Buddism Illusion Psychotherapy and Reality Testing
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Steve Earlam. MSc. Dip HE. MNCS (Accd). MFDAP
13th November, 2010
Is the Buddhist view that the world is illusion compatible with psychotherapists' emphasis on reality testing?
In Buddhism the concept of Anicca suggests that nothing is permanent and that everything changes.
In the second noble truth of Buddhism, Suffering is due to attachment, it is said we tend to react to each moment from our past pain and frustration, then we react to the pain and frustration, then we react to that reaction, and so on, it seems like a form of mental torture, in effect creating seemingly endless layers of pain, negative emotion, self doubt and self justification. In Buddhism this is known as samara, an illusionary world that we think of as real, many people however might view this as being normal.
In psychotherapy we talk about ‘reality testing’ which can be defined as a process in which we gauge the difference between our internal and external worlds.
Freud defined the process of reality testing as being based on perception and motility, which relates to mental images we experience that, may arise from the sensations we experience of bodily movement and position rather than from visual and auditory sensations.
In existential psychology the belief is that human life and the world has no meaning unless we give them meaning, ‘existence precedes essence’. Existentialism is often connected with negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and mortality, pretty much the same as Buddhism.
In many ways it appears that the two approaches have compatible elements.
Related articles from our experts
Saska Plowman Psychotherapeutic Counsellor (Integrative) RMBACPApril 21st, 2017
Vicky Cuming BACP Accred Counsellor, EMDR Practitioner, Experiential FacilitatorApril 25th, 2017
Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood CardsMay 13th, 2011
Imi Lo: Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Supervisor (MMH,UKCP,HCPC,MBPsS)March 29th, 2015
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.