What does it mean to want? At this point, I feel the question is too hard for me to answer. It's mystified by the fact that most often we have a multi-temporal fused feeling state that derives from repressed childhood feelings, we mix it with thought – which is itself likely to be self-medicative and delusional (see post "Easy crazy") – and the synthesis is a want. A friend of mine incessantly seeks greater spirituality into his old age. What does that mean? A former client wanted me to beat her. Comedians want life to be funny; pianists want to perform – other people's music. Countless twenty-somethings with personality disorders want to write. Slomo** is a doctor who quit what he felt was the meaningless hamster wheel of modern living to skate along the Pacific Beach boardwalk, day and night. His joy and his philosophy: "Do what you want to!" Many people want to feel more alive, or alive at all. All these are wants, like matter, tangible but made of energy that we don't really understand.
When it comes to clients' not knowing how to want, the therapy room is wanting: It looks at this most significant emptiness shallowly, meaning blindly. Why does the businessman dedicate his prodigious energies to something that's not in his heart? Why do so many teenagers not know what's at the end of their high school path? Why are people not moved by an inner fire, a true north, by Einstein's compass? How do we help those who want to have a purpose, but can't? These questions point to childhood and loss – what should be psychotherapy's strongest suit, but isn't.
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* Lloyd deMause also believes civilization is based upon an error. "Indeed, my conclusion from a lifetime of psychohistorical study of childhood and society is that the history of humanity is founded upon the abuse of children. Just as family therapists today find that child abuse often functions to hold families together as a way of solving their emotional problems, so, too, the routine assault of children has been society's most effective way of maintaining its collective emotional homeostasis." http://www.psychohistory.com/htm/05_history.html and