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Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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Dissident Heart

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Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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The American Psychiatric Association awarded Irvin Yalom the 2000 Oscar Pfister prize (for important contributions to religion and psychiatry.) Here is his acceptance speech delivered at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in May 2000 at New Orleans. A version of this lecture has been published in the American Journal of Psychotherapy (number three
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Chris OConnor

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Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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I read the actual quote before I saw you saying he is an atheist. As I read I found myself agreeing with every word and I was scratching my head wondering why you quoted him. What about Irvin appeals to you? Obviously, you don't agree with his conclusions on the origins of religious belief. I'm interested to hear how his contributions to the world of psychiatry mesh with your personal religious views.
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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chris: What about Irvin appeals to you?I first discovered Irvin Yalom through his novel, When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession, which is a pedagogical approach to exploring the foundations of psychotherapy and its roots in existentialist philosophy...it's what Yalom calls a "teaching novel" and it is in the same mode as his more recent The Schopenhaur Cure. After the Nietzsche novel I read his first novel, Lying on the Couch and discovered the extraordinary accessibility to very complex psychological theories and philosophical arguments through the fictional narrative. Yovel proved a master guide through personality disorders, family dysfunctions, mental illness, delusional belief systems, medical ethics, sexual compulsivity, depression, suicide, the meaning of life, the meaning of death, and the relationship between therapist and patient....but most importantly, in my opinion, his unflinching commitment to the healing component of psychotherapy. He is a brilliant intellectual, no doubt, but a healer first. chris: Obviously, you don't agree with his conclusions on the origins of religious beliefI think existence anxiety (Yalom's four givens: death, isolation, meaning in life, and freedom ) has a great deal to do with the origins and functions of religion. But, then again, I think existence anxiety has a great deal to do with the origins and functions of culture, politics, family structure, language systems, science, economics...the whole gambit of human experience. How much of Yalom's drive to define, demarcate and heal the anxieties of human life reflects his own existence anxiety? In other words, there is no neutral, non-attached, disinterested position: we are all struggling against a ubiquitous tide of meaninglessness, despair, terror, and wretched servitude....religious consolation is not a monolithic response to existence that always adds up to an escape from reality into impossible wishes and ridiculous fanatsies. Just as scientific naturalism is not a universal approach that simply relies upon rational arguments rooted in empirical evidence derived from the scientific method. chris: I'm interested to hear how his contributions to the world of psychiatry mesh with your personal religious views.I think his contributions are more solidly felt in the world of psychotherapy and group therapy- especially the field of existentialist psychotherapy...than psychiatry per se. I think his accent upon the relationship between the therapist and client as the crucial catalyst in patient healing is something any Christian pastoral counselor would agree with...and has been for the past 2000 years. Repairing interpersonal bonds and learning skills to communicate, empathize, show compassion, assert oneself and take responsibility in relationships are key components to any psychotherapeutic model...key to Yovel's, and I think any sensible Christian approach, is the building of trust and intimacy between client and therapist. And, coming to grips with the existential givens are prime grist for the Christian mill: the kinds of things found althrout scripture, prayers, psalms, and multiple biographies and life stories of saints and important characters in the religious community. Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 6/4/07 2:48 pm
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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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Dissident, I'm actually impressed with you.
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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Chris: Dissident, I'm actually impressed with you.impress:shanghai: take (someone) against his will for compulsory service, especially on board a shipSeize by Force for public use (such as money, provisions, supplies) Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 6/7/07 12:02 pm
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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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You're a little bit of an odd duck , aren't you D.H.?
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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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LOL I like odd ducks. In fact I love ducks. Yesterday, in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere, there was this lone duck walking around. I think he was a Mallard, but I didn't ask him. It seemed rude to force him to label himself after just meeting him. I had to pull my car right next to him and talk to him for a bit. And he stood there looking at me with little to no fear. I wish I had some bread to offer. Ducks are one of my favorite animals.And yesterday my wife and I fed about two dozen sparrows while sitting outside a Panera Bread enjoying our salads. I love little birds too. These guys were cute as hell and they came right up to within maybe a foot of us cheeping and asking for bread. And who can blame them. Panera makes some mean bread.But I digress....as seems to be the norm for me these days.
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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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Oh a quick reply box. I've had the misfortune to study some existential psychology. It drove me in-fucking-sane. Not that I don't think that people like Yalom did not have a point, just that there is a tendency among those who like the approach to jibber jabber in situations where less philosophical approaches would work better. P.S. I go away for five minutes and the next thing I know, you guys change the place to atheist fetish porn site? Full of Porn*http://plainofpillars.blogspot.com
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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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Chris: LOL I like odd ducks. Me too, they're some of my favorites. BTW, it's a good thing you like odd ducks, Chris:Quote:Yesterday, in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere, there was this lone duck walking around. I think he was a Mallard, but I didn't ask him. It seemed rude to force him to label himself after just meeting him. I had to pull my car right next to him and talk to him for a bit. And he stood there looking at me with little to no fear. Because it seems you're a bit of an odd duck yourself.
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Re: Religion, Existentialism, and Psychotherapy

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haha good point
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