"Character is Fate"-this classic idea is coming around again in the new molecular biology that attributes deep-set personality traits to heredity. Can therapists sort out what belongs to development and may be influenced by therapy and what belongs to character and is authentic to the soul? Moreover, if congenital character is a major determinant in case history, then the events of childhood need to be revisioned, not only as traumatic errors but as previews, and even as necessary components of fate. This suggests that therapy itself would have to evolve from its long dependency upon developmental models toward a biographical imagination of a case as a whole pattern of life with a peculiarly individual intention. With examples from many biographies.
Existential psychotherapy is more properly viewed as a therapy informed by a sensibiity to existential issues, rather than as a discrete, self-contained school of therapy. It addresses the anxiety embedded in our consciousness of the parameters of existence, especially in our confrontation with death, meaninglessness, freedom, and isolation. I shall discuss these concerns, particularly those with the greatest relevance to everyday therapy practice. I shall discuss the implications of the existential sensibility for the conduct of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. Genuineness and authenticity are necessary. The therapist and patient are fellow travelers, both facing the same exigencies of existence. I describe a therapy which avoids diagnosis, avoids technique, avoids merger, demands therapist transparency, and unwaveringly focuses on the here and now.
Panel 05 from the Evolution of Psychotherapy 1995 - Transference / Countertransference
Featuring Otto Kernberg, M.D.; James Masterson, M.D.; Salvador Minuchin, M.D.; and Irvin Yalom, M.D.
Moderated by Ellyn Bader, PhD.
Panel 10 from the Evolution of Psychotherapy 1995 - Philosophical Issues and Psychotherapy
Featuring Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D.; Thomas Szasz, M.D.; Paul Watzlawick, Ph.D.; and Irvin Yalom, M.D.
Moderated by Carol Kershaw, EdD.