In sterquilinis invenitur:
The Foundation of Modern Psychotherapy -
The Second Truth
The second truth might be: confront, voluntarily, what stands in your way. The way—that’s the path of life, the meaningful path of life, the strait and narrow path that simultaneously divides order and chaos and brings them into balance. Psychologists have known for a long time that confrontation with what is frightening or unknown can be curative, at least in some situations. The standard treatment for phobias and anxiety is therefore exposure to the feared entity or situation.

That treatment is effective – but the exposure has to be voluntary. It is as if the anxiety systems of the brain assume that anything that is advanced upon must not be a predator (or, if it is a predator, it’s the sort that can be easily kicked to the side and defeated). We now know that the psychophysiological response to stress differs completely when that stress is voluntarily faced, compared to when it is accidentally encountered.

In the latter case, the threatened individual tenses up, and readies him or herself, defensively. That can become the chronically unhealthy posture of someone turned to stone. In the former case, the individual takes on the role of the probable victor and advances forthrightly. Such actions are indeed what has always saved humanity from the terrors of the night (and the evil lurking in the human heart). Our continual observation of that fact, over millennia, is what allowed us to represent it, abstractly, in our great religious stories.

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