Understanding Experience: Psychotherapy and Postmodernism

Understanding Experience: Psychotherapy and Postmodernism

Understanding Experience: Psychotherapy and Postmodernism

Understanding Experience: Psychotherapy and Postmodernism

Synopsis

This volume is a collection of innovative interdisciplinary essays that explore the human capacity for experience. The authors address the postmodern debate in contemporary psychotherapy and psychoanalysis through clinical case discussion and theoretical exegesis.

Excerpt

The rise of postmodernism in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis is generally considered new and radical. Yet many of the theories implicit in the postmodern turn were developed much earlier by continental European philosophers and literary theorists. Postmodernism in philosophy and literary theory was initially characterized by the wholesale dispersion and dissolution of the human self. This idea along with many others has since been questioned and revised. But in contemporary psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, the postmodernist dispersion of the self is still in its ascendancy. As is so often the case, disciplinary boundaries between clinical practice and other fields of inquiry stand in the way of a productive and timely exchange of ideas. By combining clinical case material with theoretical discussion, this book seeks to overcome the disciplinary divide and examine the challenges of postmodernism for the contemporary clinician and theorist alike.

I have written this book in order to demonstrate the ongoing interaction that exists between clinical practice and philosophical thinking. Having been academically trained in clinical psychology and continental European philosophy, and having taught in both areas, I am continually struck by the connections between these disciplines. But I am also saddened by the lack of cross-disciplinary dialogue.

In Europe there is still an intellectual tradition of freely combining insights from psychology and philosophy. The authors in this book align themselves with this approach in order to explore and elaborate the nature of human experience. Academic and clinical training, particularly in North America, is often guild-like in its attempt to shut out different ways of thinking or styles of practice. As a teacher, my aim is to help my students think outside standard disciplinary boundaries. As a clinician, I find that my philosophical background helps me to appreciate and

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