“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens) is one of the greatest opening lines in literature. Another equally engaging opening is from Under Milk Wood, by Dylan Thomas, “To begin at the beginning” (most effective said in a Welsh accent). What makes these opening statements great, to me, is their obviousness and the truth in their simplicity. Our current times seem to have unleashed a plague of complication and consequent confusion of truth. In one of my books, I say that when a client comes for therapy, they say in a million different ways, “I’m not ok.” Then, after some effective therapeutic work, they say, “I’m ok.” Finding the pathway between the simplicity that those statements exude can be challenging and tenuous, but fundamentally, we are all imbued with a sense of what is ok and what is not. In all the upheaval we seem to be experiencing today, is it possible that we can find some relief by seeking out “ordinary” and “simple” and “obvious” and “truth” and giving them credence?

I leave that question with you, but when I think of the inspiration of a simple question, I think of the work of Stephen Porges and the development of the polyvagal theory. He began with a simple question about a simple anomaly that opened a floodgate. Norton is releasing a new book of collated papers and we are fortunate to have a preview through the Introduction: An Embedded History of a New Science, which takes us back through the development of polyvagal theory and chapter 3, which looks at Play as a Neural Exercise – Insights from the Polyvagal Theory. Be sure to listen to our podcast with Dr Porges.

These wonderful excerpts sandwich something from my own work, Complexity, Chaos and Creativity in Human Relationships, where I try to make a little more sense of complexity theory and show how a case can be analysed in the context of what I call “thinking in the system”.

We round off the content this month with a piece from Melissa Sanders that asks us to think about our practice methods in How well does CBT really stand up to psychoanalysis? Melissa shares her research and experience in an opinion that warrants your discussion. I do hope many more members of the SoP community share their opinions about the work they do.

I hope you enjoy this issue and that you consider contributing your ideas and expertise. Just email me and we can discuss the possibilities. Meanwhile, be safe and well.



Individual PDF Purchase:

Learn more as a member of The Science of Psychotherapy!

Get access to hundreds of articles, videos, and a community of mental health professionals to help you understand the art and the science of psychotherapy.

SoP Academy Core Resources:

Brain Fundamentals


The Body & The Brain

Clinical Applications


Other Science

About The Author:

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x