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Thursday, January 14, 2021

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 from 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 book discussion has compelled me to fill pages in my journal afterwards. Then, as I write, my insights become richer and an author's words come more alive. Nearly 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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