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Therapy for POLITICS is a 39 page pdf document to introduce Thom's new project, applying principles of therapy and communication training to how we think about and act upon our political positions. This project is intended for all of us as U.S. citizens and for our political/government representatives. Please help us by sending the url link to your Congressional representatives.
Therapy for POLITICS - Past Articles
Therapy for POLITICS • Articles by other Authors
John Amodeo, Ph.D. September 5, 2020
John Amodeo, Ph.D. 2018
John Amodeo, Ph.D. 2014
Conversations with Readers
I just finished your brilliant (and altruistically challenging) paper on Therapy for Politics. You are the David to the Goliath of Politics. But if you are read (and it appears you are) to sling rocks at the unconsciousness of politics, I'll stand by you and fill up your sling.
I'm embarrassed & ashamed to admit that I am one of those people who believes that ALL politicians are deceptive, opportunistic liars and there is nothing we can do about it. But your paper gives me hope that intelligent rational people like yourself might be able to make a difference (cause a change) in the way our "representatives" approach solving our national and societal problems.
If you're in, I'm in. It is the steepest mountain to climb but what a worthwhile endeavor. Let me know what I can do to help. Be well, my brother.
First, thank you for reading this and thank you big time for this response.It is that cynicism that you describe in yourself that is the understandable normal that must be overcome. You are not alone in your cynicism. What we all need more of is the combo of humility and courage you demonstrate in writing the above. I describe myself as a political cynic with a daily practice of hope. We are the children in a massively dysfunctional family who have learned to bob and weave through the shit, having accepted that "this is just the way things are." Interestingly, in his new book, Rage, Bob Woodward describes that same kind of cynicism -- fatalism really -- in Russian citizens. Most definitely at least a yellow flag, if not alarmingly red.
Hope is one thing I want to be able to re-install in readers. Because without hope, without belief that change is possible, there is no motivation. (One of my downloads describes the necessary ingredients for effective motivation. Motivation)
You speak also to my material being smart, which beyond the kind compliment (thank you, my brother) speaks to the practicality of what I have written. Beyond renewing hope, my intention is to provide direction. And with hope and a sense of direction, there is a need for applicable technique. As with clients in therapy, once hope is restored, we had better be able to teach them how to change. Words are cheap, right?
If you have not already, read the John Amodeo articles posted above. John's perspective is always clear and refreshing. I thank you for your support -- rocks for my sling shot -- and in fact, your response is refueling my inspiration/hope thank. We are all this together.
Thank you for having such a positive attitude about what feels apocalyptic to me and, to tell the truth, many other people I know. I want to believe that what you describe is possible but in the spirit of rigorous honesty (Like you, I am a recovering addict and alcoholic), I do not believe what you describe is realistic. I am going to reread what you have written, being as open as I can be to this, but in the meantime, if you can just convince me that you are right, that would be be wonderful.
Thank you for your email -- for your honesty and for making me laugh with an excellent punchline. One thing we will all do well to remember is that being very protective of our sense of humor is very important in the world of hurt/vat of shit we are currently in. I told someone the other day, in response to the observation that Donald Trump (as is the case with all extreme narcissists) has no sense of humor, I said, "Yeah, if that is what happens when you don't have a sense of humor, I'll just keeping laughing my ass off whenever possible."
Okay, here is my best shot at responding to what you have written:
I will not even attempt to convince you I am right. For one thing, thinking too much in terms of right and wrong in all or none terms is part of the problem. Every political conversation instantaneously becomes at least a debate, if not a full blown stand off. I'm not saying that, especially in this extremely polarized environment, that there is not a place for getting clear on right and wrong, but what I also know is that if that is the place where we begin conversations, everyone is dug in and fully defended and there is not going to be any space for the only kind of conversation that can help us make real change. I call those "conversations to convey," rather than "conversations to convince." As long as every political conversation is predictable, we will remain stuck right where we are.
In my work with communication in therapy, people are sometimes frustrated with me early on because I seldom want to begin the conversation with what people disagree about. Well, to be rigorously honest myself, that is not entirely true. I usually do know what the disagreements are about as we begin and that helps me to know how to listen as we proceed. But I talk to people about finding their points of agreement early in the process. I'm pretty sure some of this is covered in Therapy4Politics so I won't rewrite it here but the main point here is to understand that if we are in disagreement and want to come to some resolution, we are doing to have to listen to each other and not listening just to formulate ways to attack each other's perspective. Finding points of agreement on the front end is a way to get people in conflict "on the same side of the problem." That is the only way we will be able to collaboratively solve problems. And people are frequently amazed at how much you can disagree with someone and still find common ground.
So rather than attempting to convince you of anything, let me put something out here that I believe is absolutely essential to what I describe having a change of working: The people who participate in Therapy4Politics have to be people who are willing to expose themselves to the risk of significant personal change. Just like working in therapy, not everyone will be able to benefit. There is a big difference between having resistance to change and having an absolute refusal to consider alternative ways of thinking. Those who are clearly refusing to change will not be welcome into this process.
A bit of a rambling response (one of my strong suits) but I hope something in there is useful.