The Unsatisfying Search for the Experts with All the Answers

My degree, professional titles, and the shingle hanging outside my office all proclaim my authority on matters of the mind and heart (at least in the therapy room). But there are moments in that treatment setting where this thought appears: oh boy, this person could really use some wise counsel. Then I remember—it’s me who has been tapped to fill the “wise counsel” role. So I put on my most authoritative face and lead the way forward.

Pundit and columnist David Brooks writes: “I’m paid to be a narcissist blowhard, to volley my opinions, to appear more confident about them than I really am, to appear smarter than I really am, to appear better and more authoritative than I really am.”

Even with this admission, it’s hard not to listen to his words and assume his authority.

It is human to yearn to find someone who has the answer to our most pressing questions. And there are entire markets—therapy, the self-help book market, the burgeoning life coach arena— which cater to this desire and which promise to give you ‘Your Best Life Ever!’ We are implicitly and explicitly told that there are no limits to the problems that the experts can solve. And if you haven’t found the fix, perhaps you have not yet found the right expert…

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