Philosophy Practice: An Alternative to Psychotherapy

By Chazan, Rachael | The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Philosophy Practice: An Alternative to Psychotherapy


Chazan, Rachael, The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences


Philosophy Practice An Alternative to Psychotherapy Shlomit C. Schuster Praeger, Westport, Connecticut & London 1999, 209 pp.

In this book, Shlomit Schuster describes the work of the pioneers of philosophical counseling - Achenbach, Dill, Morstein argues its case, and gives some examples from her own practice. She finds serious shortcomings in conventional psychotherapeutic practice, such as coercion and the identification of the person with the disease. "A physically sick person may have a cold or an ulcer or even AIDS, but a mentally sick person is his sickness." There is truth in this, but it is the general public rather than the psychotherapist that labels persons in this way. Besides, many a physician or surgeon refers to a patient as "an acute abdomen."

While some biologically oriented psychiatrists may find it important to identify and treat the disease, the psychotherapist is different: every person is unique.

Schuster reminds us of the old Greek philosophers, who saw it as one of their tasks to tell people how they should live. She gives Plato as an example. However, she ignores the fact that in "The Republic" Plato argues that the good of the individual must be subjugated to the good of the state.

Buber's theory is brought in: the contrast between the "I-Thou," the authentic type of relating, to the "I-It," where the other is identified with the function he fulfils. Schuster might have mentioned the work of the Jungian psychotherapist Tamar Kron, working in Jerusalem, who has developed this concept in her own work. …

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