04 August 2007
I just finished Love's Executioner by Irvin Yalom. It is a therapy-related book that goes along with some of the stuff I've been studying. Actually, it came along at a perfect time--a time when I'm feeling really tired. I'm tired of forcing things, I'm tired of pulling things along (a little vague, i know), and I'm tired of school. I entered the counseling program because I want to help people live better. What I'm feeling right now is that the program of study I chose wants to turn me into a little scientist. After a year of classwork I was finally able to do a project that involved creativity-I wrote a song for my traumatology class. It was the first project I was really proud of and it was the first project I got great feedback for. I am not a research-type writer, I'm not a great memorizer of facts, so the projects I've done to this point have received average (and one time below average) marks.
Back to Loves Executioner. Yalom is one of the premier therapists of our day and a great writer. In the first chapter he talks about the orthodox schools of psychotherapy. He wishes he could find his place in those schools. He wishes he could, just once, "know exactly what I'm doing in my psychotherapeutic work." He goes on to say...
But, of course, it is an illusion. If they are helpful to patients at all, ideological schools with their complex metaphysical edifices succeed because the assuage the therapist's, not the patients' anxiety (and thus permit the therapist to face the anxiety of the therapeutic process). The more the therapist is able to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing, the less need is there for the therapist to embrace orthodoxy. The creative members of an orthodoxy, any orthodoxy, ultimately outgrow their disciplines.
Since reading this passage I've been thinking a lot about religion and the way that most versions of religious orthodoxy I have been part of seem to kill creativity. So I'm left wondering how I can hold onto a faith grounded in history and (for me) a fairly orthodox understanding of the Bible, and still embrace the creativity within myself and in the people around me. And more deeply, I'm also wondering why orthodoxy does tend to kill creativity.