One of the speakers said that our attempts to be positive are generally superficial...

Question: In the documentary film "What the bleep do we know?" one of the women speakers said that our attempts to be positive are generally superficial and that below the surface we are more negative than we realize. In my albeit limited experience, popular psychology starts and finishes with appearances, possibly never penetrating to the core of who we are. If transformation rather begins deep inside a person, maybe taking months or years to manifest in a way that is clearly visible from the outside, and assuming that therapists are in the business of transformation, how would they evaluate the effectiveness of their work? Paul

Answer (1) In the modern world, where coverup, political correctness, sugar coating and dumbing down of uncomfortable facts are the order of the day, I implicitly understand your query. My belief is that this is already beginning to lose sway. People in general are sick of social attitude engineering by vested interests and are keen to both speak and be told the truth again.

I believe therapists have a real responsibility to speak out about this present situation and champion the cause of truth and reality at all costs. We are constantly asked to help repair the personal damage caused by dissimulation, lies and interpersonal game playing, not become part of the problem by colluding. I personally welcome anyone who tells it as they see and experience it, and wants to shed any phony veneer (false self). It makes my participation all the easier and much more rewarding.

Answer provided by David White, Psychotherapist

Answer (2)
Your opening sentence reminds me of a couple of things. The first is what psychologists call "depressive realism". It's the theory that depressed or negative people are more in touch with reality than more positive people; that positive people generate positive distortions to combat the harsh reality of life. It also reminds me of a funny lecturer of mine who often said, "I've never met a well-informed optimist". I don't think I agree that psychology focuses on appearances and doesn't penetrate to the core of who we are. In fact, I'd argue the opposite. Because of this, transformation is very possible!

Answer provided by Graham Cox, Psychologist

Back to Public Forum


types of therapy

What is good therapy?

Therapists explore the experiential narratives and existential philosophies that underpin their attitudes and approaches to therapy.



Contributions from writers, artists, philosophers and poets, exploring the questions that help us understand what it means to be human



Practitioners and Friends are invited to be part of the Good Therapy community... learn more about how you can be involved.



Professional and personal development, training workshops, and conferences for psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists