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Text Post: Hi everyone! I'm ReV posted by ReV
  • cmagnificent

    It's interesting that you would bring that up, and certainly there are many aspects of stoicism that would fall in line with a therapy designed to help regulate and control extreme and overwhelming emotional responses.

    Beyond that however, at least one aspect of DBT, radical acceptance, is about as far from philosophic stoicism as you can get. Stoicism advocates for an impartial, detached, almost zen-like perspective on the life we live while radical acceptance calls for its total embrace, which always struck me as profoundly Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean if nothing else. I remember when I did some DBT work some time back and we got to radical acceptance, especially accepting emotions as neither good nor bad but merely as they are and accepting that it is okay to feel very intense emotions my internal reaction was pretty much "So, Nietzsche. We're doing Nietzsche now. Okay, I can work with this!"

    • ReV

      I think you have an incorrect view of stoicism. It does not advocate for detachment from life, and I don't think zen does either (though I might be wrong on this one). Stoicism is a very active and involved philosophy, it urges it's practitioners to go out in to the world and make it a better place.

      And the stoic approach to the world is certainly one of radical acceptance, the only difference being that stoics don't extend this acceptance to themselves. The stoic view on feeling unwanted emotions is that they should be acknowledged but we shouldn't pretend they are inevitable. We can change they by adjusting our perspective on the world to match the reality.

      The Nietzsche quote you posted in a later reply resonates with me from a stoic perspective (except maybe the part about looking away, I don't think a stoic would advocate looking a way as a way of dealing with reality). But the stoic view that nature is the source of virtue seems quite similar with what Nietzsche says about what is necessary being beautiful.

      • cmagnificent

        Well, compared to Nietzsche, particularly his take on the idea of Amor Fati, stoicism is in a certain aspect a detachment from a very specific part of life and that is painful or negative emotions. It's interesting because Marcus Aurelius who greatly admired the stoics also invented the term that Nietzsche would later use to categorize his own radical positivity; "Amor Fati".

        In Nietzsche's view, at least the view he expresses here, even negative, unwanted and profoundly painful emotions still fall under the realm of "necessary" and therefore beautiful. Nietzsche was not one to avoid negative and painful emotions, he was one to embrace them and accept them as a vital and vibrant part of life.

        I'll completely agree that in a way, stoicism does radically accept a lot of things, but compared the the kind of acceptance that Nietzsche outlined, it's a drop in the bucket.

        Regarding the looking away part, I think it would be best to not read that too deliberately. Here I would argue that Nietzsche is saying his only negation will be if he isn't actively looking at something- if you're watching the sunset, you're not looking at what's behind you and he wants that "looking away" to be his only negation. Not that he wants to consciously look away from things he doesn't like.

    • LacquerCritic

      I'm afraid I don't know very much at all about philosophy, so I find your comment very educational! Yes, while there are some parts of stoicism (from the basic articles I read) that overlap, there are some significant differences. In particular, I think from the one article I read they talked about how emotions come about as a result of our judgements, and we can change our judgements to eliminate negative emotion, which as you said - very different from radical acceptance.

      The first part that stuck out to me though was recognizing the differences between what can be controlled by the individual and what can't. That being said, I lean much more towards using dialectics to make my way through life - I don't think stoicism is something I'd be very good at.

      • cmagnificent

        Well, just the fact that Marsha Lineham adopted the term "dialectical" to describe her methodology kind of proves to me that the old girl was reading or at least familiar with some philosophy so that's just an interesting aside.

        The reason I connect Nietzsche with radical acceptance really boils down to this quote from him -

        I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.

        You don't get much more radically accept-y than that you know? And if you break down the quote even more there's a massive tension between this massive "pessimism" (I don't think it's very pessimistic at all, but many probably would) when he discusses the necessity of things. If you read the rest of Nietzsche's philosophy there was definitely a side of him that highly doubted how much control people have outside of external, social, biological, chemical and physical factors, so in a profound way we really don't run our own lives. The other side of this is a truly radical optimism and positive notion in Amor Fati (Latin- Love of Fate). That even what is ugly, painful, hurtful and miserable is still beautiful for no other reason than it is necessary.

        It's one of the most life-affirming things I've ever read. Not in the "you are awesome go out and conquer the world!" life affirming that's so in vogue, but actually life affirming as in "Life is fucking beautiful in all its facets, even the painful ones" affirming.

        I may or may not have spent way too much time thinking about this before...

        • LacquerCritic

          You know, when I read your first comment I had a good feeling, which is why I thought I should follow you. You've certainly affirmed it! I absolutely hear what you're saying, minus having any understanding of Nietzsche (except what you've shared, of course). You inspired me to pull out my DBT binder to find the section on radical acceptance, and sure enough, I found the part that really resonated with me:

          "Everything should be as it is." I remember this really offending some people the first time they heard it, because to them it said that they deserved what they got. But what it meant was that there was no point in saying, "it shouldn't be this way! This shouldn't have happened!" because every action and choice and coincidence led to the current state in which they found themselves - every aspect of their current state had a cause. There weren't any moral implications or value judgements to the statement, and once that was understood, they could accept what was happening to them.

          Of course, key to this is that radical acceptance does not equal passive resignation - as with all things DBT, it was just one tool with which to deal with life.