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Guest Thinkers

The Limits of Therapy

Perhaps happiness is a bit like self-esteem: You have to work for both. You can’t get an infusion of either one from a therapist, says Dr. Richard Friedman.

It is practically an article of faith among many therapists that self-understanding is a prerequisite for a happy life. Insight, the thinking goes, will free you from your psychological hang-ups and promote well-being. Perhaps, but recent experience makes me wonder whether insight is all it’s cracked up to be. … Since the common ingredient in all therapies is not insight, but a nonspecific human bond with your therapist, it seems fair to say that insight is neither necessary nor sufficient to feeling better. Not just that, but sometimes it seems that insight even adds to a person’s misery.


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