Ultimacy and Triviality in Psychotherapy

By Ernest Keen | Go to book overview

Preface to Part II

The implications of our work so far are far-reaching and complex. At one level, reality is, as Sartre ( 1943) said, of two kinds, en soi and pour soi ("in-itself" and "for-itself"). Human life, in its freedom, is for-itself, but our lives and thoughts are more than that. Human beings do not simply leave in-itself reality behind. We are nature and matter as well as thought and ideals. The incoherence is inevitable.

Yet a life -- yours, mine -- can be made more coherent by embracing human freedom more consciously. Coherence is never complete. We are nature, and we die. But unless we grasp life in the spirit of freedom, life has an ugly note of absurdity. To the extent that we see ourselves as mechanical and determined reality in-itself, we trivialize human possibilities by reducing them to necessities. Sartre called this psychological strategy "bad faith." It leaves us in doubt about everything; we stumble and lose direction; we give ourselves over to causality beyond our control.

In a sense, of course, such bad faith is inevitable. When that is all we are, however, life becomes tragic. Reducing human being to inhuman mechanics trivializes us; when we do it to ourselves, that triviality is tragic. Such inevitability reduces life to tragedy -- unless we can realize human freedom. That isn't simple. One interpretation of psychotherapy is that it transforms triviality into human opportunity, by engaging our freedom, by broaching and by living the ultimate human question: Who am I to become?

-63-

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Ultimacy and Triviality in Psychotherapy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • PART I - Theoretical Incoherence 1
  • Chapter 1 - Critical Reflections on Psychopharmacology 3
  • Notes 14
  • Chapter 2 - Neurons and Narratives 19
  • Notes 28
  • Chapter 3 - Explorin Theoretical Incoherence 31
  • Notes 43
  • Chapter 4 - Wider Echoes of the Incoherence 45
  • Notes 58
  • PART II - Ultimacy and Trivialit 61
  • Preface to Part II 63
  • Chapter 5 - Narrative, Coherence, and Ultimacy 65
  • Notes 81
  • Chapter 6 - Discourse, Therapy, and Science 83
  • Notes 93
  • Chapter 7 - Trivialization, Ultimacy, and Discourse 95
  • Notes 107
  • Chapter 8 - Triviality and Ultimacy in Therapy 109
  • Notes 122
  • References 125
  • Name Index 131
  • Subject Index 133
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