Mild epicureanism: Notes toward the definition of a therapeutic attitude

Carlo Strenger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Psychotherapists generally feel uncomfortable addressing patients' beliefs, particularly religious beliefs, because of the desire to respect client subjectivity and to avoid the abuse of therapeutic authority. This paper's first contention is that at some junctures, investigation of the client's belief structure can be an important catalyst for change, as exemplified by an extended case example. This stance assumes that much of the individual and collective damage rigid belief systems inflict derives from their function as a defense against death awareness, as described by terror management theory. The paper develops the concept of a therapeutic meta-attitude towards belief, mild Epicureanism, related to the classical Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC). Mild Epicureanism means to soften attachments to all belief systems, even therapeutic theories, to lower their potential inhibition of personal growth. The paper presents the argument that mild Epicureanism is consistent with most therapeutic approaches, and allows addressing clients' belief without interfering with their right to make up their own minds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-211
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychotherapy
Volume62
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 5 Jun 2008

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