Friday, January 14, 2011
Binswanger and Daseinsanalysis from Existencial Therapies, by Mick Cooper.
It is something of a paradox that one of the earliest attempts to develop an existential approach to therapy is grounded in some of the latest existential thinking. Daseinsanalysis draws almost exclusively from Heidegger’s later teachings and, as such, places a great deal of emphasis on helping clients to open up to their world. This makes it very distinctive amongst the existential therapies. What also makes it very distinctive is the depth and thoroughness with which it has critiqued the theoretical foundations of classic Freudian psychoanalysis.

Ludwig Binswanger (1881—1966), a Swiss psychiatrist, founded the Daseinsanalytic movement in the early 1930s, Binswanger was a close friend of Freud, but felt that Freud’s attempts to understand human beings scientifically had led him to reduce people to a distinctly inhuman collection of causal mechanisms, instincts and formulae. Binswanger also felt that Freud had split human beings off from the world that they inhabited — referring to this subject-object divide as ‘the cancer of psychology’. In an attempt to construe a more dignified and holistic understanding of human existence, Binswanger turned to the work of such existential-phenomenological philosophers as Husserl, Buber and Heidegger, and developed an approach that he termed ‘Daseinsanalyse’ or ‘phenomenological anthropology’. Here, he attempted to describe the nature of human psychopathology in terms of the sufferer’s way of being-in-the-world — a descriptive enterprise that did not attempt to reduce human suffering to deterministic, world-less mechanisms. Drawing on Buber, Binswanger also critiqued, and attempted to develop, Heidegger’s work on interpersonal relationships, arguing that the highest and most original form of human existence is the reciprocal love relationship: the ‘dual mode of love’.

It was one of Binswanger’s followers, the Swiss psychiatrist Medard Boss (1903—1990), however, who was to become the pivotal figure in the development of Daseinsanalysis. Whilst Binswanger was primarily interested in understanding psychopathology from an existential and phenomenological perspective, Boss went on to consider the implications of Heideggerian thought for therapeutic practice. Binswanger’s denunciation by Heidegger — for fundamentally misinterpreting Being and Time in individualistic and subjectivistic terms — also led to his increasing marginalisation within the Daseinsanalytic movement. In contrast, Boss maintained a close friendship and collaboration with Heidegger for many years; and, between 1959 and 1969, hosted a series of seminars by his mentor. Even in his later years, Boss felt that there was nothing that he could criticise or modify in Heidegger’s thought. Indeed, such was Boss’s devotion to Heidegger that one of Boss’s key works, Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology (1979), was written under Heidegger’s watchful eye.

In 1971, Heidegger encouraged Boss to establish the first
Daseinsanalytic training institute: the Daseinsanalytic Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine in Zurich, Switzerland. Today, several further Daseinsanalytic training institutes have been established across mainland Europe. Gion Condrau, director of the original Zurich Institute, is now one of the key international proponents of Daseinsanalysis, and has made many steps to popularise and broaden the appeal of this approach. Recent years have also witnessed the growth of the Swiss Society for Daseinsanalysis, which has provided a second focal point for the Daseinsanalytic movement: one that is less wedded to a strictly Heideggerian and Bossian viewpoint. Unfortunately, few of the writings of this new school of Daseinsanalysis have been translated into English. There are, however, a handful of papers in a special edition of the Humanistic Psychologist (edited by Eric Craig) that give a flavour of this emerging approach.
Parmenides is reputed to have come from a family of healers. Therefore it has been surmised that his classic Poem survived never having been written out because understanding it had a capacity to help sufferers. So it was told and retold and became part of the folk lore, enough so that it survived by being mentioned in the written work of others.

Consequently I cannot deny that people may feel healed by stories they hear from a respected shamanistic figure.

Parmenides' tale of being taken by the goddess aletheia in a chariot through the doors of night and day
does not heal me. But perhaps learning to "see things phenomenologically" (see the next enowning post from Dark Chemistry) has a capacity to heal.
I hadn't heard about Parmenides and his tradition of healing. I'm skeptical about his poem getting passed down through an oral tradition. He's only a generation or two before Plato - it's reasonable that his disciple Zeno was the model for the Eleatic stranger in Plato's dialogs - and a generation later Aristole refers to a written poem. So, I assume Parmenides wrote or dictated the poem.

I've nothing against the healing power of narratives though.
The relationship of Philosophy to Psychology still remains...a problem --and too involved to really adequately address in a comment box. In brief, Boss remarked that Heidegger's greatness related to his insistence on the priority of the ontological to the ontic (in the pre-"turn" jargon, presumably). Boss and his school of existential psychoanalysis agreed with that.

Yet....that's a rather involved question in itself. One doesn't have to be a Che Guevara wannabe to understand what was at stake with that issue of priority of "the ontological subject to the ontic object" in PoMo-ese. In effect Heidegger sides with idealist tradition (Kant and/or Plato), against all forms of empirical and historical realism --Freud was the central target (with some reason), but Marx and classical economics , Darwin...disregarded, if not empirical psychology ala Wm James as a whole. No wonder the theology people love Guru Heid.
Here's what good old Wiki offers:

"Iatromantis is a Greek word whose literal meaning is most simply rendered "physician-seer." Perhaps the most famous iatromantis was the Greek presocratic philosopher Parmenides, best known as the founder of Western logic. Iatromantis, a form of Greek shamanism, is related to other semimythical figures such as Abaris, Aristeas, Epimenides, and Hermotimus.

According to Dr. Peter Kingsley, iatromantis figures belonged to a wider Greek and Asian shamanic tradition with origins in Central Asia. A main ecstatic, meditative practice of these healer-prophets was incubation (ἐγκοίμησις, enkoimesis). More than just a medical technique, incubation reportedly allowed a human being to experience a fourth state of consciousness different from sleeping, dreaming, or ordinary waking: a state that Kingsley describes as “consciousness itself” and likens to the turiya or samādhi of the Indian yogic traditions."

As to the text, I know we only have fragments. But it does seem those are from what was originally a much larger work, so my suggestion of it originally being passed by word of mouth is unlikely.
I'll probably post more on existential psychoanalysis as I'm part of a local reading group, EPISeattle, that's going through those texts.
"Theology people love guru Heid"? As always, it depends on what you are looking for. Here's what Eldred finds:

"The last god, Heidegger says, echoing Heraclitus, gives only a sign or clue (Wink) in passing by (Vorbeigang). This sign, however, is supposed to suffice for the "innermost finitude of beyng" to "reveal itself".(32) This last, sign-giving god therefore has nothing to do with timeless eternity, but with coming to know the finite horizon of historical time-space inhabited by mortal human beings, and this insistence on finitude accords with the entire thrust of Heidegger's thinking from beginning to end. It is also plain that Heidegger casts the last god in a counter-casting to the Christian God, since he announces unambiguously in the motto to the section on the last god that he is "the completely other god over against the gods that have been, especially against the Christian one".

"But why cast a god at all, especially a god whose arrival or non-arrival from the future is to be prepared by "preparing a preparedness for keeping oneself open"? Is it not possible for ordinary mortals to become aware of the absolutely divine mystery of the most inconspicuous everyday without invoking a god, albeit a god who will refuse to appear? Or is this god himself only a passing, non-existent indication, an enigmatic sign of the inconspicuously present mystery?"

For a writer (MH) who needs to cross out with an X the terms he uses, what can you expect?
I've considered Parmenides to me more of a Pythagorean urban type, than a shaman. I visted Velia (the Roman name for Elea) in the late 80s. Drive south beyond Salerno, past Paestum (Heidegger's paradigmatic Greek temple). It's a typical Greek town with ancient agora and theater. Maybe it's just my modern prejudice that an inventor of logic wouldn't at the same time be communing with animal spirits and such.

Unlike with Heraclitus, where we only just have isolated sentences, phrases, and the odd word, we have substantial chunks of Parmenides's poem, and we can get some sense of the whole work.
I meant, more generally, that MH's preserving of an a priori, ontological subject kept his project in line with idealist tradition and, thus related to judeo-christianity (which, traditionally at least had little problem assimilating Aristotle...with some platonic ghosts hovering the background.). Instead of all those nasty 19th century empiricists and naturalists--or William James insisting upon psychology as a natural science, dependent on experimentation, observation, etc.-- Heidegger's programme brought back...a distinctly human subject, free of instincts, needs, even...desire--one might say Dasein suggests a Soul, though he's a bit more earthly than Descartes's version. Though more could be said.

They did not care for Freud's...bio-mechanical schema, with some sound reasons. But it wasn't just Freud vs. existential phenomenology, was it? Wm James another figure. And others.

Billy Bob Baptist probably doesn't care for Heideggerian ontology (assuming he knows anything about it), but for Ivy League or Oxbridge theo-types, ontology's not so bad for business. Some muslim thinkers also apparently approve of Heidegger.
I shall look forward to your digested quotes on existential psychoanalysis. My problem with Daseinanalysis, so far, is that I have only read descriptions of its intentions.

What would interest me is whether it has a metrics of some sort. That is, does it attempt to measure changes in the process for either the client or the counselor?

My own experience with humanistic psychology has been that the creation of intimacy (learning to show oneself to another) is liberating. Since "showing" plays a major role in MH's conceptualizing, I can conceive that a technique for showing in analysis might justify itself.

However, my experience with the "analysis" part of psychoanalysis is to tell the client what is going on rather than to liberate the client to show himself/herself. That may work well for the analyst but I have my doubts that telling someone about themselves helps that someone.
I haven't come across anything empirical on Daseinanalysis yet. Just alternative interpretations of Freudian scenarios.
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