Thursday, July 18, 2013

Problem solving and healing

Is healing problem solving? Indeed it is a kind of problem solving. I'm talking about spiritual and psychological healing. We don't feel happy, we don't know where we are heading, we can't find the meaning of life, and we have that persistent discomfort in our body and mind, yet our physicians told us that we have no problem, and worse, we don't think it appropriate to share our deepest feelings or secrets with anyone.

Needless to say it is not like a decision as to where to invest your money: putting it into a savings account for capital protection or risking over and above your initial outlay with warrants, options or any of those fancy stuffs called derivatives. It's not like worrying about "which woman (or man) should I marry?" Fair to say if seeking advice from a fortune teller or feng shui master can relieve some of your anxiety, it is good psychological healing. On the other hand, banking on it en-bloc with such advice is simply superstitious.

In psychological counseling there are two fundamental different approaches: one is relying on rational arguments, one is allowing meaning to unfold itself. That is either you can convince yourself rationally (or your psychologist convinces you) that you should not feel depressed, or else somehow you can be transformed through development into having another perspective of your situation and you say "I've grown out of it!". The former approach is usually reserved for minor problems.

Of the self development approach, there can either be a helper who guides the patient or it can depend solely on the latter's self development. The helper route is more favored by today's practicing psychologists, presumably their clients can be more convinced to part with their money with some tangible advice! And patients like it too. A doctor is supposed to help rather than just sit there and listen! This perhaps is one of the reasons that psycho-analysis of the Freudian type is getting out of fashion. Well, at least a client (or patient) needs a good pat on his back, like "Yours is a nice story!", which would not come from a Freudian psychologist's mouth.

Freud encouraged his patients to venture into their Unconscious. Any guidance or rational advice could arouse the suspicion of the policing Superego (which is entangled with what our authority figures' overt and covert manics on us, like what causing the Castration complex). Needless to say a contemporary patient (who is more assertive and aggressive) will demand more from his counselor than merely giving him a platform (and hopeful can benefit from it). More and more guidance come its way.

How about when all these failed, and the situation is not as severe as necessitating a visit to the city's psychiatric hospital? There are always suppliers to meet our demand in our modern society, whether the new suppliers can solve their clients' problems is another issue.

Recently I noticed that there are two popular approaches in the West. These are oftentimes referred to as "New age spirituality". Firstly it is the revival of an age-old technique: hypnosis - with a new touch. Your helper gets you into a hypnotic state (or trance state) and during which period, hopeful, you can find your own new way. Self-hypnosis is also an option. People who like to venture into the "reality of life itself" in a trance state but do not buy into Eastern religious practice seem to favor this approach. 

Another approach is finding the cause (or the revelation, as people interpret it differently) on happenings in a previous life (or previous lives). Some neo-Jungians take this approach too. And some new age spiritualists tag it with evidence based spirituality and "proving" their cases with real-life evidence of a former life. Needless to say, if one can get new perspective from such former-life experience and get psychological or spiritual benefit out of it, the approach can genuinely deliver healing or therapeutic effects.  As with anything metaphysical, the danger of falling into superstition or psychological dependency is always there. That danger incidentally affects our organized and established religions.

Conversational hypnosis

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