Heart and Soul: The Therapeutic Face of Philosophy

Heart and Soul: The Therapeutic Face of Philosophy

Heart and Soul: The Therapeutic Face of Philosophy

Heart and Soul: The Therapeutic Face of Philosophy

Synopsis

Heart and Soul is a collection of essays which examine those concepts and questions which are at the heart of both psychotherapy and philosophy. Looking at the work of key figures such as Wittgenstein, Socrates, Kierkegaard, Foucault, Lacan and Klein, contributors draw on a wide range of philosophical approaches and examine how they can deepen our understanding of the processes involved in different types of psychotherapy in a wide range of clinical settings.

Excerpt

At a time when Freud-bashing has become a popular blood sport among the literati, it is a pleasure to welcome a book which so thoughtfully explores the links between philosophy and psychotherapy.

Neither subject is simply characterised: different generations, different cultures, have taken widely different views about what philosophy ‘is’: the search for foundations; an answer to the meaning of life; a spiritual praxis; the analysis of language. Psychotherapy, too, is heterogeneous, ranging from ten-year psychoanalyses, through a multitude of group therapies, counselling techniques and cognitive interventions, to the more austere forms of behavioural management.

Disciplines as diverse as these are easy targets. They offer no mainstream, no settled standards, no canon. But where there are no laws there are no outlaws. Any scandal—an overenthusiastic therapist inducing false memories of child abuse, a philosophical theory justifying infanticide—is a scandal for everyone. Such disciplines, moreover, are deeply divided internally. Psychoanalysis, notoriously, split into warring factions within a few years of its birth. There has been something of a truce recently, but as the psychoanalyst and writer Anthony Storr has remarked, it is an ‘armed truce’. A recent Farside cartoon in the London Evening Standard showed Pavlov in his first experiment training his dog to attack Freud’s cat! Philosophers, similarly, are fiercely tribal. There is little love lost, still less, meaningful communication, between existentialists and logicians; phenomenologists and ordinary language philosophers; metaphysicians and mystics.

Diversity, though, is also the mark of disciplines working at the creative edge. Such disciplines are necessarily undomesticated; they are wild strain, potential. The Oxford linguistic-analytical philosopher, J.L. Austin, used to describe philosophy as being concerned with all the questions we could not yet adequately frame. For Austin, philosophy was a central sun, in constant ferment, but occasionally spinning off

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