The popcorn of therapy

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

I’ve been re-reading some of A General Theory of Love and came upon this pithy line in the context of a dicussion of what really works in therapy:

Patients are often hungry for explanations because they are used to thinking that neocortical contraptions like explication will help them. But insight is the popcorn of therapy. When patient and therapist go together, the irreducible reality of their mutual journey, is the movie.

I love that idea insight is the popcorn of therapy and I think it touches on a truth for many other contexts. Our culture seems to prize clever insights, but I think these are often fairly superficial excitements at a mental level. What’s going on underneath is more mysterious and profound.

In facilitation, it’s tempting to offer clever insights instead of being willing to join people in their journey through unknown territory.

I think this relates, in a way I can’t quite articulate, to this paper I’ve been revisiting on Wicked Problems with this thought:

…humans are oriented more toward learning (a process that leaves us changed) than toward problem solving (a process focused on changing our surroundings).

If we over-direct a meeting we aim to move it to problem-solving – getting to a specified destination in predictable steps. If we allow people simply to engage with the material and go with what interests them, we facilitate learning – and, I suspect, support the creation of relationship and not more popcorn.

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