I was just reading about the six conditions that Karl Rogers believes are required for therapeutic personality change. Skipping right over the obscene phrase, “therapeutic personality change” I would like to have-at-it with the second condition, which is not to say I don’t have problems with other aspects of the conditions. The conditions are as follows:
- Two persons are in psychological contact.
- The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious.
- The second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship.
- The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.
- The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this experience to the client.
- The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.
If we examine the second condition in which the client is in a state of incongruence, they are vulnerable or anxious. I wonder who decides upon the incongruence of the clients actual experience verses the representation of their experience? I am not sure any party could fully understand both points of view. You are either and living within the experience or just the audience.
For example, supposing I, as a client, presented to a therapist for help in a state of agitation I may be suicidal and inconsoleable. I had decided that my life was desolate and pointless with no reason for carrying on. On further discussion the therapist discovers that I believe my reason for being had recently disappeared. I had always felt I had done my best to be an awesome father. I believed my fantastic parenting skills would result in fantastic kids. My kids would not only become doctors or pilots but they would also campaign for a better world and bring about change on a scale never before seen by humanity. I had essentially put everything into parenting my kids and laid aside my own plans and dreams for world domination. The plan was that the kids would become ‘Me 2.0’ - new and super-improved. Of course the plans turn to dust in the face of reality.
I have normal kids and they are much like I was. This is the part where an inner voice pops up and starts banging on about being grateful for happy healthy kids. Another inner voice which has been lurking since before the kids is lurking deep down and it is also asking, “What is the point? Why even bother? See I told you this would happen, everything you ever do is ultimately pointless.”. So what is going on?
I have always struggled to find a reason for living. Some attempts at finding a reason to life may include:
- Joining an organised religion/cult. They are either lying or misguided.
- Studying Buddhism. They mean well but their reality does not suit me.
- Taking up causes to try to make the world better. Nothing changed.
- Working hard and loyally at my job. My job is unrewarding and shallow.
- Having kids and raising them well. They grow up and ignore the values you thought you had so skillfully instilled into them.
I look back on my life and recognise my constant attempts to find meaning, I cannot find meaning so what is left for me to do? All that is left for me to do is to stop.
If I display vulnerability and anxiety is this incongruent with my inner feelings of futility and emptiness? I think not. This must mean I do not require a therapist. I need a philosopher.