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From Philosophy to Psychotherapy

From Philosophy to Psychotherapy: A Phenomenological Model for Psychology, Psychiatry, and Psychoanalysis

Edwin L. Hersch
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    From Philosophy to Psychotherapy
    Book Description:

    Presenting a highly innovative exploration of the relationship between philosophical and psychological issues, Edwin L. Hersch argues that psychological theories and practices inescapably rest upon a series of philosophical positions - whether they are acknowledged and reflected upon or not. To examine this proposition Hersch develops hisHierarchy of Levels of Theoretical or Philosophical Inquiry Method, which involves the systematic consideration of a series of philosophical questions pertaining to the ontological, general epistemological, field-specific epistemological, and psychological stances adopted (either explicitly or implicitly) by any particular psychological theory. By using this hierarchical framework the book then attempts to develop a new approach to psychological theory and psychotherapeutic practice based largely on the premises of phenomenological philosophy.

    The scope of the book cuts across a variety of theoretical and professional disciplinary approaches within the broad psychological field in demonstrating the relevance of certain philosophical issues for all of them. Clinicians, theorists and students in the psychological field are presented with a palatable introduction to the importance and inevitability of dealing with philosophy in pursuing their own work. Furthermore, his philosophical explications of a variety of psychological theories provides a new tool with which to better understand, compare, or assess any internal inconsistencies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7509-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Tables, Charts, Figures, and Diagrams
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. CHAPTER 1 ′Know Thy Philosophical Self′
    (pp. 3-20)

    As psychological theorists and therapists, we often find ourselves bumping into some very significant philosophical issues. Indeed, if we are not doing so we are probably missing out on a lot! While different psychological theories and psychotherapeutic approaches may be founded on different sets of philosophical presuppositions, I will be arguing in this work that all such theories rest onsomeepistemological and ontological assumptions whether these are explicitly acknowledged or not.

    All theory, theorizing, and clinical practice takes place within the particular meaning-filled, value-laden, personal, sociocultural, and historical context of a given theorist/practitioner. Furthermore, each of us operates –...


    • CHAPTER 2 ONTOLOGY (LEVEL A): The Question of Reality
      (pp. 23-38)

      Throughout this work I will be maintaining that the most fundamental of our foundational philosophical assumptions – which nevertheless must remainassumptions– are those dealing with the issues described in our hierarchy as belonging to the ontological level(s) of inquiry. It is here that the most bottom-line philosophical questions are raised: ′Is there any such thing asRealityorBeingthat is independent or partially independent of us?′ ′Is there any Absolute (or Universal)Truth(or Truths)?′ ′What is the nature of our human type of Being?′ ′What is our position or relation to that Reality which is distinct...

    • CHAPTER 3 ONTOLOGY (LEVEL B): Our Basic Position or Relation to Reality
      (pp. 39-60)

      Having taken up a realist position on ontological level A, I will now proceed to the next level, to what I′ve called ontological level B. At this subsequent but still ontological level, I will address questions such as these: ′What is our position or relation to this Reality (having already assumed that some reality beyond our mere projections exists)?′ ′What, then, is the nature of our peculiarlyhumanreality or of our human type of Be-ing?′

      I will argue that differing assumptions made at this level, while each tenable, will result in radically different paradigms, which in turn will have...


    • CHAPTER 4 GENERAL EPISTEMOLOGY (LEVEL C): The Question of Knowledge in General
      (pp. 63-91)

      The questions of epistemology – the study of knowledge or truth – though still often seen as ′abstract,′ ′theoretical,′ or too philosophical by many clinicians, are nevertheless generally much more familiar to us than those of ontology. Indeed, as more psychological theorists get into philosophical questioning, more attention has been focused of late on epistemological questions. Although this is a very positive and important development in our theorizing, it has not always been done with sufficient depth or clarity to be most helpful. The basic premise of this work is that the ′higher level of inquiry′ questions (such as those...

    • CHAPTER 5 VALIDITY (LEVEL D): How Do We Validate or Assign Truth-Value to What We Know?
      (pp. 92-116)

      In this chapter I will stay within the broad epistemological domain that concerns itself with the nature of knowledge, but I will focus on this question: ′How do wevalidateorassign truth valueto what we know?′ I will look at this question with respect to any sort of knowledge at all – that is, as applying to human knowledgein general. In chapter 7 I will continue this discussion with reference to the validation of knowledge within the confines of a more specific field of study or practical discipline.

      To clinically situate the ensuing discussion, and to highlight...


    • CHAPTER 6 FIELD-SPECIFIC EPISTEMOLOGY (LEVEL E): The Nature and Limits of Knowledge within a Specific Field or Discipline
      (pp. 119-151)

      When I discussed epistemology in the last two chapters, I did so in the traditional philosophical sense of the term as applying to theories of knowledge that deal with our access to, and the constitution of, human truths in general. That is, when I spoke of limitations to ′what can be known,′ I was speaking in the broadest sense of ′what human beings can know or not know in general.′ But there is another, narrower type of epistemology that is also very important to theoreticians in the various scientific, professional, and academic disciplines. The questions raised at this level take...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 7 FIELD-SPECIFIC VALIDITY (LEVEL F): How Do We Validate What We Know in ′the Psychotherapy Situation′?
      (pp. 152-172)

      What are the implications for us of the Beams-of-Light-through-Time model and the ′philosophical anatomy of the psychotherapy situation′? What practical effects does this field-specific epistemology have in terms of our specific field of interest – psychotherapy?¹

      From the vantage point of the Beams-of-Light-through-Time model, the processes of clarifying and acknowledging the limits of our possible knowledge, and of validating or assigning truth value to what qualifies as knowledge, now seem more complex than before.

      The objectivist approach (which we have more or less abandoned) postulated that at least in principle, we could sort out the subjective from the objective and...


    • [Part IV Introduction]
      (pp. 173-176)

      This section deals with the psychological level proper, and consists of four chapters. These pull together all that I have been developing in the previous chapters. I then present a multilevel model or paradigm that I think is appropriate for the field of psychological and psychotherapeutic thinking, and consider its applicability to both theory and practice. Chapter 8 deals more with the general psychology of the human condition or ′the general context of human experience.′ Chapter 9 focuses in on the implications of chapter 8 for the theory and practice of psychotherapeutic work in particular. Chapter 10 discusses some key...

    • CHAPTER 8 PSYCHOLOGY (LEVEL G), PART ONE: The General Context of Human Experience
      (pp. 177-214)

      In the next four chapters, comprising the ′psychology proper′ section of this book, I finish ascending the levels of my hierarchy. The questions properly addressed at this, the hierarchy′s psychological level of inquiry (level G), include ′How do people feel, think, behave, interact, and so on?′ and ′How can we help them psychotherapeutically?′

      So far I have shown that below such questions are many levels of philosophical issues. In chapter 7 in particular I discussed the value and importance of maintaining a high degree ofcoherenceor internal consistency with the totality of one′s ′position as a whole.′ This includes...

    • CHAPTER 9 PSYCHOLOGY (LEVEL G), PART TWO: Psychotherapy and Encounters in the Purple Zone
      (pp. 215-263)

      In this chapter I apply the understandings developed in the previous chapters to the theory and practice of psychotherapy. From the perspective of the Beams-of-Light-through-Time model, psychotherapy involves a series of encounters in the ′purple zone.′ I will elaborate on this in the following discussions.

      The first part of this chapter summarizes the elements essential to a phenomenological psychology based on the Beams-of-Light-through- Time model. The last two of these elements,embodimentandBeing-with-Others, are then discussed in some detail, since they are especially relevant to the discussions of related psychotherapeutic phenomena that follow. The second part of the chapter...

    • CHAPTER 10 PSYCHOLOGY (LEVEL G), PART THREE: The Beams-of-Light-through-Time Model Applied to a Clinical Case, and a New Approach to the Mental Status Examination
      (pp. 264-296)

      This chapter deals with some important concepts initially developed in the phenomenological philosophical literature that are of special relevance to an approach to psychotherapy based on the Beams-of-Light-through-Time model. It also completes the journey I alluded to in the title of this book as I shift focus fromconceptsto clinicalpractice. In the first part of the chapter, I discuss some of the past literature available on phenomenological and existential psychology. I then discuss ′bad faith′ and ′authenticity′ – two key concepts for psychological thinking borrowed from phenomenological sources. Finally, I consider the ′Mental Status Examination′ (MSE) and case...

    • CHAPTER 11 PSYCHOLOGY (LEVEL G), PART FOUR: Examining Our Philosophical Differences in the Psychological Field
      (pp. 297-344)

      In this chapter I develop and present a series of ′hierarchical sketches.′ Each will illustrate a particular psychological theory. All the theories I have chosen for examination are considered quite important in the field, but the list is certainly not meant to be exhaustive.

      By using the hierarchy of levels of theoretical inquiry method I have developed, it is possible to sketch out the positions taken by a particular psychological theory on the various levels of the hierarchy, and draw charts or schematic diagrams illustrating the philosophical stances adopted by a given psychological approach. We can apply this common format...

    • CHAPTER 12 Philosophy Is Unavoidable
      (pp. 345-350)

      At the end of a lengthy work it is often worth revisiting some of the hypotheses offered early on in it. With that in mind, I repeat some of the propositions I advanced in chapter 1:

      Philosophy is unavoidable, because we always operate from within a context of beliefs, presuppositions, and background understandings.

      In this work I have tried to demonstrate that there is an inescapably philosophical basis to our psychological theories and practices. In that respect I believe that Freud – whom I nevertheless revere for his pioneering efforts – was quite wrong when he claimed in his Weltanschauung...

  10. Glossary
    (pp. 351-366)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 367-374)
  12. References
    (pp. 375-382)
  13. Index
    (pp. 383-417)