Perspectives: Philosophy as Medicine by John Sellars

In this Perspectives Article, John Sellars, Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck College, London, discusses Philosophy as Medicine: Stoicism as Cognitive Psychotherapy.

“Distinct from philosophy of medicine is the idea of philosophy as medicine. Might philosophy itself have some therapeutic value? I want to explore this question by looking at the way in which ancient Stoic philosophy claimed to be a form of therapy and also the perhaps unexpected way in which a number of key figures in the development of modern cognitive psychotherapy have cited Stoicism as a key influence on their work. In short I shall try to show both that ancient Stoic philosophy is itself a form of cognitive psychotherapy and that it stands behind modern forms of cognitive psychotherapy as well…

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3 thoughts on Perspectives: Philosophy as Medicine by John Sellars

  1. rohan7things says:

    As far as I know Albert Ellis created Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy based on the teachings of Epictetus and other Stoic philosophers. And Cognitive Behaviour Therapy came out of REBT.
    So then much of the Psychotherapy these days is directly related to Stoicism.
    I personally prefer straight Stoicism over CBT. CBT is a little robotic and inhumane, whereas classic Stoicism is a much more broad philosophy of ethics, logic and choice.
    Stoicism, as well as other practical philosophies including Socratic questioning methods, definitely have a place in the world of healing and therapy, they’ve been helping people find peace and contentment for 2000 years already 🙂

  2. Bruce Burnett says:

    I agree completely. The online Rational Thinking Score by Dr. Aldo R. Pucci states flatly that there is “no evidence that humans need love and affection.” This is an outrageous claim. There is in fact copious evidence that ALL mammals need love and affection and will wither and die without it. To try to rationalize loneliness with such a cold-hearted statement is, I would affirm, counter-productive to mental health.
    Bruce Burnett

  3. Please share the “copious” evidence that all mammals need love and affection. When is the last time the cause of death listed on a death certificate was “lack of love and affection?” How long can you go without love and affection before you die? Do you have to label the treatment as loving and affectionate, or does that matter? What if you think someone is loving you when in fact they are not? Does that count? The fact is, love and affection (however you define those terms) are wants and desires that most (not all people) want. But when people panic when they do not have them (or at least think they don’t), they are equating them with air, food, and water. It’s the same reaction. So if a person prefers love and affection, they might seek it, not because they have to have it, but because they want it.

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