In this thesis, I will be discussing the similarities between Stoicism (as both an ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, as well as how it is interpreted in the modern age) and modern therapeutic methods; However, I will not be developing any type of novel theory as to how Stoicism can be used as one of those therapeutic methods by itself. That would require a degree of psychological and medical knowledge that I, as an undergraduate student, do not yet possess and do not have the authority to expand upon in a safe manner. What the goal of this thesis is, instead, is to draw and explore parallels between the ideals and principles of stoicism (such as eudaimonia, ethics, and relative asceticism) as compared to modern therapeutic techniques, like cognitive-behavioral and dialectical-behavioral therapies. I will draw direct parallels between Stoic philosophy and the therapeutic treatments commonly used to address the symptoms of two psychiatric issues (Bipolar Mood Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I will also be addressing a third psychiatric case study, as relating to Stoic philosophy - suicide, and how our view of it has changed and progressed,both through a Stoic lens as well as from a contemporary psychological viewpoint.
As a result of drawing these parallels, this thesis will also explore some of the more modern uses of Stoicism - for example, those discussed in A Guide To The Good Life by William B Irvine, and Stoic Warriors by Nancy Sherman. Irvine focuses primarily on the use of Stoicism to avoid the factors of“chronic dissatisfaction” that afflict much of our modern-day lives - an absence of control, unhappiness, and erroneous personal values, to name a few. Sherman takes a more targeted approach - the application of Stoic philosophy to the workings of the military mentality and instinct. Sherman explores how being “Stoic” is taught as a part of military bearing, specifically when serving in the American forces. Stoic values are used to create a culture of discipline and self-control in the military - as Sherman puts it, “The idea that one’s happiness could depend solely on one’s own virtue, and that one’s agency and control might be bulletproof, appealed to [them]” (Sherman, 11). These authors’ perspectives are just two examples of how Stoicism can be applied in the modern age, as will be shown in further detail in subsequent sections.