Complete the Stoic Attitudes Scale Online

You can now complete a test version of the Stoic Attitudes Scale online.

Looks like there’s a problem with this cutting off the rightmost “strongly agree” option when displayed on this page but you can do the survey on Polldaddy via the button below:

Take the Stoic Attitudes Survey

Perspectives: Philosophical Therapy as Preventive Psychological Medicine

Christopher Gill, Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter, shares his views on the function of philosophical therapy in antiquity.

‘What contribution was made to the treatment of mental illness in antiquity by philosophical essays on the therapy of emotions? To what extent can we – moderns – recognize in these essays a credible response to mental illness? In this discussion, I explore both these questions, in the belief that each of these lines of enquiry may illuminate each other. A key point, bearing on both questions, is the suggestion that the philosophical essays were intended to function as a psychological analogue for ancient medical regimen, or what we call ‘life-style management’ or ‘preventive medicine’. I begin by developing this suggestion in general terms before relating this idea to the emergence of a distinct genre or body of writings on the therapy of the emotions in the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial periods. Next, I analyse the core strategy of this kind of philosophical therapy, identifying four key recurrent themes. I illustrate this schema, referring especially to Galen’s newly found essay, Avoiding Distress, taken as representing a Platonic-Aristotelian approach, on the one hand, and to Seneca’s On Peace of Mind, representing the Stoic approach, on the other. I then return to the idea that such works are designed to function as preventive psychological medicine, and ask whether they embody an approach to psychological health-care that we could find useful under modern conditions.’

Roundup and New Poll: "What Next?"

Roundup of recent posts and new poll: “What next?”

Roundup of Recent Posts
Plus New Poll: What Next?

Well done students of Stoicism!  Make sure you complete the measures again, though.  We need your lovely data to make #Stoicweek work.  Today’s statistics:

  • We had over 8,000 hits on the Stoicism Today website during Stoic Week alone!
  • About 140 people reported they were participating in the study.
  • Over 1,100 people have now viewed the original Youtube Video of the workshop at Exeter University organised by Prof. Gill.
  • We have also acquired over 160 new Twitter (@Stoicweek) followers during the week.
  • Over 120 people commented on The Guardian article by Patrick about Stoic Week.
  • Over a fourteen Youtube video diaries have been uploaded by Stoic Week participants.
  • Over 380 people have voted so far in the poll “Who is your favourite Stoic?“.

What next, though?  You can vote in the poll below (up to three choices) for any ancient philosophy you fancy doing as an alternative to #Stoicweek in the future.  Underneath is a roundup of recent posts in case you missed anything…

Have you missed anything important?

Day 6 of Living the Stoic Life!

Day six of Stoic Week: What done amiss? What done? What duty left undone?

Six Days into the Study!

Chrysippus
Chrysippus

We’re reaching the end of the study.  Keep up the good Stoic work, though! Some facts and figures…  We set up a new Twitter account for @Stoicweek where we’ve been posting regular snippets and links.  From zero followers at the start of the week, it now has nearly 150.  You can also see a lot of chat using the Twitter hashtag #Stoicweek. The poll we set up “Who is your favourite Stoic?” has actually had the largest response with nearly 370 people having voted so far.How goes it, though?  What have you learned about yourself?  What problems have you encountered?  What faculties or virtues has nature provided you with to deal with its demands over the week?

What done amiss?  What done?  What duty left undone?

Continue reading “Day 6 of Living the Stoic Life!”

A Crash Course in Stoicism: Stop, Look, Listen…

Abbreviated version of an earlier post on a three-step Stoic procedure described by Epictetus.

A Crash Course in Stoicism

Copyright (c) Donald Robertson, 2012.  All rights reserved.  This is an abbreviated version of an earlier blog article.

In his discourse entitled “we ought not to yearn for things that are not under our control” (Discourses, 3.24), the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, described three steps used to cope with apparent misfortunes. He intended that these should be rigorously rehearsed until they become habitual…

Have thoughts like these ready at hand by night and by day; write them, read them, make your conversation about them, communing with yourself, or saying to another, “Can you give me some help in this matter?”

Later he says:

If you have these thoughts always at hand and go over them again and again in your own mind, and keep them in readiness, you will never need another person to console you, or strengthen you.

Speaking to a group of aspiring Stoic students, he outlines the recommended steps to be memorised and rehearsed as follows. Continue reading “A Crash Course in Stoicism: Stop, Look, Listen…”

Roundup of Recent Posts 2

Roundup of recent posts 2.

Roundup of Recent Posts 2

Remember to follow @Stoicweek on Twitter #Stoicweek for daily updates snippets.

And another two video diaries!

Poll: Who is your favourite wise man?

New online poll: Who is your favourite ancient wise man?

Who is your Favourite Wise Man?

New Online Poll

The Essence of Stoic Philosophy: Excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012)

An excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012) that paraphrases the Handbook of Epictetus to provide a summary of the basic principles of Stoicism.

The Essence of Stoicism

Excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012) by Donald Robertson.

So what practical advice do the Stoics give us about building resilience? Well, this is a philosophy that can be studied for a lifetime and more detailed accounts are available. An excellent modern guide to Stoicism already exists in the book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by Prof. William Irvine, an academic philosopher in the USA (Irvine, 2009). My own writings, especially my book The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, have focused on describing the relationship between Stoicism and modern psychotherapy (Robertson, 2010; Robertson, 2005).

However, although, Stoicism is a vast subject, it was based upon a handful of simple principles. Epictetus summed up the essence Continue reading “The Essence of Stoic Philosophy: Excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012)”

The Evening Meditation: Some Reflections

Some personal reflections on the evening meditation exercise for #Stoicweek

The Evening Meditation: Some Reflections

Donald Robertson

Follow @Stoicweek on Twitter #Stoicweek for daily updates and, er, light-hearted Stoic chit-chat.

I’ve been practising aspects of Stoicism for a few years now, although I feel that for a long time I was just scraping the surface and I’m sure that in years to come I’ll look back on my current practice as a pretty “lightweight” effort.  I’m a cognitive-behavioural  therapist and I feel it’s important for me to try to put into practice as many of the things I use with clients as possible.  However, CBT is largely designed for use with people who have specific mental health problems, clinically severe anxiety or depression, etc.  It helps people with certain problems but it has no clearly-defined goal for us to pursue in relation to life in general.  I felt that I needed a broader philosophical framework, therefore, in order to apply these therapeutic strategies to my own personal development.  (I wrote my book on the subject partly to help me reconcile the techniques I liked from modern therapy with the kind of philosophical system I liked: Stoicism.)

I wanted to share some personal reflections, for a change.  Hopefully this will encourage other students of Stoicism to talk about their experiences during Stoic Week and beyond.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Stoic way of life but maybe some of these comments will inspire thoughts from others and help fuel a bit of discussion.

Continue reading “The Evening Meditation: Some Reflections”