A challenge to ‘self’ centred ‘psycho’: therapy as an introduction to an ‘inter-relational therapy’

Dennis Greenwood

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This paper focuses on ‘psychotherapy', particularly exploring the emphasison the ‘psyche'. The term ‘psyche' is described as potentially having differentinterpretations depending on the underlying ontological assumptionsthat influence its understanding and these, it is suggested, will have considerableimplications for the therapy that identifies with the label ‘psychotherapy'.Two very different ontological perspectives are highlighted inthis paper in order to illustrate the different conception of the term ‘psyche';firstly, Freud's interpretation of what is meant by ‘psyche', which isthen contrasted with a phenomenological perspective, with reference to thephilosophy of Husserl and Heidegger. Both the Freudian and phenomenologicalapproaches are then criticised for focusing on, what is describedhere as, an egocentric perspective and it is suggested that the term ‘psycho-therapy' will inevitably lead to a preoccupation with putting the ‘self'first as a basis for relating to the external world. An alternative term,‘Inter-relational therapy', is presented based on the ideas of Levinas andMacMurray, both of who are critical of a cultural preoccupation withfocusing on the ‘self' and suggest a need to acknowledge relationshipswith the external world, including the other people that populate it, priorto a ‘self' reflective process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-139
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

© 2014 Taylor & Francis


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