The AgeSong 2014 Intern Orientation: Ambiguity of Suffering & Process Work video explores a philosophical look at psychotherapy. This video includes a group discussion on “Suffering” and Nader Shabahangi starts the talk by introducing the idea that we can look at suffering of the psyche from a philosophical viewpoint.
Smart Phone use at AgeSong Residences
This session opens with a short group discussion about smart phone use while on the floor or with residents. raditional dictum at AgeSong residences is no phones on the floors- they are to be used on breaks. Unfortunately a dictum does engender pushback so the discussion is about how can we all take ownership and buy into the idea that we will try to keep the smart phones put away?
Nader brings up the point that being attached to our smart phones is antithetical to ‘being present.” The point also is not only to stay “present” but for the safety and well-being of the residents. Keeping our minds and eyes within the space we are enables us to ensure the residents safety.
If we make the phones “forbidden” then there is going to be push back. How to get everyone to buy into keeping phones in the background? We are recommending having “communications” come through the desks instead of to our phones. If there is a time when you are expecting a call or text that will require your immediate attention…Nader suggests communicating the need with those around you.
Ambiguity of Suffering & Process Work at AgeSong
Video: A Philosophical Look at Psychotherapy
[The discussion that follows is based on the manuscript for the book (published in 2015) by Nader, titled “The Ambiguity of Suffering.”]
Nader introduces Judd and Stephanie two people who have been assisting with this manuscript, Judd and Stephanie. Judd is a philosophically minded AgeSong resident who has read many of the pages of the manuscript. Stephanie Rothman, M.A., has been assisting Nader with finishing the manuscript for “The Ambiguity of Suffering.” Stephanie will be doing a case presentation and Judd will be chiming in from a first person perspective.
The framework for the term “the ambiguity of suffering.” What does this mean? Nader asks the group what they think the mainstream thinks about when they hear the word “suffering”? Answers from the group include the biomedical view that is should be eliminated and that seeing suffering brings up things people would rather not deal with.
Nader starts the discussion with a quote from Doestevsky, “The origin of conciousness is suffering.” What does this mean? One of the interns contributes that with pleasure you want to keep the status quo, you are satisfied with how things are, but if you are suffering you start to evaluate your situation. You look around at what you can change, you become self-aware as you examine yourself.
Is suffering the only way to consciousness? One intern suggests we think about the person who is experiencing pleasure and evaluating themselves. Nader suggest that here is ambiguity in evidence.
And what is “suffering?” Is it the lack of happiness or is it the experiencing of great pain? An intern mentions that there is this perception in american society that if you are not happy all of the time you are suffering.
The point is that suffering can lead to a deeper understanding of who we are.
In the biomedical viewpoint we eliminate suffering..but suffering in the psyche should be explored to find the meaning. Nader gives an example of “conversion experiences.” Perhaps, as psychologists are suggesting now, we need to distinguish between a psychotic break and people who have a spiritual emergence.
We do not want to limit our viewpoint of what life is really like. Experiencing and looking at suffering allows us to have a fuller view of the world around us and as the wisdom of elders tells us, we each have to find our own paths. We all have to do our own work.
Nader mentions that Stephanie has brought the suggestion that starting in September[of 2014] the is consideration of doing a monthly graduate seminar about the philosophy of psychotherapy.
A Process Work Case Discussion with Group
How does this fit in with what we do at AgeSong?
Judd shares from a personal perspective his battles with “suffering.” that suffering causes him to become more in touch with himself, to be more creative and himself. He finds it is a way to experience the sense of aliveness, to defy the forces and to fight the fears. He feels that he is fighting back towards understanding. Judd also shares his personal battle with trying to avoid medication to make the suffering “go away.”
Stephanie reads a vignette about a case as a starting point for a discussion about how some therapy is done at AgeSong. The group discusses some therapy ideas based on different modalities.
Nader ends the session by presenting some thoughts on “process work.” The interns will have more opportunities to discuss process work but for now he touches on how in process work we are following different levels of reality. Engaging in “process work” is a big part of what we do at AgeSong so there will be more about it in the coming year.
How does the ambiguity of suffering relate to what we are doing at AgeSong? In therapeutic situations there is the option for therapists to look at symptoms to see if they have a meaning, not just as something to be numbed.
View the AgeSong Educational Series videos here on our AgeSong Library of Videos page.
Read “The Ambiguity of Suffering” Today!
Ambiguity of Suffering
by Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D.
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