The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy IX: The World of Aspirations
A culture of appreciation for the “other” (Oshry, 2018) can reside inside oneself. This culture can also reside in an outside world that we have helped to build. We can choose to live and work in an environment of diversity—and this environment can yield a new form of integration in the midst of this diversity. An appreciative perspective is particularly important in the era of globalization, where significant differences reside in the vision, values and cultural norms and practices (Rosinski, 2003; Friedman, 2005). An appreciative perspective in alignment with our personal and collective aspirations provides the integrative glue that holds our own psyche and our society together while we and our VUCA-Plus society are growing increasingly diverse.
Many endeavors have demonstrated in recent years that cooperation in the midst of diversity can be successful—these endeavors range from open-source software development to the explosion of Wikipedia and its unexpectedly high-quality content. What lies beyond the era of information and sheer competition is an era of collaboration (Bergquist, Betwee and Meuel, 1995). We and our communities, organizations and societies are learning to collaboratively connect rather than just individually create and compete. We are learning to borrow and duplicate (“the highest form of flattery”). We create alliances and networks instead of focusing on the gigantism popular at the end of the last century (Bergquist, 1993). Rosabeth Kanter (1994) labels this perspective “the cooperative advantage.” We might call it the appreciative and aspirational advantage.
It is in this setting of collaboration and cooperation that we find the heart of an aspiratonally oriented psychotherapeutic session. The therapist does not have the answers—nor does the client in isolation have answers. Together, in their intersubjective and relational work together, the therapist and client can find healing of psychological distress for the client (and perhaps even the therapist). Daniel Rosmarin is correct in his opening of the therapeutic doors to everyone experiencing an “adjustment disorder”. However, it is also important to recognize that psychotherapy must produce something more than symptom relief—something other than the elimination of pain (the Hedonic objective).
The therapy being engaged must begin with the acknowledgement that pain is inevitably to be found in contemporary life (and probably has always been inevitable). Furthermore, this pain can be ultimately instructive and of great benefit. Psychotherapy should be directed not to the elimination of pain but to the conversion of Menakem’s “dirty pain” (leading to alienation and stagnation) to “clear pain” (leading to learning and growth). This is best done, I would suggest, through the engagement of appreciation and a consistent focus on Aspirations – both thwarted and met. What else is of greater importance in our age of anxiety.