Friday, 1 January 2016

Existential Pioneers. 22. Shōma Morita. Peg LeVine conducts Inner Circle Seminar 228 (11 September 2016)

Existential Pioneers

22. Shōma Morita
His original method of psychotherapy
and his theory of peripheral consciousness
Shōma Morita
(Image gifted to LeVine from Sato)
Peg LeVine   Takahisa Kora   Akihisa Kondo

Peg LeVine

Peg LeVine
Inner Circle Seminar
No. 228
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 11 September 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shōma Morita (18741938) was a Japanese existential therapist of striking originality, whose thinking and practice, although nearly a hundred years old, are of immediate contemporary relevance to twenty-first century Western existential and other psychotherapists concerned with their clients’ (not to mention their own) radical alienation both from their own possible range of modalities of experience and from the natural world.

Peg LeVine, who will conduct the seminar, will show how Moritas questioning of psychotherapy’, as opposed to ‘therapy’, as well as his deploring of compulsory hospitalisation and his rescue of ‘patients’ from psychiatric incarceration, anticipated Thomas Szasz’s revolutionary questioning of The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) as well as Szasz’s lifelong opposition to compulsory psychiatry.

We shall see how Morita anticipated Heidegger’s redefining of the phenomenology of what Freud called ‘repression’ as (in Heidegger’s words) an ‘ecstatic-intentional world-relationship to things, living beings and fellow humans’ (rather than an ‘intrapsychic dynamics’). We shall also see how Morita, half a century before Levinas, saw justice as central to therapy. But we shall not try to reduce East to West or West to East. Rather, we shall try to discern what is truly distinctive in what Morita has to teach us, in the light of an understanding of what he has in common with the very rare best in Western thinking.

Morita, a contemporary of Freud and Jung, was impressed by psychoanalysts’ studies of their patients’ developmental histories; but he developed a theory of consciousness which challenged the postulate of a personal or collective ‘unconscious’. He was also interested in Otto Binswanger’s work but found it ‘manneristic, too theoretical, relatively impractical, and ineffective’. The independent psychoanalyst Karen Horney, in turn, studied Morita’s psychotherapy in Japan in the 1950s.

Peg LeVine is a Clinical Psychologist and Medical Anthropologist; Research Affiliate (Shoah Foundation) at the Center for Genocide Studies, University of Southern California; and Associate Professor Adjunct at the School of Global and Population Health, University of Melbourne.

In today’s seminar she will show how classic Morita Therapy advances eco-consciousness and justice in psychotherapy. She will argue that, since cognitive science took hold in the 1970s, complex consciousness theories have lost footing in psychology and medical science; and she will aim to reinstate ‘consciousness’ as the dynamic core of Morita therapy. She will show that he advanced a phenomenal connexion between existentialism, Zen, Nature and the therapeutic role of serendipity; and that his views enhance Freud’s 1919 essay ‘The Uncanny’.

Peg LeVine writes:

‘The presence or absence of a theory of consciousness sways how, what, and where we practise and conduct research, as well as case formulation and health promotion. Morita is our forerunner of Ecopsychology and pioneer in consciousness studies. Pointedly, he equalised the strength between human-to-human attachment and human-to-Nature bonds by penetrating our anthropomorphic borders.’

You are invited to participate in this dialogical seminar; your contribution will be warmly welcomed.

Venue:  ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Cost:    Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Tel:  +44 (0) 20 8888 6857  +44 (0) 7809 433 250 
For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and universities.


Unknown said...

Peg is over from Australia and will first be speaking at the 9th International Congress of Morita Therapy 31st August to 2nd September 2016. Further details here:

Unknown said...

Peg is over from Australia and will also be talking at the 9th International Congress of Morita Therapy in Exeter, UK 31st August to 2nd September. More details here: