Reader comment on Rachel Naomi Remen's passage ...

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    On Mar 16, 2013 david doane wrote:

     I don't agree with the author's distinctions.  Helping isn't necessarily based on inequality.  I can help someone who  is stronger or more knowledgeable than me, is less strong or less knowledgeable than me, and is at the same level as me.  In helping, we don't necessarily diminish the other's self-esteem.  Actually, the challenge is to help in a way that is not diminishing or disrespectful of the other, and that certainly can be done.  Service is an action between equals, and during  the process of serving, I put myself below the person I am serving in the sense that I am of service to that person.  Helping and serving can incur debt, but that isn't necessary.  Helping and serving can be done without anyone owing anyone.  As for fixing, an important thing to keep in mind is that I can't fix anyone without their cooperation.  I don't have the power to fix another.  I can HELP and be of SERVICE to them in their fixing themselves or their healing, but I can't do it to or for them.  Fixing, probably by definition, is in relation to something that is broken, but that's not necessarily a problem.  The problem is thinking I can fix the other or helping to fix in such a way that diminishes the other.  When helping, serving, or helping to fix it is important to respect the wholeness and thus holiness of the other and of life.  When I have that attitude in my helping and serving, both I and the other are satisfied, grateful, and free.  To this point, I think I have only partially accomplished and experienced that. 

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    On Mar 17, 2013 Thierry wrote:

    On second view, I tend to agree with David that in helping one does'nt necessarily diminish the self esteem of the other nor is one's self esteem necessarily enhanced in the process if there is true empathy. There are cases where the person being helped can interpret it as a token of trust from the part of the helper. Trust ( in the sense of trusting the person's responsibleness), it seems to me,  can be skillfully used as a lever by a therapist and may be the base of the therapeutic alliance. That is a therapist (fixer?), with a high moral sense, will not be satisfied with just fixing  the person, but will help her unveil, behind her outward  demand to feel better, her much deeper search for meaning.   .  

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