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The apotheosis of negativity,
This review is from: The Self Under Siege: A Therapeutic Model for Differentiation (Hardcover)
Sometimes I just despair at the parochialism of psychotherapy. I am so powerfully reminded of Freud's acute remark about "the narcissism of small differences", which is so evident in this volume. These people from the Glendon Association of Santa Barbara have developed a form of psychotherapy which they call "voice therapy", which recognises and uses the multiplicity normally found in people to set up internal dialogues for use in therapy. But they do not mention Gestalt therapy, Voice Dialogue therapy, Dialogical Self therapy, Narrative therapy or any of the many other forms of therapy which use such internal dialogues: they only mention their own work and that of their colleagues. Actually there is one exception to this. In footnote No.6 of Chapter 1 they do mention some of these, but then proceed to ignore them for the rest of the book!
Most of the work quoted in the case vignettes in this book was carried out in groups, but the authors do not make it clear as to whether they only work in groups or whether they also do one-to-one work. The extraordinary thing is that there are no dialogues in this book, no chairwork, no intercourse between the different voices which are elicited. Each voice speaks out into the void, or into the group, and then the therapist suggests what direction to take. This absence of information prevents any real analysis of what the therapists are doing. There are no reports of any input from other members of the group.
There are two useful chapters, one on family dynamics and one on mother-daughter relations, which are good academic jobs, nothing much about therapy.
But the worst thing about this book is its consistent negativity. Everything is a problem, everything is a fault, everything is bad. There is hardly a word about the inner resources of the person, the inner strength, the inner beauty. It is pathology, pathology, pathology all the way.
The chapter on death is completely negative. Death is death is death. There is no discussion at all of the alternatives. Reincarnation in some form is the most widely held belief about death in the world, but you would not know it from this book. Nor is there any reference to spirituality anywhere here.
Part of the explanation for all this is that the authors see personal development as differentiation. Now differentiation is one of the two great complementary forces in evolution. Differentiation and integration are inseparable in evolution. Unfortunately integration plays no part in this book - it has no role at all. The onesidedness is complete. At one point the process of therapy is described as a form of exorcism. At other times the metaphor of war reigns supreme. This is a book full of hostility. As a guide to the earnest therapist or counsellor it seems best avoided.
Honestly, I have never seen anything like it. It is so extreme.
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