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Re: [phil-counsel] FW: Philosophical and existential counseling

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  • DJRNews@xxx.xxx
    Dear Shlomit, (If you re interested there s a list aimed at the discussion of Sartrean existentialism and psychoanalysis which can be joined via
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 12 12:58 PM
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      Dear Shlomit,
      (If you're interested there's a list aimed at the discussion of
      Sartrean existentialism and psychoanalysis which can be joined via
      You refer to Laing as an 'anti-psychiatrist', I'm afraid I can't
      give you a reference but I'm told that he disowned this title because he felt
      it misrepresented him.
      Positivistic bathwater wasn't Sartre's bathwater at all, no. It was
      Freud's, sadly. He makes that all too clear in the New Introductory Lecture,
      'The question of a Weltanschauung'.
      You are rather dismissive of Sartre's screenplay when you say he
      wrote it because he was short of cash. That would be staggeringly
      hypocritical on the part of the very man who espoused 'engaged' writing.
      Despite what you say, I still think this text is very enthusiastic about
      Freud's clinical work. I won't waste time arguing for my interpretation,
      You are very negative about clinical practice in general. You know
      there are many psychoanalytsts, perhaps a majority, who are determined not to
      become the manipulative, fascistic authority figures you describe. In
      Britain, Sartreans like Peter Lomas, Charles Rycroft and Ronnie Laing are
      very influential in psychoanalysis. I think you are over-generalising. If
      anyone is fascistic in his approach to therapy it is Ellis. Ellis think's
      he's an expert and that his ethic of 'long-range hedonism' and positivistic
      conception of rationality are indisputable scientific facts. Freud was one
      of the few psychotherapists to tackle the issue of analyst-patient
      manipulation head-on, by trying to resolve the transference. In Lacanian
      psychoanalysis this is reframed in terms of the attempt on the part of the
      analyst to avoid becoming 'the supposed subject possessing knowledge', or
      'subject-supposed-to-know', for the analysand.
      The quote I referred to is 'If I can believe on witness, Sartre,
      speaking of Huston, used to say: "What's irritating about him is that he
      doesn't believe in the unconscious." (p. xii)
      I think the point at stake is that you seem to have imply that all
      psychoanalytic clinical theory can be dismissed by Sartreans on the grounds
      that it is predicated on a mechanistic conception of the unconscious
      incompatible with Sartre's philosophy. The point I am struggling to make is
      that most psychoanalysts are equally sceptical about these positivistic
      aspects of Freud's metapsychology, without rejecting all the clinical theory.
      The work of later analysts such as Klein and the object-relations school are
      generally perceived as being more compatible with Sartrean philosophy because
      they are less rooted in instinct theory. Laing makes considerable use
      throughout his work of psychoanalytic concepts, thereby acting as an example
      of how clinical theory can be reconciled with existential-phenomenology.
      Indeed, in the very article you yourself refer to Sartre speaks of the

      "new generation of psychiatrists (who) are seeking to establish a bond of
      reciprocity between themselves and those they are treating. Without
      abandoning anything of the immense gains of psychoanalytic knowledge, they
      respect above all, in each patient, their mislaid freedom to act as subjkects
      and agents. (Sartre, Between Existentialism & Marxism, pp. 204-205)

      You, on the other hand, seem to want to dismiss what Sartre calls the
      'immense gains' of psychoanalytic knowledge', such as the Kleinian mechanisms
      of phantasy formation I mentioned, a priori of any analysis of their
      theoretical or clinical content.
      I'm amazed you can't find any proof in the passages cited that Laing
      and Cooper want to incorporate Kleinian concepts into a Sartrean
      phenomenology. 'Phantasy', spelt thus rather than 'fantasy', is a technical
      term in psychoanalysis. Cooper and Laing explicitly advocate an
      interpretation of Genet in terms of characteristically Kleinian concepts like
      'projective identification' and other structures of unconscious phantasy.
      You rightly note that Laing, Cooper and Sartre reject the mechanstic
      nature of psychoanalytic interpretation, but they also recognise that this is
      a non-essential aspect of the metapsychology which can be overcome without
      abandoning all the other stuff like the dialectic of projective
      identification, and the theory of transference. You play the two kinds of
      'psychoanalysis', Freudian and Sartrean, off against each other, saying that
      Laing advocates the latter not the former. I think you are exagerrating the
      differences. The differences are important but there is definitely a common
      Finally, you rightly point out that Sartre, unlike Freud, makes
      interpretations in terms of the fundamental project. You should be aware of
      the extent to which this mirrors Adler's criticisms of Freud. Adler and
      Stekel, as Sartre notes in B&N, effectively abandoned the concept of the
      unconscious and prefered to speak of 'blind spots' in consciousness rather
      than repression. Adler, like Sartre, emphasised human freedom in contrast to
      Freud's 'psyhci determinism'. Sartre's idea of the fundamental project is
      virtually identical to Adler's unified 'final goal'. This is one of the
      reasons why Sartrean criticisms of psychoanalysis are actually weakened:
      similar criticisms have been raised from within the field and modern
      psychoanalysis has tried to adapt to meet them. The question would then be
      whether a modern, more philosophical, Freudian like Lacan, Laplanche,
      Winnicott or Bion could be dismissed as casually as you seek to dismiss Freud.


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