Recently Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, wrote an article called “This is Not a Day Care, It’s a University!”, in which he stated that in the spirit of truth sets man free, if his students were “discomforted” or “felt badly” about a sermon that was intended to tug on their conscience “sleeves”, then it would be exactly fitting for the students to “suffer” such preachings.
A similar misunderstanding about psychotherapy widely exists. People hold the mistaken belief that their therapists’ office is a space where they are to be “comfortable” no matter what their behavior.
“I’m supposed to feel comfortable in my therapy sessions,” One day a patient of mine stated.
Interesting, I thought.
While implicit trust has to exist between patients and therapists in order to work together, “comfortable” would not be exactly how I would like to describe being in a therapy session.
Like Dr. Piper, I’d say that a therapist is like a “messenger” of “truth”, or a “flashlight”, with which the patient uses to shed light to their unconscious darkness, hopefully transforming it to enlightened conscious understanding. Discomfort in such a process, I reckon, may not only be possible but perhaps a necessity as well. After all, if it is all so “comforting” as to put patients “at ease”, there wouldn’t have been big bricks of volumes called “working through resistance” in psychoanalytic literature since its birth.
Without such “discomfort” to “disquiet” our lesser selves, both in Dr. Piper’s university and psychotherapy sessions, how could the students and patients become their better, healthier selves?!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not much for organized religions and don’t much believe that an external “calling”, no matter how noble or high aimed, could change the internal life if one is yet to be at the “readiness”. However in this particular case, Dr. Piper would have made Dr. Freud proud: truth sets man free, where the theologian and the psychoanalyst came together.
One minor point: My view on “day care” differs from that of Dr. Piper’s. A proper “day care” would provide such “truths” for the budding minds of the new generation and help develop a lifelong “habit” of such self examination as stated by both Drs. Piper and Freud. The tasks of early childhood care givers, parents and professionals alike, are rather heavy. Fascinating, daunting and perhaps immensely rewarding. Most interesting of all, a whole “pack” of kindergarteners, instead of always running around like little critters, appearing pensive and occasionally taking on the “serious” task of looking within makes my heart skip a beat. 🙂