The Schopenhauer Cure
When Julius, a well-regarded therapist, faces his last year of life due to a lurking cancer under his skin, he reflects on his successes and failures with clients in therapy. He decides to reach out to Philip, a former sex addict he did not manage to cure. Philip’s cured now, and to Julius’s added surprise, he is on his path to becoming a therapist as well. Their therapeutic methods differ a lot, so when Philip approaches Julius to devote his final year of life to supervise Philip in his final year of studies, Julius is very reluctant. However, they agree on a bargain: Philip must join one of Julius’s therapy groups in exchange for Julius’s supervision.
From then on, the story revolves around Philip and the participants in the group. Philip is a tough personality with a great devotion to reason and western philosophy, particularly Arthur Schopenhauer. He is unempathetic, cold and strictly unemotional - all unfavorable traits to be in therapy or to become a therapist. Although the group eventually softens him, his insights into philosophy also provide many members with a new outlook on life. Julius’s experiment was thus a success, and Philip, although extremely reluctant at the beginning, seems to have gained something for his future. Julius dies before he gets a chance to fulfill his part of the bargain, however Philip is by then already well prepared become a therapist himself.
My Main Takeaways
- As unsexy and boring as it is, the best lived life seems to be that of balance in all aspects
- Pausing and reflecting on your thoughts, words and actions in a heat of the moment is the best thing you can do for more favorable long-term outcomes
- Learning to receive honest feedback gracefully is tough! But mastering this skill gives you a great power to not be a stubborn arsehole your whole life
- Read more books!
To a degree, I must say I identified with Philip while reading this book. I can easily be very narrow-minded and stick to my routines and ideas without questioning whether they still serve me well. On the other hand, I hope I am not as stubborn as him and I am quite certain I don’t push my own ideology onto others to the same degree. In any case, what I am taking away is the prize of self-reflection and continual re-assesment of one’s ideas, ideologies, routines and opinions. To be happy in life, one should not get stuck in what served them in past but does not anymore.
A second piece of reflection is about reading more philosophy. I’ve never read any, and although this was a very light introduction to some ideas of the western philosophers, it seemed very intriguing to get to know more. Until now I disregarded philosophy as too abstract, too cumbersome and not of much value for day-to-day life, but I shall give it a fair shot before judging it!