Comments by Terry Simpson

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  • Hi John
    Sorry this response is so late. I didn’t realise for a while that this piece had been published, then was away for a while with difficulties sending e-mails. I won’t try to address all the issues you’ve raised but I’d like to speak to one or two. One is about Re-evaluation Counseling and “political organising and practical programmes”. I think RC is outward looking and does encourages people to get out and engage with the issues that affect our lives. If not I don’t think we would be using RC ideas to try and set up a center. In recent times the organisation has prioritised working to end racism, and also to protect the environment, and for these issues developed projects which engage with current events and campaigns. It’s not just endless introspection! RCers have for instance been involved in the Black Lives Matter campaign, and at Standing Rock.
    I came into RC after a period of political involvement in the peace movement and in the long miner’s strike here in the UK in the 1980s. At the end of that strike I spent some time in the mental health system. Through involvement in the strike I met someone who used RC and who introduced me to it, and I’ve used it to help me as an activist for the last 30 years without going near the system again. The point I think is that we can’t do the tough political work without getting adequate support for ourselves, or without acknowledging our feelings about what we’re doing. You can go for a while, but you just get burnt out and ineffective.
    The other point I wanted to make was about therapy. In 1985 I felt so angry about “the system” that therapy was out of the question – I just had no trust. RC really appealed because of its democracy. You could talk about yourself, but you listened to the other person too, and sometimes that was the thing that would really shift you. I’ve read Jeffrey Masson “Against Therapy” and really enjoyed it. RC isn’t “therapy” in that sense – precisely because it locates the sources of our problems not in our personal failings, but in the structures of an unjust society. None of us will be “well” until we have an end to racism, sexism and all the other forms of injustice.

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