Articles

For Richard Pearce, existential therapist

Deathstyles, Lovestyles

On Ingeborg Bachmann and Ann Quin

Making Love to Your Data

Beyond Quantitative and Qualitative Methodologies: An Introduction to Postqualitative Research in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy in an Age of Stupidity

Drawing on Plato, Husserl and the work of Bernard Stiegler, this paper diagnoses our era as the age of stupidity, an era in which psychotherapy is increasingly playing a subservient role to the ideology on neoliberalism. By reconfiguring and subverting its role, however, psychotherapy can provide the Winnicottian transitional space for the creation of anamnesis, or recollection and the re-creation of autonomous and cooperative thought and practice.

Counter-Fantasies:
On Judith Butler, Psychotherapy and Politics


Sonatina in F Sharp Minor


Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur (Horace)

Maculate Conceptions:
On Psychotherapy, Poststructuralism and Postqualitative Research

A refreshing ambivalence at the heart of psychoanalysis makes it straddle both modernist and poststructuralist narratives, shielding it from its penchant for universalism. Similarly, when phenomenological and heuristic styles of research are held lightly and critically, and no longer constricted by subjectivism and a philosophy of consciousness, they can be more effective in navigating the intricacies of human experience and open the exploration to postqualitative investigation.

Existentialism and Beyond:
An Interview

The former Self & Society book reviews editor, prolific editor and radically sacredcow-free zone that is Manu Bazzano is interviewed by Richard House.

Street Zen:
Bearing Witness to Life on the Streets

Manu Bazzano gives a first-hand account of the first Zen Street Retreat in the U.K.

Beautiful Losers:
on Algren and De Beauvoir

The Skin is Faster Than The Word

Affect belongs to a pre-verbal domain of intensity. It is recognizable as ‘emotion’ or ‘feeling’, a subjective content that is a socio-linguistic adaptation in the service of convention, even more so with current widespread attempts to measure and regulate affect. Although normally neglected because crudely perceived as unstructured and chaotic, affect is crucial in the process of transformation.

Pandas in the Zoo:
On Facilitating Encounter

This paper outlines a personal experience of facilitating encounter groups within person-centered training in some UK’s universities and colleges. It centered around the following questions: Does the person-centered approach (PCA) become sterilized within institutions increasingly run like businesses, where trainees are seen as customers and tutors as functionaries? What are the challenges and rewards of facilitating encounter within these settings? What are the contradictions, if any, within the philosophy of encounter
within the PCA?

Sons of Our Fathers


Exploring masculinity in counselling means undoing masculinity.

Some Kinds of Love:
Travel Notes from Bucharest and Lviv

The Tyranny of Hope and the Transformative Tendency

Despite its adherence to organismic experiencing, person-centered therapy is the receptacle of second-hand metaphysics. These are evident in the notion of the formative tendency. The latter, ‘observed in stellar space and in human beings’, is a teleological model of organic development: it assumes an order directing development towards an end. It is a shadow of God, the powerful other that will come to our rescue. This is the foundation for hope, manifesting via humancentered attribution of a purpose to existence. With the rise of populism, bigotry and the far-right in many parts of the world, hope provides a beautiful daydream we can indulge in instead of being involved in the urgency of now. Other evolutionary theories are presented that speak of active and reactive natural forces. Reactive forces are adaptive. Active forces affirm expenditure. PCT can be revitalized by greater alignment with active rather than reactive forces. The theoretical framework for this is the transformative tendency, and the example is the butterfly, an organism whose natural cycles of growth rather than being motivated by self-preservation ultimately place it at risk.
To listen to the audio version of this article, click here.

Meditation and the Post-Secular Condition

This paper looks at the links between meditation practice and the post-secular turn in the wider domain of culture. The latter is a multi-faceted phenomenon, and the article focuses on one of these – namely the assertion of immanence over transcendence. This calls for a re-interpretation of the habitual opposition between secularism and religion. Meditation is often embedded in either a religious or secular framework, with contemporary forms increasingly of the latter kind. A third way is suggested, in favour of a meditation practice that acknowledges the post-secular turn. This is particularly called for at a time when secularist forms of meditation such as mindfulness have been decontextualized to the extent of undermining the ethical context of meditation. The approach championed here builds on the phenomenological experience of meditation and on some aspects of the teachings of Dōgen Zenji in 13th century Japan.

Love at Last Sight


Impressions from Budapest

White Light, White Heat:
On Egon Schiele

Soul and Identity in Supervision

Manu Bazzano challenges the view that identity is static and welcomes affect into the supervisory space.

Degenerate Psychology

Impressions from Vienna: Schiele, Humanism and Psychotherapy

Sheep of Tomorrow

This fictional essay assembles the fragments of a learning journal written by an anonymous person-centred therapist-in-training, discovered by the author in the bin of a fictional therapy institute called Macondo. It reveals unprocessed and unsupervised musings, reflections, and speculations. Whilst not complying with the written and unwritten rules of journal writings – let alone academic essay writing – these passages proclaim, in their own unassuming, even uncouth ways, a slight yet hopefully valuable treasure trove of experiences that normally goes below the radar of officious person-centred training and learning.

Beauty and the Cyborg

Person-centred therapy (PCT) is stuck between the beautiful soul syndrome (‘Beauty’) and a mechanized view of therapy (‘Cyborg’). Enthused by a sense of its own purity and stirred by Christian narratives of love (often divine Agape rather than subversive and relational Eros), it wants to be effective in a world that it perceives as tainted. As the self-appointed conscience of the therapy world, PCT strives to maintain this self role by defending its principled ethos. At the same time, concerned about becoming irrelevant in a fast-moving world and wishing to be more effectual, it embraces neoliberalism and its bag of algorithms, data and market-driven ethics. Often separate, Beauty and the Cyborg are at times joined together in an unholy alliance within PCT. After examining both manifestations, this chapter charts a way out, drawing insights from organismic psychology, the roots of PCT and from literature.

Against Humanism:
On Therapy and the Overhuman

Ring my Bell:
On Nietzsche and Psychotherapy

Grace and Danger

Far from being manufactured by training and/or expertise, the moment of meeting in therapy is an accident, an event – akin perhaps to what theologians would call grace. It is collateral, i.e., a mere side effect to the existential therapist’s main task of facilitating organismic dividuation in the client. Far from providing a bandage to the injuries of living, existential / phenomenological therapy is an invitation to both client and therapist to leave behind the human for the overhuman, the atomistic self for ‘no-self’, unity for multiplicity: it is an incitement to living dangerously.

Healing and Resilience

On Neoliberalism, Therapy and the Wounded Healer. Manu Bazzano questions the current political and psychological privileging of resilience.

A true Person of no Status:
Zen & the Art of Existential Therapy

Zen calls an accomplished practitioner a ‘true person of no status’. ‘No status’ indicates the uncertainty of being thrown in the midst of an impermanent world where the search for power and prestige is futile. A ‘true person’ escapes such trappings and responds to life directly. Although existential therapy on the whole emphasises intrinsic autonomy, lived experience and the desertion of the surrogate of status, it has relied for too long on Heidegger’s idea of authenticity, a notion which reinstates both the categories of idealist philosophy and monistic, totalitarian notions of ‘Truth’. Possible alternatives to the idea of authenticity are the notions of openness, vulnerability, and integrity (the latter understood as reluctance to give in to the compulsion of system-building). Both Zen and existential therapy are sharply at variance with the discourse of manipulative authority that constitutes mainstream psychotherapy today and may provide inspiration for credible and organized acts of defiance in response to the demands of the market and the philistine pragmatism that dominates our current Zeitgeist.

Mindful of what?
An Alternative Exploration of Meditation and Therapy

Meditation and therapy: is there an alternative to CBT-Mindfulness? 

Like Water in Water


Personal and philosophical reflection on spirituality

The Conservative Turn in Person-Centred Therapy

The significant battle being waged in contemporary psychotherapy is not between theoretical orientations but between different worldviews. One perspective assumes that therapy can measure, apprehend and even control human experience; the other recognizes that therapy is insufficient in explaining it and that it is ethically unsound to attempt to control it. The first is often complicit with the current master narrative of neoliberalism. By affirming the essential unknowability of being-in-the-world, the second is open to the possibility of the new and the creation of a life-affirming counter-narrative. Recent developments in person-centered therapy (PCT) have seemingly aligned it with the first rather than the second worldview. This article is divided into four parts. After an introduction on psychotherapy and neoliberalism, three developments are discussed, relating to philosophy of science, positive psychology, and politics – which justify, in the author’s opinion, the claim that PCT has undergone a conservative turn. Drawing on a variety of sources linked to PCT, this article sketches a way out of our current impasse and suggests ways to reinstate PCT as a radical practice and philosophy at the forefront of contemporary psychotherapy and cultural discourse.

Review Sunrises and Bloody Sunsets:
on the Banality of Heidegger

The banality of Heidegger, by Jean Luc Nancy, translated with an introduction by Jeff Fort, New York, Fordham University Press, 2017. Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Review Psychotherapy as Experiment:
Nietzsche and the Clinic

Nietzsche and the clinic: psychoanalysis, philosophy, metaphysics, by Jared Russell, London, Karnac, 2017.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

A Bid for Freedom:
the Actualizing Tendency Updated

This paper aims to reformulate the actualizing tendency as ‘a bid for freedom’ – the expression used by Alfred North Whitehead to describe life itself. It redefines the actualizing tendency as a naturalistic rather than onto-theological notion that puts embodied experience at the center of person-centered therapy and includes the animal-human continuum implicit in the life of the organism. It critiques the idea of ‘self-actualization’ in the light of notions such as the ‘emergent phenomenon’ and ‘subjectivities without subjects’. Corroborated by sketches of clinical work, this paper points toward a re-naturalization of human experience.

A Beautiful Wall


On Brexit, Trump and the Banality of Heidegger

Chi Ama Lo Straniero:
Recensione di Romano Madera e risposta di Manu Bazzano


Chi ama lo straniero: verso una fenomenologia dell’ospitalit

All the rest is dance’:
Another Look at Levinas

This paper begins by tracing the growing influence of Levinas’s thought in the humanities. Psychotherapy in particular has drawn on Levinas’s original contribution to ethics and is often inscribed within an existing dialogical frame of symmetry. The article discusses facets of Levinasian thought which have been neglected in psychotherapy, namely the notion of separation, in turn linked to the notions of asymmetry and of the traumatic subject, all at variance with dialogical therapy. A second, equally overlooked aspect of Levinas’s philosophy examined here concerns his politics. Some of the implications highlighted here are controversial: these relate to Levinas ‘naive Zionism’ and a prejudiced position in relation to Arab culture. Others are enlightening even if undeveloped: these relate to Levinas’s decolonial thinking of the 1970s. The paper reflects tangentially on the author’s clinical work, and calls for a more nuanced appreciation of Levinas’s philosophy which does not shy away from critique.

Exile on Main Street:
Towards Counter-Existential Therapy

Brexit saw the rise of nationalism, an idea founded on tribal violence against the other. But for Nietzsche the ‘good European’ transcends parochialism, whilst Said saw modern western culture as the work of exiles. Existentialism embraced the modern ontological condition of exile, endeavouring to describe existence in the absence of a subject whose nature is groundless. It promised to confront the philosophical tradition and its false hopes in order to account for displacement, absence, otherness, openness to radical ethics and socio-political transformation. Does the philosophy of existence (and existential psychotherapy) still answer for the above? Or do we need to formulate a counter-existential perspective?

The Fourth Treasure:
Psychotherapy’s Contribution to the Dharma

It has been suggested that each of the three treasures (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) become manifest in history in different ages. According to this view, our modern era would be the age of Sangha or community. The chapter explores some of its implications as well as the desirability of a fourth treasure, psychotherapy – understood as a road to the unknown and the unsaid that may help tackle the difficulties inherent in the notion of community. The relationship of psychotherapy to the Dharma expressed here charts a route away from the mainstream frame popularized by the mindfulness brand. Drawing instead on humanistic psychology and Zen, it affirms inquiry, social solidarity and the ability to perceive the elusive dimension of affect.

Summer Knowledge

A tribute to New York and some of its poets: Delmore Schwartz, Lou Reed

Indoor Man:
on Masculinity and NeoLiberalism

This article reflects on contemporary notions of masculinity in relation to sexuality, the internet and the latest addendum to the neoliberal project, the ‘pharmacopornographic’ management of affect. Drawing on clinical work, on Nietzschean notions of culture and civilization and on contemporary critical theory, the author asks whether psychotherapy can help contemporary men out of the impasse between wildness and domestication. To this purpose, the article also sketches the basis for a feral philosophy that may be able to navigate a middle path for a masculine identity that is stuck between brutality and docility

House of Cards:
on Ken Wilber’s Neo-Traditionalism

Wilber’s writings rely on perennial philosophy and present a traditionalist perspective drawing on selective scholarship. They provide the reader with the illusion of stability and inclusiveness in a field that is instead pluralistic and multi-layered. His perspective is implicitly wedded to political conservatism and to a hierarchical vision of human experience that denies the reality of the body and the transience of life, and is at variance with a progressive counter-tradition and a counter-cosmology whose provisional tenets are highlighted.

Why Process is (almost) Everything

An exploration of process in contemporary existential therapy drawing from the realist novel, phenomenology and recent developments in affect theory and neurodiversity.

Deathlife, Lifedeath

This paper provides a comparative exploration of mindfulness and therapeutic presence and absence. Drawing from the Buddha’s teachings, mindfulness is articulated here as awareness of impermanence rather than as a set of techniques. Drawing from Rogers, Presence is discussed not in mystical terms, but in terms of its valuable, neglected counterparts: absence, entropy, and the Buddhist notion of sunyata.

Changelings:
the Self in Nietzsche’s Psychology

Desire-Delirium:
On Deleuze and Therapy


Avoid Capture: Review
What Animals Teach us about Politics

What animals teach us about politics, by Brian Massumi, Durham, NC, and London, Duke University Press, 2014.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

The Therapist as Idiot

Mindfulness & The Good Life

Planting an Oak in a Flower Pot


On not-knowing in therapy.

The Seven Ages of a Neo-Con Therapist


A poem.

Loopiness without End: Review
Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy

Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy
By Justin Clemens Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2013. Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Open Borders
Unconditional Hospitality


A talk by Manu Bazzano

Before and After Mindfulness

An Introduction to our Special Issue on Mindfulness and Beyond

Twilight of the Wolves:
On Terrorism, Psychology, and the Left

A reflection as well as a personal response to Islamic terrorism, psychology and the political Left. The paper discusses Nietzsche’s notions of active and passive nihilism in response to a New Statesman’s article by Slavoj Žižek and the shortcomings of contemporary psychology in responding to the Arab world.

Why a Zen Monk of dubious repute persists in calling himself thus

Therapy as Unconditional Hospitality

The paper examines ideas of morality and ethics and their implications for contemporary psychotherapy. Drawing on Arendt’s definition of the citizen, as well as on post-structuralism and Zen, it promotes a theory and practice of therapy inspired by radical ethics and the notions of unconditional hospitality and not-knowing.

Review Person-Centred Therapy at the Difficult Edge

Person-centred practice at the difficult edge, edited by
Peter Pearce and Lisbeth Sommerbeck, Ross-on-Wye,
PCCS Books, 2014.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Why Love Matters for Justice: Review
Wounded Leaders

Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion by Nick Duffell, Lone Arrow Press, London, 2014.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

The Poetry of the World:
A Tribute to the Phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty

Merleau-Ponty restored phenomenology to its original purpose: to cultivate wonder and not-knowing, to appreciate the profound ambivalence of the world, and our interconnectedness with it; to remember our embodied, situated condition and temper our Promethean will to a knowledge born out of fear; to become perpetual beginners.

La Poesia del Mundo

Merleau-Ponty restauró el propósito original de la fenomenología: el cultivar la admiración y el no-saber, el apreciar la profunda ambivalencia del mundo y nuestra interconectividad con ello; el recordar nuestra situación condicionada al encarnar y temperar nuestro deseo Prometeico de saber, que nace del miedo; para volvernos perpetuos principiantes.

Happy-Clappy Economics: Review
Thrive: The Power of Evidence-based Psychological Therapies

Thrive: The Power of Evidence-based Psychological Therapies By: Richard Layard and David M. Clark, Allen Lane, London, 2014. Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Ticket to Ride: a Peruvian Journal

On Living-and-Dying

Transcript of a Talk given at the Ethical Society London Sept 2014

Send me Shivers: Review
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing: A Novel

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing: A Novel, by Eimear McBride, Faber, London, 2014.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Uncommon Ground: Review
Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation

Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation, by Richard Sennett, Penguin, London, 2012.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

The Beach Beneath the Street: Review
The Future of Humanistic Psychology

The Future of Humanistic Psychology, edited by Richard House, David Kalisch & Jennifer Maidman, PCCS Books, Ross-on-Wye, 2013.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

One More Step:
Person-Centred Therapy and Ecology

Drawing from various sources, this paper is an ardent appeal for a decentering of the notion of person in therapy and a shift towards ecology or “the earth household.” It focuses on the links between the paradoxical Daoist notion of wei-wu-wei (the action of non-action) and the person-centered ethical stance of non-directivity. It outlines the contours of a philosophy of nature with the aim of contributing to existing developments toward a contemporary person-centered therapy understood as an organismic psychology.

Review Vital Signs

Vital signs: psychological responses to ecological crisis, edited by Mary-Jane Rust & Nick, Totton, London, Karnac, 2011.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Not in a Glasgow Pub: Review
The Tribes of the Person-Centred Nation

The Tribes of the Person-Centred Nation: An Introduction to the Schools of Therapy Related to the Person-centred Approach, 2nd edn, edited by Pete Sanders, PCCS Books, Ross-on-Wye, 2012.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Immanent Vitality:
On the Actualizing Tendency

The actualizing tendency is a bio-psychosocial construct rooted in the notion of the organism, straddling the natural sciences and the humanities and must be distinguished from the later notion of the formative tendency with its universalizing claims. It can assert a place among contemporary … scientific investigations, heirs to non-dogmatic theories of nature and to a scientific tradition which refuted Darwinian and post-Darwinian evolutionary hypotheses whilst emphasizing cooperation and the organism over struggle for survival and isolated individualism. Different from the more confined notion of actualization of the self, the notion of the actualizing tendency decenters the self and is an indispensable tenet of person-centered therapy. The notion of the actualizing tendency points toward immanent vitality, a notion divorced from the totalizing claims of both scientism and mysticism and restored to its organismic /phenomenological roots.

On Becoming No One:
Phenomenological and empiricist contributions to the person centered approach

The paper explores the meaning of becoming in relation to person-centered therapy. Two notions from contemporary perspectives within the philosophy of becoming are investigated: the practice of epoché as outlined by Merleau-Ponty, and the notion of rhizome articulated by Deleuze. Links are made to person-centered theory and practice, and how the latter can benefit from further grounding in empiricism and phenomenology.

Togetherness: Intersubjectivity Revisited

This paper aims to contribute to recent advances in person-centered and experiential theory in the field of dialogue and encounter. Both an appreciation and a constructive critical adjunct to these developments, it offers a socio-historical perspective rooted in phenomenology. It draws on the Hegelian notion of acknowledgement, on MerleauPonty’s “risk of communication”, on Levinas’ ethics of alterity, and on Schmid’s notion of en-counter. It formulates the notion of “togetherness”, one that appreciates the realities of conflict and disparity alongside mutuality, and the dimensions of solitude and autonomy alongside relatedness.

Magnificent Monsters

Nietzsche called love and hate ‘magnificent monsters’. Proust referred to them as ‘upheavals of thought’. Crucial in undermining our craving for mastery over uncertainty, they spur us to overcome mere rationality in favour of ‘hyper-reflection’ (Merleau-Ponty). What is existential psychotherapy’s role in a cultural landscape subject to the wish to reprogram our emotions?

Cultivating Presence


Learning how to be with a client is as important as knowing what to do and has deep philosophical and psychotherapeutic roots.

The Buddha Delusion

Critically drawing on Stephen Batchelor’s latest book, this paper proposes a humanistic reading of the Buddha’s teachings that resists both religious dogma and fundamentalist atheism.

Therapeutic Presence:
A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapy

Therapeutic Presence: A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapy by Shari M. Geller and Leslie S. Greenberg, Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2012.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Do not Eat Soup with Chopsticks: Review
China on the Mind

China on the Mind by Christopher Bollas, Routledge, London, 2012.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Berlin-la-Morte

A review of The Next Day by David Bowie
CD Music Album ISO/ Columbia, 2013.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Not a Thing of Beauty

Proust among the Nations: from Dreyfus to the Middle East.
By Jacqueline Rose Chicago Ill: Chicago University Press.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Un altro sguardo alla ‘Mindfulness’

L’attuale diffusione della pratica ‘mindfulness’ fa parte della laicizzazione del Dharma, un processo interessante e positivo che al tempo stesso presenta diversi problemi. Sia la laicizzazione del Dharma che l’interpretazione religiosa dipendono da postulati metafisici: materialista il primo, spiritualista il secondo. È possibile una terza via, una pratica meditativa somatica e post-metafisica che abbracci la condizione umana e la sua complessitá nella sua interezza?

This very body, the Buddha

Dharma practice, a way of being in the world, is at present being selectively employed as mindfulness within the helping professions as a set of skills with the aim of controlling the unruly nature of the affects, the chaos engendered by difficult emotions and the “passions”, including sexual desire. This approach strengthens the self and its faculties of cognition, representation and volition without significantly questioning or deconstructing its nature. Embodied Dharma practice is presented here as a cultivation of a way of being that promotes disorientation and perplexity in the face of the vastness and ambivalence of the world and one that does not shun sexuality which, for phenomenology, is the very realization of embodied existence.

In Praise of Stress Induction:
Mindfulness Revisited

Low Cholesterol Sutra: Review
The Scientific Buddha

The Scientific Buddha: his Short and Happy Life by Lopez, D. S. Jr., New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

When Time is Out of Joint:
On Adler’s Fictional Finalism

La Luna Di Questa Notte Omaggio a Dogen Zenji

Il genio poetico, filosofico e religioso di Dogen: commento critico del libro L’essenza del Buddhismo Zen. Dogen, realista mistico di Hee-Jin Kim

‘Good Science’: Review
Genes, Cells and Brains: the Promethean Promises of the New Biology

Genes, Cells and Brains: the Promethean Promises of the New Biology, by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose. London: Verso, 2013.
Reviewed by Manu Bazzano

Back to the Future:
From Behaviourism and Cognitive Psychology to Motivation and Emotion

After fifty years of predominance of behaviourism and cognitive psychology, the tide is turning back to motivation and emotion. Contemporary interdisciplinary studies in developmental psychology, child psychiatry and developmental neuroscience are reframing John Bowlby’s attachment theory in its truer context, insisting that the crucial aspects of motivation, emotion and self-regulation, present in Bowlby’s original formulation, had been ignored at the time of its inception because of a cultural climate dominated by behaviourism and cognitive psychology.

Sexuality in a Market Society

Relate has joined forces with Ann Summers to survey our sexual habits. Unpacking what this alliance says about attitudes to sex today.

Reconstructing Masculinity

Men must be able to explore all their feelings – including aggression and violence – in therapy without being judged if they are to move towards positive change. Published in Therapy Today February 2012

Songs and Bloodless Duels:
On Adler’s Social Interest and Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid

Adler’s vision – rooted in social interest, co-operation and positive striving towards meaning and contribution – is an inspiration to psychologists, educators and whoever feels the need to contribute to the wider domain of culture and society.

The Gift of Hospitality

Psychotherapist and Zen Buddhist monk Manu Bazzano explores the concept of hospitality and its significance to both Buddhism and the therapeutic relationship

The Art of Phenomenology

Introduction to a one-day workshop in St Albans Herts UK, Saturday 18 February 2012

Reclaiming Diagnosis:
a Phenomenological Perspective

A critique of the stigmatising aspects of diagnosis is as urgent as it is questioning the motives for a one-sided rejection of it.

Knight Errant:
a tribute to James Hillman

Neuromania and ‘Idiot Compassion’

Compassion without wisdom does not address the delusional nature of mental distress and neuroscience risks explaining away the complexity of being human. Published in Therapy Today July 2011

Brave New Worlding

This paper is an appreciation and a critical examination of Spinelli’s book Practising Existential Psychotherapy: The Relational World. It uses the points raised by the author to question the validity of the current emphasis therapy culture places on relatedness – and its subsequent avoidance of existential aloneness – and proposes that ‘relatedness’ is Platonic nostalgia of unity as well as a pragmatist misreading of the wider notions – derived from Zen philosophy and from Nietzsche – of interdependence and groundlessness. It also discusses the other two tenets proposed by Spinelli, i.e. anxiety and uncertainty and the way these reflect on the problem of nihilism, evaded by the current therapy zeitgeist.

The Buddha as a Fully Functioning Person:
toward a Person-Centered Perspective on Mindfulness

The paper explores links between the person-centered approach (PCA) and meditation. It is divided into two parts. The first part begins with a description of the author’s own experience of meditation. It is followed by a brief discussion of other approaches which similarly attempt the integration of meditation and psychotherapy: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, transpersonal and psychodynamic models, and by what might constitute an alternative paradigm, one based on phenomenological principles which are central to the PCA. The second part outlines interviews and findings of a small-scale heuristic and phenomenological research (originally part of a dissertation) conducted among person-centered therapists who regularly practice meditation. Meditation is tentatively realized as a way of increasing organismic and phenomenological awareness, of cultivating and refining a way of being, of fostering a resacralization of the everyday and a greater appreciation of the existential dilemma of being human.

The Honey Trap:
Sexual Misconduct and Buddhist Sanghas

In Praise of Fearless Speech

Is Zen a practice of integrity, compassion and courage in the face of inequality, or a new hierarchical school of conformity?

Sangha as Shared Blindness

Sangha is not a political institution but a provisional gathering of friends and practitioners.

In Conversation with Stephen Batchelor

Buddhism, Modernity, Self, no Self. Social Engagement, Comparing Mythologies.

Sex & Circuses

Now that sexual transgression has left the dungeons and is freely available, the new universal injunction is no longer repression but enjoy! – echoing Kafka’s father and repeated at unison by a choir of Starbucks baristas. Is this the manifestation of what Nietzsche called the Dionysian? Or are we instead lulled into the false freedom of repressive de sublimation? Has sex been reduced, like mainstream psychotherapy, to yet another set of gadgets and techniques? Have we become truly acquainted with the elusive, terrifying and creative energies of Eros? Sartre, in Saint Genet, writes of visceral love. In Lévinas, the notion of desire exposes the subject to vulnerability and to a radical ethical stance.

Sympathy for the Devil:
Omaggio a Jean Genet nel centenario della sua nascita

Mindfulness in Context: beyond CBT

The growing interest in mindfulness has opened the doors of meditation to the helping professions, but mindfulness-based CBT represents merely the beginning of many possible connections still to be made between Eastern contemplative practices and Western psychotherapy, argues Manu Bazzano.

Empathy for the Devil:
The Daimonic in Therapy

The work of Jean Genet – playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, and tangential existentialist – is as countercultural today as it was when it first appeared. It presents profound and unsettling questions to contemporary culture; it challenges its cherished values – identity, nationality, property, gender, fidelity. It presents a formidable challenge to psychotherapy, a profession presently undecided as to what its function might be, whether providing a sedative which will make people more docile or instead helping human beings to become freer, find meaning in their lives and negotiate their relationship with what Rollo May called “the daimonic”. As charted by Sartre, the life of Jean Genet provides a heart-rending example of how it is possible to realize one’s creative potential to the utmost even when being brought up in the direst circumstances.

Dead Shrinks Society

Humanistic therapy promotes self-determination, originality, and freedom. But is the teaching of psychotherapy and counselling today truly democratic? Or does it rely on a traditional model? Published by Self&Society Summer 2009

Seven Degrees of Separation

Dialectical dialogue in therapy as Platonic nostalgia. Poetry and non-dialectical dialogue.

The Hero as a Human Being:
an Adlerian Reading of Achilles

Achilles as wounded healer, warrior and singer, as a man aware of the intrinsic vulnerability of being human.

To Feel with the Heart of Another:
Notes on Adler and Zen Buddhism

From Renunciation to Engaged Social Action. Interdependence and the Illusion of Self-Boundedness.

Boyzone

Lads & Ladettes. Emasculation of Men in Contemporary Therapy Culture. The Importance of Mentorship and Loyalty to one’s Gender.

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities:
Adler and Contemporary Ethics

An exploration of Adler’s three tasks: Love, Friendship and Work and their integration to the practice of Zen Meditation.

When Rogers met Adler

Notes on Power, Masculinity and Gender in Person-Centred and Adlerian Therapy.

The Teachings of Solitude

With the current emphasis on the importance of the relationship in therapeutic thinking and practice, are we in danger of ignoring the human need for separateness and individuality? Published in Therapy Today February 2009.