01 December 2006

The Jesuits and modern psychotherapy

(copy of a letter)

I was just watching a programme about Corneille on the French television, and it appears that his plays are supposed to show the influence of his Jesuit upbringing. The world is as it is, God wishes the world to be the way it is, we must accept our painful and restricted positions in the world as it is.

That sounds awfully like modern psychotherapy and ideology generally, substituting Society for God of course, but that is not much of a substitution, seeing how nearly identical these two concepts have usually been.

If anybody were to come and work here we would expect to be able to reward them at least as well as if they had quite a good ordinary or ‘proper’ job, but we are in a very disadvantaged position, and we have to say that people who might work here need to come as voluntary workers in the first instance.

They need to get to know about the situation as it is an unusual one, and they will appreciate how advantageous it could be for them much better when they have been in contact with it for some time. Which is, I suppose, one of the reasons why people cannot tolerate remaining in contact with us, and usually bugger off pretty rapidly as soon as they have realised that the social interpretations are not right. From their point of view, it is regrettably neither the case that we are too impoverished to pay them properly, nor that we are so well set up that we can throw money away without getting value for it.

The fact that we do not conform to the social interpretations (i.e. we are trying to improve our position, in working towards being a fully functional academic institution, against the will of society) is enough to most people want to go away quickly.

It is not possible for us to say exactly what permanent arrangements might arise until we discover whether somebody is willing and able to contribute usefully to the situation. Well set-up social institutions can afford to have employees who are performing a demonstration of how employees ought to proceed, which may not be contributing anything realistic at all. But socially set-up institutions exist to demonstrate that they are applying the ideology, not to get anything done.