Seeking Truth: Occam’s Razor and Kafka
Sometimes there is this myth that therapists do not go to therapy or have not endured emotional struggles in the same way that clients who go to therapy do – “that’s why they are therapists… because they have their sh*t together!” I cannot speak for every therapist or program, but many have gone to therapy on their own and the training programs I’ve encountered require graduate students to get personal therapy hours.
Perhaps partially because of this, I have found that sometimes being a client, we seek answers from our therapists. Maybe we want certainty. We want to know what the best decision is before we make it. We want to know if we are justified to feel a particular way or if our feelings are valid toward a particular person. I also sometimes get, “how do I know?” How do I know what’s true? How do I know what the right decision is? How can I decipher between _____? Having a particular insight can shift and change our relationship to experiences we’ve had so they don’t weigh us down as much, which is why certainty seems so desirable.
So, how can I get the comfort that arises from being certain about meaningful insight I’ve come up with about my life?
Occam’s Razor is, at first, an odd phrase that has stuck around to explain an approach when seeking truth, explanations, or understanding. Occam was a friar, philosopher, and theologian in 14th century Europe. Occam’s Razor is the idea that often the simplest explanation is the most accurate one. It is a way to rule out the unnecessarily complex. While I don’t think this is universally applicable, it can be a handy thing to remember when going down the rabbit hole of one’s mind.
When thinking of Occam’s Razor, I was reminded of taking a Kafka class during my time in undergraduate. I was walking and talking with the professor of the class through a somewhat wooded area of the campus with trees that felt like they created an enclosure to walk through. I was probably asking dumb wide-eyed questions while hoping to learn something profound. But, I remember the professor telling me Kafka’s understanding of truth was to listen quietly to yourself. Push out the noise and complexity that crowds and muddles, and in that quiet look and allow the simple truths to come to you. It is that quiet less complex truth that stands away from denial that’s important.