I posted over at Fibrant Living today, about the difference between fibromyalgia and depression.
Religion and the jargon of the helping/hindering professions are comprised largely of literalized metaphors. That is why they are the perfect tools for legitimizing and illegitimizing ideas, behaviors, and persons.
Ordinary language combines all of these qualities. It can be used literally and precisely, to convey meaning; metaphorically or poetically, to move people; or 'religiously,' to blind and numb people, making them feel elevated or debased.
"In the natural sciences, language (mathematics) is a useful tool: like the microscope or telescope, it enables us to see what is otherwise invisible. In the social sciences, language (literalized metaphor) is an impediment: like a distorting mirror, it prevents us from seeing the obvious.
That is why in the natural sciences, knowledge can be gained only with the mastery of their special languages; whereas in human affairs, knowledge can be gained only by rejecting the pretentious jargons of the social sciences.
Thomas Szasz, The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary
I haven’t actually finished Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World yet, so it’s probably weird for me to be doing a review. It’s a really meaty little book, though, and I haven’t finished it because I keep going back to re-read sections or copy some of the quotes scattered through the text.
The focus of the book is on persuasive writing. I like the fact that Pipher acknowledges the power of stories and fiction to inspire change.
I’ve got to return it to the library (it’s way late, because I didn’t want to let go of it), but I’m definitely going to find a copy of my own soon. As I really don’t buy that many books, preferring to read them from the library, buying a copy after I read the library’s copy is pretty high praise.
I’ve admired Pipher for years, since reading Reviving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other, but something I learned today raises her even higher in my esteem. Last year, she returned an award she received from the American Psychological Association to protest the APA’s continuing support of torture by the U.S. government. The article includes her letter to the APA, and I encourage you to read it.
My therapist, L, is no longer with the practice I’ve been seeing for the last couple of years. It took a year to get to her — first, they assigned me to M, who was a total pain in the ass and didn’t listen. Not that I was inclined to talk to her, anyway. And she didn’t return phone calls.
So I finally got beyond the “getting to know you” stage with L, and she understands our family and some history and such, so she can put things in context. And I think they fired her! They weren’t even going to tell me she wouldn’t be there for my appointment this evening. I called to ask her something and her number had been disconnected, which prompted me to talk to the office idiots.
I. Am. Not. HAPPY! It’s a major PITA to break in a new therapist. I mean, it is for anybody, but when you have a bunch of interlocking issues and heavy history crap, then you add in chronic illness/disability, and just for fun mix in that whole bi/pagan/poly thing, believe me, it’s worse. And some therapists aren’t up to it. In fact, the one I saw a couple of times before seeing someone at this practice told me and Sam at the second session that she was in over her head and needed to refer me elsewhere.
Oh — the new person doesn’t do evening appointments, either. Which means that the only way I can be sure of getting there is to take a taxi, as I have not had good experiences with using MARTA for anything time-sensitive. Expensive, but not as difficult as having Sam take time off from work. But L coÃ¶rdinated my appointments with Katie’s appointments with another therapist in the same practice, which was nice. Who knows if this one will be as helpful?