Prejudiced about prejudice contd ...
NT: Have you not been instrumental in diagnosing some of the problems that therapy has created?
GC: Yes, yes, because by talking this way we are aware that therapy was invented to cure people. But, often it becomes part of the problem. We see it all the time. People go to therapy for years, they keep changing therapists and are so much under therapy that they create a new disease - the disease of being in therapy.
NT: You have been instrumental in driving some of the key movements in deconstructing what therapists do. What would you think should come next?
GC: Its very difficult to know what is next, because if we knew, then we would be there. And now, we are at this point where we see our responsibility in creating problems. The moment we try to resolve them, sometimes we create them. So, we are participants. So, the next step is to say "how can we prevent them." By talking, by having a reflective team about what is the right thing to do. What is next is perhaps also to go back for a while into diagnosis.
NT: So, we can only push this deconstructing so far?
GC: You can push it so far. Scientific progress in our century has been done while believing in objectivity and in reality and you believe in progress. You can go to a point where the progress begins to become an illusion. We have to take a step back and examine what you are doing. When we feel comfortable and we know more or less what we are doing, then we can take another step back, perhaps to diagnosis again. We believe in reality and then create reality. We can never be exactly in only one position. If you believe in reality, you get into trouble. If you think only you created reality, you become a solipsistic, isolated person.
NT: It sounds in some of your thoughts that you are moving in a similar direction to that of Thomas Szasz, that psychiatry as an entire institution needs to be reconsidered.
GC: Thomas Szasz, what he says is very good, but his idea is too negative about the institution. For me, the institution is part of the construction of reality. Human beings create the institution, they need it. Thomas Szasz is saying it is wrong but he is not offering an alternative, basically. So, the alternative is for the institution to become aware of what it is doing.
NT: As far as you are concerned, is that happening at a fast enough rate?
GC: No. It still has to happen. The institution is too loyal to its own survival. They need to keep the system the way it is. But we need the institution. It is necessary to respond to what happens. But, very often, institutions keep things the way they are.
NT: And what you are doing is creating some confusion in it.
GC: Some confusion, some instability, yes. But, if we were all doing therapy in one way it would not be so good. We need some tension between the two extreme positions.
NT: You came from a training in psychoanalysis. Does that way of thinking still have a place in this institution?
GC: The problem with psychoanalysis is also believing what is... really unconscious. They were looking for reality, Freud believed in reality, in the search for reality. Psychoanalysis became very useful as a source of stories. It gave beautiful stories to make sense of what happens the oedipal stories are very good. Psychoanalysis became a problem when they began to believe what the stories were saying.
NT: You elected during the evolution of the Milan school of therapy to continue to work with students while some of your colleagues chose not to. Why did you make that choice?
GC: Because students come and challenge you. That is very good. You don't get fixed in your position. Also, doing work like that is also practical because there is more income. Doing therapy in this way is fast. Families don't stay long six to 10 sessions. So, its very hard to have so many patients. In psychoanalysis, if you have 10 patients that you keep for years, you are okay. Doing this therapy, you don't have too many patients, because they get better too fast. So do the students, so the student becomes your source of income.
NT: Do you think your involvement with students is the reason you have followed the direction you have in the past decade?
GC: Yes, because they are the ones who keep looking at what you are doing. You have to examine what you are doing. So, you enter into (the act of) criticising or analysing the observer, not only the observed. The way you look at something influences it. When you say something you influence.
NT: What is the principal agent of change in the way that you work?
GC: The idea is that change is normal. Every human or ecological system is in a permanent state of change, it never stops. Probably for the rule of adaptation, the human system has to adapt to life on the planet. If the system does not adapt or change, usually it is going to be destroyed. So, change is natural, it happens all the time. Systems are organised around change. If you see old, primitive societies, like Guinea, that are kind of isolated, usually they were dead almost. They were doing the rituals, living in the caves, not developing at all, dying of sickness. There were human beings who went to look at them and just by looking at them, examining them, destroyed them. We do therapy when systems get stuck, when they stop changing. They get stuck in fixed ideas and you need to get them to move again. If a system is stuck, they keep repeating the same behaviour, they keep having the same idea, nothing moves. It feels very bad not to move. What is a spark of change is perhaps a new idea that comes to them. They can see themselves differently, they have a new story. Sometimes a therapist can help them to see the new story. Or perhaps you make some new behaviours happen in the family, so everybody has to adapt to the new behaviour. This is a kind of miracle, you never know what really happens. So, when you see a family stuck, attack it from different points of view suggest behaviour changes, give new ideas, you give paradoxical shock statements. You never know what works. Perhaps one little element of the system changes that you don't even suspect.
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