Essay on Analysis of Do not go gentle into that good night

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An Analysis of Do not go gentle into that good night        


The first time I read Dylan Thomas' words to his dying father, and I shouted I agreed completely with the feelings of Thomas. How right he was, I thought, to demand fighting to the very end. That's the way I would be when my time came, and that's the way everyone should be. I have had a few years to think it over. Today, burning and raging have less appeal and I find myself impatient with the "Give 'em Hell!" crowd.

Probably his bellicose stance helped Thomas the son. The psychotherapist in me thinks, "That's one way to avoid feeling the pain of loss --- focus on how the one you are losing ought to behave." And if we refuse
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I have been helped to understand this seeming paradox by the work and example of the late Gestalt therapist and teacher Arnold Beisser, M.D.

Arnie was 25, a recent medical school graduate, Navy reserve officer, and tennis champion when in 1950 polio left him paralyzed from the neck down. He went on to marry, to pursue his career, and to influence countless patients, students, and colleagues with his humane wisdom. In the elegantly succinct "The Paradoxical Theory of Change," he posited in 1970 the intriguing idea that the quickest path to growthful change is not via force (our own or someone else's) but through fully embracing the person we are.

Our metaphors for health and survival are those of the battlefield and the competitive world of business and sports. We "win" or we "lose." Thus we have "weapons" to "conquer" cancer. Thus the obituaries daily give notice of fallen warriors who "lost a long fight with......." Thus we applaud those who "successfully" recover, and call them "super- stars."

How we long to believe it is all within our control, that we can do it if we just try hard enough. Then we can avoid feeling wrenching pity for the child born deformed, for the family killed in a plane crash. Somehow, it must have been their responsibility. If only we try hard enough, say the right incantations, acquire the most lethal "weapons" to banish tragedy, we will be spared a similar fate.

Instead of weapons, why not tools to help us
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