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Friday, July 27, 2012

Therapy Without Therapist

"Textual discussion is not the same as group therapy, although we would be among the first to claim some of the best discussions of a text can deliver therapeutic results."

That sentence is in the preface of "Great Conversations" (2004), an anthology of some classic texts ranging from essays by Emerson and Carl Jung to poetry by Walt Whitman, an Ibsen play, an Alice Munro short story. I wholly agree with the claim the editors of this book make.

In my experience, a well facilitated discussion deepens my understanding of both a text and myself. On more than a few occasions, the energy of a discussion has compelled me to stay afterwards and fill pages in my journal. As I write, my insights become richer and the author's words come more alive. Almost as often, I'll simply replay in my head what others contributed to the conversation. For me, just being around smart people who like to read is like being in therapy without a therapist.

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