Joseph Schwartz, Cassandra’s Daughter, A History of Psychoanalysis in Europe and America, Penguin, 1999, ISBN 0 713 9 9158 5
James Hillman and Michael Ventura, We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Therapy and the World’s Getting Worse, Harper Collins, 1993, ISBN 0 06 250661 7
Cassandra, we are told, was given the gift of prophecy, but Apollo decreed she should never be believed. In this substantial book, Joseph Schwartz invents a daughter for Cassandra and tells the story of psychoanalysis. Although the emphasis is on psychoanalysis, he broadens his terms of reference to include work under the general heading of psychotherapy. In the introduction, for example, Schwartz writes that:
“… a relative lack of interest on the part of academic psychologists in psychotherapy and a realtive lack of interest on the part of psychotherapists in the quantitative measurements that dominate psychological research, make for a live- and-let-live atmosphere.”
Historians select among masses of facts to shape a coherent narrative. Schwartz s starts with Freud, which is predictable, then brings us on a journey through the first theories and the first splits, moves from Europe to America and ends up with a look at the future. The journey is sometimes fascinating and – like most journeys - sometimes tedious. When we glimpse the personalities, the story comes to life as in the well-documented rift between Freud and Jung. Schwartz describes it as: ”… an intellectual and personal divorce accompanied by great intensity of feeling. Jung gained his freedom. Freud had his heart broken for the last time.”
The quarrels between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein and their supporters in Britain were just as bitter. For them, as in Brendan Behan’s famous remark, the first item on the agenda was the split. The new family of psychotherapists/analysts was trying to grow up and the rivalry was intense.
Of course this is a history of ideas as well as the people who gave them birth. To put it very simply, Freud saw the human being seeking a reduction of tension caused by unsatisfied drives, while his successors believed that most psychic pain is caused by difficulties in satisfying a fundamental need for relationship. Schwartz traces the complex story of this drive/instinctual versus relationship approach to human suffering through all its different strands from Vienna and Berlin to New York and London. I was sorry that he left out he development of the psychosynthesis approach associated with Buber and Assagioli. More about that can be found in Assagioli’s works and – for example – in the introduction to Mauriec Friedman’s overview of psychotherapy schools. The Healing Dialogue in Psychotherapy (1985). Perhaps to pre-empt this kind of comment, Schwartz acknowledges:
“I have been continually shocked to find how much I was leaving out.”
Cassandra’s Daughter devotes most of one chapter to the contribution made by feminists and feminism to the development of psychoanalysis. It gives a too-brief mention to Karen Horney’s pioneering work and an extended treatment of Marie Langer whose work dealing with the effects of state terror in Latin America confronted the connections between the personal and the political.
That connection is the core of a lively debate in We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Therapy. We are all very focused on the last hundred years now that our calendar is about to make a momentous change. Schwartz’s book is solid and serious; Hillman and Ventura’s, by contrast, is wild and irreverent.
It all began with an interview/cover story in the LA. Weekly which clearly intended to be provocative and caused great controversy at the time. The dialogue bounces like a ping-pong ball and ricochets off the walls, hitting many targets. I read it first five years ago and enjoyed the subversive energy of the writing. Now, in 1999 in Celtic Tiger Ireland, I am struck by the way the American malaise they describe has arrived here. Hillman describes a client’s view of society:
“… where the school isn’t right for my kids, where the air I breath is not right, where the architecture in which I spend my time assaults me… Where the words that I hear on TV and are printed in the newspapers are lies, where the people who are in charge of things are not right because they are hypocritical and hiding what they are really doing…”
Sounds familiar? This book assumes, by its title, that psychotherapy should have, somehow, made the world better. Is this our assumption when we work with people in the therapy room?
What if therapy was available to all regardless of income? In 1919 Freud wrote:
“It is possible to foresee that at some time or other the conscience of society will awake and remind it that the poor man should have as much right to assistance for his mind as he now has to the life-saving health offered by surgery; and that the neuroses threaten public health no less than tuberculosis…”
Perhaps it depends on the kind of ‘assistance’ offered. Hillman and Ventura argue that going into the ‘inner child’, for example, can turn clients into powerless children rather than politically active citizens:
“We’re disempowering ourselves through therapy.”
Others believe that the healing dialogue can liberate our energies to be agents of change in society. We can be sure of one thing: the debate will go on.
Richard Mowbray, The Case Against Psychotherapy Registration
Trans Marginal Press, 36 Womersley, Crouch End, London N8 9AN, England, Tel/Fax: 00-441-181-341-7226, Price £12.95 (Sterling) ISBN 0-9524270-0-1
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned with the prospect of the statutory regulation of psychotherapy and who wants to understand what psychotherapy is and what it is not. While the book might appear to deal with a very technical and legalistic issue it manages to reach the heart of its subject. It establishes the boundaries of psychotherapy, particularly humanistic psychotherapy. It articulates, using many sources, what makes what we do different and why it is so important that we remain different.
I will let the book speak for itself. The following are extracts, where attributed, they are quoted in the book, and where unattributed except for page numbers, they are by the book’s author.
“The book started life in 1993 as an idea for a paper or booklet intended as an attempt to forestall what I then saw to be a risk of imminent legislative endorsement of UKCP-United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Then, as now, my deepest concerns were with the impact this would have upon the human potential movement and its capacity to promote personal and social transformation. An “inevitable” advance towards statutory control was widely touted at the time and in the face of this prospect, a climate of compliance and passivity, if not support, prevailed amongst practitioners. Apart from a few critical articles, there was little protest, even from the humanistic world” (p.xi).
“In the course of writing this book, it has become clear to me that there is nothing inevitable about these proposed restrictions becoming law. In fact, the beliefs that have inspired all this fearful contemplation are largely unfounded. Neither the UK government nor the European Community/Union institutions have expressed any intentions of making legislative changes regarding the activities of psychotherapists. Nearly all the pressure for this has come from the psychotherapists themselves or professions with an overlapping sphere of interest, aided and abetted by media “horror” stories” (p.3).
The Terminology of Regulation
“The term ‘registration’ has been used in the sense of a voluntary register, that is one without legal backing or in the sense of a statutory register which does have legal backing. Both voluntary registration and statutory registration are consequential on the certification of the practitioner by some accredited body or other”(p.9).
Are we the Same as Other Professions?
“This central fact [that any value in psychotherapy resides in the meeting between two individuals] reveals psychotherapy to be quite a different activity from the professions with which it is now being compared. It starts to explain the radical thrust therapy so often shows in practice: How to move people away from social norms and conformity. Psychotherapy is founded above all on authenticity a quality which throws into question many of the ways society is currently organized.” (Totton, 1992:27)
“In our view, the current moves towards regulation and licensing derive from an implicit association with the medical model and with medical professions as a model for professionalisation. Members of the medical professions (as well as professions such as accountants, solicitors and architects) are by and large persons who give advice or carry out actions on behalf of their clients. Their professional status assures the client of their authority and competence to act without the client being fully involved – not something we would hope is typical of humanistic practitioners.” (Brown & Mowbray, 1990)
The Hidden Agenda of Professions
“The rise of the professional model as a form of social organization in this century has been compared by many political scientists to a return to the guild society of the Middle Ages (e.g. Lieberman, 1970). This has occurred in parallel with a shift from capital to knowledge as a basis for power in society. Hogan outlines the nature of the guilds as follows:
‘The basic element of the early guilds consisted first and foremost of the requirement of compulsory membership. This ensured that all practitioners would be subject to the guild’s mandate effectively and established a monopoly…. The guilds fit perfectly into medieval conceptions of society, which included a belief in a hierarchical organization of authority, the importance of status versus contract, and a fusion of governmental authority with governmental bodies.'” (Hogan, Vol.1, 1979:223-224)
“vested interests masquerading as the public interest.”(Benne, 1970).
“Wouldn’t it be handy if newcomers went through a long and expensive training which offered lots of teaching and supervision work? Within psychotherapy people have begun jockeying for position, putting their training courses and accreditation procedures in place, inventing hurdles for the next generation - hurdles they will never have to jump!” (Totton 1992:26)
Protecting the Public from Harm
“Transference is a term derived from psychoanalysis that refers to the unconscious assignment to the practitioner (or other person) of feelings about important and usually powerful figures in one’s past (such as parents). Although this term is usually used in relation to a therapeutic setting, the phenomenon to which it refers is not confined to that context but is widespread, though seldom acknowledged as such. Transference is also a phenomenon which varies in its manifestation depending upon the expectations associated with the setting. The more it is ‘the done thing’, the more it will be done.
Encouraging transference involves encouraging regression and dependency. The accreditation route – promotes the myth that the public can be protected from the difficulties of choice [of therapist] in this area.
The promotion of this myth is indicative of a process that I will refer to as institutionalizing the transference.”
“Many institutions, individuals and professions appeal to and exploit transference – for good or ill. As we have seen some types of psychotherapy and related fields address transference itself and work with it directly and indeed an awareness and understanding of transference can be regarded as a basic competence in this field – and should be a basic social competence. As Heron explains (Heron 1990:19), promoting the handling of transference as the rightful province of a special professional enclave mystifies it and removes it from the public domain – where an awareness of it as a pervasive phenomenon rightly belongs. Demonstrating this awareness collectively as practitioners (and individually) would mean refusing to collude with a ‘fear of freedom’ that makes people yearn for someone else to relieve them of the burden of decision and take charge of their lives. It would also involve practitioners refusing to act out their own urges towards aggrandizement, i nstead, we have the very occupation which should know better pursuing the myth of accreditation in this area and seeking ‘official recognition’, statutory privilege and monopoly. By so doing transference would become institutionalized in the sense that the practitioner’s status as “expert’ would become endorsed by the state and his or her authority commensurately enhanced. Transference, and regression, are encouraged by anything that encourages you to ‘look up’ – from the couch onwards!”
“Potential clients can become lulled into a false sense of security and suspension of judgement by such a system. It encourages them to defer to the authority of the practitioner and the institutions backed by the state that give him credibility – to ‘leave their brain at the door’ – in a way that fosters dependency and a letting down of appropriate self-protective guards (p. 127-129).
“There are as many certified charlatans and exploiters of people as there are uncertified.” (Rogers, 1973).
“Let us allow patients themselves to discover that it is damaging to them to look for mental assistance to people who have not learnt how to give it. If we explain this to them and warn them against it, we shall have spared ourselves the need to forbid it….” (Freud 1926:80)”
“Once again the golden rule is to let personal judgement or recommendation be your guide, (p. 130)
Therapy is a Statutory Regulated Service
“It is important to note that the practice of psychotherapy and other forms of related work, although not subject to statutory professional regulation, are not totally unregulated. Under common law there exists a right to offer such services for payment, and to call yourself a psychotherapist if you wish to do so (or spiritual healer or whatever). This right is however subject to the same laws (of contract, trade description, etc) that regulate the provision of any other service.” (p.3).
“Opposition has begun to develop, but slowly. The informal and individualistic nature of the activity [psychotherapy] is such that many practitioners are only starting to realise what is going on, and they are often not organisation-minded people…. Standardised, rule following therapy is not what the clients deserve. There will be opposition, but will it be in time?” (Totton, 1992:27)
Benne Kenneth D [Foreword to Hogan Vol. 1 1979]
Brown Juliana & Richard Mowbray, Whither the Human Potential Movement? Self and Society Vol. 18 No. 4, Jul 1990.
Freud, Sigmund, The Question of Lay Analysis, Standard Edition Vol. 19, London, Hogarth Press, 1926
Heron, John, The Politics of Transference. Self and Society, Vol. 18 No 1 Jan 1990.
Hogan Daniel B. The Regulation of Psychotherapists, 4 Vols. Cambridge Massachusetts; Balinger, 1979.
Lieberman J.K., The Tyranny of the Experts: How Professionals are Closing the Open Society, New York: Walker, 1970
Rogers, Carl R., Some New Challenges, American Psychologist, Vol. 28 May 197.1, pp.389-387.
Totton, Nick. Therapists on the Couch, / to i July Sept 1992[In humanistic and transpersonal approaches, such as gestalt, psychodrama or psychosynthesis, while awareness of transference and the skills to work with it, are important, actual encouragement is not considered appropriate. In psychoanalysis and analytic psychotherapies transference is a central instrument for therapeutic change. However in the case of either the humanistic or analytic approaches the social and political promotion of transference cannot be regarded as serving individual autonomy (Reviewer’s comment).]
Dr Ulla Sebastian Growing Through Joy: Findhorn Press. £7.95 sterling ISBN I - 899171-67-3
Dr Ulla Sebastian is a psychotherapist, workshop leader, trainer for Bioenergetic Analysis and practitioner of Holographic Repatterning. She was a member of the educational faculty of the Findhorn Foundation for ten years, and now lives in Germany, writing and giving lectures and workshops throughout Europe.
The title of this book attracted me. Growth seems inevitable so why not grow through joy rather than through pain and conflict? In this book joy is described as ’the quality of the heart which we build as we grow in our capacity to take responsibility for life; to be grateful for what is given and to let go of what is no longer needed; and to expand our capacity to love and serve others.’ The book consists of five chapters with useful references, tables and figures. It is a practical book offering useful exercises and visualizations. It is enjoyable to read.
The first chapter is entitled ‘From suffering to joy’. The author uses as a model for her work the custom of an Indian tribe. In this tribe, no one is allowed to tell the same story more than twice without taking steps to change their situation. Sometimes the collusion of suffering gives both therapist and client the illusion of working on the issues while preventing healing taking place. The second chapter looks at our collective inheritance and our collective future. Many of us were heavily imprinted with guilt. We need to fill the gap left by its removal with positive energy. The author then looks at the conscious and unconscious mind and at the universal mind from a Buddhist perspective. Karma and responsibility are also considered from a Buddhist point of view. The author has been very influenced by a book by Micaael Talbot called The Holographic Universe. (Harper Collins, New York 1991)
The Principles of Joy are considered and described. They are described as Responsibility, Forgiveness, Gratitude and Service. There is a chapter on self realization or finding the true self. Some helpful principles from the traditions of Ayuraveda and Chinese medicine are included here and they enrich the perspective. I found myself challenged when considering the choice point between drama and joy. The author claims they are incompatible. Would you really be willing to give up your drama for the sake of joy? The author claims that we arrive at a point in life when we are tired of the drama, and the drawbacks of suffering are stronger than it’s rewards. This is the choice point. The transformation of drama into joy is a reciprocal process. Step by step we need to cultivate the joy so that the drama energy has a container into which it can flow and transform. The stronger the container of joy becomes, the more you dissolve the dynamic of suffering.
In the chapter on transformation many tools are described and evaluated. The author’s quotes, interweaving of her own life experience, make the book more interesting and readable. Breathing, grounding and relaxation are spoken about. There is a useful piece about how we can recognise the gift in each problem. The author in this section shows us how she works with clients. She also describes a way of working called Holographic Repatterning. For most people the Basic Pulsation of Life became disrupted or blocked at some point by the circumstances of their lives. The body responds to these imbalances with tensions, symptoms and finally disease. Most of these stress states can be traced back to frequency wave patterns and this means we can change the specific configuration. Chloe Wordsworth has put together such a system in a six step process called Holographic Repatterning. She combines a broad spectrum of vibrational healing modalities in a system that helps identify those aspects of our body-mind system that have lost their optimal frequency, and checks for those self healing techniques that will help it regain its optimal frequency. You can either learn the procedure yourself during three weekend seminars or you can go to a qualified practitioner. I have attended several seminars and experienced H.R. sessions with qualified practitioners. It has been very helpful. We live in an awesome time, a time that provides us with the understanding and tools to shift the old paradigm of suffering into a paradigm of joy. This book will help you do that and I unhesitatingly recommend it.