October 26, 2015

Our Feelings are a Blind Guide

The magazine pickin’s were slim in my “sports medicine” doctor’s waiting room: Us or Elle. Having no interest in people who are famous for being well known, I picked Elle and discovered book reviews. Who knew? And they didn’t review the same books I read about the night before in First Things.

They reviewed F*** Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by psychiatrist Michael I. Bennett and his daughter Sarah Bennett, a comedy writer.

“I chose the title,” Dr. Bennett comments in a video about the book, “because it was so often the answer in a dialogue with patients.” Patients come with all sorts of problems, often wanting change where change wasn’t possible. In the process they ramble on about their feelings until Dr. Bennett stops them. Feelings, he insists, are simply facts. We need to accept them, get over them and get on with what we’re going to do about our problems.

Life, he argues, is not about improving self-esteem or making ourselves feel better or figuring out a way to be happier or solving “life’s impossible problems.” It’s about managing what are often stinking, no good, rotten and unfair circumstances and problems. “If you want to make good decisions or get good advice about them,” the Bennetts write in their “Manifesto,” “don’t pay too much attention to your feelings.”

The Bennetts recommend treating feelings as mere a data point while living instead with a reliance on reason and will. “In our world,” they write, “feelings don’t rule, many things can’t be changed and acceptance of limits, not limitless self-improvement, is the key to moving forward and dealing effectively with any and all crap that life can throw your way.”

It’s about time that people in the psychology/psychiatry world began assaulting the therapeutic culture that holds Western culture and far too much of the Church captive. We’ve become obsessed with our feelings and those feelings have become self-validating: I feel what I feel and can’t help it. If I feel it and can’t help it, my feelings must be good. If my feelings are good, I have right to act as they lead me. And if I have a right to act as my feelings lead me, I am owed validation and success.

Read the rest here.


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