Tuesday, May 2, 2023

#122 / The "Walking Cure"


We have all, undoubtedly, heard about Sigmund Freud and his "Talking Cure." You can read all about it by clicking this link. My quick Google search got me the following explanation, attributed to the National Institutes of Health: "The 'talking cure' ... is a process in which the patient's 'talking' removes the blockage of a pathogenic affect, resulting in its transportation from the 'inside' to the 'outside' and, eventually, [to] a cathartic purgation—and this is what 'cures' the patient from hysteric symptoms."   
Mary Gaitskill's recent New Yorker story, "Minority Report," illustrates the kind of "pathogenic affect" and "hysteric symptoms" that the "Talking Cure" is supposed to help with, though in the story, the main character tries another type of therapy. As for the "Talking Cure," The New York Times said, in an article in its March 26, 2023, edition, that The "Talking Cure" is coming back: "A new generation of analysts and patients is embracing the father of psychoanalysis – in magazines and memes and many hours on the couch."
While I am interested in news about psychoanalysis, I was actually more interested in another article in the same edition of The Times. In a "Guest Essay," Andrew McCarthy claims that "Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved by Walking." I have been doing a lot of walking in the last year or so (shooting for at least two miles a day), and I think that McCarthy is on to something. In fact, he cites to all of the following authorities, in support of his prescription of a "Walking Cure": 
(1) Hippocrates; 
(2) Soren Kierkegaard; 
(3) Charles Dickens; 
(4) W.H. Davies (a Welsh poet); 
(5) Virginia Woolf; 
(6) William Blake; 
(7) Thomas Mann; 
(8) J.K. Rowling; 
(9) Elizabeth von Arnim; 
(10) Bill Bryson; 
(11) Jean-Jacques Rousseau;
(12)  Friedrich Nietzsche.
McCarthy, who has walked the Camino de Santiago two different times, ends his column with the following advice: "The secret is out there. It’s under the leaves on the trail. It’s right there on the sidewalk. Spring has sprung. Lace up." 
That does constitute some pretty good advice (and advice that is certainly consistent with my own experience). I think, though, that the Welsh poet, W.H. Davies, may have said it even better: 

Now shall I walk
Or shall I ride?
“Ride,” Pleasure said.
“Walk,” Joy replied.


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