PILGRIMS, PATHS AND PROGRESS —Toward a Comprehensive Psychotherapy – September 2010

—Toward a Comprehensive Psychotherapy

By Theodore Reid, MD
Reviewed by David Bryen
(For sale at various spots around the Lakeside area)


pilgrimsE. Theodore Reid, MD, has taken on the ambitious task of presenting a comprehensive psychotherapy in 208 pages. The book begins with his perspective as a medical doctor that traditional Western medicine offers little (help) for those who suffer psychologically. He laments that those trained under the medical system are left with a vapid knowledge of the human condition and what is required for real psychological help.

Reid rightly analyzes how the drug companies and their grip on the medical system shape treatment and dominate our ideas of health, and how unfortunately the labyrinthine nature of the human condition has been perilously lost in favor of the high speed, short term, highly pharmacological approach to therapy. Rightfully demonstrating how the profit motive from big pharmaceutical companies twists our whole culture, radically compartmentalizing what he calls the “bodymind,” the book cries for a broader and more comprehensive holism in the treatment of the psyche.

I am thankful that his “views run counter to ‘current (medical) wisdom’”( pg 10) and this section of the book is reason enough to buy and read this book! In this reviewer’s opinion, his perspective needs to be part of the entire health care debate in our current political climate.

In the middle sections of the book, Reid describes his eclectic approach to therapy and describes the different tools, “maps” he employs to give his clients language to describe their inner experience and bring divergent voices into harmony. Reid values past experiences that shape current psychological functioning, but also includes the importance of cultural milieu and the variety of values that spring from the multiplicity of factors that act on our perceptions of the world. Graciously acknowledging his map is simply one tool, he encourages other therapists to articulate their own. Reid is a champion of long term talk therapy that ought to be augmented by medication when necessary.

“A guide for pilgrims having trouble with their path” describes his fifty years as a successful psychotherapist who has walked with thousands. “Pilgrims…” exemplifies his compassion and non-judgmental embrace for the wide diversity of his clients and offers many small vignettes as maps to help others understand the competitive voices that cry for attention and cause our internal and external conflict.

Like a good wine, Reid’s vast and seasoned experience has ripened into wisdom and needs a wider audience. With so much positive to say, I nevertheless struggled to understand who his audience would be. This reviewer admires his attempt to present a “comprehensive psychotherapy” and I wish that more weathered psychotherapists would spend the time and energy to articulate their own comprehensive ideas. The public needs the dissemination of this sort of soulful reflection.

In the end, the book suffers from too much breadth and not enough depth. For example, I was glad that he unapologetically included the spiritual dimension an essential component of emotional pilgrimage, but I was disappointed because just like the conventional perspective that instructs therapists to leave belief alone, Reid follows that directive and seems reluctant to offer skills in challenging beliefs that are pathological.

What I liked most about the book is that Dr. Reid invites the reader to examine the beliefs of culture and to step into a deeper acceptance of the total integration of the bodymind, not allowing the marketing of pharmaceutical and medical models to dictate what therapy is supposed to be.

(Ed. Note: David Bryen, MA, spent his 37-year-career as a psychotherapist, marriage counselor, and spiritual guide in private practice. He now lives in Ajijic, Mexico writing his own gleanings from a fascinating career in the mystery, wonder and shadow of the human psyche.)

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

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