Knowledge is not experience

Knowledge, like reading this page, is intellectual.

To totally understand, one has to personally experience a concept emotionally and/or physically as well as intellectually.

One cannot learn to swim by reading a book, though it might help.

One cannot learn to swim by watching others swim, though it might help.

One cannot learn to swim by listening to a swimming instructor, though it might help.

One cannot even learn to swim by standing in the water with or without holding onto the ropes.

My father did that for almost 80 of his 87 years. We lived near the ocean on the New Jersey shore. He loved the water, but he never did learn to swim.

There’s only one way to learn to swim: knowledge with experience by practice in a sequence of sessions.

Changing your mind is like learning to swim. It takes knowledge and experiential practice. By the way, changing your mind is what psychiatrists call psychotherapy.


I too use the word, but I don’t like it because it infers a treatment (therapy) of “sick” intellect (psychic). Actually, people are not sick, they have been malprogrammed.

When I was a student at The Psychoanalytic Clinic for Training and Research of Columbia University, they use the word maladaptation. It is true that neurosis is a maladaptation to current reality. But that still tends to put down or blame the person who is unhappy.

For many people, maladaptation may be their problem but not their fault nor does it mean that they have brain damage or in adequacy. The maladaptation of the adult was probably the best adaptation the child or infant could make under the circumstances during the time they made it. They adapted themselves to pathological conditions for survival, the best they could.

For many reasons beyond their control they could not change.

One of the reasons that they could not readily change was because they were human.

Written by Daniel Casriel, MD

Daniel Harold Casriel, M.D., born in New York City on March 1, 1924, was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and writer. He was a past president of the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians. He founded the Daytop treatment centers. Casriel died on June 7, 1983 at the age of 59 from a form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). After graduation from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine at age twenty-five, Casriel began his residency at the Kingsbridge Veterans' Administration Hospital. Less than a year into his residency, he was drafted and sent to Okinawa where he served as an Army psychiatrist. Beyond shaping the field of addictions treatment and psychotherapy, Casriel profoundly influenced the launch of relationship education. His intensive couples workshops for Lori Heyman Gordon's Family Relations Institute in Northern Virginia provided the framework for what emerged into the range of PAIRS' relationship education seminars and trainings that have touched millions of lives. Casriel popularized the theory that the "emotion of love" comes from the anticipation of pleasure. Based on Casriel's theory, "bonding," which he defined as "the unique combination of emotional openness and physical closeness with another human being," is central to sustaining healthy, intimate relationships. Casriel taught that symptoms of bonding deprivation include: "illness, fatigue, depression, rigidity, constriction, isolation, and the range of anti-social behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, gambling and sex addictions." Casriel considered bonding a biologically-based need similar to the need for food, water, air, and shelter, yet unique as the only biological need people cannot meet for themselves.

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