There is no religion in which everyday life is not considered a prison; there is no philosophy or ideology that does not think that we live in alienation.
The satisfaction of the horror of alienation is the ultimate goal of every human endeavour
Religion is the ultimate, ostensibly incandescent light by which we escape the horror of our own personal (total) division from reality. The monotheistic religions offer the escape of a personal god – this is a transparent effort at escaping alienation and isolation. Eastern Religions escape into ritual and paradox – however, they seek refuge from alienate in a communion with the self (even when the self is negated, ironically).
Philosophy is the intellectual companion to religion. We choose and take turns moving between philosophy and religion in escaping isolation. Philosophy is defined as the love of knowledge, and in such, it seeks the escape from alienation in the pursuit of knowledge. Whilst some philosophies actually embrace alienation as the root knowledge in itself, most others bypass it as inconvenient. The philosophies of Wittgenstein (most language philosophies), Nietzsche (and other Nihilist philosophies) all consciously seek functioning at the point of realising the truth of alienation.
Literature (The art of Storytelling) predates even religion (or is it inexorably linked to it?). It seeks to find meaning in every situation through the detailing of events – however structured, however concluded. Shakespeare found meaning in tragedy, and escape in alienation through death or tragedy itself. Dante found the escape from alienation in his pursuit of love, and personal attachment to Beatrice.
In short, every other form of art is also an effort (at base) at escaping alienation. The portrayal of a mountain conveys warmth and connection. The portrayal of a human being escapes alienation. Even abstract art seeks to convey personal connection, but only through elaborate deception.
I’ll stop there.
- II. Need:
The need for Attachment (to escape alienation) through psychotherapy.
Firstly, the goal of the psychotherapist is to build rapport (immediately, the most pressing goal is to break alienation).
Our central need then, therapeutically, is to answer questions about where the horror of alienation arose, and if and how we can break our constant unconscious allegiance to it.
Without digressing too far, some examples include: Attachment Theory, Learning Theory (Bandura), Family Therapy Theories … it goes on.
Attachment theory is the most blatantly obvious and empirically valid expression of the research link between our ability to function as healthy human beings, and our need to learn to form health attachments. It elaborates on at length, the powerful tie between the summation of healthy attachment “styles’ in youth and adulthood, and mental health.
Learning theory is just one example of a cognitive learning theory. It details, at length, the relationship between our coherent understanding – our functioning understanding of the unscrupulous world, and our detailed process of labelling and modelling by which we bypass such confusion (a confusion which results in society abandonment).
Family Therapies use tools that further analyse and and strengthen the idea of health constellations of attachments as a means for an alternative to isolation (simply leaving the family), which implies that alienation is the root pain.
I’ll stop there.
Alienation as addressed through Psychotherapy
Addressing Alienation in Therapy
One method of escaping alienation is through simply embracing its all encompassing nature. It’s an underlying quality (desire) within the human psyche that is abandoned (in therapy) at enormous costs. Existential Therapy claims to address this aim but does no such thing and, in fact, scarcely even integrates the fathers of its name into its construction.
The Healthy Outcome of Alienation in Therapy
The healthier the understanding (the closer to a brute, innate understanding rather than an intellectual one, the better) of the nature of alienation, the better. If it’s possible whatever personal exercises or style the therapist uses, they ought to keep in mind the necessity of remanding that exercise back to its role in our intimidated desire to escape alienation.
We can visualise the case of an individual who has used the fact of alienation itself to further advance themselves as human beings. Nietzsche called this type of person an Ubermensch. That’s a bit of a hyperbole. What he meant, in my eyes, was that this type of person has reached the pinnacle of acceptance. They have become fully mature, and they are the closest of all people to fully escaping illusion in the pursuit of truth (the goal of therapy).
What to do?
As a therapist, reflect upon how you acknowledge and recognise the relationship between Attachment Theory, the agonising and constant desire for “communion” with other human beings”, through art, thought, or whatever.
If you don’t do this – you should learn to. If you have an inkling that this truth weighs heavily, and you accept the premises I’ve laid forth, you should take action to bring your exercises back to the process of acknowledging alienation (if they don’t).
If you’re not a therapist – or you are your own therapist – simply reflect genuinely upon the individual “nodes* or *points* of your mind. How do you think – how do your emotions interplay? I propose you will see that their ultimate work comes back to a reflection on alienation, and an effort to escape it.
Seek that you might succumb to childish efforts at avoid alienation; attach yourself as an adult, and not as a scared child.