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.
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