillman was. Hillman that he wasnt ornery, that he was just telling the interviewer what he thought.
I think anytime anyone challenges the dominant paradigm they are going to be marginalized as quickly as possible, in the field of psychology as in any other field.
 The entire James Hillman quote is “Soul enters only via symptoms, via outcast phenomena like the imagination of artists or alchemy or “primitives,” or of course, disguised as psychopathology.” James Hillman
123 R. V. Permission comes from power, forgiveness comes from the soul.