Re: Approaching "Empathy" and intentionality

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CROC...@aol.com

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Jul 26, 2010, 12:50:07 AM7/26/10
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Hi Dan,
 
I don't know what he means by "protention" but it seems to have the sense of movement beyond a given experience.  I don't know if that is what he means, but that idea is essentially what intentionality is in Husserl.  I have done a careful textual analysis of what Husserl says about intentionality in the Cartesian Meditations (especially Med 3) (1931 or 33), part of my year and a half of wrestling with that work and the Encyclopaedia Britannica article (1927).  Lauer's take on intentionality in Husserl is basically the same as mine.  Intentionality is key to understanding the dynamic character of Husserl's method, and it gives rise to an important feature of his idea of the mind's time's consciousness as it traces out the implications/intentions of what is given in present experience.
 
I have to confess to some real frustration that both you and Phil read my paper on Husserl and GT before it was published, yet it seems to have made no dent in how either of you talks about Husserl's thought.  That paper was a piece of careful textual analysis of Husserl's later work, and I think I showed how GT transformed the method in order to deal with the unique individual person.  Yet I find it completely ignored in what I read that you write about intentionality and clinical phenomenology.  I feel both frustrated and disappointed.  If we engaged in a debate about what I have actually written and published I would feel differently, but the utter lack of engagement around my work is hard to understand or to take. 
 
Sylvia
 
In a message dated 7/24/2010 6:46:40 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, d...@djbloom.com writes:
Sylvia:

I am glad to see you widening this to the other lists.

You are quite right. This is a complex topic.

I just finished reading an essay on Husserl’s intentionality and its basis in his theory of temporality, most specifically on “protention.”  The author concludes by suggesting  protention, intentionality, and intersubjectivity [!] as the “foundation of phenomenology.” And this is presented as Husserl.
I mention this to note that the intricacies and variations in the interpretations of Husserl continue.  The essay was difficult but left me thinking about its application to my work as a phenomenological gestalt therapist.

Phil will answer for himself, although I find his understanding of this field sophisticated. He’s read beyond Husserl. Actually, like many, many, people who use the phenomenological method and its terminology, he does not use the term “intentionality” in a strictly Husserlian way. (Or at least a way that includes the complexity and richness of Husserl’s analysis.)
I thought I said I’d let Phil answer for himself. :)

I also like Spinelli’s distillation of Husserl’s method. Yet I think we can do better. I think he actually does do better in his most recent book, Existential Psychotherapy. He adds noetic and noematic analysis. This is an extra nuance. 


Dan





On Jul 24, 2010, at 7:47 PM, croc...@aol.com wrote:

Hi Dan,
 
First let me say that I think this discussion is much wider than studying Stein, and that we should post this particular discussion (and similar others) on the Gestalt_L and AAGTMembers list.  I imagine there are many other people would might not be interested in Stein but would be interested in this. Thus I'm posting this to the GSTALT-L  list.
 
Now to respond to your post.
 
Yes, I'm also certain Phil knows that Brentano's version is "awareness always intends an object."  But I do not think he understands that and how Husserl's meaning diverges from this, given what he says about it the post to which I responded.  In fact, I think there is widespread confusion about what the term means in Husserl and its relevance to Gestalt therapeutic processes.. Phil's statement of it does not reveal the difference. I don't know about the other thinkers you mention, but I do know that Husserl's concept of intentionality is dynamic, involving movement from examination of present experience to other contents that are suggested (reached) by present experience.  This is what we do much of the time in Gestalt therapy:exploring and experimenting with present experience in ways that lead to what is "connected" to what in the client's living, and thus to the ground in his actual living of his responses and interactions with others. 
 
It's important not to forget that Husserl was both a Platonist and a mathemetician, and that from both of the elements in his background his orientation would be to follow out what present implies (reaches toward) and leads the mind to other contents.  In Plato, for example, it is impossible to understand the meaning of "justice" without examining the nature of "human," "society," wisdom," "courage," etc.  Mathematicians do not simply contemplate geometrical figures or mathematical statements, but rather, raise questions about their relationships to other figures or develop proofs of the statements by subjecting them to other statements and principles in the wider field of mathematics.  Similarly, if someone says in a Gestalt session, "I'm scared," we immediately want to know the answer to "Scared of what?"  And if the client says "I'm scared of my father," we instantly want to know "What does the father do that scares you," or "How does he scare you?" or "How do you react when you are scared of him?" etc.  We do not simply dwell on a given revelation, but engage in a variety of processes to discover how this fact operates in the person's life and in his relationships with others.
 
The important thing in understanding Husserl's method is to bracket off the goal he was trying to achieve (the system of pure essences that inform the world of experience) and to look at what is involved in the method itself.  The movement within his system depends on the dynamic character of his concept of intentionality, and that is its relevance for Gestalt therapy.  Spinelli's explanation of the requirements of the method, in my opinion, are accurate descriptions of what is required in the method: bracketing (and thus not employing) all assumptions that cannot be verified by experience; beginning and always checking/testing hypotheses and conclusions against further experience; and horizontalization (not prejudging what will be important/significant in present experience).  These are principles that operate in Gestalt therapy, and for the most part in empirical science.  Working in accordance with these principles we (Gestalt therapists) discover two major things: how the person's living is organized and how this affects his behavior; and we are able to facilitate the emergence of the meanings of the person's experience  from his  progressive self-revelations.  In this way we do not thematize and objectify the person, but we able to meet this here-now-unique-person as he uniquely reveals himself to be and as he is becoming.
 
There are differing opinions about what does and does not appear in present experience, as well as differing opinions about the goals to be achieved through the use of the method. Many of the differences among phenomenologists have to do with these kinds of differences.  We do not all assume the limitations that are inherent in Husserl's notion of experience; we are free to take a modified realistic position (and other possible ontological positions) as to the nature of experience if that seems closer to what we mean by "experience."  I think it's important for us Gestalt therapists to pay attention to what the PHG authors say in "The Present Situation" early in the original version of PHG:  the method they said they were developing was essentially an actual meeting the actual living of the person, and with the person to discover how that living is organized.  The processes of meeting and discovering open up numerous opportunities for change--and the alleviation of suffering and dissatisfaction.
 
 
 
In a message dated 7/22/2010 3:57:49 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, D...@djbloom.com writes:
Sylvia:

You are very clear. Thank you for that!

But you imply there is only one meaning to intentionality and accordingly one way to understand it in gestalt therapy. 
This afternoon I was reading Alfred Schutz description of it. Although he was an orthodox Husserlian, he made it clear that insofar as intentionality had any relevance to social science, it meant the directedness of consciousness including the intentional object and the intending ego or subject. He developed this further. I simplify. 
We can also look at Heidegger.
Or we can look at John Searle.
Or Giorigi and Giorgi.
Or Spinelli.
Or Shaun Gallagher.
Or......

I offer this so we can avoid a tussle over “intentionality.”
By the way, I am sure Phil already knew the relationship between Brentano and Husserl. :)

love,

Dan

On Jul 22, 2010, at 5:16 PM, CROC...@aol.com wrote:

Dear Phil,
 
I'm going to respond to your email in pieces.  I want to deal with this part on its own.
 
First, "intentionality" comes from the root verb intendere which means "to reach."  Brentano understood the term to mean that awareness is always of an object; there is no such thing as bare awareness.  Husserl took this notion and "set it in motion."  For him the phenomenological process involved focusing on and asking questions about what appears, and this process leads to other awarenesses.  For example, he says we can look at a triangle, and we can wonder what it would look like from another perspective.  We can move it or ourselves so that we can see what it would look like.  In fact, we can build up a complex understanding of the appearances of a given triangle that we synthesize in our minds but of which we cannot have an actual visual awareness.  We can carry this process forward by seeing that the same person might also wonder about the relationships of the sides to the angles, or the angles to each other, or the sides to each other.  Then can move on to wondering/questioning what the triangle would look like in three dimensions, and what that would mean for the relationships among the angles and sides, etc etc.  Ultimately, if all of the questions were asked, and all of the views and the proofs of the theorems were worked out, the person would, in principle, arrive at the entire discipline of trigonometry.  Brentano's concept of intentionality is static.  Husserl's is dynamic.  If one doesn't grasp this difference one hasn't really understood Husserl's advance beyond Brentano, and it limits one's ability to understand the phenomenological process.
 
Husserl envisioned situations in which people from a variety of backgrounds would approach their inquiries, first calling into question their own assumptions and grounding them in experience.  And then they would proceed in all of their inquiries (1) taking no principle or idea or belief for granted, and thus bracketing whatever cannot be put to an empirical test.  (2) Would constantly consult experience, and then test against experience any hypothesis or attempt at understanding by checking it against further experience.  And (3) not prejudge what will be important or unimportant in experience; rather being open to the possibility that even the smallest detail of experience might prove to be important.
 
This is exactly what we are doing in Gestalt therapy. (1) We do not put people in categorial pigeon holes, but we seek to understand them on their own terms.  Thus we put aside our preconceptions about the person and stand open to however and whatever the client shows us.  We are not primarily concerned about the issue of "is this really true, did it really happen that way?"  Rather we want to know how what they are revealing to us verbally and nonverbally works systemically in how they live in their world.  We track the uniquely personal logic of the person's revelations to discover what is connected to what in the way they live.  (2) We begin and end with our experience with the client.  Being open to his self-revelations (both verbal and nonverbal) something often prompts our curiosity; we often have a tentative hypothesis about it.  BUT we do not stay with our own understanding unless it checks out in further experience with the client, either by further inquiry or an experiment.  Everything we know about the client we discover through experience with the client, beginning and ending there.  (3) We do not prejudge what revelations will be significant and important, but some small detail--like someone coughing repeatedly as they tell a story, someone twisting a lock of her hair, someone wrapping her arms around herself when she begins to talk about her boyfriend, someone suddenly becoming very still, etc etc--may turn out to lead to a hugely important piece of therapeutic work.  We do not prejudge what will be important but rely on our own curiosity and care to help us focus and to explore further so that the client reveals himself more and more.
 
The phenomenological process is a hermeneutical process! Here we trace out how what the client reveals to us (figure) leads to emergent figures that were previously hidden in the ground.  In that way we discover the meaning of her twisting a lock of hair, coughing while telling a story, becoming very still, etc.  Over time, both client and therapist come to an understanding of the unique ways in which the client's living is organized, and along the way many intentions/connections begin to shift and change. 
 
Sylvia
 
I don't have any more time now, but tonight I'll return to the rest of your email.
 
In a message dated 7/22/2010 3:35:12 A.M. Mountain Daylight Time, philbr...@logic.bm writes:
Dear Sylvia,
I agree with you that intentionality is central to phenomenological process.  However, I don't think intentionality in itself is "all about" how what is present points to other factors to which it is connected.  Wouldn't that be the hermeneutical process?  

To me intentionality is the aboutness of experience. It is simply the observation of the valence of experience.  It is about something.  Period.  To me, that is also what makes intentionality basically paradoxical and what makes what we do as gestalt therapists experimental. We simply observe what is, what is currently going on.  We do this IN the natural attitude, accepting what is given as given, without conducting a reduction.  That is the phenomenal tracking we have, until now, been calling the phenomenological method, but it really is not the philosophical phenomenological method at all.  It is a paradoxical and experimental process.  When a person starts making sense of "what is," he or she has shifted to still something else.  That would be the hermeneutics of experience.


=

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Dan Bloom

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Jul 26, 2010, 8:00:12 AM7/26/10
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Sylvia:

I am surprised to read this.

I thought I had told you your BGJ Husserl paper was excellent. I don’t question your ideas. Your writing is crystal clear. Beautiful. 

Your paper is your take on Husserl and GT. My paper is my take on Husserl and GT. I don’t think our perspectives are incompatible, just different.
Let’s leave it at that. 

The majority of my comments to you here have been about how you take your analysis or reading of Husserl’s  Encylcopedia Britannica and Third Cartesian Meditation’s treatment of “intentionality” and  declare it THE only proper understanding for all time. When you treat your interpretation of other principles of phenomenology in similar way, I make a similar objection. 

I am sure you know that the vast amount of our contemporary knowledge of Husserl’s ideas comes from his unpublished manuscripts. Husserl was always making notes. They were not casual notes that he revised into published books, but actual records of his thinking that never saw the light of day. They are even more significant than Heidegger’s lectures that are still being transcribed, translated, and published today. (By the way, HD’s 1927 course on Logic is now out in English. I’m told it’s a knockout.)

I have a bookshelf sagging from the weight of books on Husserl. I, too, have spent a long time pouring over  texts – Husserl himself, Spiegelberg, Lauer, Farber, Bernet, Kern, Marbach, Zahavi, Welton, Ricoeur,Zahavi, Sokowlowski, Lutz, Orange… I offer these name because I am insecure, obviously!
You are the philosopher. I am the student. These readings are my teachers.

The people I’ve been reading have different perspectives.

I NEVER said your “take on intentionality” was wrong. It is the same as mine — but only insofar as that was Husserl’s understanding.
 I have been open to various understandings and restatements of Husserl’s concepts by others. Oftentimes philosophers use their reformulation as starting point for their own work. I am fascinated by how Heidegger, Ricoeur, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas have used the same idea in the name of Husserl.

Sometimes you and I do disagree directly about things. I hope we’ve both learned from those discussion,

Sometimes I disagree with how you say something that you believe is correct as if there can be no other  valid point of view. It is one thing to be sure we are right, but another to try to annihilate those who don’t agree with us. 
This has been most of how I’ve been disagreeing with you here.

 Please be open to other understandings of Husserl. Contemporary Husserl scholarship is exciting. The Danish Center for Subjectivity Research where Dan Zahavi is based does great work. Good stuff is coming all over the place. I read 2 great essays by Sebastian Lutz this weekend. I’ll be glad to send you some of the essays I’ve been reading

“Protention“ is that pre-conscious sense of temporality that is the experiential undergirding to intentionality. It is the sense of yet-to-be-filled expectation. Husserl’s developed his theory of time consciousness separately from intentionality, if I recall the essay correctly. 

Dan

Dan Bloom

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Jul 26, 2010, 8:32:53 AM7/26/10
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Friends:

I have a process request.

I am taking chances when I explore ideas here with you. 

Can we turn away from personalizing these discussions?

I don’t like it when my bona fides as a thinker are questioned. 

If anyone disagrees with me, disagree with my ideas and counter with another.

If anyone is sure of something, be sure, but not try not be personally arrogant.

Some light banter has seemed okay, but some exchanges have been less okay.

Maybe all such things should be avoided.

There is always backchannel.

I will do my best to follow my own requests.


Dan

Sean Gaffney

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Jul 26, 2010, 12:29:58 PM7/26/10
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Dan,

I'm with you on your process request.

If I ever seem to stray, please feel free to raise my awareness about it...

Empathically yours (is that banter?),

Seán

CROC...@aol.com

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Jul 26, 2010, 10:42:44 PM7/26/10
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Hi Dan,
 
I must confess that I'm not a Husserlian, and that I have studied him in order to understand how his ideas have influenced Gestalt therapy's processes.  So I'm not really interested in all sorts of scholarship about him, per se.  My excitement about intentionality, as I have understood it from the two texts (all later in his writings) is the light it has shed on our use of clinical phenomenology in Gestalt.
 
One thing that puzzles me in the current discussions is the apparent acceptance by many of the assumption about what it is possible for us to know from experience.  Husserl was heavily influenced by Kant's assumption that we are locked up in the world of appearances.  Before him Bishop Berkeley had pushed Locke's assumption to the extreme, limiting what we can know to only our sensations and thought about them.  Heidegger does not appear to make this assumption, beginning instead with the assumption that we live in a world that we share and that we can know and act in.  I think this is more compatible with the view that most Gestalt therapists tacitly take.  And yet so much of the current discussion seems to take Husserl's view as the view and its limitations that any phenomenologists must take, and which I disagree with.
 
The upshot of my paper on phenomenology in Husserl and in GT was that the two uses of phenomenology have diametrically opposing goals:  for Husserl it was the discovery of the system of pure essences (a la Plato but stemming from the nature and activity of the human mind); for the Gestalt therapist the goal is to use the method to discover how the living of each client is uniquely organized, and through Gestalt processes to help him live more choicefully, with less personal suffering and greater satisfaction.  And so when I read stuff about how we allegedly "thematize" individual persons--just as if we were pure Husserlians, rather than Gestalt therapists--I bridle at the lack of distinguishing between the two uses of the method.  And I think, "do people find it impossible to distinguish what Husserl's goals were from what our goals are?  Can they not understand the method of clinical phenomenology apart from the limitations and the goals of Husserlian phenomenology?"
 
I think there is a wealth of things we could be talking about by reflecting on how we use the method of clinical phenomenology.  I think, for example, that one of the great values of experiments in GT is that they provide a venue for the body to speak/reveal its truth about the living of the individual person.  Another thing we could be talking about is the power in couple therapy of helping each member to reveal those private feelings that actually impact what is happening in couple sessions but are usually allowed to remain hidden.  When the disguised feelings of fear, confusion, hurt, and other vulnerabilities are revealed the dynamic of the whole session is usually changed and becomes more fruitful.
 
Instead, we are spending a great of time and intellectual effort trying to discover how thinkers such as Merleau-Ponty, Stein, and others try to break out of the limitations of Husserl's beginning assumptions of what it is possible to know through experience.  Since I do not think Gestalt therapists usually take on that limiting assumption, I don't think we have to strain to see how to get out of it.  I much prefer what we can learn from Heidegger and can further learn by moving beyond him as we digest what he is saying.
 
So my frustration comes primarily from the current focus on phenomenology as practiced by philosophical phenomenologists, and very little focus on what to me is the more important topic, namely what can be accomplished through the method of clinical phenomenology that characterizes Gestalt therapeutic processes.  My focus on a dynamic understanding of intentionality is because it can illuminate what we are actually doing as we work with individuals and others in Gestalt therapy.  And yet I find this largely ignored 
 
I am aware that lots of writing and discussing is going on among philosophical phenomenologists, and as a philosopher myself I know that people advance in the field by taking different points of view about various issues and thinkers, and by publishing these views and debating with others with differing views.  But my interest is primarily practical because, while I use my philosophical background in thinking and writing about Gestalt therapy,  I am primarily a therapist and a teacher.
 
And I do know that my impatience shows, that I sometimes seem to be lecturing and talking down to others.  I know its a flaw.  What surprises me in this regard is that no one else seems to draw such criticisms, and I sometimes find others being just as opinionated and rude as I sometimes am.  That doesn't excuse my behavior, and I do work at being less so, and yet I often feel that a double standard is in operation.  I hardly ever think about the fact that many people have a hard time with strong women, since that has never felt like a limitation to me.   Yet I sometimes wonder if such criticisms would come my way if I were a man. 
 
I appreciate the friendly tone of your response, Dan.  And I continue to highly value our friendship.
 
Love,
 
Sylvia

Dan Bloom

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Jul 26, 2010, 11:39:54 PM7/26/10
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Sylvia:

I value our friendship and my hope that I can continue to learn from you — and with you. 
I hope I’m not violating my own code of civility by replying this way:

As you’ve said elsewhere, you and I are at different places in our interests. These days I am interested in expanding my knowledge of philosophy as well as my practical understanding as a gestalt therapist. I’ve always been interested in the history of ideas. 

I am not entirely sure that we fail to distinguish between Husserl’s goals and our goals as gestalt therapists. I certainly haven’t. I understand the difference between phenomenology, the philosophy, phenomenological psychology, and clinical phenomenology. 
Maybe some of the confusions here may be that we are talking at cross our purposes. 

Thematizing. This is not simply a question as to whether we are pure Husserlians or not. Thematizing is not restricted to transcendental phenomenology. And you are quite right. We as gestalt therapists do not deploy a straight-forward Husserlian method (assuming we can agree on what that is). We are NOT idealists — at least not in our practice.  I make this clear in my own paper. 

 “Thematizing” is a matter of interest in phenomenology beyond Husserl. Levinas was not critical of Husserl in this regard for abstract philosophical reasons. Levinas’s philosophical project is directly relevant to our work as psychotherapists. Like Buber, Levinas looked deeply at the heart of intersubjectivity in ways only begun to be addressed by Husserl. So when we discuss “thematizing” among ourselves, we do so int the light of the development of an ethics of intersubjectivity.  The question of thematizing, then, is not a question of Husserl’s method or his epistemology, but a question about what may be inevitable in intersubjectivity. It raises many sub-questions and concerns. We’ve barely touched them here.
This is relevant to our clinical practice. 

Of course, “thematizing” is irrelevant in Heidegger since, as you note, being-the-world assumes a a kind of ontological commonality that precedes any possible thematizing. 
But this is a Stein Study group and we are learning her Husserlian context. We are in 1916. Problems of Empathy.

Yes, we are spending a lot of time on this. I am spending a lot of time on this. I am spending a lot of time on Heidegger. He just doesn’t seem to fade. 
(I read a fascinating essay by Bob Stolorow in the recent Journal of Phenomenological Psychology on Heidegger, Nietzsche, Eternal Recurrence, and Authenticity. Bob relates this to working with trauma. Interesting. It sent me to Richardson to read about Heidegger on Nietzsche. Wow!)

I couldn’t disagree with you more when you characterize contemporary philosophers’ commentaries as products of dissertation mills. (My image, not yours.) So you really think that? And do you think that I am reading doctoral dissertations? Or that the works I am reading are motivated by academia’s rule to publish or perish?

I hope this clarifies some of what I’ve been saying here — or explains what I am doing on this list.

We are all trying our best to engage with one another here. The material is difficult. We are coming to it with different interests, backgrounds, and understandings. Miscommunication is inevitable. 

love,

Dan

CROC...@aol.com

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Jul 27, 2010, 1:56:50 PM7/27/10
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Hi Dan,
 
I am enjoying the quality of our conversations here.  There are a couple of things in your email I want to respond to, more for clarification than in disagreement. 
 
Let me clarify what I meant by how people in the field of philosophy go about philosophizing.  In that professional field philosophy people engage in dialogues/debates with each other either about what a given philosopher meant or by further developing some point(s) a given philosopher has made.  Then other philosophy people comment on those, and the debates/dialogues go on, building on each other.  I'm certainly not referring to graduate students' dissertations, but how the discipline of professional philosophy operates.  So a lot of things that you are reading in the way of commentaries are the normal production of people who are interested in certain ideas.  Because, as you note, we are in different places in our intellectual odesseys you are more interested in the current debate about interpretations and implications of interpretations of certain philosophical positions than I am.  My interest is practical.  I was interested in how immersing myself in Husserl's ideas could help me understand what he has had to offer the practice (and understanding) of what we do in Gestalt therapy.  I have satisfied that curiosity, although I continue to follow out some of the "intentions" that that understanding has given me.
 
About thematizing I want to make two points that are related to the current discussion.  First, we were talking earlier about the roles of I-Thou and I-It, their relationships to therapy and to life.  My belief about that as it relates to therapy takes off from a point Buber himself made, namely that even though in order to help someone we often have to think practically (I-It), we must do it within an overall attitude of care and fundamental respect for the person as a Thou.  In life, it is too often the case that people "thingify" other people, regarding them and treating them as nothing more than either objects or useful things (Heidegger's Zuhanden or Vorhanden).  That constitutes a major ethical problem, not a mere categorial mistake.  When we talk about thematizing from an ethical standpoint, the problems are exactly the same, again not from a mere category error but as something immoral.  How people think about and behave toward others (including their own humanity) is one of the central issues in intersubjectivity and interpersonal relationships.
 
The second point has to do with what we are doing in Gestalt therapy.  We have as a cardinal rule that we must not put our own thoughts on our clients, that whatever we say to or about them must be grounded finally in our experience with that actual person.  We, of course, draw on our background as we pay attention to aspects of what they reveal of themselves, and we entertain hunches, working hypotheses, and various strands of theoretical ideas as we work with the person.  However, our attitude as Gestalt therapists is that any and all of this must be held "lightly," tentatively and only as suggestive of where to explore or how to experiment in order hermeneutically to get a clearer and clearer understanding of this-here-now-unique person.  Our attitude is supposed to be one of openness and a receptivity that welcomes how-ever and what-ever the person reveals to us.  This is the absolute antithesis of thematizing, even when our first impression of someone might, in some cases, suggest a category such as borderline or projector.  From the standpoint of the nature of the Gestalt approach we do NOT affirm this possible first impression as the truth, but only as a possibility that may or may not have any truth value over time.  And even this is fairly rare, I think, among Gestalt therapists, i.e. to think anything quite that definite, let alone affirm it as true.
 
In Husserl, since his interest was in the discovery of the absolute essences that are imperfectly revealed in experience, anyone practicing his form of phenomenology would be alert to the possibility of noticing the revelation of such intelligible categories/ absolute essences.  So thematization is central to the focus of Husserl's goals, and to his approach to experience.  As an antithetical position, Gestalt therapist is practiced in service of contacting--understanding and opening up the possibilities for change--of the unique human being each of our clients is.  That is the goal enunciated in "The Starting Situation" chapter in PHG.
 
And that is why I bridle when Phil seems to keep on insisting that we thematizing people when we think about them theoretically.  The difference is that any theorizing we carry on about any given client has the truth value of nothing more than a testable hypothesis that might be helpful in choosing one intervention rather than another.  It is not an assertion about a client, but is a testable speculation whose value is merely useful for where it might lead, not for what it actually tells us about a given client.  We have a questioning attitude toward each of client, but all of the answers must come from the person, not from us as therapists.
 
So while I think that categorizing people is an ethical issue in interpersonal and social relationships, and I think thematizing is generally built into Husserl's epistemology, I do not think it characterizes Gestalt therapy.  And I think it is extremely imortant not to confuse the two approaches.
 
We are finally into summer here.  I even played golf yesterday for the second time this year.  Of course I'm rather "lame" today.  It was fun but also hot and tiring!  Hope you and Ora are getting out into the country often!
 
Love, Sylvia
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