The Elegance of Correctness [1]

by Harvey Jackins

The point of being alive is to live, to live well, to live fully, to fulfill one’s humanness during one’s existence. This is placed before all of us by the nature of reality.

The principle obstacle to living fully for human beings is exactly the phenomenon of human irrationality. Previously, the nature of this obstacle was obscured by our lack of mastery of the environment. It was possible until recently, as long as our mastery of the environment was low, to think that difficulties in the environment (disease, weather, enemies and so on) were responsible for our lack of fulfillment. Now mastery has been achieved to the point where it’s possible to see the phenomenon of irrationality clearly. Previously, we saw human irrationality only in its bizarre or extreme forms. Now it’s possible to see it for the pervasive, universal, ubiquitous difficulty that it is, the only one that seriously interferes with our fulfillment of our potential as humans.

A sizeable portion of the population has mastered or benefited from others’ mastery of the environment enough that grassroots developments everywhere seek to recognize human irrationality for what it is, to identify its sources, and to create a remedy for it.

We in Re-evaluation Counseling, through accident and persistence, have discovered and organized a successful approach to solving the problem of irrationality. We have called this approach Re-evaluation Counseling. It began as an accidental experience, grew to a set of techniques, became a theory and practice of counseling, involved a substantial number of people, organized into Communities, took the form of a movement, and has now developed a theory of relationships, a philosophy, a world view, and a program for involving others and permeating the population with its theory and practice.

(There may theoretically exist other solutions, not based on discharge and subsequent re-evaluation, but we do not at this time know of any that work for any other reason. The approaches which rely on drugs and manipulation at best produce symptom suppression, and are actually damaging to the humanness of people. Humanist approaches which do achieve real gains for participants seem to depend on the accidental or incidental occurrence of discharge and re-evaluation whether it’s noticed or not, whether it’s given credit or not.)

Re-evaluation Counseling is by now a rich, complex, highly integrated system of thought. It is logically consistent within itself and with the world and universe around it.

The theory of Re-evaluation Counseling is still growing and developing, but not by taking into itself any attitudes or practices contradictory to those already part of its structure. There is often pressure to accept contradictory practices into the RC Community. People sincerely propose a mixture of other theories and practices with Re-evaluation Counseling. These proposals are well-meant. They come from people who have received some help from these other practices and may not realize the contradictions inherent in them.

We have every reason, however, to rigorously reject such proposals and practices and keep our Communities free from any such admixture, not only from a theoretical point of view, but also from a large number of experiences where attempts to hybridize Re-evaluation Counseling with attitudes contradictory to it have resulted in difficulties and setbacks, both for individuals and for our Communities.

Re-evaluation Counseling states its basic assumptions (The Postulates) accurately and clearly and proceeds to develop its theory from insights gained in practice but rigorously formulated to be consistent with these assumptions and with the other portions of knowledge which have grown in context with them. It is no part of Re-evaluation Counseling to take an eclectic or pragmatic approach, to gather bits and pieces of information together and put an overall description on them without checking to make sure that they fit with each other.

Sometimes Co-Counselors feel that Co-Counseling isn’t working for them anymore. On examination, it has always been true that Co-Counseling hasn’t been working because it has not been used, because it has not been understood or applied correctly. There is real point to our teachers getting the theory across, not only in its basics but in all its profundity and depth, its richness of help for even the most difficult situations.

Similarly our policies, followed accurately, lead to warm, cooperative, effective, loving Communities where the resources of Co-Counseling are more and more available in all their richness. Where policies are meddled with, we have difficulties in Community relationships and a great deal of time and wasted effort must be devoted to straightening them out.

The analogy I think of for following or not following correct theory and policy is the one of taking a bottle of milk out of the refrigerator carefully to fill your glass, recapping it and returning it, thus furnishing a refreshing drink of milk and no difficulty. On the other hand, if one grasps the bottle carelessly and lets it slip so that the quart of milk splashes around the kitchen, the enormous labor involved in mopping it up and making sure that parts of it don’t stay under the refrigerator to sour and spoil is comparable to the wasteful process of making and having to clear up difficulties caused by not adhering to correct policy or theory.

It is not that our theories or policies are cut and dried. There is a continual need for new theory being developed as we tackle new problems. There’s a great deal to be worked out yet about counseling with children, for example, with minorities, with special groups of all kinds. The integration of women’s liberation with Re-evaluation Counseling requires a great deal of thought. This holds true for other fields. This does not mean quarreling with or warping the basic assumptions and the basic theory of Re-evaluation Counseling, which have proven their soundness with many thousands of people over a long period of time.

It is true, of course, that people who cannot believe this may take their knowledge of Re-evaluation Counseling and mix it with other contradictory ideas as much as they please. They are certainly free to do this, but they have an obligation to the Communities and the people who are trying to make it work rigorously, not to do it inside the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities, not to do it with their Co-Counselors who expect correct theory and policy from them, and, above all, not to call it Re-evaluation Counseling. It’s perfectly all right if they wish to make a hybrid of Re-evaluation Counseling and some other contradictory theory, and call it John Doeism, if the perpetrator’s name is John Doe, but the name Re-evaluation Counseling is correctly reserved by the Community for activities consistent with the theory and policy that have been worked out through so many people’s responsible and continuing efforts.

[1]  Appeared in Present Time No. 11, April 1973.

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00