John Gray: The Value of Silence in Therapy and What it Means to be Human
As a philosopher, one would expect John Gray to have much to say about the human condition. A recent work of his, however, The Silence of Animals, may contain some interesting parallel insights into therapy. Gray sees no radical discontinuity between humans and animals. Whereas non-human animals seek silence in the face of danger, the ‘human animal’ tries to run away from its inner chatter. Ultimately, the ‘human animal’ will never find complete silence due to its tendency to form narratives in order to make sense out of life. Instead, Gray advocates that the ‘human animal’ should turn outwards towards nature for temporary respite from meaning making. Gray’s insights have implications for ‘third wave’ therapies such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction which emphasizes reflection and silence, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which Gray would regard as trying to overcome language through language by replacing one myth (‘progression’ through cognitive restructuring) with another (‘acceptance,’ of loving one’s fate). Nevertheless, it shall be argued that Gray’s own solution, of turning outward towards nature, is romantic and impractical.