After Constructivism - Part III, IV,V
O convidado nesta nova gravação, desta vez em volta da psicoterapia, hermenêutica e fenomenologia , é o Professor Giampiero Arciero, psicoterapeuta, investigador e Professor da Universidade de Siena .
A entrevista teve lugar a 25 de Março de 2011, em Lisboa, e segue a seguinte estrutura:
Part I - From Psychiatry, to Postrationalist Psychotherapy, to hermeneutic phenomenology.
Part II - My clinical practice distinctive Features. Caring, treating, and effectiveness.
Part III - Acceptance and Empathy.
Part IV - Facing other models
Part V - After Constructivism. Neuroscience integration, and Psychotherapy integration.
Part VI - Participants questions (PDF only)
Acceptance and Empathy
A.H.: Acceptance is one of the common factors in psychotherapy. Would you talk of acceptance here? As you talk of caring…
G.A: Acceptance in which terms?
A.H.: As the facility, the way the therapist works to turn his patient more acquainted, more comfortable with himself, with his experience.
G.A.: Well… for me is not really that.
A.H.: Because is a more common factor…
G.A.: Yeah. But what I mean about… because here, of course, care, the care process goes with the hermeneutical method, ok? This is my way.
A.H.: Yes. Is different, it’s a different way from other phenomenological ways like Rogers or…
G.A.: Yeah, yeah. This is a phenomenological hermeneutical approach ok? And this is a very clear distinct ontology and methodology of interpretation, ok?
A.H.: Ok. Empathy takes a role there?
G.A.: No. No, no.
A.H.: Not in the way Les or others…
G.A.: No, for me empathy it’s a phenomenon but it’s just that. I mean I can put myself in the shoes of another person but I'm always me. And one of the great scholars of empathy - Edith Stein - used to say that “not even for God the experiences of the other can become its own ”. So, it’s a… when I put myself in the shoes of the other person I am always with my feet in those shoes. So my point about this…
G.A.: Yeah and this is also the link between bekümmerung and cura and… and hermeneutics ...it is that one of the basic problems underlying the suffering – the suffering thatwe face – is the fact that the experience of living get separated from the ability to account for it , of giving sense to it. So I have a particular experience that I cannot give words to , that I cannot recognize ok? Or maybe to this experience I give a completely different meaning; a meaning that is not in consonance with the meaning of the experience itself. Of course,this separation implies both , that Selfhood takes form at every moment of everyday living as the determination of oneself and that Identity is shaped through language as the narrative reconfiguration of this pre-reflexive meaning. All that implied, suffering arises when there is a break between these two levels:a separation between Selfhood and Identity. This is where interpretation comes about. It is exactly in between these two levels:between the pre-reflexive meaningful experience and his configuration through language.
A.H.: Oh, very well. So you have just finished to describe a central part of your methodology.
G.A.: Yeah and a central part also of my way of conceiving the problem of meaning. This is an elaboration that goes… overcomes the neo-Kantism of the beginning of the nineteen-hundreds, phenomenology –husserlian phenomenology – and arrives to linguistic, through the general linguistic of Benveniste, through the philosophy of Heidegger and through the elaboration of linguistic in Paul Ricoeur. The relationship between emotioning-acting and speaking can be also articulated in terms of neural underpinnings – but this is another story…
A.H.: You put the central process much more inside, between patient and therapist.
G.A.: No. The story of the patient is of the patient. The process, I say the encounter of the therapist with the client is the offering by the patient of his own story in order for the therapist to make something from this story, but the story is of the client. Of course the process – that is the encounter, the hermeneutical encounter – I would say takes plays as logos, in the sense of the ancient Greek way of saying discourse. It is something that arises in between the two of us but starts from the story that I am at service to as an interpreter and that gives me the categories to be interpreted. The logos exhibit a matter in such and such a way and the matter thus called addresses the questioning and therefore the possible interpretations. In this sense logos is access.
Facing other Models
A.H.: Good, interesting. Giampiero are there models which you consider in accord with your methodology?
G.A.: I don’t think so, although I have a lot of good friends in the field. Just for a very simple fact that the ontology that is at the base of contemporary psychology and psychotherapy is a completely different ontology than the ontology that I’m implying, that I’m speaking about. The ontology that is at the base of contemporary psychology and psychotherapy is an ontology that utilizes the categories of understanding of a “thing” to speak about the person, so… my… – and I cannot elaborate on that because we would go far afield. The ontology I am speaking about has at the center the Werfrage – the question about the “who” – rather than the question concerning the “what”.
A.H.: Even in the humanistic schools, aren’t they closer to this…
G.A.: Well, in reality I think that maybe in some remote way Gendlin and maybe… maybe… Medard Boss a Swiss author that studied with Freud,Jung and Heidegger, developed an approach that is close to what I’m speaking about.
A.H.: Ok… Let's speak about effectiveness, could you say what effectiveness or an effective session or an effective process means for you nowadays?
G.A.: Well it’s that, it’s… give back to the client the possibilities to be, the freedom to be.
A.H.: As they experience themselves…
G.A.: Yeah because if suffering is always the reduction of the possibility to act and to feel it is always a loss of freedom. So … for me effective process in therapy and an effective therapy in terms of successful – I would say an happy therapy – would be…
A.H.: An happy therapy?
A.H.: You wouldn’t think of submitting your methodology to the empirical terms that are nowadays the mainstream?
G.A.: I think this is an incredible mistake, it’s an enormous mistake because there is the pretense to measure the embodied soul with the parameters of “well being”. I will not even venture on discussing the definition of “well being” because for me one of the most important points here is that when we do psychology we cannot mix languages. When we do psychology we cannot mix the psychological language with the biological language or with the statistical language. When we do psychology we can speak with the neuroscientists - and we have to speak with the neuroscientists, with the biologists, with the psychiatrists , with the statistics- but I’m defending a new age of psychology where the central theme should be the discourse about the soul - as the old word says .The term Psycho-logy comes from the greek logos psuches, It means the conversation, the discourse, the access to the embodied soul. An access that should have as the royal road the first-person experience instead that computers or machines or mathematical systems as models. We have forgotten that after Wundt, psychology has been turned into a branch of biology. So I think that with the arising of neurosciences time has come for psychology to reflect on its own origins to find a new impetus for conceptualization and research .
A.H.: You don’t fear that psychology again lost itself in this openness to every discipline?
G.A.: I think that it has lost itself because it never was at home before.
A.H.: Never was?
G.A.: At home.
A.H.: At home.
G.A.: Because… yeah with Wundt ,psychology has been invaded by the methodology of the natural sciences transforming itself in a theoretical science. So I think that a theoretical psychology is totally useless for psychoterapeutic practice.
Neuroscience integration, and Psychotherapy training
A.H.: Ok, interesting. Tell me how difficult is it to train young therapists in this methodology. How complex, how difficult is it for comparison to other models, from the simplest to the complex.
G.A.: Well, I think that we have to reflect on that because for a lot of people doing therapy is to perform a technique. Already Mike (Michael Mahoney) and Vittorio (Vittorio Guidano) also, but Mike most of all was against…
A.H.: Against this training…
G.A.: Against also to reduction of psychotherapy to performance, to techniques ok?
A.H.: And yet, young people are eager for these techniques…
G.A.: Yeah, because young people -but not only them - want to have a few tools to feel safe ..
A.H.: To feel safe…
G.A.: To feel safe when they are faced with the client. So, the concepts are relevant only if they can be easily applied.You can see where the eagerness for techniques comes from.This is the core of the theoretical approach.The client is an object of the application of the theory that I have in advance.Therefore what makes a theory popular and a trainee happy is often the ready to use possibilities that the theory offers;it is its translatability in a technique that can be applied and re-applied.
A.H.: He’s happy, he’s safe than he can do something…
G.A.: He can act in a way that is effective for itself.
A.H.: And you dare to counteract this? You dare?
G.A.: I think that – and I’m sure that every therapist that does his work with science, consciousness and understanding knows that - you must have a sensitivity, a capability that has to be worked out in time. It’s a practical science that you have to learn from the everyday praxis that exposes you to different concrete situations and calls you into play. Everyday you make your instruments more refined, more acute, and your instruments are your sensibility to the personal stories of human beings. So this is something that you don’t learn with technique and I’m against this way of teaching, as a way to – I don’t have the exact word in English but – as a way to pass to the students just techniques as..
A.H.: Like a map…
G.A.: Yeah, like a prepackaged map , where instead the personal responsibility is at the stake.
A.H.: But, anyway you have to teach them and you teach them what principles, kind of principles?
G.A.: Well, I teach them - my training is a four year training - and I teach them, first of all I deconstruct…what I do, I deconstruct the teaching from universities …
A.H.: Some aspects…
G.A.: Some aspects…in terms of giving critical and alternative perspectives of the same issues and then we start to analyze clinical cases and then we start to do personal therapy in the group.
A.H.: Oh interesting and they are available for that?
G.A.: Oh yeah, we are small groups of fifteen people, so this is along the four years. So when they come out from our schools they are being trained conceptually, clinically and also personally.
A.H.: And there you can find a lot of resistance and difficulties on your trainees or are they open to this experience?
G.A.: Yeah, there are people, trainees, that need a one to one therapy – some of them – but to the majority of them, the encounters during the training are enough.
A.H.: Do you believe guiding principles and change process fundamentals will take place over schools and models as an evolution of psychotherapy as some our fellows believe?
G.A.: I’m not sure about it.
A.H.: About the belief…
G.A.: …I think that the great curiosity about the soul – and when I speak about the soul I intend something akin to what Aristotle called kinesis tou biou , the incessant ,meaningful movement of the human life as embodied by each of us , this great curiosity, it’s a constantly renewing duty. Every generation I think has to take the burden and also has to embrace the destiny of bringing forth an heritage received as a gift and as a debt from the past generations.The responsibility and the duty of every generation is not only to deconstruct antique principles but to rework them out. So, let’s hope that what I’m saying tonight the next generation of students that I am training will be able to transform and to create new openings, new perspectives.
A.H.: Let’s hope.
G.A.: Let’s hope.
A.H.: You have entitled your Lisbon workshop first day as After constructivism the new conceptual frame of Post-Rationalist Psychology. Could you tell us in advance what will be the main focus of this theme, the new conceptual frame of post-rationalist?
G.A.: Yeah ok…in reality I'll try to show that constructivism in all different declination today it’s just a remake of what Natorp – the conceptual father of constructivism - wrote atthe beginning of the last century. The conceptual father of constructivism was a neo-Kantian philosopher from Marburg University and he wrote a very important book:Allgemeine Psychologie (General Psychology) never translated into English.The principles that define the different schools of constructivism are just declinations of this extremely advanced form of neo Kantism. So tomorrow I will try to show that there is another way to understand constructivism certainly different from the Neo Kantian approach - and of course this other way will bring us also to a new perspective on post-rationalism very far from Guidano's.
A.H.: Yes. You recently published a very interesting article integrating psychology and neuroscience about individual variability in emotion processing, mapping individual differences, results showing new light on the variability in neural network of emotion - right? What could be the main implication in clinical work? Is there any implication?
G.A.: This last fMRI paper of our lab shows that the difference in the partner's perception of the loved one's pain is associated with a predominant way of being emotionally situated. Moreover, it opens up the possibility to explore the fascinating hypothesis that different ways of feeling pain can be associated with changes in brain anatomy. But beyond the clinical and the research interest this paper is a clear example of how a new way of understanding psychology can open a new conversation with neuroscientists .Through this study we basically bring within neuroscience the problem of inter-individual differences of the personal reaction to a loved one's pain. Of course we are confronted as therapists with this kind of problem on a everyday basis but usually this is not the main focus of a neuroscientist. So I think that bringing first person experience to the party we can open a very interesting dialogue with the neurosciences that will be helpful for psychology.Infact, on the one hand the neurosciences, throwing new light on the neural underpinnings of human experience, will force psychology to a rigour that psychology is not used to.On the other hand psychology bringing real life to the fore will push neuroscientists to face the humanity in flesh and blood beyond the reduction of humanity to a model.
A.H.: To a model…
G.A.: To a lab model…that is to… Well, subjectivity it’s plurality of subjects, it’s not reducible to one normative subject, to a model of subjectivity.The methodology of neuroscience, of the natural sciences, is obliged to do so.
A.H.: Yes. we are used to hearing about crisis in psychotherapy, you yourself are not so happy with developments that we see around. What’s your best hope for psychotherapy?
G.A.: Oh well, my best hope it’s that psychotherapists leave forever theory and start to understand that their science – and I underline science – isa practical science that has to develop a methodology of a practical science. Metodos means the way forward,the right path to deal with the matter,and the matter at core of such a science is the first-person experience.
A.H.: Ok, that’s you best wish, your best hope.
A.H.: Thank you so much Giampiero, I’m happy now. Maybe we could open to some questions of our fellows…
Teresa Alfama: I can go first. Well, I…You respond to many of the questions I had, so there are not so many now. I would like to ask you about your recent bookSelfhood Identity and Personal Styles. It says, “the hidden dialectic between sameness and ipseity, only discloses itself with vibrant clarity in the experience of novelty” - and I would like to ask you to comment a little about these concepts of ipseity, sameness and how novelty brings clarity to them.
G.A.: Well I try very… – well that’s a hard thing, that’s a hard question because of the difficulty in giving a concise answer.
G.A.: So if we understand ipseity as the process or as the experience of being always and every moment oneself, ok? always and at every moment we are in the state that we are. This is true for me and this is true for all the persons, ok? Everybody at the same moment can say myself. Ok? This is the concept of ipseity - so ipseity happens at every moment - and we are, all of us, at every moment ourselves: of course everybody in his own way. The Latin word is Ipse, Ipse means, soi-même, myself, myself at this moment. Ok? So, in this happening at every moment of myself, along my life span I can sediment experiences, that means, way of being can be sedimented. Imagine for example to learn music, to start with the…how do you say?
G.A.: Solfeggio, and then the solfeggio is sedimented and then start with something more complex. So the happening of our lives sediments in way of being, in tendencies to be.We call that, Sameness.In everyday life you are exposed to what happens - that means that at every moment of your life you are exposed to the encounter of the world and of the other, but at the same time you bring forth your history - so, you have this dialectic between your historical dispositions and your happening, between Sameness and Ipseity. This dialectic is not exposed, it’s not clear,it is not manifest because the happening of Self - Ipseity - is at the same time coinciding with the historical disposition to happen in a certain way – Sameness. But is never the same.
G.A.: Ok? It’s a repetition that is never the return to the same. This is a concept of Kierkegaard -Kierkegaard was the first one to focalize on what he called repetition .Now, in the moment of novelty, the extreme novelty - you can just imagine one of the most common, falling in love or a death, a sudden death of a loved person. This novelty, shows you the ipseity without the support of the sameness. There is nothing in your story that can function as a basis for this ipseity, ipseity is naked ,exposed. Ok? In this moment “the hidden dialectic between sameness and ipseity discloses itself with vibrant clarity”.
T.A.: Yes thank you. I think I understand it.
T.A.: I would like now to ask you in short to explain to us what are the main distinctions about the Inward and Outward inclination just to explain to the colleagues and to introduce the concepts of Inward and Outward.
G.A.: In reality…let’s start from… again ipseity, ok? So ipseity – that means being oneself – it’s never confined to the body, never confined to the organism. My organism – different from the organism of biology –doesn’t stop in the skin. My eyes are on the door, on your face; my possibility to reach is on the table. Ok? So, of my ipseity it is part the world and the other. I could never have being in this state of being without you being here...
G.A.: You are part of this state of my being, so this state of being emerges because you are here, if here there were other people another state of being emerges. Ok? So, the central focus here is that being is always being in the world. Now, I can orient myself in my every day life focusing on the world, or focusing on my flesh, ok? If I focus on the world that does not mean that I don’t have access to my flesh but only that I focus in a predominant manner “outside” - on the other or on the world - in order to situate myself. I have called this inclination Outwardness. Ok? The other way around it’s Inwardness .But when I say Inwardness that implies always an Outwardness too, and vice versa. It’s like Yin and Yang if you want, just to give you a metaphor…
G.A.: They are not categories in the usual sense, but predominant ways of situate yourself in everyday life and they can change during the day and during different periods of life.
T.A.: Even the inclinations in the people can change?
G.A.: Of course, yes because it’s Yin and Yang, in this terms. Because it’s not an absolute thing, everybody have the possibility to utilize one or/and the other.
T.A.: Yes but one could think that has the main inclination to, towards…
G.A.: That can be in a period of life, but then in another period of life can change.
G.A.: Imagine for example, you were very inclined to orient yourself related to the context and to other people, and then your boyfriend dies and then after six month your best friend dies and then again after six months another person that you loved dies. This is life…I’m talking about nothing special.
A.H.: Nothing special…
G.A.: I'm emphasizing but I'm talking about a very common experience. The encounter with death and the being affected by death: the Pathos.After this encounter it is difficult to go around without feeling crucified to your own sadness: the “outside” disappears. You don’t see people, you don’t see the world, you just walk around with fado. Do you understand?You can say the same things about the coming in your life of a newborn. Pathos is:being affected, being e-motioned, it is active and passive at same time. Originally Pathos means a determination of beings not only with the character of harmful but more in general with the sense of alterability. In Pathos is implied alterity.E-motions ,Pathe, are modes of being taken with respect to the possibilities of situating and of orienting oneself in the world. We can designate it as “becoming-otherwise”.Therefore in this perspective our way of being emotionally inclined is transformed in the course of the lifespan.
T.A.: The last one, and it’s about Guidano and your opinion about an idea that he presents in his late book.
G.A.: Which is?
T.A.: Self in Process, that book.
G.A.: We don’t speak about the all the… I don’t want to speak about those useless books published by some people utilizing Guidano's name after his death , with the only aim to get some kind of visibility.
T.A.:No,no.The Self in Process. Guidano mentions how in the therapeutic process the focusing on other aspect of the self, along with the reorganization of the perception of reality, can increase a sense of ambiguity in experiencing the self in the world, and he quotes a Portuguese poet – Fernando Pessoa – saying that as the poet told us this can lead to the recognition that “each of us is more than one, is a manifold, is a prolixity of oneself”, and how it can result in the diminishing of the sense of immediacy in experiencing the self and the world. And I would like to ask you how this resonates in you and what do you think that we as a therapists should be cautious of. What I understand Guidano as trying to say is that when you promote consciousness in the person, in their experience and in all of this, that can be diminishing of the immediacy of the experiencing…
G.A.: Well, we are far from that, extremely far from that. Because for Guidano the only possibility to create meaning was through reflection, so the more you create meaning the more you are removed from the immediate experience. For him immediate experience without explanation – as for Maturana – ismeaningless, is a perturbation. In the moment in which you have a sensation, an emotion etc. (and more in general a perturbation) this sensation, the Me (the empirical of Kant), becomes meaningful only if the I (the trascendental of Kant) explain it.Therefore it is only through reflection that the immediate experience acquires meaning. That means that consciousness is basic, it’s fundamental, the place where meanings are constructed. In fact it’s not random that Maturana speaks of the world between parentheses .The world is not significant to him; everything is reduced to the internal dynamic of the system that for Guidano is the persistence of the personal meaning organization through the explanation of immediate experience.The only possible change along the lifespan is the level of abstractness of the explanation. So, the more you develop the abstract consciousness the more you are removed from the sense of immediacy of experience.
T.A.: Thank you.
A.H.: We are all happy now. Thank you so much.
T.A.: Thank you, very much.