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Theodor Itten "itten theodor" (St.Gallen)

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Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis (International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches  to Psychosis Book Series)
Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis (International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series)
by John Read
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Models of Madness at its very best, 14 Jun 2014
Nine years after John Read, professor of clinical psychology edited, and then published, the first edition, this second edition is very welcome indeed. His co-editors then were Loren Mosher, the founder of Soteria Therapeutic Communities and vivid social science researcher into the fallacy of schizophrenia, now sadly deceased, and Richard Bentall, psychology professor in Liverpool and a prolific writer of books that expose research fraud in psychiatry, as well as supporting a necessary paradigm changes in treatment and research of mental disturbances. His new co-editor is Jacqui Dillon, Chair of the ‘Hearing Voices Network’ in England and honorary lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London.
In a brief book-launch statement, John Read writes: "The publication is very timely given the international debate about this month's publication of DSM-5, the latest and most controversial version of psychiatry's diagnostic 'bible'. Our book documents all the evidence showing that these diagnoses are unscientific and a major cause of the stigma faced by people who receive these labels. It also presents the research demonstrating the urgent need for a fundamental paradigm shift towards evidence-based, effective and humane mental health services." A lot of encouraging research and experience from the field of psychotherapy is presented: this is evidence-based on a sound and ‘gold standard’ social phenomenological level, as well as from the subjective experience of those with psychoses.
This is also part of a series of books, starting with the publication of the 1st Edition in 2004, and now, by 2013, totalling 15 edited volumes with titles like: ‘Psychosis: An Integrative Perspective’; ‘Family and Multi-Family Work with Psychosis’; ‘Experiences of Mental Health In-Patient Care: Narratives from, Service Users, Carers and Professionals’; ‘Psychotherapies for the Psychoses: Theoretical, Cultural and Clinical Integration’; ‘Beyond Medication: Therapeutic Engagement and the Recovery for Psychosis’; etc. So, this is the ‘environmental’ context and background of this book: there is a strong bias towards the bio-psycho-social model; towards views of psychosis and treatment being much more experience-oriented, and even user-led; and even towards the medical-pharmacological perspectives being seriously challenged by evidence-based research.
What strikes us, as readers and seasoned psychotherapists, is the amount of experienced-based research presented by users in co-operation with so-called experts. The recovery and self-empowerment movement has taken a lead, encouraging ex-mental patients (or service users, as they like to call themselves nowadays), to do their own research and present their findings on prejudice, stigma, gender, abuse and intergenerational childhood adversity in understanding psychosis. So, here, there is a mass of evidence that ‘madness’ or mental disturbances can be explained successfully, again and again, with their causality coming from poor social conditions and abusive familial situations: i.e from the psycho-social perspective. Once again, this collection of mostly empirically-based essays from the field of psychotherapy, psychiatry and psychology presents a challenge to those who prefer the more simplistic, biological, pessimistic and even sometimes demonstrably false theories of madness, many of which are conveniently supported by “big pharma”. There are, of course, those respected colleagues, who still tenaciously hold onto the ‘genetic predisposition’ model of madness and other ad hoc theoretical positions of ‘chemical imbalances’, seemingly unable to face up to the reality of psychosis, as it actually presents itself. Their reactions might be interesting, since this book is full of “soul-speak”, by bringing together both the sound empirical research and the convictions of thirty-seven very respectable contributors from ten countries and a wide range of social science disciplines.
In summary, therefore, Models of Madness shows that hallucinations and delusions are understandable reactions to adverse life events and bad circumstances, rather than symptoms of a supposed genetic predisposition or a biological disturbance. It critiques the 'medical model' of madness; it examines the dominance of the 'illness' approach to understanding madness from historical and economic perspectives; and documents the role of drug companies; outlines the alternative to drug-based solutions; identifies the urgency of a solution and the possibility of prevention of madness. This book promotes a much more humane and effective response to treating severely distressed people; it should prove essential reading for psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health workers; and of great interest to all those who work in – or who are treated by – mental health services.
Theodor Itten

R. D. Laing: 50 Years Since 'The Divided Self
R. D. Laing: 50 Years Since 'The Divided Self
by Theodor Itten
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Yet another book on R. D. Laing, 28 May 2014
D. B. Double Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Victoria House, 28 Alexandra Road, Lowestoft NR32 1PL, UK. Email:

Yet another book on R. D. Laing may appear self-indulgent. In fact, several of the contributions to this edited collection do seem to be of this nature. However, the title registers the half-century anniversary of Laing’s The Divided Self, first published in 1960, which the authors and editors ‘commemorate and celebrate in [their] various ways’ (p. vii). The book appraises ‘Laing’s life, work, frailties, brilliance, and his wide and varied influences’ (back cover).

The editors are both on the editorial board of the International Journal of Psychotherapy (IJP), which published a special R. D. Laing issue in 2011. These essays and articles have been reused in this book. I found the collection something of a hotch-potch, including some transcripts of somewhat vacuous interviews that had previously, perhaps understandably, not been published, and some reprinted material from the British Journal of Psychiatry and The Guardian. Of the new material, I thought the best chapter was that by Chris Oakley, entitled ‘Where did it all go wrong?’ His simple and simplistic answer is ‘alcohol’. But the more complex version is that Laing was engulfed by his desire for adulation, becoming the tolerated and celebrated psychiatric superstar, operating on the edge of madness. To be clear, Laing was not mad but became the product of others, who twisted and obfuscated his message, for example undermining him by repeatedly calling him an ‘anti-psychiatrist’. Laing’s capacity to sabotage may explain his demise but he did provide a vision of the uncertainties and enigmas of personal interaction.

The other chapter that I appreciated was by Emmy van Deurzen, who established an existential therapy school at Regent’s College and set up the Society for Existential Analysis. As she says, her form of existential psychotherapy is indebted to Laing’s ideas and she came to work with what she thought would be existential therapy at the Arbours and Philadelphia Associations. However much Laing may be associated with existential psychotherapy, she argues that in practice he provided no practical direction for its development, instead turning to psychoanalysis and rebirthing.

The opportunities for new inspiration about R. D. Laing may be limited but there are a few, if far between, in this book.

Lament of the Dead: Psychology After Jung's Red Book
Lament of the Dead: Psychology After Jung's Red Book
by James Hillman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.71

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Cows, 26 Nov 2013
While attending a presentation of Dick Russell's first Volume of his biography of a lyrical writer and interpreter of the soul, the late James Hillman (1926-2011), in New York's Jung Foundation, I strolled through their well-stocked bookstore. I picked up Hillman's final book, a conversation with Sonu Shamdasani. I was already taken slightly aback by the mixed feelings I had concerning the book's title as well as the identity of Hillman's conversation prompter. Leafing through the book and glancing at their exchanges about which C.G. Jung worked out in his Red Book, I realised immediately, this was not a heart-to-heart conversation but rather an exchange between two individuals trying to best each other at intellectual word games. No need for this I thought and put the book down, thus saving me from spending nearly $ 28.-
Glad to heed my inner voice, I went to Russell's entertaining talk. Yet, when we broke for tea and delicious cakes, I thought I should give the book a second chance. I met Hillman once and served as his translator in 1995 for a daylong seminar in Bern, Switzerland, on his then just published book, Kinds of Power. I had been an avid reader of his work since Francis Huxley introduced me to it in 1976, so I bought this book simply to complete my Hillman collection. I gave myself a simple "why not," but was I thinking of something else when I made this decision? Yes, because this book is a very good example of the psycho pompous at work with its shadowy grand pretence, factitiousness and hypocritical shoddiness.
C. G. Jung ends, in 1930, his Liber Secundus, in the Red Book, with the following words: Der Prüfstein ist das Alleinsein mit sich selber. Dies ist der Weg. The touchstone is the being alone with one self. This is the way." With these encouraging words, to be on one's way, to listen to the answers out of the silence from within, while enjoying one's own company, to stick our neck out to the weathering, elation and music of our soul while kissing the mood of life's compassionate tolerance. Briefly The Red Book is divided into two parts. The first part begins with the way of that which is to come and makes its first stop in the rediscovery and the service of the soul, while conveying the mystery teachings of monotheistic Gods. The second part opens with the pictures of those mislead by daily consciousness. Then a detailed rendering of his active imaginations follows, iconographical as well as in imagined dialogues. As in Fairy Tales, there is entering the darkness of the forest or decent to hell, holding the horses there, and return to the light. The usual pattern of journeys to the underworld told in myths all over our world. He wrote in his afterword of 1959, "I have worked on this book for 16 years." It all began on 12 December 1913, in Küsnacht, Switzerland. His psychological-scientific experiment of his confronting the unconscious took Jung into its spell. An experiment, he felt, "was done with me."
We all know, once in a while, that we live and are being lived. As a psychotherapist my main motto is: Never against the unconscious. The result of Jung letting his self fall into the realm of active imaginations, we are now able to read in his intimate and private bible. We participate in Carl Gustav Jung's investigations of the processes of the collective unconscious. As a 55 year old, he encountered Alchemy in 1930 and the translation, from Chinese, of The Secret if the Golden Flower, realising a mirroring of his own imaginations therein, with the result that he could no longer work on The Red Book.
Lament of the Dead is one of many books that have sprouted about since the publication of The Red Book in 2009. The labyrinth of associations and knowing-it-all, the monotheistic track of explorations, explanations and hermeneutic interpretations are by now many voiced. The academic publishing industry is having a growing crop yielding on the psychological elucidations round what is really the matter with Jung's personal and collective unconscious.
In their exchanges, Hillman and Shamdasani come across as anxious to please each other while fancying themselves in the role of Jungian intellectuals. Hillman quotes his favourite poet Auden's mantra a few times: "We are lived by powers we pretend to understand." How true, especially when the dialogue is being conducted under the pretention of `know-it- all-authority. Two years after Hillman's death, we are served fifteen conversations, which have passed the individual approval of his widow, Margot McLean, for she holds co-copyright. Hillman and Shamdasani held their first conversation on stage in Los Angeles, the others took place in Connecticut and New York. Their aim was to determine the current status of psychology after Jung's Red Book (2009). Usually, western academic psychology is occupied with studying and understanding human nature and its defined normal behaviour, in a given society. Furthermore psychologists report how ordinary citizens manage to articulate their experience of living. This is not Hillman's view. He, as the grand master of re-visioning psychology as soul-making experience, as telling the events of what takes place with us humans on a grand scale, fancies the myths and activities of bringing words to the soul, more arts than science. His work has mostly focused on one's own imagination, dreams and restoration of the Gods, of whatever dominion they may be.
Personally I was never in favour of the publication of the Red Book even though the private sphere of the late C.G. Jung fascinates enormously. Nevertheless I can see the value for airing the cloud of the unknown, being encouraged by the likes of C.G. Jung, to tread our idiosyncratic way to inner soul treasures, as the experience of our own bitter herbs of healing.
Of course it is fun to exchange one's thinking and experience, of what life is all about. James Hillman has offered us two fascinating interview books before this third one. There are some gems, as I hoped, from James Hillman, dropped here and there within his ambiguous strings of conversations. At times he is endearing with his self-critical graciousness that shows how he was still longing to get to whatever lies below the surface of what meets the eye. Facts of life are usually covered by the veil of storytelling, even though this particular conversation about the stories in the Red Book, attempts to be a social scientific one. For Hillman, his and Jung's psychology is a practice, a way to be authentic with one's experience. It is a way of living, a way of seeing, a way of hearing, a way of responding, a way of sensing the Gods in the world. Similar to how the Greeks did it, when they went to the theatre and watched plays all day long, by their favourite dramatist. Life as we know it not a dress rehearsal. It is always the opening night. Here goes Xenophanes: No man knows, or ever will know, the truth about the gods and about everything I speak of: for even if one chanced to say the complete truth, nevertheless one would not know it. " The way forward for a Hillman psychology is the way back, to understand human nature through literature and biographies. Where have I heard this before? It was thirty years ago exactly listening to the philosopher Hans-Peter Rickman, going on about hermeneutics and descriptions of lived lives, as well as in social anthropological seminars by Francis Huxley, who in his The Way of the Sacred (1974) covered the ancestor cults and its various follies and self-deceptions. We know that Hillman is a failed novelist and now writes artfully about the soul's (psyche: breath of life) appearance into words (logos).
My favourite statement in this book is on page 200, where Hillman states his axiomatic sentences of faith: "I always thought that psychology goes on in the writing. So one of the question I used to ask myself was how do you write psychology? Well, you must write it so that it touches the soul, or it's not psychology. It has to have that moving quality of experience, and that means it has to have many sorts of metaphors and absurdities and things that go with life. Otherwise you're writing an academic or a scientific description of something but it's no longer psychology." Both Hillman and his jouster play joyfully with the metaphor of Lament of the Death, going so far as to mention what is needed is therapy for the dead, and writing for the dead, as a sacred experience.
About his labour on the Red Book, says Shamdasani, "I wasn't editing this for the living. I was editing for the dead." (p. 27). This brought to mind Jesus's telling the man who excused himself that he first had to go and attend the funeral of his father: `Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead' (Matthew 8:22). The beatitude of consciousness shining in the richness of our psyche is verily ignored, in this backward excursion. Some parts of their conversations are indeed deadly boring since both speakers presume they know what Jung was going on about, and they become pretty dogmatic. Jung found dogma a confession, which is only set up where one wants to suppress doubts once and for all, as personal drive for power. Hillman and Shamdasani play each other up in their verbose pretence of the cloud of unknowing. The unconscious, being personal and/or collective, is per operational definition, not knowable. We can theorize it, yet all we presume, assume, speculate and observe in indirect communication is yet another language game. I was taken aback by how wise old Hillman could fall so late in his rich life in 2009 for this troubling farce to chat with a, (for me) pretentious upstart in our field of psychology and psychotherapy, who aims to place his name next to Jung's own texts, as he has tried with Freud's work as well? Is this a kind of self-indulgent power-play on Shamdasani's part, to move or force himself into a "primary" position as the one and only historian of Jung's work? Who among the Jung Family Foundation supports this vested interest which so often seems to be against better judgements? While reading Shamdasani's statements, I often asked myself: How do you know? I found him so full of solipsism round Jung, going on about psychotherapy and psychology without experience or practice. Hillman asks his companion to explain his statement, that a historian, as he is, can be a therapist. Replies he: "The history of psychology is the therapy of the word. They must recognize that this bit of history is the Red Book, is their therapy of our time."(p.98) Unfortunately, his book is basically a self-promotion of the editor and foot note producer of The Red Book. Both talkers are very much opinionated and presume to know inner secrets of Jung's basic private myth. "Myth is the metaphor that translates libido into configurations. That's what he found. He found myth as basic." (p. 64). True, we are historical and social beings immersed in the comedia humane. Psychology has a room in the house of psychotherapy, as philosophy, art, science and myth has too. As professional psychotherapist we do more than simply be concerned about ourselves and our own wellbeing. Hillman promotes himself as therapist of ideas, well versed in the narrative of the comedy of errors. "I think we're sick from ideas" (p.159) He has been arguing his case of a psychology without concepts, for forty years. Soul is all phantasy, he proclaims, and I see his paradoxical symbiology arrive at the port of myth. From the conversations we can't really know if Hillman has actually read the Red Book while going on about it. He feels anyhow that he did "similar parallel work in his own restricted and limited way to what Jung was dealing with in the Red Book." (p. 80). The dream of psychology, to become once again a romantic undertaking, is a bowing back to the 18th Century romantic poets like Blake, Coleridge, Shelley and Heine. Hillman favours this redemptive phantasy of a world as alive as can be. So back from the dead to a living of how we see what we see and feel, and be as whole as one can be. Is this self-indulgence? We can now return to our daily tasks and listening to our own answers in the silence of dreams.
Theodor Itten Author of Rage - Managing an Explosive Emotion (2011) Psychologist & Psychotherapist Sankt Gallen, Switzerland

Elements of Self-Destruction
Elements of Self-Destruction
Price: £16.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Empathic darkness, 1 Jun 2013
Dr Brent Potter is a psychotherapist and teaches doctoral level courses at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, where he himself earned his Ph.D. This text has its roots in his thesis. He is furthermore Director for the Society for Laingian Studies and the R.D. Laing Institute. Presently, he lives and practices in Seattle, WA and Oak Park, CA.
His first book is presented in eight chapters, leading us through the philosophical, psychological and psychoanalytical (both Freudian and Jungian flavours are included) aspects of self-injurious behaviour, with particular reference to Bion & Heidegger. Philosophically trained in existential thought and social phenomenological enquiry, he shows us various paths to possible meanings and sense-making of this painful human activity. For some thinkers, the solution in tackling this problem is seen as a coping activity in the self-management of painful affects. These, more often than not, have an aetiology in sexual and violent abuse in childhood and youth. These suffering persons aim thus - by physical self-injury - to relieve their overwhelmingly painful psychic feelings. Potter takes us step-by-step through the various tacklings of this issue by some of the grandees in the field of social science. He presents empirical data, as well as taking us through the details of his social scientific points of view. Therefore, as readers, we can sharpen our perspectives, as we go along in this rather cold and dark cellar of human kind.
One of the fierce and crippling triggers in the theatre of soul's destruction of, or on the issue of self-embodiment, is the inability, or rather unwillingness to accept our range of human limitations: limitations to, what can be done, what is expected by peers or forbearers, and what one wants personally to fulfil.
The author of this hermeneutic and phenomenological analysis finds himself often in dark places aiming his flashlight onto the psyche. While he shines onto a spot of analysis of elements of self-destruction, the context is once again veiled in darkness. Just like Freud in The Future of an Illusion, where he points out, that our forebears have created `society' as a means of safety and comfort from nature, but the price to pay for this adventure of structural dwelling is growing crime, poverty, cruelty, strife and envious conflict. This alienation, according to Potter, who discusses curious trends of reflections on his theme, more often than not, leads to neurotic privations finding a release in a miserable space of self-destruction. This complex of suffering is a mode of behaviour, whose pattern has often been set in a traumatic childhood. As a habit, it has a tyrannical force way out of conscious control of the will. Here R.D. Laing's concept of `ontological insecurity' is a major point in the books musings on the topics showing up in the hermeneutic circle drawn around the phenomena under discussion.
A parallel can be seen in Arthur Miller's play The Death of a Salesman (1949). He, for one, has expressed this maddening tendency of our species living in a highly developed society - being alienated from its old comforts of social identity. While the present lived-moments of the social, familial and employment states become increasingly incompatible with the self-picture, the salesman's mental state deteriorates towards self-destruction. The comforting boundary of his lifetimes achievements are thus (self) destroyed.
Such a darkening of horizons can leave one stranded in the middle of nowhere, as one patient of Potter's experienced his childhood with meth-addictive parents, living in and out of trailers. Violent behaviour, self-aggression and a major depression apparently helped to cope with these shadowy aspects in our human sphere. Yet suffering fools gladly does unfortunately not lead to described salvation. In taking Bion's experience in analysis and groups as an aid to sense-making, using this concept of self-destruction, Potter elegantly elaborates the ghosts of abandoned meaning in suffering and formless destructiveness of patients or clients.
Pondering on the "Why are humans, who are motivated by self-preservation, also motivated to engage in behaviours that threaten and even extinguish their existence?" Potter makes his points well in this study - though, in some passages, one frankly still feels the necessary academic writing style, stilting his otherwise gentle prose - to show the emerging understanding of self-destructiveness in our culture, some religions, existential philosophy, and depth psychology.
In Chapter 6: "Contemporary manifestations of self-destructiveness", Potter widens the scope from the individual's self-destructiveness, to the self-destructiveness within societies and particularly towards children. After a wealth of statistics (mainly from USA), he delves into the World Health Organisation's causal factors to abuse and neglect and what lies behind PTSD, child hunger and poverty, as well as phenomena like child trafficking. "The very system in place to protect children in America frequently damages children and families." (p. 122) Children are removed from their violent and traumatising homes of origin only to end up in another setting, where they often are subjected to helplessness and re-traumatisation by abuse in children homes.
This chapter then segues into a long case history and a re-telling of the myth of Persephone, serving as a guiding story of how one can connect back to one's healthy part of personality, drawing on the power of resilience which has been build up on our journey through netherworlds.
His central theme, which he re-addresses in Chapter Seven, is that "Self-destructiveness is an essential aspect of all psychopathology and human-to-human destructiveness." (p. 139) ... "Every culture throughout history has had to contend with the phenomenon of self-destructiveness. It has been critically addressed in philosophy and in every school of psychology." (p. 140) Potter explores differing attitudes to suicide, and Freud's views on Thanatos (the death instinct) is reviewed and compared with the existential-phenomenological views, which "focussed less on forces operating within the psyche and more on life experience." (p. 142). Given the level of interconnectedness of human living in a society, like in the USA, we can do better in knowing one's own limitations and mortality. This opens up a feeling of an empathic link, being in the radiance of serenity, from persons at peace within themselves. As Aldous Huxley once mentioned, you can't lasso both your fate and luck. R.D. Laing, of course, focussed on familial and cultural aspects as well, theorising (from his clinical studies) that the psyche fundamentally has two aspects, the true self (our inner private self) and the false self: the face we show to the world. "Under favourable developmental conditions the two aspects do not conflict with each other. Under more pathological conditions, the two aspects do not develop normally and lead, to a greater or lesser degree, to a divided self." (p. 142) Potter, practising as a clinical psychologist, gives a few telling case vignettes, which illustrate how out of the chaos of self-hurt and destructiveness can emerge an inner voice, which the psychotherapist, attending to the havoc of suffering souls, can hear and thus kindle in the healing process. The author further explores the destructive potential of pornography (as well as its increasing growth) undermining the healthy development of erotic intimacy of individuals. He ponders on the nightmarish phenomena like hi-tech, which reduces other human beings to resources that can be treated like objects and then utterly exploited. The Holocaust of Jews in Europe and the genocide of the Native Americans, are just two horrifying examples of humanity's self-destructiveness on a large scale, which Potter ties to contradictory impulses of human nature.
When this form of splitting is practised on a wider level, we can all lose touch with our general sense of Being, which, according to Heidegger, exists for its own purposes. Try as we individually and collectively might to dominate all that which we encounter, so as to feel imaginary secure, we destroy essential - and often the more vulnerable - aspects of our society, like our children's well being and sanity. "I think this adds to the body of work," Potter concludes, "considered thus far and may provide another avenue by which to give thought to the sway of destructiveness has in the world." (p. 147)
This book has received splendid advance praise by the likes of psychoanalyst and philosopher Robert D. Stolorow and the famed New Yorker psychoanalyst and seasoned author Michael Eigen. This is well-earned by Potter, who has dared to address one of humanities less graceful aspects.
Theodor Itten,
Executive Editor of IJP, St. Gallen, Switzerland

The Social Nature of Persons: One Person is No Person (New International Library of Group Analysis) (The New International Library of Group Analysis)
The Social Nature of Persons: One Person is No Person (New International Library of Group Analysis) (The New International Library of Group Analysis)
by Tom Ormay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Social and Human Nature, 20 Jun 2012
Today's considerations on our social nature, as persons, are, as always, already embedded in a familiar primary scenario, rooted in a tribal community, and need an open mind. Tom Ormay, known to the many readers of this Journal as its sagacious former Editor, is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, a member of the Institute of Group Analysis, London, where he also serves as a training analyst. Presently living and working in Budapest, the Hungarian edition of this book - which he translated - was the winner of the Hungarian Psychiatric Association prize for the best professional volume published in 2010. It is now proudly published as one of the first eight volumes, in the New International Library of Group Analysis, whose series editor is Earl Hopper, Ph. D., a past Chairman of the Group of Independent Psychoanalysts of the British Psycho-Analytical Society.
One of the central themes of Ormay's book is the simple truth that there are bigger things than just ourselves. One person, without relating to some group, is not a complete person. One human being is no human being. Our individual being is always already shaped, conditioned, and habituated in the sphere of what Ormay calls `Nos'.
"He has produced a startlingly new concept, that of the 'social self', a fundamental property of humankind, which is rooted in instinct. He calls it the 'nos', the 'we', which co-exists with the 'I', the individual ego." Malcolm Pines (Amazon review).
Once you pick up this delightfully complex book, I suggest that you first got to look at Chapter Nine, where he offers eight definitions of this core theme concept. Besides a general, developmental, dynamic and structural definition, he pleasingly adds a topographical - `Nos' is the sub-system of the psychic apparatus that has the function of connecting the individual with each other to form bigger units such as families, work groups, any other group, and society. (p. 189); as well as functional, cognitive and finally behavioural definitions.
Ormay's study comes in three main parts: first, serving the historical background, then pondering on the meaning of `Nos', and finally ending with notes, which, besides rich references and index, include his compatriot, Sandor Ferenczi (1873-1933), who, back in 1932, formulated three main principles for the multitude of interconnected integration of praxis, reflection and universals, which the author considers to be the main ideas of group analysis.
In any science of persons, there are always at least two opposing forces already within us, the ego and the social, from which we can thoughtfully abstract, if, and only if, we do not forget that the social aspect within us individuals, as member of a species, embedded in the natural habitat and the cultural evolution in this world, dissolves one person into the whole. The personal ego of the universal possibility to say, "I am", serves membrane-like as a protective boundary from the pulling lure to dissociate in the One-and-All.
The linguistic hint, to be able to describe a feeling of being alone, points to All-in-One, in other words being atonement (at-one-ment) within the personal mutuality of inherited social instincts. This of course brings us back to Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and the first psychology book of modern times. In 1872, he published The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal. Like Ormay, Darwin illuminates human psychology as an endless quest in habitual, motivational and purposeful experience and behaviour conducted, if you allow me this metaphor, by the `shadow' system of the collective human unconscious, for the conscious benefit to hear and see general principles of emotional expressions.
We all know that when our personal self is mindfully affected, so are the movements of our bodily parts. Besides nos, as an expressive habit of our social unconscious, the visual bodily expressions, as social communications, come into play. Ormay offers us to stay with him in an open system, that paradoxically says, "Where I am", a "we are", also happens at the same time. When our parents and forbearers pass along to us, the younger generations, the values and habits of their way of living - their specific blend of the philosophy of life and sentences of belief - they thus link our human animal nature to nos, deeply immersed in the rich reservoir of languages where you and I are part of the `we', us and them.
In his presentation of the historical background of his measuring up the foundation of Group Analysis, Ormay leads us through the debate of instinct in both psychoanalysis and group analysis, pleasantly summarising his debate at the end of each chapter. That Freud and his colleagues got very close to group analysis in their Wednesday meetings, where feelings soon surfaced alongside their debating thoughts, weaving a new tapestry of a healing art, may cause us no surprise. The group, so one of Ormay's very compelling theses', is the cultural medium of self- development. Many of us might reflect back to our experiences in the so called `sensitivity groups', initiated by Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) with his social field theory informed by Gestalt psychology. Once Siegfried Heinrich Foulkes (1898-1976) entered the scene, with his assumption that the group is the whole, the "we" (Latin "nos") in the group releases the spirit of knowing where we belong. Grateful for this historical overview, which includes, not only ... "Freud's group thinking and its restrictions, Ferenczi's pre-figuring of aspects of group analysis in the 1930s, Elias' influence upon Foulkes, and Foulkes's outline of radical group analytic aspects that had outgrown psychoanalysis' tripartite theory of mind" (Pines) ... we now turn to the main body of the book. Here Ormay roams wide. His chapter headings are: Nos and the Social Unconscious; A possible biological metatheory; Will and Nos; Nos in group analysis; and Phenomenology of the Self.
I was very pleased to read, that the way of metaphor is meeting the language of the unconscious. That implies then, if as a psychotherapist I want to talk to the unconscious of the patient or members of the group, I had best use metaphors. Herein lies the insight, that Nos is the social reality we happen to be in. The debate concerning the various concepts of social unconscious, collective unconscious, and species unconscious, reflects gracefully the various understandings of social conditioning of theory making, using both the language games of metaphor and interpretation of lived experiences. There is no short cut or escape from the argument that "consciousness is a product of nos". We continuously participate in its creation, be this by our biological determinants, called habits of nature in conjunction with our species cultural evolution expressed in the arts, science, street-wisdom, social memory and art of living. Human will and intentional acts are used as resources and resilience factors in the process of healing taking place in therapeutic group settings. "We need to overcome existential anxiety, to experience our selves" (p. 132). Then we are so lucky as to find our own matrix of being on the checkpoint of possibilities on offer in the endless "Here and Now".
Ormay's style is sober when he has to succumb to the complexity of the issues under discussions, to make his social phenomenological arguments understood. Nevertheless, in discussing examples from his work and experience in Group Analysis, his expressions are transformed into a double taking the poetic of self-transcending living into the acceptance of the chaos of the unknown. In all a very balanced and open-hearted book to keep on the shelf for valuable consultations.

TheodorItten St Gallen, Switzerland

Real to Reel: Psychiatry at the Cinema
Real to Reel: Psychiatry at the Cinema
by Ron Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Politics of Helplessness, 28 Dec 2011
Your ideas are no longer normal, says Charles to Rupert outside the pub. Well, answers Rupert, you no longer wanted my normal ideas, did you? Ron Roberts's ideas are far from usual, as he muses, in his fourth book, on the abnormality of psychiatry as presented in various films over the course of the last 65 years, seven of which he has chosen as representative. His aim in this singular study is to analyse how the practice of real psychiatry relates to its representational cousin on the screen.
In this closely argued and complex survey of celluloid insanity he uses the seven films as the corner stone of a textual analysis, which is far from a comfortable read. In his admirable presentation, psychiatry in its various guises on screen is reflected as real on the reel, showing explicitly its service to the body politic and to those in power who exude social authority and define social reality.
As a professional psychotherapist I feel shame in seeing the closed mindedness of these professional people, professing as psychiatrists, to be specialists of the soul's renderings on earth, especially those souls gone astray and desperate for further enlightenment. The theatre of lost souls is far from funny, and more often than not is, as the history of this profession teaches us, a diatribe of hellish treatments, resembling penal reeducation more than a humane healing environment. The madness of psychiatric theory, with its one-sided biological explanatory model, is that instead of treating lost souls with kindness and courtesy it trivializes the crises of life within a barrage of pseudo scientific explanation. A diagnosis is seeing through something and is always already a social one, conditioned by ideology, sentences of faith and dogma. Yet, as used in most of these films under discussion, it is not used as a depiction and then a description of a personal experience. Roberts calls attention to the dangers of what are instead moral exhortations, played out backhandedly by those with the power to define those detained in the institutions of asylum. How do we treat our fellow human beings, who are so disturbed and disturbing that many want little if anything to do with them?
In the films under discussion, Roberts looks at the role of behavioral science in refashioning women and men, to make them fit the goals, and structures not only of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Is it a given, that these intellectual fashions of the day are allowed to get by with a lazy conformity to the wishes of the powerful? Should psychiatry, which after all has the task of explaining the `dis-ease' of the psyche (experience), be the handmaiden for social control of the masses, censoring experience and behavior? Is psychiatry, not only as presented on screen, itself a work of fiction?
Roberts presents the seven films in virtuoso, full of swings and surprises, especially the ones which I have seen myself, like "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", or "A Beautiful Mind". To each film he adds a series of concluding remarks, food for thought to chew over, as for example when he states, that Clint Eastwood, in his film Changeling (2008) ..."has exposed the interlocking visions of social control which tie the mental health and justice systems together".
He suggests that in future, psychiatrists alongside their medical training ought to take a course in language and literature, in order to prepare them to listen more carefully to the poetics of the soul. In his succinct discussion of `A Beautiful Mind' (2001), he shows how the film makers were stuck in the glue of their own wishful thinking, presenting us the viewers, with a travesty of truth, a travesty of Nash's own biographical statement. Contrary to what the film portrays for example, Nash states that he never entered a mental hospital on a voluntary basis. Even his wife, Alicia, regretted the involuntary sectioning of her mathematical genius husband," a mistake, which had no beneficial effects, rather the opposite". (p. 52)
In most of the films under discussion we can see an `idée fixe' cementing individuals to the demands of institutions rather than helping professionals to tune into their own personal needs and longings. Roberts' emotionally engaging thesis is that the raison d'Ítre of psychiatry, is to maintain itself routinely as a total institution where the patient has to learn to adjust not change, and if she or he does not follow suit, will be forced to do so, by pharmaceutical whips if necessary. Thus the institution of psychiatry, as presented in these seven films, is the art of petrification and narrowing of the mind.
Yet, who controls those who control us? Who watches the watchers? Who examines the evidence of those, who check the evidence base of psychiatry? Well we have the opportunity to do so, living after all as we do in a democratic system. We are in a position to discover and expose the power and the mask of benign etiquette which covers the helping professions, and serves power rather than patients. Roberts, in these authoritative and meaningful reflections, aids us the readers in the difficult task of unmasking real psychiatry from film and helping us to avoid the fallacy of the false self. As psy-professionals and/or patients we often long for the refreshing sound and vision of liberation from the ground of illusions, shattered, more often than not, by a spiritual crisis, leaving us in a momentum of rich yet painful emotional disturbance. How to get out of this predicament is another story.
Theodor Itten, Hamburg, Executive Editor of International Journal of Psychotherapy

Help Yourself Towards Mental Health
Help Yourself Towards Mental Health
by Courtenay Young
Edition: Paperback
Price: £33.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOWARDS MENTAL HEALTH, 10 Aug 2010
Courtenay Young begins where Karen Horney ended, in her book on self-analysis, published in 1942.
Like her, Young, a seasoned humanistic, transpersonal and body oriented psychotherapist, who is professionally based in and around Edinburgh, orients himself against our neuroses and towards human growth and a healthy self-realisation. Behind our possibly dysfunctional habits, there is hidden what the existential tradition considers to be our true self. Young is a strong advocate of cultivating our own path towards a good enough view of mental health. If I was a mental patient, I might nowadays be able to rely on the plentiful supply of studies concerning resilience and recovery, helping me a long way towards learning how to manage my own condition, separate from the helpful (or otherwise) interventions by doctors or psychiatrists.
As people - and often as patients - we often are faced with having to do this in an anxious and ambiguous way: Is there something really wrong with us? That need no longer be our lot: Young makes it very clear that probably there is nothing wrong with us, though things may have gone wrong around us.
Young has found himself to be more proactive as a psychotherapist and more pragmatic as a counsellor, then when he began in this profession 30 odd years ago. Every person is an individual, and, as such, must develop perhaps from these pages their own methods of coping and their own path to recovery.He knows that the best effects of psychotherapy come from an empathic skilled and professional caring relationship. So, when he takes us through his designs and suggestions for self-help - mainly for people with depression, anxiety and issues of low self-esteem - he does so from a libertarian view, focused on as well as and not on either/or. He writes from his experience that,About 97% of people with any form of mental health issues are just ordinary people with anxiety and /or depression. These issues are nothing to do with mental illness. They are mostly natural reactions to life situations that are overwhelming, or have been difficult.Yes,indeed, and absolutely!
Only the other day, I experienced a position of helplessness. Our flat's fire alarm suddenly goes on. My jolly mood collapses with a shock. It turns out that I burnt the toast and alas, there is nothing I can do to turn the clock back and make this painful piercing sound go away. Pacing to and fro like a caught animal, from the kitchen table to the hall where the fire alarm sensor is, I look for a phone to call the fire brigade or the house keeper, to inform them quickly that this is more or less a false alarm. My wife rushing out of the bedroom said, There is no way to stop the fire brigade and the police coming to our basement flat in this ten-story building. This will be a very expensive piece of toast. Great!
So, what do I do when I don't know what to do? Book a psychotherapy session? Another option is to pick this book to up costing about the price of a single psychotherapy session and consult it on anger management or on responding to self-criticism. Helpfully, Courtenay Young has a clear and easy style, which helps us get back to basics. His longish introduction encourages us to think of how we can cultivate self-help. So, what does he then offer to free us from moments of helplessness, such as I experienced, and from ignorance of our selves?
The book has ten sections. Firstly, the author considers the issue of modern stressed living. We learn what stress is all about, physiologically, and how it manifests itself in modern life. He further elaborates on the variety of symptoms of stress. Then he offers a few practical suggestions about increased exercise and relaxation and how to fit these into our busy lives.
The next section is on depression. The authors lays the ground work for our self-help activity by bringing clarity about the somatic aspects and the need for emotional expression of depression more into play. Once we are aware of the basic working principles for depression, we can begin to tackle it and change our own negative thinking habits. If you don't want to change, just put this book down and leave it at that. However, if you want to be more happy then, besides the helpful information about anti-depressant drugs, Young shows us how our own thoughts and moods about depression, and our value systems, can distort the emotional clusters that lie beneath our conscious mind.
So what about anxiety? I decided to test drive the advice in the book with my own experience of the smoke alarm. First, relax! There is no smoke without a fire, and the meal is not eaten quite as hot as it was cooked. Interestingly, after a few more points about relaxation, he looks at the phenomena of social anxiety, followed up by panic attacks. Good for me to cope with the brief panic that I experienced while the painful sound of the fire alarm made me pace around like a tiger in a cage. I then did a here-and-now mindfulness exercise, whereby I name the colour and objects that I manage to see in my immediate environment. I am now able to be more aware of what I feel, and where I feel this emotion in my body. I felt slightly phobic, agitated, and reacted with a mental freeze. Even later, over the next three days after this event, I imagined that the alarm could go off any minute. Young's notes on anxiety set my thinking straight again. I also realised that I probably do not suffer from a general anxiety disorder.
What would a book on self-help be without a section on self-esteem? It would be like a lake without water. Issues of self-esteem are introduced and exercises proposed of how we can improve it, and even become more self assertive. Self confidence and trust in oneself, to live life more as an adventure and become more confident whilst living in this world. What works? asks our experientially-oriented psychotherapist, with whom the evidence that counts the most is our own subjective experience. Do I attend enough to my legitimate needs? How do I respond to critics and criticism? This pondering for answers gives me another break at just the right time.
There then comes what is my favourite section in this book, dedicated to the rich and varied tapestry of life experiences. Young takes us to Family Issues, where he holds us by the hand, whilst we might cope with bereavement and grieving. Once we learn to care for our selves, we can also, without becoming other-agents, learn to cope in caring for other members in the family. We all know that relationships are not all plain sailing. Nevertheless,Relationships Issues are not always a crisis of being thrown overboard: better communication is probably necessary. Sometimes our journey ends in separation, so Young gives us an overview of how we can cope with the strings still attached in this situation, which is often an emotional turmoil full of practical problems, especially if children are involved. We can still respect each others feelings; as love(which we once felt) means, after all is said and done, to accept the other as an individual.
He also covers albeit briefly a variety of life situations like: anger management; sleep issues; mental health issues at work; weight, body image & eating issues; chronic fatigue syndrome; addictions and 12-steps programs; trauma & PTSD; self-harm; money worries; ageing issues; travel; and the path to mental health (well-being) which is strewn with many a chance to exercise ourselves: mentally, physically, socially, intellectually, spiritually supporting a fresh outlook towards a wider view of living. Tolerance is one of the secrets, towards one's self and the other.
This longish book, which can be used in an encyclopaedic fashion, attends beautifully to life's complex reverberations, like the one I described with the fire alarm. Young manages to sooth us into a calming comfort, from where we find new courage to go on with who we are. His clarity and straightforward approach helps in a serious way to reflect what is actually happening, and what can be done about it. All his various practical and philosophical tips to help us find answers - which are already there to be discovered within us - depend on our courage to be and some personal honesty to be faced, at last. There are parts in the book, where his argument and rich elaborations could have been slightly tighter. Nevertheless, he is acute in his enchanting persuasions. He has written with a vivid economy and engaging understanding of our common human suffering and folly.
Theodor Itten, Switzerland

The Red Book: Liber Novus (Philemon)
The Red Book: Liber Novus (Philemon)
by CG Jung
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £118.08

30 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Primary matters from the jungle of the unconscious, 14 Dec 2009
Primary matters from the jungle of the unconscious

It all began on 12 December 1913, in C.G. Jung's Study in his imposing house on Seestrasse in Küsnacht, Switzerland. His psychological-scientific experiment of his confronting the unconscious took Jung into its spell. Retrospectively, in his biographical notes Memories, Dreams and Reflections (1961) he said that, it was an experiment which was done with me. Here we find the root of his psychotherapeutic motto: `We live and we are being lived.' The main thing is: never against the unconscious. In this time of Advent, the medical doctor, psychiatrist and son of a reverent (1875-1961) sat down at his desk and, as he said: let myself fall. The result we are now able to read and see in these intimate and private notes. We participate in Carl Gustav Jung's investigations of the processes of the collective unconscious.
Here we deal with an extensive and playful phenomenology, beyond the then established academic psychology. Jung's own psychology, as it was emerging, concerns itself with inner processes in the form of dreams, imaginations, visions and second sights -- experiences that can be made in the rich field of human experience. For him, these inner experiences were the source of the soul's individuation process. I did not realise that my soul cannot be the object of my judgement and knowledge; but instead, my judgement and knowledge are the objects of my soul. As a medical doctor and skilled healer of the soul, Jung made himself into both master and servant of the soul and its transformation in his Self. The pictures and imaginations which he drew and wrote down in the Red Book, often in a language akin to Augustine and Nietzsche, he later defined, after he had encountered the alchemists in 1928 and the Secret of Chinas Golden Flower, as the "Collective Unconscious" and its Archetypes. From now on, every evening the by then 38 year old family man and father wrote down and drew his imaginary dialogues, dream explorations, pictures and thoughts in a total of six in black leather-bound notebooks. The "Red Book", now published, is a folio book bound in red leather, and includes, as Aniela Jaffé, co-editor of Jung's biography remarked, the same fantasies in refined form and language and in calligraphic gothic script, in the fashion of middle age handwritings.
The Red Book is divided into two parts. Liber Primus with 11 chapters and Liber Secundus with 21 chapters. Liber Primus begins with the way of that which is to come and makes its first stop in the rediscovery of the soul. Then follows Soul and God, thoughts on the service of the soul, the desert and experience in the soul, as well as one's own descent through hell towards the future. It continues with the splitting of the spirit, the murder of the hero, and God's conception. The mystery -- of Meeting, Teachings, and Solution-- ends this first part. Liber Secundus opens with the pictures of those mislead. The Red One makes his appearance and leads to the castle in the forest. One of the Lower Ones follows, the Anachoret shows himself in all his splendour. Death leads this journey across the ruins of ancient temples. First Day. Second Day. The incantations lead to the opening of the Egg. Hell is visited and sacrificial murder is being told. The holy foolishness is followed by Nox secunda to Nox quarta. The last chapters on the three prophecies, the gift of magic, the way of the cross and of the magicians, make the chalice of primal matters of Jung's life work to spill over. The trials conclude with his afterword from the autumn 1959.
I have worked on this book for 16 years. Encountering Alchemy in 1930 took me away from it. ... Then the content of this book found its way into reality. I could no longer work on it.. The Red Book with its 180 pages of facsimile is a pleasure, although one does have to get used to the writing. Jung's drawings are beautiful. His dreams are the leading waves of his soul. Here is a taste: The spirit of the depth has submitted all pride and haughtiness to judgement. HE took all the faith in science away from me, robbed me of the joy of explanations and classifications, and extinguished my commitment to the ideals of this time. HE forced me down to the last and simple things. The desert and monasteries inside us. One thing I have learnt is that we have to live this life. This life is the way, the long- searched for journey towards the ungraspable, which we call Godly. There is no other way. All others are erroneous paths. The experiment of active imagination with and within oneself is a risky technique to trace inner events to their very basis. The question arises: Should such an unfinished, intimate and private book be published at all? C.G. Jung rightly hesitated, as he as a right of protection of his "interio intimo meo". His only son Franz (1908-1997) respected his father's will from 1958, in which he expressed his wish that the Red Book should remain within his family. The famously rich distillations can be found in Jung's many books after 1928, which this great scientist of his own soul has written for us all. His earlier short textual publications of excerpts from the Red Book, like in his autobiography, where OK with him. Unfortunately, his grandchildren have decided to give in to the relentless urgings of a historian of psychology, S. Shamdasani, London, that the Red Book should be allowed to be published. In his introduction, he who has in his previous slim publications expressed his loathing of renowned C.G. Jung scholars, with his invective poisoned pen, uses a self-referential dogmatic tone. This is not the watershed publication he wants readers and the informed public to believe. It is not a new beginning, for that has happened 80 years ago.
There is no need to rewrite the history of psychotherapy or even Jung's biography. There is no need for an either/or, for or against. The publication of the Red Books is an 'and'...for many dedicated Jungians a welcome, even if so not necessary, addition to their collection. Many well known C.G. Jung scholars and biographers, like James Hillman, Deirdre Bair and Andrew Samuels, for whom the life and work of Jung is very dear and important, reach insights and conclusions very different from those of the editor. As far as I am concerned, it would have been much more inspiring as well as true to soul-making, if Jung's grandchildren had allowed their Grandfather his voice. In his chapter Confrontation with the Unconscious, in his autobiography, he had already written down the best of all introductions to his Red Book. Sometimes it is more valuable to listen to a grandfather who knows his ways about in the depths of the soul, instead of falling for a pompous historian who is only interested in his own fame, and this unnecessary publication. In fact, C.G. Jung finds a dogma ... a confession which is out of the question, which is only set up where one wants to suppress doubts once and for all. That has nothing to do with scientific judgement, but merely with a personal drive for power. The private sphere of the late C.G. Jung fascinates enormously. Nevertheless we do not need to know everything and all. What we need above all is our own depth psychological treasures of experience.

Theodor Itten
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The Muse as Therapist: A New Poetic Paradigm for Psychotherapy (The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy Series)
The Muse as Therapist: A New Poetic Paradigm for Psychotherapy (The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy Series)
by Heward Wilkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.29

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MOOD OF RELEASE, 17 July 2009
There is no ideal muse, but rather as many variations on the theme as there are individual women who have had the luck, or misfortune, to find their destiny conjoined with that of a particular artist. Now then, psychotherapy is, amongst other things, the art of healing the soul's suffering. The attraction of the Muse is her power of longing. How then can a Muse - and I remember the study by Francine Prose, The Lives of the Muses (2002) - be a therapist herself? Longing, even be-longing, is an intense emotion. To imagine a Muse as Therapist promises to be an intense experience. Muses as we all know, come and go. They actively inspire their artist. Great poetry is truth telling; this is true for one of the great mythic poets, Ted Hughes, and the truth must be as much in the telling as in the authenticity of the vision. The paradox of poetry is, that it works through words like a biological healing process. Hughes ones said: It seizes on what is depressing and destructive, and lifts it into a realm where it becomes healing and energizing. And to reach that final mood of release and elaboration is the whole driving force of writing at all.
The writing force of Heward Wilkinson, well versed in both poetry and philosophy, was his early reading of that prosaic depicter of human folly and madness, William Shakespeare. Apprehending those dramas such as Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, enabled our author to face that awesome paradox of soul making and the poetic relationship with the world that we happen to find ourselves living in. Poets, like psychotherapists, walk the fault-lines, the cracks and the black alleys of human borderlands. In his very interesting, dense and demanding book, Wilkinson concerns himself with poetic processes and how we might be rhymed towards health. The words spoken in the realm of psychotherapy are more poetic than prosaic. The inner sense of sensibilities is condensed in words. One of Wilkinson's aims is to place poetic methodology and our way of thinking about psychotherapy on a secure foundation. He wants to make the extraordinary power of creativity - and the powerful methodology of insight involved in it - of great literature available for psychotherapy, psychotherapy which sometimes persists in using an unduly narrow experimental and cultural base for its exploration. Firstly, he writes about his own unexpected personal journey to the heart of psychotherapy as a healing art. He gains his insights from poets like Keats, and daringly proclaims therapy as poetry. Let me bring in Keats in his own words: (Letter to Reynolds 31.1.1818)
There's a sigh for yes, and a sigh for no,
And a sigh for "I can't bear it" -
O what can be done, shall we stay or run
Or cut the sweet apple and share it?

Do we want poetry of existence? Is this really a juxtaposition that can be solved by bringing in many a philosopher and have them go into an imaginative dialogue with absent poets? Given this choice, I would prefer to run, rather than stay. The ground which each generation must cover, so it seems, has been laboured on by many a learned scholar, and Wilkinson is another of them.
When he introduces Heidegger, I was surprised by the absence of any reference to Medard Boss' Existential Foundation of Medicine and Psychology, that was extensively revised and edited by his philosophical mentor. This lack makes me wonder how rooted in any specific healing tradition is Wilkinson's claim on a new poetic paradigm for our profession. Realising this, he prepared the ground for his central masterpiece, so I chew this philosophical bite and turn the pages to his fourth chapter entitled; Reality, Existence, and the Shakespeare Authorship Question: King Lear, Little Dorrit, and the Man Who Was Shakespeare. He is using psychotherapeutic methods in exploring the dispute, if Shakespeare was the man who wrote his dramas, or if, as some people assert, it was the 17th Earl of Oxford. Am I the man I say I am, or am I ruled by the unconscious? Wilkinson leads us through a labyrinth of arguments, looking over his shoulder to see if we can follow (just) and saying, at the heart of the plays, there is more than one way out. Remember that: "we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep." The poet is no liar, as he affirms nothing.
I needed his findings in the chapter on Poetic Enactment and Propositional Truth: Poetry and Objectivity to find my way out of his maze of literary imagination that he exposes to us, his readers. Here, his voice gets really going, in the chorus of many another, like Shelley, Barth, Heidegger, Lacan, Freud, Groddeck, Jung, Derrida, Kant and other greats. Despite all the fine scholarly information, this metalogue left me somewhat embarrassed: I an afraid that I just did not get it the first time round: I needed at least another reading to get the gist of his overwhelmingly complicated arguments. So, I was glad when I eventually reached the epilogue of the poetry and politics of psychotherapy. Therefore, let me close with the words of the author:
Finally I, in effect, returned to psychotherapy by showing, or trying to show, that by elucidating the nature of textual enactment philosophically, passing through Kant's philosophical conception of imagination, we eventually reach the recognition of an existential-cosmological conception of the temporal self in its several foldedness, which draws developmental psychology, as traditionally conceived, into itself, within the framework of an existential conception of the self as totality. This at the same time encompasses the range of psychoanalytic insights as a reservoir of valuable frameworks. (p. 232)

Here is a vision of the interconnected wholeness of life, where literary imagination is totally independent of the psychotherapist's and his or her patient's self-conscious ego, embedded deeply in a poetic universe, which serves us therapeutes - the recipients of healing - rather well. Wilkinson is walking us in a somewhat challenging fashion through his tightrope between philosophical rhetoric and poetic reason. A wee bit more poetry and poets' voices regarding the actual healing context would have refreshed us, as readers. Nevertheless, Wilkinson shares his bounding enthusiasm for the language of the soul, his immense capacity for the muse's delights with us, and is to be thanked for this fantastic effort.
Fie, fie upon her! There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lips; Nay, her foot speaks: Her wanton spirits look out, At every joint and motion of her body. (Troilus and Cressida, IV.v.5)

Theodor Itten

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