I can’t remember how I stumbled over William Glasser’s Choice Theory or his Reality Therapy, but when I did I was interested enough to buy his “Choice Theory. A New Psychology of Personal Freedom” ISBN 978-0-06-093014-1.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It appeals to my personal philosophy in relation to psychology. One of the basic tenets of this book is that digging over the past to recount and relive old wounds and hurts is not helpful. Instead, the author claims, it is better to focus on your current relationships, your current thoughts and actions. His idea of “total behaviour” is holistic and highlights the connections between aspects of mind and aspects of body which enables us to make a better understanding of illness. It’s a psychology of hope because it rails against the dominant stance of “external control theory” – this is what most people do, most of the time – when things go wrong, people who use an “external control theory” feel like victims. This paralyses, disempowers and demotivates, and seeks to blame others for personal experiences.
I see parallels between this Choice Theory/Reality Therapy and Existential Psychology, Solution-Focussed Approach, Logotherapy and Positive Psychology. Together, these approaches build a framework of understanding behaviour and the mind which I find both useful and appealing.
Here’s the summary from the last chapter of Glasser’s book -
- The only person whose behaviour we can control is our own.
- All we can give or get from other people is information.
- All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
- The problem relationship is always part of our present lives.
- What happened in the past that was painful has a great deal to do with what we are today, but revisiting this painful past can contribute little or nothing to what we need to do now: improve an important, present relationship.
- We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.
- We can satisfy these needs only by satisfying a picture or pictures in our quality worlds.
- All we can do from birth to death is behave. All behaviour is total behaviour and is made up of four inseparable components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.
- All total behaviour is designated by verbs, usually infinitives and gerunds, and named by the component that is most recognisable.
- All total behaviour is chosen, but we have direct control over only the acting and thinking components.