“Musings on Control” Comments, Page 1

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6 Comments on “Musings on Control”

  1. Hi Sarah,

    I think the problem at the heart of this is the nature of the self.

    I think some of the Buddhist language can get in the way. Eg that there is no identity. Presumably his disciples recognised Sakyamuni from day to day – and presumably this wasn’t delusion or illusion.

    We can absorb control into other concepts such as creativity and ability-to-respond.

    The self both shapes and is shaped by ‘its’ situation. The self is not only the individual. This is where consideration of control can lead us I think.

  2. Hi Evan, thanks as ever for the thoughtful comment.

    I agree that Buddhist terminology can get in the way, as with all terminology, for some it clarifies and for others it gets in the way.

    The lack of fixed identity refers to our essential nature I think, not the limited one which we use from day to day, in the same way that while in my very limited scientific understanding classical laws of physics show us how objects behave in a recognisable way, whereas quantum physics shows us all kinds of flux and ambiguity going on within those recognisable objects.

    Sometimes it is useful for us to be aware of our essential flux and ambiguity, sometimes not!

    What do you mean when you say “the self is not only the individual”?

  3. Hi Sarah,

    I mean that seeing us isolated from our situation doesn’t mean much psychologically. Our behaviour makes sense in context. To focus on the individual leads to all kinds of problems. Eg it would seem difficult to define narcissism when there is only me to be focused on (unless we define narcissism as psychological health). It is a-social and so leads to problems with values (psychotherapy becomes training in being a psychopath: becoming efficient in getting what I want. More humbly the complaint about psychoanalysis that the graduate of the therapy doesn’t make love but masturbates on their partner.). Psychotherapy is about the fluid interaction of the individual with their situation. (So I think the fluidity may be of the everyday self while their may be a more permanent identity that lies deeper).

    I hope I don’t sound like I’m just playing with words. I think this discussion is vitally important. I hope my concerns are coming through. I’m very happy to try and clarity what I’m saying.

  4. no, no, it doesn’t sound like word-play to me! There are probably as many ways of understanding “self” and “individual” as there are selves and individuals!

    Do you mean that psychotherapy is there to help people with their individual selves as they relate to other people in context, rather than in some artificial isolation? And that there may be a “more permanent identity which lies deeper” which you might call the self?

    I would say that that very flux of the interrelations of “us” with our “context”, and our identities as we think of them and how others see us and all that is a part of the “self” which feels in a way more permanent, because it can’t be reduced to any of those solid definitions, and on the other hand totally impermanent …which is why I like all that buddhist terminology!!

  5. For me psychology is about the relation of the person in their situation.

    To try and look at the person isolated from their situation just doesn’t make sense. Thus ‘individual functioning’ – restricting the person to within the skin – does not make sense.

    This is hard for me to make clear. I believe creativity and autonomy are vital to a human life. But I do not think the individual person’s creativity and autonomy make sense apart from their relation to their environment (influencing and influenced by).

    I think there are elements of us are that relatively permanent (and that sometimes these are ‘discovered’ in our relation to our context). There is also learning, and trying out and discarding different options too. So there are some elements of our experience that are fairly transient too.

    I’m trying to avoid jargon and speak of our experience, although a little abstract I confess. I trust I am making sense. I confess I find it hard to express myself clearly about this.

  6. That last post sounded clear as a bell to me, Evan!

    I totally agree with what you say. Then I add some kind of pretty abstract dimension of my own, that’s just me ;-)

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