We Take Care of Ourselves.

Jules Evans defends the value of the Socratic tradition:

Before Socrates, if people were unhappy, they felt it necessary to bend their knee both to the gods and to their representatives on earth, the priests, to beg for forgiveness and mercy (usually through some sort of expensive material sacrifice, perhaps even the sacrifice of a member of your family). This tradition continues today, via psychoanalysis.

After Socrates and the Athenian Enlightenment of the 5th century BC, humanity learnt, in the words of Montaigne, ‘how much it can do of itself’. In psychotherapeutic terms, we learnt that our emotional problems are often self-caused, that they arise from our beliefs and attitudes, which we have the power to change. We can learn to “take care of our souls” as Socrates put it (from whom the word ‘psychotherapy’ originates) and be “doctors to ourselves” (in Cicero’s phrase). This is the Do-It-Yourself essence of both Socratic and Stoic therapy. We don’t need to kneel to the priests and beg for their benediction.


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