34 Slices
Medium 9781855755253

Chapter Five

Peter Philippson Karnac Books ePub

5.1 Theory

We have been exploring the three levels of field functioning: chaos, process and structure, how they support each other and emerge from each other. There is no area in which this approach is as fruitful as in understanding of choice and will.

Normally there is a dilemma here for philosophers and psychologists. It appears that one has to go either for an individualist approach, where the emphasis is on “What do you want, and what are you going to do about it?” (an approach that was frequently taken in the name of Gestalt Therapy, although it is incompatible with Gestalt's central theory of relational self); or one goes with a field theory where the directions people take in life are determined by their situation, and their sense of choosing is illusory.

In the approach we have been looking at, we have a third option, and a very finely balanced one. We have been looking at the emergence of the individual as the organ of choice for the field. So there is an individual making choices, but that individual is not encapsulated in a single isolated body. In this way, and it seems to me only in this way, we can simultaneously have the person as field-relational and choiceful.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781780490724

CHAPTER SIX: Requiem for the earth

Peter Philippson Karnac Books ePub

This is a rather bleak piece. I do not know if I would put it in this fairly extreme form now, but sometimes I would, and I think it is a viewpoint very much worth expressing.

The death of the human race

My sons have T-shirts saying, “Why should I tidy my room when the earth’s in such a mess?” I believe that we all know that several factors are coming together which, together or separately, could spell the end of the human race and many other species within the lifetime of people (especially children) who are alive today. Further, I believe that we cannot understand many of the clients who come to us except with this awareness. This is because many of the “problems” we see are manifestations of people’s responses to this situation. Many of the stock ways of working with these “problems” are manifestations of therapists’ denial of the situation.

The illness

We know about the hole in the ozone layer and the increase in skin cancer, and that what is being done about it is too little too late.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855755253

Chapter Three

Peter Philippson Karnac Books ePub

3.1 Theory

We have been looking at how new complex systems can emerge from non-linear field interactions, where feedback loops replace simple linear cause-and-effect chains. We have looked at the increasingly complex levels of life, intelligence and choicefulness. The question I want to explore in this chapter is: how does this happen in the case of our emergent conscious self? What are the “nuts and bolts” of the interactions leading to my ability to be myself?

Notice how this is immediately a different question from the more familiar ones of how conscious self affects the environment, or vice versa. Both of these assume a primary separation of self from environment, so that the interactions each way can be charted. But using the “three boundaries” language from Chapter Two, we can see how this oversimplifies the situation. “Self” and “environment” do not belong to the same level of interaction. Environment engages with organism at the physical contact boundary; self engages with other at the ego boundary which allows for whole new classes of engagement, in particular choiceful contacting. Self/other emerges from organism/environment rather than organism alone, and then allows the conscious modulation of the way organism and environment function. In this way, human beings have made massive changes in the physical world and to our physical makeup (through planned food intake and exercise, medicine, even cosmetic surgery).

See All Chapters
Medium 9781780490724

CHAPTER EIGHT: Response to “Intercultural aspects of psychotherapy”

Peter Philippson Karnac Books ePub

I pondered whether to include this. In some ways it is not fair to include a critique of a paper that people have not seen. However, the subject of the invisibility of assumptions about race, class, sexuality, and culture is an important one. Where therapists take for granted that our professional assumptions of openness to diversity are to be imposed on clients as the only acceptable cultural assumptions, we are paradoxically losing our openness to diversity. Yet, otherwise, we are facing people whose life choices, while valued in their community, are uncomfortable for us to face. The act of defining those whose ideas run counter to ours as psychologically disturbed has a long and dishonourable history.

Ihave been sent a copy of the above paper by the Intercultural and Equal Opportunities Committee, and I want to raise with readers of The Psychotherapist some concerns I feel about it. Essentially, while I am very glad this paper has been produced, I would hope from an organisation committed to psychotherapy something less standardised, and more willing to face some of the really difficult questions round “equal opportunities”. I do not see this here, particularly in writing about class, race, culture, and sexuality. Rather, I see some culture-bound assumptions being treated as if they were objective.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781780490724

CHAPTER TEN: A Gestalt approach to transference

Peter Philippson Karnac Books ePub

This is another bridge between Gestalt therapy and psychoanalysis. It has a particular importance for me in that it raises questions about the place of regression and the character of the therapist–client relationship. If I were writing this today, I would add something about “mirror neurons” in the section on “projective identification”.

The question that I want to pose in this paper is: what is the meaning of transference in Gestalt therapy?

The originators of Gestalt therapy, trying to distance themselves and their approach from their psychoanalytic roots, emphasised the here-and-now relationship between therapist and client rather than transference. More recently, there has been a rapprochement to psychoanalysis in many parts of the Gestalt community, and a rediscovery of transference, countertransference, and projective identification. Often, there is a sense of two relationships going on simultaneously: the real relationship and the transferential one (see, in particular, Clarkson, 1992). Yet, there are still questions about what these words mean in a Gestalt context.

See All Chapters

See All Slices