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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Discovery of the Unconscious By Henri F. Ellenberger (1970): Summary of Chapter One


Chapter One: The Ancestry of Dynamic Psychotherapy

1.     Primitive healing theory and techniques display many similarities to modern psychodynamic theory and techniques. This has been recognized by Charcot, Levi-Strauss, Aldous Huxley, and Oskar Pfister, among many others. As will been shown in chapter two there is also a historical continuity between primitive healing and modern psychotherapy.
2.     Forest E. Clements distinguished five main aspects of primitive disease theory and healing:
3.     Disease-object intrusion -> Extraction of disease object
a.     Loss of the soul -> To find and restore lost soul
b.     Spirit intrusion -> Exorcism, mechanical extraction of foreign spirit or transference of foreign spirit into another being
c.     Breach of taboo -> Confession or propitiation
d.     Sorcery -> Counter magic 
4.     Loss of soul is related to the dynamic concept of patients being "alienated and estranged" from self, or an "impoverished ego" which needs to be reconstructed.
5.     There are three general types of possession (see Oesterreich):
a.     "Somnambulic possession" where the individual loses consciousness of self and speaks with the "I" of the supposed intruder vs. "Lucid possession" where the individual feels a "spirit within his own spirit"
b.     Spontaneous vs. artificial possession. The latter is not a disease but a voluntary mental technique
c.     Overt vs. Latent possession. It is latent when the patient is unaware of the spirit. The exorcist's task is to make the possession manifest.
6.     The modern possession/exorcism case of Gottliebin Dittus and the Reverend Blumhardt (1842/3) has been the subject of much discussion from a psychiatric standpoint (e.g. Michaelis, Benedetti).
7.     Other primitive healing techniques included:
a.     Healing through (public) confession: In modern terminology this is known as a pathogenetic secret and it being made conscious. This played a role in hypnosis and was emphasized by Moritz Benedikt in 1864. This greatly impacted Breuer/Freud,  Pfister, Janet, and Jung. 
b.     Healing through gratification of frustrations
c.     Ceremonial healing: There are many different types but sometimes they take on the character of psychic shock therapy or psychodrama. They might re-enact a trauma or a myth. They often included song, art and rituals.
d.     Healing through incubation: This was usually part of a larger ceremony but this segment consisted of spending a night in a cave or sanctuary. Therapeutic dreams or visions were the healing agents.
e.     Healing through hypnosis: It is not clear if this was a therapeutic agent or a side effect of other procedures.
f.      Magical healing: There are many different practices and types of magic but it is understood that suggestion plays a large role in its efficacy.
g.     Rational therapies: This includes diet, massage, oils, bathing, light work, sleep schedule, abstinence from alcohol etc.
h.     Philosophical psychotherapy: The Greek schools of philosophy were not merely proponents of philosophical systems but were organized sects. This included mental training, mode of living, education, discipline, and written and verbal exercises to develop control over emotions. It has been suggested by R. de Saussure that Stoicism is found in the Adlerian and existential schools of psychotherapy, Platonism in the Jungian school and Epicureanism in Freud's school.
i.       Religious healing and "Cure of souls":  This consisted of confession and moral theology taught by priests, and use of the charismatic personality of a pastor.

8.     Modern dynamic psychotherapy derives from primitive medicine with an uninterrupted continuity. As will be shown in next chapter, exorcism developed into magnetism, magnetism into hypnotism, and hypnotism into the modern dynamic schools.

1 comment:

Micha Berger said...

As far as I know, the first person to discuss the need for therapy to address non-conscious thoughts and desires is Rav Yisrael Salanter.

Rav Dov Katz (Tenu'as haMussar vol I) credits RYS wth inventing the notion of unconscious altogether. But we find the idea, even usng the same terms (der klur un der dinkl -- the visible vs. the dark) in Kant. But I do think RYS was the first to use the idea in pragmatic advice.