Philosophical Counseling And Hellmuth Kaiser On Successful Therapy

In Existential Psychotherapy (Basic Books, New York, 1980), Irvin Yalom writes: The therapist healed, [Hellmuth] Kaiser believed, simply by being with the patient. Successful therapy requires “that the patient spends sufficient time with a person of certain personality characteristics.” What personality characteristics? Kaiser cited four: (1) an interest in people; (2) theoretical views on psychotherapyContinue reading “Philosophical Counseling And Hellmuth Kaiser On Successful Therapy”

What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part IV: Aristotle on Effective And Practical Knowledge

In their Introduction to ‘Philosophy as Therapeia’ (Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement #66) Jonardon Ganeri and Clare Carlisle write: For Aristotle, technical knowledge deals with the correct means of achieving a given objective, and practical knowledge is knowledge of ends as such. A technical approach to life will view an existence led without pain andContinue reading “What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part IV: Aristotle on Effective And Practical Knowledge”

What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part III – ‘Dolls That Remove Worries’

In Anxiety: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012, Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman write: Parents in Guatemala employ an unusual technique for helping children to overcome their worries. They give the child a small bag containing six tiny dolls fashioned from cloth and wood. Each night, the child tells one of the dollsContinue reading “What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part III – ‘Dolls That Remove Worries’”

What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part Two: The Counselor’s Work

In the first post of this series, I attempted to provide a brief introduction to ‘philosophical counseling,’ and closed on a promissory note to provide a description of the task of the philosophical counselor. Here it is. The philosophical counselor’s job is to be a guide and a partner, helping the counseled explore the issuesContinue reading “What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part Two: The Counselor’s Work”

What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part One: The Basics

Philosophical counseling is committed to the claim that philosophy can aid us ‘therapeutically.’ This is not a novel claim: philosophy understood as therapy has a long and honorable tradition in the history of philosophy. As a recent supplement of the Royal Institute of Supplement dedicated to ‘Philosophy as Therapiea,’ edited by Claire Carlisle and JonardonContinue reading “What Is Philosophical Counseling? Part One: The Basics”

Westworld’s ‘Analysis Mode’ For Humans

In the course of a discussion about the various motivations underlying the character Robert Ford‘s actions in HBO’s Westworld, a friend raised the following query: In what senses would it be good, and in which bad, if human beings could put one another into ‘analysis mode’ like techs can do with hosts in the show?Continue reading “Westworld’s ‘Analysis Mode’ For Humans”

Simone Beauvoir On Psychotherapeutic Healing As Mutilation

In Simone de Beauvoir‘s The Mandarins (WW Norton, New York, 1954; 1999, pp. 64), Anne Dubreuilh, a practicing psychoanalyst wonders: Why does healing so often mean mutilating? What value does personal adjustment have in an unjust society?….My objective isn’t to give my patients a false feeling of inner peace; if I seek to deliver them from their personalContinue reading “Simone Beauvoir On Psychotherapeutic Healing As Mutilation”

Doris McIlwain On The Rationality Of ‘Irrational’ Love And Hate

In Living Palely: On the rationality of a certain fullness of feeling (Artlink, Vol 29 No. 3, 2009), Doris McIlwain writes:  Friendship and love are not fully rational enterprises. They become strangely symptomatic when we approach them as if they are….To me the sign that you really like someone is when you cannot quite offer a fullContinue reading “Doris McIlwain On The Rationality Of ‘Irrational’ Love And Hate”

Of Therapy And Personal And Academic Anxieties

Reading some of the discussion sparked by Peter Railton’s Dewey Lecture has prompted me to write this post. In the fall of 1996, I began studying for my Ph.D qualifier exams. I had worked full-time at a non-academic job for the previous year, saving up some money so that I could take a month orContinue reading “Of Therapy And Personal And Academic Anxieties”

On Not Recommending One’s Choices

Recently, all too often, I catch myself saying something like the following, “I took decision X, and I have my fair share of regrets and self-congratulation about it but I would not recommend X to anyone” or “In all honesty, I couldn’t recommend that you take decision X as I did.” Or something like that:Continue reading “On Not Recommending One’s Choices”