Levinas and the Other in Psychotherapy and Counselling

  • ISBN 9781032342665
  • Author: Loewenthal, Del
  • Publ Date: 2022-11-28
  • Edition:
  • Binding: Hardback

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For Emmanuel Levinas the danger of Western thought is that, if we start with ourselves, we end with ourselves. Psychotherapy and counselling would be for the sole purpose of strengthening self-initiated and self-directed fulfilment, resulting in individual and societal forms of totalitarianism. Levinas suggests that ethics should be about putting the Other first, but not in some fundamentalist Christian sense of the self-choosing to give one's life for others. The origin of authentic ethical behaviour is not from the self but from the Other.

Levinas offers us a fundamental shift in our thinking about therapeutic practices. His writings call on us to have an ethical responsibility in the very way we practice therapy. This is with all the complexities of negotiating from nearness and distance, involvement and boundaries, and how we view ourselves in attempting to do this. Levinas inspires us towards ontological, epistemological and methodological shifts. The attempt to put the Other first can significantly change our notion of being. It can help us be taken away from the dangers of a therapy based on ego psychology, which seems to permeate so much of our therapies whether classified as humanistic, psychoanalytic, behavioural or existential. All except the Introduction and two of the chapters were originally published in the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling.
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