Click on the link for (sadly) the last of Drake Spaeth’s series of posts for Saybrook, this time with some thoughts arising on the recent death of John Nash, the brilliant mathematician whose life was the subject of Sylvia Nasar’s book ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and the film based on it.
Drake quotes R. D. Laing:-
‘Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.’
Certainly we can endorse this from the perspective of working at this service…. Our deepest struggles also have the potential to be doorways to transformative change, healing and growth. As Drake describes:-
‘Over the course of his life, John Nash somehow managed to go into the heart of his own seemingly strange fears and paranoid isolation, accepting that those terrors were part and parcel of the same phenomenon that gifted him with ability to see around corners, infusing so much beauty into his thought and work. He came through the suffering engendered by his experiences. He faced squarely the disappointment, despair, and chaos that characterized his career, relationships, and life. In doing so, he found near the end of his road a bounty of love, acceptance, and meaning. Moreover, he was able to liberate himself from his enslavement to his delusions and realize the freedom to be truly who he was, in all of his delightful eccentricity. He undertook a true initiation, a death and rebirth, of his selfhood.’
Like Drake, the writer has an existential perception of the human condition (and of therapy). For example, at this service we too see psychiatric model diagnoses as labels/descriptors for human responses to experience, which can most fully be understood and met in terms of personal meanings. Again, Drake quotes Ronnie Laing:-
‘Schizophrenia cannot be understood without understanding despair.’
Drake moves on to explore intentionality; conscious living; personal and societal shadow; and our need to encounter and make peace with what is darkest within ourselves, in place of numbing ourselves with drugs (prescription or otherwise) or other addictive behaviours.
As he says:-
‘Never before have we been more in need of such a heart-centered, courageous intentional choice [as John Nash’s] on the part of each and every one of us, so that we may illuminate our beauty for each other. That potential is a seed waiting to germinate in the heart of darkness.’
We share with him the perception that the purpose of the existential approach to life and therapy is about supporting as many as possible of us making this journey and, in Mick Cooper’s words: “radical valuing of compassion, of deep human connection, and of each human being in all their uniqueness.”
Here are some past posts from Drake in this series:-
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling Exeter since 1994