Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hold Me Tight

In reading Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, I find much of it to be self fulfilling projection and bad science. Inevitably all psychology is bad science. Most psychologists are defensive of such claims, as they try to isolate human variables in dehumanizing ways. It seems that perhaps understanding the reasons that psychology is inherently unscientific might be liberating to its practitioners.

As an example on page 24 she states, “Science from all fields is telling us very clearly that we are not only social animals but animals that need a special kind of close connection with others, and we deny this at our peril.”

Science from all fields? What fields are we distinguishing science from in this regard? Literature? Engineering? Trash collection? What is happening is not so much that science is telling us very clearly as it is that she is using science on which to project her creation of EFCT. What is it telling us? That we are not just social animals but animals that need a very special kind of close connection with others. That is a distinction without a difference.

I don’t mean to be overly critical of Dr. Johnson, really the criticism is much broader than just her. This is the sort of free range projection that seems unavoidable when a holistic subject is approached from a reductionist perspective. And this is not to say that there is not merit mixed with the manure. It seems that the idea of the primacy of secure human bonds is important. But this discussion of those bonds seems vague, what is the nature of these bonds. To this point it seems to be a unifying human need undistinguishable between us and little impacted by personality or environment. If you got it, all is good, and if you don’t, your doomed.

Despite this cynicism I see some personal relevance in this notion. This connection that she speaks of seems to be an over simplified concept of transcendence. While I see the bonds of transcendence as manifold and varied, I do see this as key to meaning and fulfillment.

My life has been significantly impacted by being the product of two indifferent and disengaged parents. Life decisions have been formulated around a fear of rejection even more so than a need for connection. But that is not quite so simple, nor does the need for connection stand alone as single variable. As discussed in the previous post libido is a significant variable. Sexuality is a crucial conduit to connection, especially in primary relationships. J.P. Sartre said that true transcendence is only possible at the point of mutual orgasm when two people are completely open to each other and completely vulnerable. I am not sure that I know what “true” transcendence is but I do think that vulnerability and openness are important ingredients for adult transcendence. In this regard things such as libido are crucial components in bond forming. I do not think, as Johnson seems to be suggesting, that the connections between parents and children are the same as bonds between lovers in a relationship.

I guess that my issue here is that this approach seems over simplified. For one thing she seems to assume that each partner has the same need for connection. This differential seems to be a signifcant variable.

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