Philosophical counselors

Psychiatrists medicalize personal problems, while psychologists apply the social sciences.  Now there are counselors who use philosophers to help people think through their problems:

Patricia Anne Murphy is a philosopher with a real-world mission.

Murphy may have a PhD and an intimate knowledge of Aristotle and Descartes, but in her snug Takoma Park bungalow, she’s helping a broken-hearted patient struggle through a divorce.

Instead of offering the wounded wife a prescription for Effexor — which she’s not licensed to do anyway — she instructs her to read Epictetus, the original cognitive therapist, who argued that humans often mistake their feelings for facts and suffer as a result.

Murphy is one of an increasing number of philosophical counselors, practitioners who are putting their esoteric learning to practical use helping people with some of life’s persistent afflictions. Though they help clients cope with many of the same issues that conventional therapists do — divorce, job stress, the economic downturn, parenting woes, chronic illness and matters of the heart — their methods are very different.

They’re like intellectual life coaches. Very intellectual. They have in-depth knowledge of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist theories on the nature of life and can recite passages from Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological explorations of the question of being. And they use them to help clients overcome their mother issues. . . .

Unlike a visit to a conventional psychologist or psychotherapist, seeing Murphy won’t involve lying on a couch or reaching for the obligatory tissue box. Though she works from a home library lined with tomes by Albert Camus, Søren Kierke­gaard and Immanuel Kant, Murphy takes clients outside for brisk strolls through her leafy neighborhood because Kant believed that walking helped thinking and was soothing for the soul.

The therapy is not covered by health insurance but is typically offered on a sliding scale and averages about $80 an hour for one-on-one sessions. . . .

The field is still in its early stages. There are about 300 philosophical counselors in 36 states and more than 20 foreign countries who are certified by the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, along with another 600 who practice but are not certified, said Lou Marinoff, president of the organization and author of the international bestseller “Plato, Not Prozac! Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems.’’ . . .

“You can go on the Internet and find 100 people who are giving you advice,” [Practioner Anne] Barnhill said. “But there are thinkers who are recognized for their knowledge, and ignoring them in our generation just seems like such a loss.”

via - The Washington Post.

I was skeptical reading this–for one thing, there are so many philosophers offering conflicting perspectives on everything–and yet Dr. Barnhill here makes a good point.  We do have a heritage of wisdom that one might draw on.   There is also, of course, spiritual counseling, which, at its worst tries to emulate secular psychology but at its best brings Christ into people’s difficulties.  Do you think there is room for the philosophers?

Have you ever been helped through a personal problem by just reading something that pulled you through it?

Massacre at Fort Hood

A gunman who was an army officer and a medical doctor opened fire at Ft. Hood in Texas, killing 12 and wounding 30, by last count. The killer was eventually shot to death.

NBC News’ Pete Williams reported that U.S. officials identified the gunman as Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who had been promoted to major in May. A defense official told NBC News that Hasan arrived at Fort Hood in July for his first assignment after completing his psychiatry residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, followed by a fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry.

Hasan, who was 39 or 40, was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq on Nov. 28, officials said. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said military officials had told her that Hasan was “pretty upset” about his deployment orders.

First reports were that he had accomplices. Major Hasan’s Arabic name makes one think immediately of Islamic terrorism, though right now (Thursday night) there is no evidence to that effect. Still, army bases had been mentioned as possible targets by the jihadists. All of this is to say that America may have been attacked by terrorists.

UPDATE: The shooter is alive, but in a coma. Meanwhile another of his victims died, bringing the death toll to 13.

UPDATE: It turns out, as some of you have noted, that Major Dr. Hasan is a Muslim, a radical, and an apologist for suicide bombings. See this. So I think we can reasonably term this as an act of terrorism. As DonS says, the only question is whether it is an individual act of terrorism or if it was planned with a larger group.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X