Soul enters only via symptoms,… disguised as psychopathology.[1]

golden-owl  “The ideal of growth makes us feel stunted; the ideal family makes us feel crazy.”[2] 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.

Tunnel YosemiteWhen 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.

Inside OrionThere 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.”

eyes-elizabeth-anna-digital-art-ajaytaoI was talking about this yesterday at my men’s meeting. “Hear the steps we took which are suggested as a program of 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.”

photo-82At the end of this journey what is the result going to be?

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?

s_e12_RTX116XJI 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.

yesWhat does this have to do with depression in sobriety?  Everything.  Many of us used substances to try and deal with the symptoms of our disguised pathology, to depress our depression.

[1] 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.”[2] James Hillman

123 R. V.  Permission comes from power, forgiveness comes from the soul.

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7 thoughts on “Soul enters only via symptoms,… disguised as psychopathology.[1]

      • Having lived all over the U.S. I’ve found people’s perceptions are different based on where they live. The Midwest and the south are the worst. Much more of a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of attitude. To the other extreme, people here in Los Angeles wonder what’s wrong with you if you don’t have a therapist.

      • Bradley, I agree with the premise. I was in the south for business for a couple of years and even though I went to AA, it was as different in AA as it was out of it. Many of my peers were ‘libertarian,’ in their view of self help like you say. I am watching the other extreme hear in Northern California. I am watching a therapist keep a client stuck in the language of therapy which keeps them there. Reducing our experience to revisiting our “deep seated….emotional conflicts that persist below the level of our conscious,” and mulling them over and over to try and seek some closure or maturity is the opposite end of the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” mentality you so correctly pointed out dominates what many would call the ‘conservative’ mid-west and south.

  1. If it’s self-help, then aren’t we the ones to determine what that looks like? For me, I beat depression by reading Scipture, psychological literature, philosophy, biographies and then followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to help me put it all together. What did I need to re-cover? For me, it was that I was valued and loved by God.
    God bless. Good post.

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