Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ultimate Satisfaction and Therapy

This is the tenth and final post in a series on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

Pathologies of ultimate satisfaction suggest a somewhat different orientation to therapy. This final post in the Worlds series will touch briefly on some aspects of this orientation.

First, some disclaimers:

  1. Not all pathology is connected to ultimate satisfaction. Many persons who seek and benefit from therapy experience living in a world that makes sense to them, and they find themselves significantly restricted in their ability to participate in that world.
  2. I am not proposing a new school or approach to therapy. To the extent these thoughts have any utility at all, they very likely will be useful to seasoned therapists from a broad variety of approaches.
  3. You do not need to be a therapist to find these thoughts useful and applicable.
  4. Each thought is stated and briefly expanded; they are meant to be evocative, not complete. A thorough exploration would require at least a very long paper or a short book.

Continue reading Ultimate Satisfaction and Therapy

More Pathologies of Ultimate Satisfaction

This is the ninth in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

A person is in a pathological state when their ability to participate in the practices of their community is significantly restricted. This can be a matter of restriction of specific important practices, enough to appraise the restriction as “significant”, while the person continues to participate in the community’s world and experiences it as making sense. These are not pathologies of ultimate satisfaction.

Pathologies of ultimate satisfaction involve a more pervasive restriction. (Note that I said more pervasive – not deeper or more significant or more important.) In pathologies of ultimate satisfaction my world does not make sense, nor does my place in it. I may struggle to act as if the world did make sense – but unless it actually does make sense to me, it will remain an unsatisfying effort.

Let’s look at some examples: Continue reading More Pathologies of Ultimate Satisfaction

Pathologies of Ultimate Satisfaction

This is the eighth in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

Descriptive Psychologists understand psychopathology to be “a significant restriction in a person’s ability to participate in the social practices of their community.” This is among the most powerful and useful formulations in the Descriptive Psychology canon, connecting to many practical therapeutic approaches.

Notice a few things about this formulation of pathology (let’s drop the “psycho-” part for the sake of brevity):

  • It does not “locate” pathology within the person, that is, it does not require that something important is wrong with the person’s physiology or character or developmental history or skills. While these certainly can be involved in a particular pathology, it is not required and in fact observably is not so in many instances we recognize as pathology. Pathology is a state-of-affairs involving the person and their participation in the world of their community.
  • It does not imply that pathology is an enduring condition. Some pathologies do endure over time; many, perhaps most, do not. Just because a person was once in a particular pathological state says comparatively little about whether this will recur. Some pathologies have what we might appropriately call a “root cause” that endures; many simply do not.
  • It does not imply that pathology is an abnormal condition. This is perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the Descriptive Psychology formulation; it specifically eliminates the confounding of pathology with abnormal. Depression, for instance, is a significant restriction in participation that varies from moderate to severe, but it is hardly abnormal in any sense of the term: a majority of people suffer from depression at times on their life, and it is often part of an adaptive response to significant loss of eligibility. Pathology is not inherently abnormal.

But pathology is strongly connected to ultimate satisfaction. Continue reading Pathologies of Ultimate Satisfaction

What Ultimate Satisfaction is Not

This is the seventh in a planned series of posts on Worlds, as understood by Descriptive Psychologists.

The world makes sense.”

This has been stated several times in this series to good effect in helping articulate ultimate satisfaction and its place in a person’s life. Now we need to look a little further. Let’s begin by clarifying what this statement is and what it is not.

The world makes sense” is not a statement about what is universally true. It does not mean that the world actually makes sense to everyone all the time; the world obviously does not. “The world makes sense” is a slogan, which Ossorio reminds us “are apt for saying what you live by, and that is quite different from saying what you happen to believe or what happens to be true.” Continue reading What Ultimate Satisfaction is Not