I was working on a post about Judge Derek Johnson, not to join in the public drubbing but to consider statements like his from a psychological perspective. I thought about several approaches to the discussion, in each case realizing that the post might grow well-beyond what I'd like to do with the subject. This reminded me of my experience writing papers in graduate school.
Our professors typically set limits on paper length, especially if we were writing a case analysis. There was always so much that could be said and we wanted to say it all. The professors had to place limits on paper length to keep their own workloads manageable, but the limitations were also an aspect of the our training as clinicians.
An appreciation for limits provided by a therapeutic framework* is an important quality in a depth psychotherapist. This form of therapy proceeds in an incremental, non-linear manner, without a course mapped out in advance. Limits matter when there are no directions other than: let's look.
And when we look, there are also inherent limits on both the pace and extent of new insight and change. Trying to do too much will hinder the process rather than help.
Imagine taking someone who knows nothing about art to a large museum. If your guest wanted to learn something about art, would you rush them through the museum to make sure they see all of the exhibits, or would you linger over significant works, taking the opportunity to look without the pressure to see everything?
This slower approach runs against our cultural grain. It's also at odds with the inherent limit-breaking ethic of applied sciences. This is where I think neuroscience can go off the rails. In some cases, those who have no appreciation for art are telling the museum docents that their tours are bad because they're slow and besides, they aren't evidence-based. If we could just tweak this or that in the museum visitor's brain, they could skip the tour and trot through the exhibits. That's not going to happen in the art world and that approach will never give people what depth therapy can offer them.
There is much more to say, but in keeping with the theme of this post, I'll save some for later.
*A more nuanced discussion of therapeutic framework is here.