We're going to leap out of the psycoanalytic
and start talking about a form of
approach to personality and its transformations
that's predicated on
a set of different philosophical assumptions.
And...it's a bit tricky to navigate this because...
it requires the adoption of a different frame
of mind and, of course,
that's the case with all the theorists that we're going to be
Phenomenology probably had its most
in the philosophy of
And Heidegger was actually trying to
reconstruct western philosophy
from the bottom up.
He tought that
we had been pursuing an improper
pathway conceptually really ever since the time of the
Back around the turn of the century
-- the previous century, that's from the 19th
to the 20th century --
a new form of geometry was invented
and that geometry was predicated on different axioms
than Euclidian geometry. Now,
people had thought for thousand of years that
the world was properly described by Euclidian geometry.
and, you know,
when you employ a system like
Euclidian geometry you have...there's axioms that you have to
accept and they're like the rules of the game and, once you accept
the axioms then you can go ahead and play the game.
But there are other forms of geometry invented
and...in the...in the later part of the..
19th century and it turned out that those
forms with different axioms actually described the world
better than the Euclidian forms, sort of like
the transformation from Newton
to Einstein...this was the..
transformation from Euclide to, say,
-- I think I"ve got his name right -- Rie...Riemannn, R, I, E, M,
A, N, N., who developed a new form of geometry and turned out to be
just the geometry that Einstein needed when he was putting his
theories forward. And, the reason I'm teling you that is because
you can think of systems that have different axioms as...
as different tools
Same idea that Piaget was trying to express
when he talked about how children's
cognitive representations underwent
stage transformations so that they were starting to apply
new principles. Not only a new way
of looking at the world but they were
fundamentally retooling their presumptions about how the world operated.
And Heidegger tried to do the same
thing with philosophy. And so...
And it's tricky to figure out exactly what he was talking about
but I'll give it a shot and then, we can move
forward with Rogers
Since the dawn of the scientific world and, likely, before
that, we have tended to believe
that we are subjects in a world of objects.
And that 's obvioulsy a
very useful way to view the world and you can
tell that because, formalizing that in the form of
science, has enabled us to extend
control over the world
in ways that we were not able to before.
Uh...To formulate the idea of
an objective truth has been an extraordinarily useful maneuver
and so, the idea, roughly, is that
everyone's perceptions can be contaminated by
their own biases and their own fantasies, that subjective
biases and fantasies and you can overcome that by
the conditions under which an observation takes place
-- so that would be an experimental method --
Having multiple people view the consequences
separately, have them detail out what the consequences are
and then look for commonalities across them. And, you think, well,
the commonalities across a set of observations
constitute a description of the objective world.
And that's been insanely powerful.
..uh....crazily powerful. I mean that's not all there is
to the scientific method but
it's a big part of it.
there is an emergent problem with that
It's complicated but one of the emergent problem
with that is...
maybe, a consequence of
stripping the subjectivity out of the world
What science does is..consider
anything subjective as a form of bias or
error in the observation and then, get rid of it and so
what you're left with, when you...
formulate the scientific world, is a world that's stripped of
subjectivity. Now, the problem with that
is that you're a subject and so, when you strip
the world of its subjectivity, that sort of leaves you
isolated, like an isolated being
with no necessary connections to
objective reality, in the midst of a set of
And, that seems to have psychological consequences
and the psychological consequences
are that, well, for example,
I think it's easier to develop a nihilistic sense
of being, for example, if you believe that the
world is nothing but objects and that you're,...
fundamentally, an object among many
and not a particularly important one, at that.
So...there are psychological
consequences to adopting the
Prior to the emergence of the
scientific worldview, people were more embedded in what
you might think about as a mythological landscape, you know, where
every element of being had its place in something that
approximated a master plan or, at least, a meaningful plan.
And so...the idea of ...
the meaningfulness of life was not necessarily
such a pressing intellectual concern.
well, and so, we don't know the full extent of that
I've talked to you a little bit about Nietzsche's
idea that's expressed at the end of the 19th century about
the death of God and his prognostication that
the collapse of...
classic systems of meaning
open up people to posession by
nihilism and also by potentially totalitarian
political systems and that seems to have been what happened
Now, Heidegger was very concerned about that,
among other things. And so, he decided to
reality from the bottom up.
And so, what he did was generate an alternative set
of axioms. He said something like "what if we
to make reality everything that we
experience? Forget about the subject/object divide.
And...One of the other problems with
the subject/object divide
for example, is accounting for consciousness, right? because
it's a problem that science really hasn't got any distance with
at all, as far as I can tell. I mean, people have been trying to crack
the secret of counsciousness, obviously, for a very long time
but they've been trying to do it formally
and using scientific methods, at least for the last
50 years and my sense of that is that they've
got absolutely nowhere.
Maybe, that's a bit unfair. We're better at
representing how conscious experiences
manifest themselves in the brain but we're
but we're certainly no better at understanding
how it is that we experience things. And that's the problem of
That's how the philosophers describe it. And qualia is
the quality of your experience, like the fact that pain,
for example...A pain you feel
is by no means identical, at least, as far as your concerned,
to some pattern of neurological activity, right?
It's pain. It seems to be a fundamental
reality of some... In fact, I think pain is THE fundamental
reality. I think it's the only thing that people will never
So, there's these aspects of your
existence that are subjective, like your experience of
colour and your experience of beauty and just your experience
of things or, maybe, just your experience.
Your eperience plays an
in the structure of being itself. 'Cause you might ask, well,
what would there be if there was nothing conscious?
and you could say, well...
what would there be if there was nothing conscious of being?
Well, it's a tricky question, because
it depends on your a priori
axioms but...it's not obvious what
there would be in the absence of a conscious oberver.
There wouldn't obviously be any
duration between things. It would be very difficult to
specify things in terms of size. There wouldn't be
any of the qualities that we experience...
...that we experience our being is having 'cause
colour doesn't seem to be an intrinsic part of the world,
smell doesn't seem to be an intrinsic part of the world.
It's very difficult. The more you think about it, you'd find
the more difficut it is to determine exactly what there would
be if there was no one to observe it.
And...that's not the tree-in-the-forest idea, precisely
It's not so much if a tree falls in the forest
and there's no one to hear it, it doesn't make a sound
'cause that's more a matter of the definition of sound than anything else.
This is more, like, if there's a tree in the forest and there isn't anyone,
is there a tree ? And that's a
whole different question. Anyways, so, what Heidegger did,
partly because he was not pleased, I suppose,
with the metaphysical
consequences of the scientific worldview,
and also, perhaps, because he wasn't very
happy about our ability to account for consciousness,
he decided to see what would happen if he played
a different kind of game. And
you can do that in an intellectual discussion, you know, you can say, well,
here's a set of axioms out of which a system
will emerge, like, here's a set of rules out of which a game
would emerge. Same idea.
What if we start with a different set of rules? Let's see
what we can do if we do that. You kind of do that when you play one video game
rather than another. You know, there're little worlds
that pop out. There's a different underlining structure.
And then, you can go inside that world and experiment with it and
see what comes out of it.
So Heidegger decided to say "OK, what we're gonna do instead
is we're going to assume that everything we experience is real.
We're going to make our field of experience itself
And...So that would mean, from Heidegger's point of view,
the being that manifests itself to you is to be regarded as
equallly real. So, then, you think, well, that makes pain
a fundamental reality. That makes anxiety a fundamental reality.
It makes beauty and colour fundamental
realities. They're not self-evidently
reducible to anything else, which they would be...
...which they are in a scientific...from a scientific
perspective because you have to think about them as
manifestations of some more fundamental underlying
material reality. And I guess that's another problem with the
subject/object model and the material
When you aggregate atoms, when you
arrange them in certain forms.
When they manifest themselves as certain molecules and then
in more complex structures, they seem to take on all sorts
of qualities that you couldn't predict if you just knew about
subatomic particles and the atoms themselves and so, of course, the...
those are called emerging properties and you say, well, you can
observe hydrogen and you can observe oxygen but
that doesn't make it self-evident
for you to be able to predict the properties of water. And, of course,
that's a more simpler problem, all things considered,
than the problem of figuring YOU out. You're this
crazily complex aggregate of these hypothetical...
hypothetically simple entities but
it isn't obvious how
their elemental properties can combine
to produce YOU. It's not obvious at all.
It's certainly not obious how a material that's supposed to be
dead matter, so to speak, can
no matter how complexly it's arranged.
Heidegger leading them, were...
attempted to produce a philosophical model of
And...We'll talk more specifically about the phenomenologists
after we're done with Rogers, but he is...
he fits in that
One of the things that I've thought...
-- This is a bit of a tangent but I'll move back
to the model afterwards. --
See, I really like the psychoanalysts.
And I like the idea that you have a psyche that's inside
of you and that is structured, in part
consciously and in part uncounsciously.
There's something about that that's really cool and I've learned a lot
from the psychoanalysts. But, you know, there is a funny
conesquence of thinking the way they think -- and you do
think the way they think, even if you don't know it --
like we tend to think that a lot of us is inside our head,
you know. That's the psyche model basically.
But, the more I've practised as a clinical psychologist
the less I've actually been convinced that that's true
So, I could say, well...Let's say I want to know about
your personality. We think, well, I wanna now
you. I wanna know about your subjectivity and I want to know
what's inside of you.
But that is not exactly what you do want to know if you're doing clinical
work, say, with someone. You wanna know
do they have any friends?
That's really important. Because, if you're miserable
and anxious and badly placed in life
one of the reasons that all of that can occur is 'cause
you don't have any friends, you don't know anyone. And that's not something that's
It's you, localized
in a broader sphere. And then, you might say, well, do you
have a job?
And...Well, let's talk about the job. Do you actually make enough
money with your job? Is it satisfying for
you in any way? Are you bullied all the time when you're at work?
Does it provoke anxiety? Is it a carrier that allows
you to go somewhere? Are you overworked?
Or...But let's start with just the first question.
Do you have a job? Well, if the answer to that is "no",
you have a serious problem and that would enough
might be to depress you and make you anxious and
hopeless and nihilistic and all of those things. And, you could say, well,
you're not reacting very well to not having a job but
that's kind of a foolish objection, even though some of
it might be true. One problem is that you're not reacting very
well to not having a job but another problem is that you don't have a
job and that, actually, constitutes the problem,
right? You don't get to eat, you don't have a place to live.
Those aren't psychological problems precisely, even
though a psychological probem could make it worse.
Well, are you as educated as you should be?
That's another question. How do you handle drugs and alcohol?
Are they taking you down a bad pathway? Know?
What about intimate relationships ? Do you have one?
Do you have a plan for one? Or is that a never ending series of
catastrophes or something that you avoid completely?
That's a big problem! And, maybe, people don't...
aren't attracted to you for one reason or another and.... You can think about that as
a psychological problem but...it's an interpersonal
And the degree to which that's a psychological problem is...
is certainly unspecified when
you first begin to talk to somebody. What about your family? Do you have a family?
'Cause' it's hard to be in the world all by yourself. That's for sure!
It makes things a lot more stressful...even though having a family
can also be extraordinarily stressful...you know..
Do you have plans to have children? How are you doing with your parents?
Do you get along with your siblings? You know, all of
that, all of that, to me, is more
fundamental and it's outside of you. Those are elements of your experience.
more than they are objects of your psychology
or of your internal experience. You know, it's sort of like
Well, a person is a creature that exists
at multiple levels of analysis.
Right? Something might go wrong with you at a
cellular level. So, maybe, you're born with a genetic abnormality.
So, something's wrong with you molecularly.
Or you have something wrong with a major organ.
Or, maybe, there's something wrong with you psycologically. Or, maybe,
you're in a pathological family. Or, maybe, you're stuck
in a pathological social system. And...
figuring out why you're suffering
means going up and down those different levels trying
to specify the appropriate level
for analysis and also the appropriate level for intervention.
And, for me, as I said, even though I'm a great admirer
of the psychoanalysts and I do
things like dream analysis which I really find
incredibly useful and enlightning, the first, the
fundamental level of analysis is, well, what's your experience structured like...
exactly? And that isn't localized in you.
Now, the behaviourists do that to, because...
-- which is one of the things I really like about the behaviourial approach of psychotherapy.
It's very very concrete and practical. It's like,
they'll say, well,
there're certain things that you need to have in order to live properly
and, maybe, you don't have the skills or the wherewithwall...
wherewithal to accumulate them and we'll break them down
into tiny little pieces and you'll practice. So, for example,
someone who doesn't have any friends and you do a micro-analysis
of their...social skills, say,
and maybe an analysis of the kind of anxiety
that are stopping them from going out and meeting people
and then you address those things practically one by one. You try
to get the person have some friends. You try to figure out how they can
establish an intimate relationship. You see if you could help
them sort out their family. You do what you can about their
employment and...A lot of that's only tangentially related
to -- really, in some sense -- to the structure of their psyche.
But, one of the things you'll see, if you work as a
clinician, or as a counsellor, is that, most of the time, people
come and see you because they have problems, not because they have psychological
And those things are not that easy to distinguish.
You know, it's sort of the psychoanalytic idea, sort of like, well, if you juste got
your act together, everything would work out for you. It's like,
There's some truth in that.
But, you know if you're 55 years old and you've just been
laid off work,
and, maybe, through no fault of your own,
it isn't obvious how much getting your act together
is gonna help you find another job...because...
the actual problem that you're facing may have
relatively little to do with you. And that would especially be the case
maybe, on the bottom half of the itelligence distribution,
for example, and so...it isn't
as easy for you just to go out and pick up new
skills at the drop of a hat...you know...and that
gets harder as you get older because your IQ actually declines quite
substantially as you get older, the working or the....
the fluid intelligence part, anyways -- exercise
can keep that at bay, by the way, it's the best way to keep that at bay.
So, anyways...you can think,
from the phenomenological viewpoint, of
your experience as a whole, instead of
you being a subject in an objective world.
And so...here's another way of...here's something that's quite useful.
Jung talked about this
'cause he was moving towards a phenomenological perspective later
in his life. The last book he wrote was called Mysterium Coniunctionis.
He talked about three conjunctions
that needed to take place in order for someone to be
well constituted psychologically. And, you know how
Piaget talked about
learning that you could,
not only follow rules, but that you could make rules for new
games as sort of a highest level of moral development. I would say
Jung extended the Piagetian
up past what Piaget had envisioned. Now, he didn't...
he didn't do that 'cause he wasn't trying to extend Piaget's model. But...
But you can think about it the same way. And it's not easy to
come up with a moral
mode of being, say, that transcends the ability to
make rules for new games. That's damn smart, man, that's...
That's a major home run by Piaget,
as far as I am concerned. But Jung said something like this.
He said, look, when you're going through the process of
Here's a way of conceptualizing it. He thought about this as...
symbolically, as male-female pairings, because...
as I've tried to point out, the most... one of the most fundamental
categories that our mythological imagination
uses to structure the world is the category
of masculine and feminine. And it moves that around, you know,
it's a fundamental metaphor so you can move that around anywhere.
And so Jung thought well, one of the things that you're trying to do
is to get your thoughts and your emotions
And so, you know, the classic Enlightenment viewpoint,
roughly speaking, is something like,
passion is the enemy of reason.
Right? And so, to the degree that you're rational, it's sort of
a Freudian viewpoint 'cause you've got your emotions under control.
And...there's some truth in that but...not enough truth.
I like the Piagetian idea better, which is that,
no, no, that isn't what happens. What happens is if...
if you're playing the proper game is that, you integrate your
emotions underneath your thinkings, something like that.
So, they're all working in the same direction, you know. So,
you can make your anxiety work against you or for you.
And, one of the ways...
I made a program, called the Future Authoring Program
that I think helps people do that. 'Cause, one of the things you see when you're
talking to people and they're trying to solve problems is that they're afraid to
face the problem.
And so, then, their anxiety is working against them and you can think about it as a...
as antagonistic to rationality.
But then, I could say, well, what if you think for a while about
what your life would be like if you didn't face
Because, if you think that through, if you have a problem and you
really think through what the consequences are
gonna be in two to three years of not facing it, then
you're gonna get more afraid of not facing it than facing it.
And that's great because then, your anxiety, instead of
standing in front of you...instead of...
you having a dragon that's guarding the path in front of you, you
have one chasing you down the path from behind. That's
a lot more useful.
you know, that's just a...
a minimal example of the utility of getting your emotions
and your thoughts aligned the same way. The same
thing happens with the aggression.
You know...One of the most common reasons that people come and
seek psychotherapy, really, is because they're too agreeable.
But...what that means is they're not assertive enough. They haven't
integrated their capacity for aggression. And so, other people can push them around.
And...and they're very conflict avoidant.
And...and so, the consequences of that across time
is that you don't stand up for yourself well enough
and you get taken advantage of and that spirals
badly downwards. And so, partly what you do when you're
doing assertiveness training with people
is you find out what they're angry about...and...
They're usuallly angry, if they're not assertive enough,
because other people are taking advantage of them or, you could say, because they're not
putting their own...
with enough force. It's hard to distinguish between those two things.
But, anyways, you...
get them to talk about what they're angry about,
that often makes them cry, often many times,
and then, you get them to kind of envision what they would want
to have instead, which they're often afraid to do
because people are afraid to think about what they want
because that makes it more clear when they're not getting it
and that's painful, right? Or, maybe, they're afraid of hoping
so they won't specify a clear aim. But, anyways, you get them to
think about what they might want instead. You get them
to think about the cost of not pursuing that
and then, you help them develop strategies for integrating
their aggression and... with their thinking,
so they can come up with a plan to
approach the world in a more confident way. So, for example,
someone might come to me and say "I'm being bullied badly at work".
And so, then, I'll say "well, what are your options?
You have to put up with it? Well,
we'll figure that out cause maybe you do, maybe you don't have options.
But here's how to find out. Get your damn CV together,
so it's pristine, right? It's ready to go.
Get over your fear of a new interview, because
people are generally afraid of that. Get over your fear of applying
for a new job. Start thinking about what it would mean to have
a different job. Start thinking about what it would mean to have
a better job, even. Cause, maybe, your fear
is just making you stuck here but I can tell you one thing :
if someone's picking on you at work and you don't have options,
So you get the person to start building a strategy. It's like, "OK,
if you're gonna tell this person to stop,
you have to know how to make them stop
and the one thing you need for sure is an option,
and, if you can't...if you don't have an option
then, maybe, we start thinking about the fact that you need some more
training or something like that. Because you cannot negotiate
if you don't have any power.
So...because while....especially if you're dealing with someone
who's really out to get you or really disagreeable,
If you don't have a leg to stand on, they'll just push you over and, maybe, they'll
jump on you too because that's what they're like and enjoy anyways, so...
It's no joke.
You put your options behind you and then you
start to think about strategy." So I tell people "Look,
if you're being harassed at work, you document it every time
it happens. You write it down. So you've got like twenty
stories about it and it's fully documented. And then,
you go confront the person at some point with, at least,
3 pieces of evidence. And you have some
sense about what you tell them about what will happen if they don't stop.
So you have to figure out : well, they don't stop?
What are you gonna do about it? Leave? Not if you
can't leave. So, you have to be able to
-- what is it? -- wield a big stick and speak softly.
But, you see, that way...that's how you take your
aggression, which is an absolute necessary
part of your psyche and manifest it up into
a sophisticated means of dealing with the world.
You don't just suppress it and say "well, I should be able to put up with it"
or "I wish I wasn't so angry" or some...it's like...forget that!
All that'll happen is your blood pressure will stay high and you'll die of a heart
attack. Because anger, for example, is a very toxic emotion.
And it does cause heart damage over time. It's the only
emotion that we really know that's been linked to things like
cardiovascular risk. And anger is toxic because
it's like, you're driving a car, you're stepping on the gas
and pushing on the brake at the same time. Because
anger tells you to run away and to attack
...at the same time, cause you don't know what's gonna happen. And so, it
really amps up the physiological
demand on your body. And so, if you...
-- including your heart and your musculature -- so, if you stay like that for
like 10 years, you know...you're gonna age
And that's a bad plan.
So, you know, you take your
underground emotions and you integrate them into a sophisticated
Jung said, so
"FIrst of all you unite your mind,
your thinking, let's say, with your emotions. So that makes one
thing, instead of two fighting things."
OK. That's a good one. And then, the next conjunction
he talked about was
"It isn'tenough to unite your mind
and your emotions". And he tought about that as male/female
pairing, symbolically. That's how
it would manifest itself sometimes in dreams. So you
take the masculine element and the feminine element,
the thinking and the emotion, unite
those and that makes you more like one thing. OK and now,
all of a sudden, that's represented as symbolicaly male, that one thing.
And it unites with something else that's now represented
symbolically femin...female. That's the body.
So you take the mind/emotion integration
and integrate that in your body. So what'd that be?
You act it out!
Instead of just thinking.
So, there's this philosophical idea called a...
-- now I'm gonna forget what it's called -- It's a
contradiction in action! There's actually a technical term for it.
But that's when you think and believe something but you don't act it out.
And so, that means there's a dissociation in you somehow
between your abstract representations and
what you manifest in action. Wel that's
another form of discontinuity that isn't doing you any good.
You know, the driver is going one way and the car is going the
other. And you won't even be able to understand yourself, if you do that.
But, even more, you're not putting your principles into practice.
So, you're dissociated. Your being is dissociated. So...
Once you get your mind and your emotions working together, then
the next thing to do is to act that out consistenly.
That was the second conjunction, as far as Jung was concerned, and then
the third one was -- this is the tough one, and
this is the one that's related to phenomenology --
you erase the distinction between yourself and the world.
That's a tough one.
So, imagine you're dealing with someone who's hoarding.
Now, people who are hoarding are often older or
neurologically damaged or they have obsessive compulsive disorder.
But then, you walk into their house and there's like ten
thousands things in their house. There's...there's...there's
There's, maybe, a hundred boxes. And you open up a box and, in the box, there's some
pens and some old passports and some
checks and... there's collections of silver dollars and
some hypodermic needles and some dust and...
you know, a dead mouse and...and...
there's boxes and boxes and boxes. It's like
that in the house. It's absolute chaos in there.
Absolute chaos. Not order...chaos.
And then, you think, is that their house or is that
their being? Is that their mind? And the answer is :
there's no difference. There's no difference.
So, you know, I could say, well, if you want to organize your
psyche, you could start by organizing your room...if that
would be easier, cause, maybe, you're a more
concrete person and you need something concrete to do.
So...you go clean up under your bed and you
make your bed and you organize the papers on your desk and you think, well...
Just exactly what are you organizing? Are you
organizing the objective world or are you objecting your field...
are you organizing your field of being,
like your field of total experience?
And Jung believed that...and I think
there's a Buddhist doctrine that's sort of nested in there,
that, at the highest level of psychological integrration, there's
no difference between you and what your experience.
Now, you think, well,
I can't control everything I experience. But that's no objection
because you can't control yourself anyway, so the mere fact
that you can't extend control over everything
you experience is no argument against the
idea that you should still treat that as an extension of yourself.
Well, let's say that you have a longstanding
feud with your brother. Well...
Is that a psychological problem? Is that him? Is it a
problem in the objective world or is it a problem in your field
of being? And it's very useful to think
that way because you might ask what could you do to
improve yourself? Well, let's step
one step backwards. The first question might be why should you even bother
And I think the answer to that is something like : so you don't
suffer any more stupidly than you have to.
And, maybe, so others don't have to either. It's something like that.
You know, like, there's a real injunction at the bottom of it. It's not some
casual self-help doctrine, it's that if you don't
organize yourself properly, you'll pay for
it. And in a big way. And so will the people around you. Now...
And, you could say, well, I don't care about that but that's actually not
true. You actually do care about that. Because, if you're in pain,
you will care about it. And so, you do care
about it. Even if it's just that negative way, you know.
It's very rare that you can find someone
who's in excruciating pain who would ever say
well, it would be no better if I was out of this.
This sort of pain is one of those things that brings
the idea that it would be better if it didn't exist
along with it. It's incontrovertible.
So...You get your act together so that there
isn't any more stupid pain around you than necessary.
So then, the question might be: well, how would you go about getting
your act together? And the answer to that
-- and this is a phenomenological idea too -- it's something like:
look around for something that bothers you
and see if you can fix it.
So...Now, you think, well
let's say you go into a
-- you can do this in a room. It's quite fun to do it just when
you're sitting in a room, like, a room...maybe, your bedroom, you can sit there
and then just sort of meditate on it, think, OK, if I wanted to
spend 10 minutes making this room better,
what would I have to do? And you have to ask yourself that,
right? It's not a command, it's like a genuine question. And things
will pop out in the room that, you know, you...like...there's a
stack of papers over there that's kind of bugging you and you know that, maybe,
a little order there would be a good thing and, you know you haven't...
There's some rubbish behind your computer monitor that you haven't
attended to for, like, six months and...the room would be slightly better
if it was a little less dusty and the cables weren't all
tangled up the same way and...
like, if you...if you allow
yourself just to consider the
expanse in which you exist at that moment,
there'll be all sorts of things that will pop out in it, that
you could just fix.
And, you know, I might say, well, if you're coming to see me for
psychotherapy, the easiest thing for us to do
first would just be to get you to organize your room.
You think, well, is that psychotherapy? And the answer is, well,
it depends on how you conceive the limits of your
And, I would say, start where you can start.
You know, if something announces itself
to you, which is a strange way of thinking about it,
as in need of repair, that you could repair,
then, hey! fix it! You fix a hundred
things like that, your life will be a lot different.
You know, I often tell people too, "fix the things you
repeat every day. Cause people tend to think of those as trivial.
Right? You get up, you brush your teeth,
you have your breakfast, you know, you have your
routines that you go through everyday. Well, those...those probably
constitute 50% of your life. And
people think "well, they're mundane, I don't need to pay attention to them", it's like
no, no, that's exactly wrong. The things you do every day,
those are the most important things you do.
Hands down. All you have to do is do the arithmetic.
You figure it out right away. So...
A hundred adjustments to your...broader
domain of being and there's a lot less
there's a lot less rubbish around and a lot fewer traps for you
to step into. And so...
That's in keeping with Jung's idea about
erasing the diss...once you've got your mind and your
emotions together and once you're acting that out, then
you can extend what you're willing to
consider yourself and start fixing up the things
that are part of your broader extent. Now,
sometimes, you don't know how to do that. So, you might say, imagine you're walking down
Bloor Street and there's this guy who's, like, alcoholic
and schizophrenic and he's been on the street for ten years.
He sort of stumbles towards you and, you know, incoherently
mutters something. That's a problem!
And...it would be good if you could fix it but
you haven't got a clue about how to fix THAT.
You just walk around that and go find something that you could
fix because, if you muck about in that,
not only is it unlikely that' you'll help that person, it's very
likely that you'll get hurt yourself. So...
you know, just because, while your experiencing
things announce themselves as in need of repair
doesn't mean that it's you, right then and there, that
should repair them. You have to have some humility, you know.
You don't walk up to a helicopter that isn't working and just start
tinkering away with it. You have to stay within
your domain of competence. But, most of the time, when people look
at their lives, you know....
-- It's a very interesting thing to do. I like...I like
the idea of the room because you can do that at the drop of a hat.
You know, go back to where you live and sit down and think "OK,
I'm gonna make this place better for half an hour. What should I
You have to ask.
And...things will just pop up like mad. And it's partly
because your mind is a very strange thing. As soon as you give it an aim,
a genuine aim, it'll
reconfigure the world in keeping with that aim. That's, that's
actually how you see, to begin with. And so, if you
set it a task, espec... -- you have to be genuine about it,
which is why you have to bring your
thoughts and emotions together and then, you have to get them in
your body, so you're acting consistently. You have to
be genuine about the aim - But once you aim, the
world will reconfigure itself around that aim,
which is very strange. And...and... it's...
it's..it's technically true.
You know, the best example of that
-- you've all seen this video where you...watch the
basket ball being tossed back and forth
between members of the white team versus the black
team and, while you're doing that, a gorilla
walks up into the middle of the video and you don't see it. It's like...
-- you know, if you thought about that experiment for about five
years, that would be about the right amount of time to spend thinking about it.
Because, what it shows yo isthat you see what you aim at.
And that, man, if you can get one thing through your
head as a consequence of even being in University,
that would be a good one: you see what you aim at.
And so, because...one...
inference you might draw from that is... be careful what
you aimt at!
Right? What you aim at determines the
way the world manifests itself to you. And so, if the world is
manifesting itself in a...
very negative way, one thing to ask
is: are you aiming at the right thing? Now...
you know, I'm not trying to reduce everybody's problems to
an improper aim. People get cut off at the knees for all
sorts of reasons, you know. They get sick, they have accidents,
There's a random element to being, that's for sure. But
-- and so, you don't want to take anything, even that particular
phrase too far. You want to bind it with the fact that
random things do happen to people. But it's still a great thing to
ask.-- OK, so, Rogers was a
phenomenologist. He was interested in...he didn't start
his philosophy from the perspective of
subject versus object or from the idea of psyche,
like, sort of inside you, your mind
with it's layers.
That's not how it looked at it. And so,
let's go through...
(now...) I'll introduce you to Rogers. I think that...
then we'll talk more about him next time. I'm gonna start though,
with something that I learned from him that I think was of
crucial importance. And so, we'll set the stage for the
further discussion with this. And I'm gonna read it to you.
ROGERS : "Assuming a minimal mutual willingness to be in
contact and to receive communications, we may say that
the greater the communicated congruence
awareness and behaviour on the part of
one individual, the more the ensuing relationship will involve
a tendency towards reciprocal communication with the same
qualities. Mutually accurate
understanding of the communications, improved psychological adjustments
and functioning in both parties, and mutual
satisfaction in the relationship."
It's quite a mouthful.
What does it mean?
"Assuming a minimal mutual willingness to be in contact
and to receive communications." Okay, we are having a conversation.
I'm deciding I'm going to listen to you.
That's different than how people
communicate, because usually when they communicate,
they're doing something like: Okay
We're going to have a conversation, and I'm going to tell you why I'm right,
and I'll win if you agree
or maybe you're having a conversation where
i don't know what your trying to do, maybe your trying to impress the person
you're talking to, so you're not listening to them at all, you're just thinking about what you're
going to say next. Okay, so that's Not This.
This Is: You might have something to tell me.
And So, I'm going to Listen On the off chance
that you'll tell me something that would really be useful for me to know.
and so, you can think about it as an
extension of the Piagetian...
you know Piaget talked about the fundamental
The fundamentally important element of knowledge being
to describe how knowledge is sought.
The process by which knowledge is generated. Well,
if you agree with me and I find that out,
I know nothing more than I knew before. I just know what I knew before.
And, maybe, I'm happy about that because, you know, it didn't get
challenged. But I'm no smarter than I was before.
But, maybe, you're different than
me and so, while I'm listening to you, you'll tell me something I would...
I don't like. Maybe, it's something I find contemptible...
or difficult, whatever. Maybe you'll find...you'll tell me something
I don't know. And then, I won't be quite as stupid. And then,
maybe, I won't run painfully into quite as many things.
And that's a really useful thing to know, especially if you live
with someone and you're trying to make long-term
peace with them and they're not the same as you.
And their way they look at the world and the facts that they pull out of the world
aren't the same as your facts. And...
even though you're going to be overwhelmed with the
procilvity to demonstrate that you're right,
it is the case that two brains are better than one.
And so, maybe, nine of the ten
things they tell you are dispensable,
or, maybe, even 49 out of 50. But
one thing...all you need to get out of the damn conversations is
one thing you don't know. And one of the things that's very
cool about a good psychotherapeutic
session is that the whole conversation is like that.
All you're doing is trying to...
express the truth of the situation
as clearly as possible. That's it!
Now, Rodgers' proposition
-- and I'll tell you why he derived it -- was that,
if you have a conversation like that with someone,
it will make both of you better.
It will make both of you psychologically healthier.
So, there's an implicit presupposition that the exchange
of truth is curative. Well, that's
a very cool idea. I mean, it's a very deep idea.
I think it's the most profound idea...
It's the idea upon western civil...
upon which western civilization -- although not
only western civilization -- is actually predicated.
The idea that truth produces health. But for
Rogers, that was the entire purpose of the psychotherapeutic alliance.
You come to see me because you want to be better.
You don't even know what that means, necessarily. Neither do I.
We're gonna figure that out together. But you come and you say
"Look, things are not acceptable to me and
maybe, there's something I could do about that". So
that's the minimal precondition to engage in therapy.
Something's wrong. You're willing to talk about it truthfuly
and you want it to be better. WIthout that, the therapeutic
relationship does not get off the ground.
And so, then, you might ask: well what relationships are therapeutic?
And the answer to that will be: if you have a real relationship,
If it isn't, what you have is not a relationship. God only
knows what you have. You're a slave, they're a tyrant.
You know, you're both butting heads with one another. It's a primate
dominance hierarchy dispute or,
I don't know, you're like two cats in a barrel or two people with their hands around
each other's throats. But what you have is not a
All right. ROGERS "We may say that the greater the
communicated congruence of experience, awareness and behaviour on the
part of one individual"...PETERSON That's a reference to the same idea
that I was describing, with regards to Jung. so...
you come and talk to me and you want things do go well. Well, I'm gonna
have to more or less be one thing. Because, if I'm all over the
you can't trust any continuity in what I
say. There's no....and...you
There's no reason for you to believe that I'm capable
of actually telling you...
...I'm capable of expressing anything that's true.
So, the truth is something that emerges as a consequence
of getting yourself lined up...and beating all the...
-- what would you call? --
...all the impurities out of your...out of your...
out of your....
soul, for lack of a better word.
You have to be integrated for that to happen. And you do that, at least in
part, by wanting to tell the truth. ROGERS "...the more the ensuing
relationship wil involve a tendency towards
reciprocal communication with the same qualities...." PETERSON : So, one of
the things -- 'cause I've been quite influenced by Rogers --
One of the things I try to do in my therapeutic sessions is, first of all,
to listen, to really listen. And then,
while I listen, I watch. And while
I'm listening, things will happen in my head.
You know, maybe, I'll get a litte image of something or
I'll get a thought or a question will emerge and I'll just tell the
person what that is. But it's sort of
directionless, you know. It's not like I have a goal
-- except that we're trying to make things better -- I'm on the side
of the person...I'm on the side of the part of the
person that wants things to be better, not worse.
And so, then, those parts of us have a dialogue and
the consequence of that dialogue is that certain things take place.
And then, I'll just tell the person what happened. And it isn't that
That's not the point The point of this is that, they get to have an hour
with someone who actually tells them what they think.
Here's the impact you're having on me.
You know...This is making me angry. This is making me
happy. This is really interesting. This
reminds me of something that you said an hour ago that I don't quite understand.
And the whole...
the whole point is not, for either
person to make the propositon or convince
the other that their position is correct, but merely to
have an exchange of experience
about how things are set up.
And it's extraordinarily useful for people because it's often difficult
for anyone to find anyone to talk to that will actually listen.
And so...another thing that's really strange about this listening
is that, if you really listen to people, they will tell you the weirdest bloody things
so fast you just cannot believe it. So,
if you're having a conversation with someone and it's dull, it's because
you're stupid. That's why. You're not
listening to them properly. Because they're weird. They're like
wombats or albatrosses or rhinoceroses or something,
like, they're strange creatures. And so if you were actually
communicating with them and they were telling you how weird they really are,
it would be...it would be anything but boring.
So.... And you can ask questions, that's a really good
way of listening. But, you know... one of
Rogers' point is that, well, you have to orientate properly in order to listen.
And the orientation has to be:
look, what I want out of this conversation is
that the place we both end up is better than the place we left.
That's what I'm after. And, if you're not after that, you gotta think:
why the hell wouldn't you be after that? What could you
possibly be after that would be better than that?
You walk away smarter and more well equipped for
the world than you were before you had the conversation.
And so does the other person. Well, maybe, if you're
bitter and resentful and angry and anxious and, you know,
generally annoyed at the world, then,
that isn't what you want. You want the other person to walk away
worse, and you too, cause you're full of revenge. But...you know...
You'll get what you want, if you do that. So...
ROGERS "We know from our research that such empathic
understanding..." PETERSON: It's already defined, that. I want to hear you,
I want to hear what you have to say, so we can clarify it and move forward.
I want to have your best interest in mind...And mine as well...but...
you know...both at the same time. Your family's too, if we
can manage that. We're after making things better.
ROGERS: "We know from our reserach that such emphatic understanding
-- understanding with a person, not about them -- is such an
effective approach that it can bring about major changes in personality.
Some of you may be feeling that you listen well
to people and that you have never seen such results. The chances are
very great that you have not been listening
in the manner that I have described. Fortunately, I can suggest
a little experiment that you can do to test the quality of our understanding.
the quality of our understanding. The next time you get into an argument
with your wife, or your friend, or a small group of friends, stop
the discussion for a moment and, for an experiment, institute
Each person can speak up for himself only
after he has first restated the ideas and feelings
of the previous speaker accurately."
PETERSON: What "accurately" means is they have to
agree with your restatement. Now, that's an annoying
thing to do! Because, if someone is talking to you and you
disagree with them, the first thing you wanna do is take their argument and make it
the stupidest possible thing out of it that you can
-- that's the straw man -- and then, demolish it.
It's like...so then, you can walk away feeling good about it
and, you know, you primate domins...
dominated them really nicely. So...
But that is not what you do. You say, OK, well, I'm gonna take what you told me,
and, maybe, I'm even gonna make your argument stronger than the one you made.
That's useful if you're dealing with someone that you have to live with.
Because, maybe, they can't bloody well express themselves very well but they
have something to say. So you...make
their argument strong. All right...then...
ROGERS: "You see what this would mean. It would mean that before presenting
your own point of view, it'd be necessary
for you to really achieve the other speaker's frame of reference
-- to understand his thoughts and feelings so well
that you could summarize them for him. Sound simple
But if you try it, you'll find that it's the most
difficult thing that you've ever done."
PETERSON: OK, good, we'll leave it at that and then, we'll see you on Tuesday.