Frank Gerbode’s Beyond Psychology is the fourth edition of the original book published in 1988, and hence, a sort of twenty-fifth anniversary edition that is a testament to the power of metapsychology. While I had not read earlier editions of the book, I am familiar with metapsychology from books by Victor Volkman and Marian Volkman, who are among those Gerbode thanks for their work in raising awareness of metapsychology. In the “Preface to the Fourth Edition,” Gerbode briefly describes some of the changes from previous editions, due to new knowledge, and especially expansions of chapters two, three, four and the General Curriculum in chapter nine.
I expected Beyond Psychology to be a book about how to move oneself past traumatic incidents and other issues or events that block people from having normal or happy lives, including traumatic events like car accidents, relationship conflicts, or work-related stress. That information is included in great detail in the last section of the book, but first Gerbode takes the reader on an extensive tour of how the mind operates, how a person conceives of reality, and what is true for the individual according to his personal experiences.
While I felt Gerbode’s opening two chapters were overly detailed and repetitive, causing me to feel impatient, Gerbode later justifies this degree of detail by stating that “It is not possible to either address or understand disabilities without first understanding the corresponding abilities.The practice of psychotherapy has often tried to talk about mental ‘diseases’ and ‘disorders’, without really defining clearly what constitutes a desirable mental condition.” I can’t fault Gerbode for wanting to be clear on this point, but I would suggest that if readers find themselves impatient like me, they just skim and then skip ahead to chapter three. If you miss something you need later, you can always refer to the extensive glossary. While the rest of the book is also somewhat dense, it is easier to read from that point on.
And there is much of value in the book. The second part of the book discusses Basic Disabilities, and the third and final section is about Applied Metapsychology. The final section is what interested me the most because it offers solutions to people’s problems, which includes everything from social phobias and anxieties to drug usage, repressed emotions, and perceptions of reality that hold one back from living fully. These solutions are, of course, the purpose of the book. Gerbode’s main point throughout is that everyone’s worldview is different, and as a result, that person’s view of reality may be true for him or her even if it isn’t for others.
Gerbode goes on to describe how pain, suffering, and aberration (distortions of thought) affect a person, how people will repress pain and past events, and what to me was perhaps the most interesting point in the book: the idea of cycles in our lives and the need to complete them, a cycle being anything from time spent attending college to time devoted to reading a book, etc. Whenever we do not complete a cycle it causes some form of discomfort for us because it is unresolved. We then either need to complete the cycle or make our peace with it not being completed, such as deciding that reading the rest of a book is not something of value to us. Gerbode avoids using the term “closure,” but it’s basically the same idea expanded on and made far more helpful.
The book’s last section is devoted to the process of setting up a “viewing” session in which a facilitator will help a person use metapsychology to work through his or her pain and aberration. A viewing session is one in which a person examines his world to gain insight and ability by undoing the effects of repression. Gerbode goes into detail about how to facilitate such sessions so a person will feel safe; he also explains what not to do so the sense of safety is not violated, thereby undoing the chance for success. In addition, the end of the book contains glossaries and appendices for additional information and clarification as well as a curriculum for the processes.
Metapsychology, I have no doubt, is a very useful technique to help people enhance their lives and work through and get over what they have repressed in their lives that is holding them back. I especially appreciated that Gerbode rejects the myth that pain and suffering enhance knowledge and awareness or even are helpful to creativity. The truth is that overcoming these issues leads people to greater happiness, spiritual awareness, and an ability to thrive in the world. Failure to do so only leads to a stagnant and unhappy life.
Gerbode avoids medical and academic jargon and believes anyone can benefit from metapsychology or help others benefit from it, which is best achieved by attending a four-day workshop with optional follow-up supervision. While I have read other books on metapsychology that were easier to read, this book could be viewed as the Bible on metapsychology in terms of its information, although Gerbode might not like the comparison, not believing there are any hard rules or definitions for this technique but hoping that others will find any flaws in it and build on his work for the wellbeing of all who use it. That the book is now in its fourth edition and metapsychology is being used so many years later is a testament to its usefulness and that people continue to gain insight from it and to learn more about how it can be used to improve people’s lives.
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