Did you hear that? I’m referring to the thud my previous post made. In saying that, I am not mocking my readers, so please, if you take nothing else away from this post, take that. The concepts I discussed in that post are among the more chewy and weighty floating around in my head that I’m still munching on myself.
I have an assignment for a class on Monday evening in which I am supposed to write my about my beliefs regarding psychopathology, personality, what mental health is, how change is affected in people’s lives, etc. Really, to me, this sounds like a clever way of saying “Create your own theoretical orientation” which is both crazy-exciting and beyond daunting, particularly given that I’m in my second semester. As part of the 5-7 page paper I am to answer certain questions that have aided previous Counselors determine their theoretical orientation like, “Are people generally more good than bad or more bad than good?” I’m not sure how it bodes for me that, as I approach the first question, I find myself dissecting it and disagreeing with either option.
I think people are neither more bad than good nor more good than bad. I think the tendency to side with either of these choices is really a method of categorization so one can determine how to approach treatment more easily. But my thought is that it doesn’t make it easier, it oversimplifies it and limits one’s perspective. For example, if one tends to believe that people are more bad than good, then it seems likely that one is more concerned with bringing an individual back to a place where they can survive within the confines of society in addition to correcting major aspects of the personality. But because one believes they are more bad than good, what is the goal? Restricting human nature and binding it in rules while attempting major personality transformation and restructuring? Personally, I think that’s a terrible way to live and to approach one’s vocation. It doesn’t sound remotely compassionate, and for me, that’s where therapy and counseling should begin. Compassion.
However, I disagree (though maybe not as vehemently) with the idea that people are more good than bad as well. While this approach might signify leaning toward minor correcting of problems and healing and be a generally more hopeful perspective, I find it still problematic.
I find myself tracking the problem back to the very words ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ What are they supposed to mean? Who decides what is good and what is bad? More than likely, we all have varying definitions. For me, the whole issue comes down to certain traits and behaviors as having been decided (at some point in time) to be valuable while others were not. That which is valued becomes the “good” and that which isn’t becomes the “bad.” But valuable to what? To maintaining the homeostasis of society? Mainstream culture? And why do the rules that define how modern society keeps it together (laws and such, mind you) completely dictate people’s mental health treatment? Because I don’t think mental health should be about maintaining homeostasis, especially if that homeostasis isn’t healthy for the individual. I think it should be about trying to help people achieve optimal mental health.
I think people have a natural tendency to self-actualize. I think that they get tripped up along the way (think Maslow) and aren’t always capable of reaching that actualization. I think that mainstream culture is the Oppressor of many, and that some people must focus on surviving and struggling to reach the optimal level of mental health considering their circumstances. And mainstream culture isn’t the only nemesis with which to contend. Life experiences, trauma, and other circumstances can be monumental obstacles as well. But I think that the tendency and the innate desire to self-actualize is maintains a place within many of those people. Otherwise, they’d give up. And sadly, though understandably, some of them do. Whether that means by taking their own lives or stopping dreaming of something better, something bigger, something that they deserve because they are human.
And if I were to really go into what I think makes people tick (which is all based on spirituality, archetypes, incarnations, sacred contracts, the nature of balance and everything in my previous post), they might not let me into the profession. So, basically, I need to find some way to articulate how I feel and what I believe using very careful wording. Considering Fowler’s spiritual development model and Wilber’s model, the majority of the population are in the middle levels of development and the further (note that I am not assigning a value to these later developmental levels – in my mind they are chronological but not hierarchical) levels contain less than something like 5% of the population. Thus, it’s like trying to speak to someone in a language they don’t speak. There are some things you just need to let go of. If that means that I use different wording to describe something than that which best conveys my idea to the intensity with which I wish to convey it, so be it.