|Trauma Gender Issues Future of Psychotherapy Community of Excellence Narcissistic Clients Clinical Mastery CE Comments Great Attachment Debate Couples William Doherty Mindfulness David Schnarch Linda Bacon Clinical Excellence Anxiety Wendy Behary Etienne Wenger Attachment Attachment Theory Mind/Body Brain Science Mary Jo Barrett Challenging Cases Ethics Men in Therapy The Future of Psychotherapy Diets Alan Sroufe Symposium 2012 Couples Therapy|
|Bookmarks Mar/Apr - Page 5|
Bicycling toward the Inner Adult
Cacioppo uses the image of bicycling to illustrate what he thinks human connection should ideally look like. When he cycles to school every day, he "glides through a sea of humanity," noticing the intricate weaving of other bikers, as well as all the other human traffic moving smoothly in and out of tight but ample bike lanes, bobbing and weaving almost effortlessly. It's his preferred image for social regulation: people humming along as if they were all "in sync," almost like a well-run, human beehive.
Cacioppo is one of the new breed of evolutionary psychologists. Instead of seeing human beings as "selfish," fighting to pass on their genes to the next generation, he sees cooperation as the key to survival. (Even armies have to cooperate.) From an evolutionary viewpoint, loneliness functions as a warning sign, which tells us something has gone wrong: it's what physical pain is to the human body.
Cacioppo's emphasis on the importance of social regulation, and Olds and Schwartz's call to break through the potentially narcissistic intensity of the therapeutic encounter, are signs that a new respect for what might be called social maturity is emerging in psychology. In the '50s, being "well-adjusted" was considered stodgy by many: conformity meant repression. The rebellious '60s embraced expressive therapies, like primal scream and Gestalt therapy, focusing on liberating the Inner Child. But in the wake of the excesses of earlier therapeutic trends and fashions, today we seem to be entering a more realistic and hopeful era.
As we grow increasingly aware of our collective interdependence, a new emphasis is emerging on being socially adept, balanced, and squarely adult. One sign is how voters chose the new U.S. president. Barack Obama appealed to many, not just because of his rhetoric or policies, but because he exhibited qualities of social judgment and emotional maturity—and the problems we face seem to require a real grown-up. So bring on the Inner Adult. And not just in our leaders: in all of us!
Richard Handler is a radio producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, Canada. Contact: email@example.com. Letters to the Editor about this article may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.