Too Much Emotional Dependence?

I’ve been reading an engaging book, Mindfulness-Integrated CBT, by Bruno A. Cayoun, and it made me think about how we as leaders and religious educators are engaging with the broader Muslim public. Hopefully you’ll follow me on this one:

“During psychotherapy, the client may learn about himself or herself based on what we say as therapists, colored by our own view of the world and operational paradigm. Our client acquires self-knowledge based on someone’s view, the therapist’s: ‘the client’s thought is irrational because it leads to emotional pain,’ If this is the only level of involvement (faith in the clinician), symptoms may be alleviated for some time but the client’s sense of self-control and self-efficacy tends to remain poor and bound to the context and topic of the intervention. A potential danger is dependence on the clinician for approval or reassurance, leading to unnecessary long-term treatment.”

I sometimes worry about the cult of personality that exists within our communities. It’s not that I think charisma has no place and should be done away with, but rather I’m concerned that people are getting attached to people (students to teachers, people to institutions) or places to such an extent that it interferes with the therapy and healing that (I think) we’re trying to accomplish. I say this as I have been slowly pushed more and more into a public spotlight and have concerns about the quality of what I am producing.

2 Replies to “Too Much Emotional Dependence?”

  1. Hi Marc, this is Bruno Cayoun, the author of the book you are quoting. Your wise reflection is inspiring. It is nice that you immediately related my comment to “the cult of personality”, especially in Western cultures, where the messenger tends to overshadow the message. There is a big difference between having faith in a teacher and having faith in a teacher’s wisdom. In the Buddhist tradition of teaching, senior teachers make a strong point for teachers not to fall in the trap of unwholesome charisma, inflating a sense of specialness and creating dependence. Charisma is unwholesome when the motivation to develop and use it is unwholesome, when it is based on a desire to feel special, important. It is wholesome when it is a spontaneous expression of the teaching we are passing on to others. It is the essence, not the vase, that we teach. And while the essence is the same in type and amount, the smaller the vase, the fuller it is.

  2. Mr. Cayoun. It is an honor to have you respond to my post. I find your writing very insightful. Your observation that sometimes “the messenger tends to overshadow the message” is spot on. Please let me know if you ever make it to the States.

    With admiration,

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