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Cognitive psychotherapist, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor (2019), featured in Forge, The Guardian.

Great article! I enjoyed reading your personal reflections on emotional resiliency. Well done!

Read everything from Donald J. Robertson — and more.

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Time projection can be an easy way to use cognitive therapy at home.

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I began practicing as a psychotherapist in the mid-1990s. I studied many different approaches. I used to train other therapists and became known as a psychological “techniques guy” because I was fascinated by the variety of psychological strategies and tactics we can learn.

You’ll find psychological techniques in books on psychotherapy, as well as in self-help books and even spiritual and philosophical classics. Each individual technique can be classified in different ways. For instance, is it broadly visual, meditative, cognitive, verbal, written, or behavioral in nature? Some are quite complex. …

What did Marcus Aurelius say about our reasons to be cheerful?

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Live your whole life through free from all constraint and with utmost joy in your heart… — Meditations, 7.68

Many people assume that ancient Stoic philosophers such as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius were a grave and joyless lot. However, that’s a misconception. In fact, the Historia Augusta tells us that, despite his “serious and dignified” bearing as emperor, Marcus was “without gloom” and known for his pleasant and genial nature.

We can actually see direct evidence of the warmth of Marcus’ affection for his friends. It truly shines forth in the private letters which survive between Marcus and his…

The Story of Demosthenes, Master of Oratory

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In the fourth century BC, a giant was born among Athenian orators. When he spoke, it’s said his words struck listeners like the blazing thunderbolts of Zeus. And his name was… The Anus.

Or rather, as a youth, the other children called him this, Batalus in Greek, because of his speech impediment, as Batalus could also mean “The Stammerer”. His rivals continued to taunt him with that rude nickname for the rest of his life. However, there’s an inspirational story about how he overcame his vocal problems through the most rigorous, focused, and determined training. …

Contemplating love, loss, and mortality

If you are kissing your child or wife, say that it is a human being [a mortal] whom you are kissing, for thus when they die, you will not be disturbed. — Epictetus

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This is of the most notorious passages in the ancient Stoic literature. It comes from the famous Encheiridion or Handbook (§ 3). Epictetus intended his advice to be taken literally, as basic psychological training for the students of Stoicism he was addressing.

He means that we should silently remind ourselves of the fact, when kissing our loved ones, that they are mortal. …

Depicting the philosopher armed and in armour

“[Socrates] was the first to go out as a soldier, when it was necessary, and in war he exposed himself to danger most unsparingly.” — Epictetus

Most people have heard of Socrates, the ancient Athenian philosopher. However, few of us visualize him as a soldier, despite the fact that it’s known for certain that he was one. Socrates served as a Greek hoplite or heavy infantryman. He was no ordinary soldier, though, as we’ll see.

I’m currently working on a graphic novel called Verissimus, about the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. I’m also organizing a virtual conference called Stoicon-x…

Self-Consciousness and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy

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Social anxiety is the generic term that psychologists use to describe nerves about public speaking and other interpersonal situations. When I was a teenager, I was very anxious about speaking. I remember asking my older sister, Sheila, to call an employer for me about a job interview because I was too nervous to do it myself. Over the years, it got much better, but the susceptibility to that form of anxiety often never disappears completely.

Some very common self-help techniques potentially do more harm than good.

Many years later, I trained as a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist and ended up working with…

Translated and Annotated by Robin Waterfield

This is a brand new edition of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations from Basic Books, due for publication on 6th April 2021 in the US. (ISBN 1541673859) It’s been translated, edited, and annotated by the British classicist Robin Waterfield.

Waterfield will be familiar to many readers as the translator of numerous Greek classics. His edition of this particular text begins with a fairly detailed and helpful introduction, about 46 pages long, which tells us about Marcus’ life, the writing of The Meditations, and the Stoic philosophy upon which it’s based.

The translation itself is a welcome addition to the array of modern…

There are several forthcoming virtual conferences on Stoicism, which you might be interested to know about. These are all nonprofit events, organized by volunteers. So please help spread the word by sharing the links with friends or groups online.

Marcus Aurelius Anniversary Conference

Virtual conference on the life and Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius, open to everyone, in honour of the 1900th anniversary of his birth. Sun 25th April, 12pm EST. See the EventBrite Listing for tickets and more information.

Ancient Philosophy as a Therapy for Violent Passions

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One of the most celebrated physicians and medical researchers of the ancient world, Galen of Pergamon, wrote a book about mental illness, called On Passions and Errors of the Soul. The passion considered most dangerous by Galen and other ancient writers is anger. That’s because anger is, in a sense, the most interpersonal of emotions. It poses a threat not only to the angry individuals themselves but to others around them, and even to society as a whole.

Galen’s most striking case study for anger is that of the Emperor Hadrian, who had a violent temper tantrum one day because…

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