Why not modernity

Modernity brought us the promise of democracy, the values on which the American and French revolutions were fought. It taught us to overcome superstition, and create our own futures with self-determination. Modernity was the overthrowing of the old ways, feudalism, aristocracies, authoritarian traditions, and the coming of the new. And nothing epitomises modernity more than America, the brave new world.

But modernity also taught us a naive faith in the power of the scientific method to shed light on deep human problems. My own postmodern impulse, more than anything, is a desire to throw off the cultural lessons that foster this particular faith so that I can gain a clearer view of what is of value here. It is not an easy thing for me to do. My roots are very modern....

And we therapists, haven't we also been carriers of this modernist promise for far too long? Isn't it time that we sift through all the promises of diagnosis and cure for our mental pathologies and find the hidden flowers here in our midst? That is the fresh spirit that I detect in the postmodern movement.

I believe, paradoxically, that therapists may be able to lead us in this fresh direction -- because society has given us the power to lead. But, first, there is the problem of digging through the promises and finding the hidden flowers beneath.

Lois Shawver, 8 September 1996