Psychotherapy: the Nemesis of Critical Social Justice Theory

“Where would I find enough leather
To cover the entire surface of the earth?
But with leather soles beneath my feet,
It’s as if the whole world has been covered.”

― Shanti deva

I am intelligent but neither clever or wily enough to counter the sophistry of CSJT (critical social justice theory) So it is with some trepidation that I attempt to speak of it. What I will do here, is write my own paean to psychotherapy as a way to counter what I see as the antithetical implications of CSJT in relation to what takes place in the therapeutic space.

CSJT wants to patronise and control us all. It wants to cover the world in leather to keep us barefoot and dependent on its ideology for its own utopian ends I presume. This feels orchestrated; top down. Therapy is emergent; bottom up. In this sense CSJT does not appear to be a naturally emerging collective neurosis, though it foments crowd psychology not individual psychology. It comes across as an ideology, ultimately with psychotic aims, as well as outcomes.

Consciousness is, having a human experience, not just limiting ourselves to how we self-identify. The therapeutic space is one in which there is a good enough, robust enough holding for us to dare to risk the possibility of running into reality. If you are ready for this, you have already taken the meaningful step of attempting to put robust enough leather soles on your own feet! What happens when we reduce everything to systemic power? What happens when we believe that all types of human interactions are systemically, inherently oppressive, when we only perceive life through the lens of power dynamics and intersectionality.

CJST presents itself as a fait accompli; no discourse necessary.

Our psychotherapy training institutions and governing bodies, appear to have been captured by this ideology. Whatever the reasons for this, they are backing CSJT with powerful intentionality. We are left ‘holding the baby’ of the full implications of this stance. There seems to be no accountability for the consequences of having injecting CSJT into the system. It is as if they have resigned themselves to pressure from somewhere, that compels them to; ‘go along to get along’ and now we all appear to have no choice.

Who am I, if I cannot question? If I cannot question out loud, I may lose the ability to question myself within. The ability to question will become a poorly functioning muscle, left to atrophy through lack of use. The capture by narratives that come from an ideology, degrades, confuses and demoralises us.

We stand to lose our innately powerful human desire to find and experience a visceral sense of freedom, liberation and meaning. That’s why the process of getting oneself to therapy is powerful, personal, deep. It is the following of a compulsion towards liberation, towards seeking out what might help. It seems to involve us being prepared not to know how to proceed, yet trusting something.  

 I want to keep the therapeutic space free from being destroyed by CSJT, by just for now, simply naming and appreciating what the therapeutic space is for me. And in doing so, show how the therapeutic space and CSJT cannot coexist. 

I had thought the therapeutic space would be one of the last places to remain free enough, in which to experience the possibility of meeting our own suffering, our own goodness and the relationship we have with both, in our inner and outer world. But this space is now being infringed upon by CSJT more than by anything else.

Could therapy be banned for being too dangerous, because it is potentially so profoundly liberating in being about direct relationship with self, other and the world instead of putting identity first and always? I chose to become a therapist because I see the therapeutic space as being one where this kind of truly life changing trajectory can happen. I get to witness and experience my own and the clients wonder at just what is possible when we avail ourselves of a free enough place in which something that seems to be calling for our attention, gets to be witnessed met and addressed.

Three words focus my attention before a session; spaciousness, clarity, compassion. A therapist or client who has bought into CSJT will have already filled a good deal of this expectant, alive, open enough space, with their ideological leanings. In so doing, the client and or therapists’ own ability to experience any clarity in this context, will have become limited and compromised. Compassion will be stuck in a thicket somewhere, hard to get to until there is space and the possibility of some clarity. So, what was a spacious enough holding for therapeutic work, is now cramped and already impeded upon.  It will now be harder for the client and therapist to know how it is for them respectively. CSJT has cluttered up the potential space by capturing the conditioned self for its own ends. Now blaming can enter the space and along with it, an abnegation of the individual’s sense of sovereignty and responsibility.

 The hope and intention of dwelling in a space where an experience of interbeing is possible, is now severely curtailed.

In therapy we have the opportunity to bear witness to what it is we are identifying with. If your identity is deeply intrenched in an ideology, this becomes very hard unless there is some awareness of one’s own experience of having been captured.

It seems to me that CSJT promotes narcissistic and self-hating tendencies. It contributes to an extra layer of suffering, division and confusion, in a word, servitude. Therapy is the opposite to this. If the art of therapy itself is to survive, it looks like it may have to fight for its very existence. And its fight takes us directly to the very core (also the Achilles heel perhaps?) of what CSJT stands for whether CSJT exponents realise it or not. That is; the sanctification of wounding in relationship, a free pass, exoneration.

There seems to exist in us, an inherent understanding that we need relationship to know the nature of our own being. We meet in the therapeutic space, yes, with our individual immutable characteristics, but we meet as fellow human beings. If my sense of selfhood is solely predicated on how I identify, then I will probably despise the therapeutic space, let alone find myself entering it willingly. If I as therapist see my job as that of reinforcing this outlook, then I would say that I would not actually be practicing what I recognise to be therapy at all.

 I am there to bear witness to the clients’ process, to contribute to holding space for whatever wants to arise. What do I mean? Am I talking about something instinctive, spiritual, mysterious, luminous? It could be all four, I see it as some deep inner knowing, some pull towards health, freedom, truth, that seems to permeate our very being as a possibility, for as long as there is breath in us. I will dare to say at this point, that faith and trust seem to be the transformative part of this equation. Faith and trust in the process.

The stirrings of faith and trust within the clients’ deep inner knowing, totally uninitiated by any top-down dogma, is surely a threat to CSJT.  It would be seen as the manifestation of your status as oppressor. Or as your right to indulge in oppression, due to you being the oppressed.

CSJT abnegates the need for true relationship with oneself let alone another.      Relationship is often where suffering originates, the rub is, it is also the place where healing can happen.

I get myself to the therapeutic space because I can no longer make sense of my world, a sense of breaking down brings me here. Yet here, in this moment, something may bring me to the possibility of ‘breaking through’.

Perhaps CTST is simply a way to sanction what some call in the therapy world, ‘spiritual bypassing.’ I don’t even have to touch my own suffering let alone become responsive and responsible for how it might need to be met.

This reminds me of the phrase, ‘communism is religion in a hurry.’

CSJT is an ideology, and ideologies have the effect of obscuring our everyday perceptions of ourselves, others and the world. They replace our own lens with which we see the world. Then I am no longer free though I may be comforted in the short term, as by any addiction. I no longer see truth but think I see more truth. I am then not fully and freely alive. There is something both life and death phobic about losing oneself in an ideology. The lethal part is, it compels its host to infect others in order to validate the hosts’ own experience of having been captured. If I can compel you to believe what I believe, then that proves to me I am right… for now. Until the sense of righteousness starts to wear off, at which point I will feel compelled to find another victim. (in order perhaps to appease my own conscience and silence my own critical faculties?) The unfolding of this process seems to be inherently vampiric. (see Gad Saad ‘The Parasitic Mind’) Hence the horrifying acts that ideologies throughout history have compelled their followers to commit.    

The lethal part of the CSJT cocktail seems to be the green light provided by its own logic, that sanctions those that identified as ‘oppressed’ to feel justified in becoming ‘oppressors’ since, according to this ideology, you can only be one or the other. If as a consequence, you now believe this to be a sign of your very own ‘moral authority,’ then the die is well and truly cast. You are, for now, under the spell of CSJT.  You will no longer allow yourself the experience of ‘being’; the only place where liberation, truth and love can be experienced. To be fully alive is now denied. Faith and trust become dismissed; redundant. The only thing that will give you a sense of feeling enlivened will be acts of destruction. CSJT is now coming for what I will dare to call the sacred therapeutic space.

 Benjamin Boyce said as I listened to his latest talk this morning, ‘equity is equality minus liberty’, I think this is a very helpful way to name what is happening here. This is why delusion can end up being dangerous. The therapeutic space offers a profound, kind, and robust enough arena in which I have the opportunity to bear witness to my own delusions. I want the freedom of choice to take this risk, whole heartedly knowing that I do so, at my own peril!

I want the freedom to experience my own self view, warts and all, rather than be assigned what feels like a state sanctioned view because I am ‘inherently’ dangerous if left unchecked, therefore I must be ‘deprogrammed’ (essentially of my own innate humanity)

I want to offer myself and the other, a place in which we as humans can be free to experience what it might be like to be responsive to and responsible for this one; me, you. No matter how much we want to bypass this part of the process and jump straight to serving the collective, we simply cannot do this in any true and meaningful way, until we have experienced meeting our own suffering. CSJT seems to me to be sanctified avoidance, wrong headedness with profoundly deleterious implications for individual human beings.

 Intimate relationships; attachment relationships are upstream from all the rest; politics, culture, education. Hence the erosion of family, relationships, intimacy, sex. This is the therapists’ domain.

I want to be brave enough to continue to attempt to understanding this, to pay attention and meet what needs to be met.

 ‘G. J.’