I bet you never expected to hear someone say that one of their role models is Machiavelli, a man who has come to represent deceit and lack of scruples, but here you are. I admire him because he was the first proponent of Reality Therapy.
If you look it up, William Glasser gets all the credit for inventing Reality Therapy. He was a psychiatrist who lived five hundred years after Machiavelli. Glasser didn’t believe in reaching into a person’s psychological insides to root around for what was wrong like the Freudians do. He thought problems arise when the person is not getting her needs met. He preferred helping people discover what they really want and showing them how to behave in a way that leads to success.
Nowadays, you don’t hear much about William Glasser or Reality Therapy. You heard it from me because, being a reflective eclectic, I possess a vast storehouse of unfashionable therapeutic methods. Glasser’s ideas have become mainstream, after having mated with others and evolved into present day forms of CBT, ACT, and DBT, which you may heard of, if you traffic in therapeutic methods.
Glasser probably did not realize how Machiavellian his ideas were. Niccolò Machiavelli is not often associated with therapy. We don’t study him in shrink school. His very name conjures up images of bare-knuckled political realism, duplicitous bad faith, and self-centered expediency. There’s even a theory that the Devil is called Old Nick in reference to him. But Machiavelli was a counselor, a counselor to princes.
As a counselor to princes, Machiavelli did what I like to do with my clients. He got them grounded. I don’t mean grounded in the sense of meditate-on-your-breath-till-your-thoughts-stop-racing type grounding; I mean grounded in reality: the basic knowledge of what is. You see, if we don’t pay attention to reality, we’re not going to know how to thrive within it. Continue reading