The Madhouse of Being

The Madhouse of Being

Anthony Stadlen

(Copyright Anthony Stadlen 2007)

(This is the edited and expanded version of an unscripted lecture on the second day, Friday 26 May 2006, of the 6th Forum of the International Federation of Daseinsanalysis, held on the theme ‘Speech in Daseinsanalysis – A Dialogue of Philosophy and Psychotherapy in Practice’ in Prague from 25–27 May 2006.)


Many of the beautiful lectures we have been listening to, on speech and language in Daseinsanalysis, have referred to the primordial documents of our history. For example, the word of God, at the beginning. In Hebrew[1]:

vay’omer ’elohim yehi ’or. vayehi ’or.
(And God said: ‘Let there be light’. And there was light.)

And, as the Czech language makes clear, there is an intimate relation between light and world. Light is světlo, world is svět. And there is nothing like language for lighting up the world – or for darkening, obscuring, making the world a hell-hole.
So language can be, and is, the house of Being[2], in Heideggers makeshift[3] phrase. But we mortals are also able to construct and maintain language as a madhouse of Being. This is my theme today.


The very first two-way conversation in the Bible is not between two human beings. It’s not between God and man. It’s between the serpent and Eve. This is the first conversation of which we hear two sides. And the serpent seduces Eve by language.
The serpent says[4]:

‘Yea, hath God said: Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’

Now, Eve knows, or at least she’s heard from Adam, that that’s not quite what God said. But the serpent has muddled up the syntax of what God had said. God had said[5]:

‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’

Eve knows there’s something wrong somewhere, but she can’t quite place it. The serpent has already disorientated her. So she makes a mistake when retelling what she has heard God has said. She says[6]:

‘Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said: Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’

Now God had never said they mustn’t touch the tree. So the serpent has created a ‘false memory’ by his subtle method of seduction. Eve does not accept the serpent’s version outright, but he has induced her to collude with his insinuation by ‘remembering’ God’s prohibition as more severe than it in fact was.[7]
Even more subtle is the serpent’s inducing Eve to transform God’s moral warning, ‘thou shalt surely die’, into ‘lest ye die’, a mere statement of mechanistic causality.[8]
The first two-way conversation between two humans in the Bible comes at a rather surprising place. A lot has happened: the expulsion from Eden, Cain and Abel, Noah’s flood, the tower of Babel… There have been many generations of men and women before we hear two sides of a human conversation. This first two-way human conversation is between Abram, who has not yet become Abraham, and the king of Sodom.
Abram has defeated the armies of four kings led by Chedorlaomer, king of Elam. The king of Sodom clambers out of the slime-pit[9] into which he has fallen while fleeing from Chedorlaomer, and tries to seduce Abram, saying[10]:

‘Give me the persons [the prisoners of war], and take the goods to thyself.’

But Abram, in a magnificent refusal, says[11]:

‘I have lifted up my hand unto the LORD, God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say: “I have made Abram rich”.’

These two two-way conversations in the Bible[12], the first of all, between the serpent and Eve, and then the first two-sided human conversation, between Abram and the king of Sodom, are extremely subtle and deep and complex conversations. They are already conversations about conversations, purported past and imagined future. They include a great deal of the mystery of language. They show its possibility for seduction and mystification. But they also show the heroism and grandeur of Abram’s refusal. He sees the false position that the king of Sodom is trying to put him into, and anticipates, in quotation marks as it were, what the king of Sodom would say were he to succeed in seducing Abram.


Now, I want to resume a discussion from the last two daseinsanalytic Fora, in Zürich in 1999[13] and Vienna in 2003[14]. I shall present a short excerpt from a recording to illustrate Heidegger’s notion that ‘die Sprache spricht’, ‘language speaks’.[15]
On 21 April 2006, the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim gave a BBC Reith Lecture[16] in Berlin. Afterwards there were questions. In the audience was Sir Peter Jonas, the director of the Munich opera.

PETER JONAS: Peter Jonas from the Munich opera…
SUE LAWLEY: Who we should probably say used to run the English National Opera too.
PETER JONAS: There are about twenty questions I would like to ask, but –
SUE LAWLEY: Could you just ask one –
DANIEL BARENBOIM: Start with the nineteenth –
PETER JONAS: I’m only going to ask one. And it seems to me that the words lack of understanding and incomprehensibility between nations, between beliefs, is a constant theme here, also in relation to Munich. After all – [quickly, correcting himself] music. – After all, [audience laughter begins] when – [Audience laughter increases.]
DANIEL BARENBOIM: [Laughing loudly.] Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha – [Crescendo of audience laughter; applause.] What was his name? Siegmund Freud. No? [Laughter of Sue Lawley, Peter Jonas, audience.]
PETER JONAS: When we are born, we are lifted up by our feet, and the first thing that comes out is not a fully formed sentence, or a political speech, it is a cry, a scream, a sound, which is very akin to singing, and it seems to me that people can sing before they can form logical sentences without even Freudian slips. [Slight laughter of Sue Lawley and audience.] Is it your belief that the magic of music could be more than just an aid to understanding, that it could be an Esperanto for future communication?
DANIEL BARENBOIM: Well, there has to be a real revolution in that, I think, because I’m rather disturbed very often by the concept of communication. Musicians today more and more are actually communicators, who happen to be musicians, and they use music to communicate. And that the real communication of music comes when music is the communication itself.

In this excerpt there are several points relevant to our Forum.
Heidegger shared Daniel Barenboim’s distrust of ‘communication’, and would surely have agreed that ‘the real communication of music comes when music is the communication itself.’
One does not have to lift a newborn baby by its feet. But it is often done, and the baby is routinely measured so. Peter Jonas’s vivid description makes clear that the baby’s first cry is not just a reflex, but a response, to what is being done to it.[17] Heidegger in his winter 192829 Freiburg lectures insists that this ‘crying, wriggling moving into the world’ (‘Schreien, zappelnde Bewegung in die Welt’) shows that the baby is not a ‘shut-in subject’: ‘it is already out there with…’ (‘es ist schon draußen bei…’).[18]
Then there is Peter Jonas’s ‘Freudian slip’: ‘Munich’ instead of ‘music’. How are such ‘slips’ to be understood in Daseinsanalysis?
I have discussed this at the last two daseinsanalytic Fora[19] and elsewhere[20].
To recapitulate:
Freud gives a hostage to fortune in the section on slips in his Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. He says[21] that ‘the perceived phenomena (die wahrgenommenen Phänomene) must give way to the merely assumed strivings (die nur angenommenen Strebungen)’. Binswanger cites[22] this sentence in his lecture for Freud’s eightieth birthday. In the ‘Ellen West’ case he calls[23] it the ‘fundamental principle (Grundsatz) of psychoanalysis’. Binswanger, Boss, Condrau, the British psychotherapist Cohn, and Heidegger, on at least twenty-nine occasions[24], allege that, since Freud has stated this so-called ‘Grundsatz’, it follows that psychoanalysis is not phenomenological.
But Freud’s reference to ‘merely assumed strivings’ is ambiguous. Binswanger et al. exploit its ambiguity while praising what they call its exemplary clarity. They claim that Freud means occult, hypothetical, non-human ‘strivings’ in a reified ‘unconscious’.
In the Zollikon seminars of 24 and 28 January 1964, the first in Boss’s house that were transcribed, Heidegger alleges[25]:

…in Freud’s treatise on the faulty actions [parapraxes or mischievements] such suppositions are the strivings [Strebungen] and forces [Kräfte]. These assumed strivings and forces cause and produce the phenomena.

Freud’s only ‘treatise’ on the ‘faulty actions’ is The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, referred to as such by Freud himself[26]. But the word ‘Strebungen’ does not appear in it[27].Strebung’ appears just once[28], in a footnote[29] added by Freud in 1924 to this work published in 1901, but it is phenomenological, from his own memories of childhood, not mechanistic. So Heidegger appears to be pronouncing on a book he has not read.
His reference to ‘assumed strivings [Strebungen]’ indicates that he is, like the other authors I have mentioned, thinking of the ‘Grundsatz’, from the Introductory Lectures.
None of these authors is phenomenological enough to mention the context of Freud’s remark.
The context is Freud’s discussion of slips or ‘mischievements’[30]. He is reserving the right to see meaning in a slip of the tongue even though the speaker denies it.[31]
Thus Daseinsanalysis defines itself in the first instance by its difference with psychoanalysis in the field of language.
But is Freud not justified? If we listen in a more generous, more truly daseinsanalytic way, can we not hear that, in a ‘Freudian slip’, language speaks, whether the speaker admit it or no?[32] Should not Daseinsanalysts be attuned to this phenomenon?
That language speaks cannot be shown by natural science. But is it not often shown, in the first instance, by laughter, provided this is backed by evidence?
To see this, let us start with an example where the speaker does not deny that his ‘slip’ has meaning. Does not the laughter of Daniel Barenboim and his audience have its own validity, quite apart from Peter Jonas’s implicit ‘admission’?
We must be careful, however. Laughter may be based on a wrong assumption. But, even if those laughing ‘merely assume’, as Freud puts it, that Jonas’s ‘slip’ has a background in, for example, the local politics of the Munich opera, this assumption is still not an inference about occult ‘forces’, even if it happens to be wrong. The ‘Strebungen’ Freud refers to are human ‘strivings’.[33] They are in principle open to everyone to see and hear, though they may be hidden or unknown, and though people may dispute what they have seen and heard, and what it means, as they always have done. This background is the human context. It is phenomenological, not ‘metapsychological’.
But it is important to do more than ‘merely assume’. To learn about the human context of Peter Jonas’s ‘slip’, I telephoned him in Munich. To my astonishment, he told me[34] that his ‘slip’ had been ‘rigged’. The programme-makers had suggested that a ‘slip’ might ‘break the ice’. Barenboim and Lawley had expected him to ask that question, and to make some sort of ‘slip’, though they had not known what ‘slip’.
I asked Jonas why he thought the audience would find his ‘slip’ funny. He said that the Berliners, who spoke good English, would laugh that Jonas of the Munich opera took ‘Munich’ to mean ‘music’. Munich sees itself as the cultural and musical capital, indeed the capital, of Germany. Berlin finds this amusing. The ‘slip’ might not have worked in any other location in the world.
Jonas was simulating a ‘Freudian slip’. Like Shakespeare[35], Schiller[36], Tolstoy[37], Joyce[38], Mann[39], Beckett[40], and Nabokov[41], he invented one. Unlike them, he pretended not to be pretending. But his invention, like theirs, still serves to show how language speaks.
What if the speaker does deny that his slip has meaning? Freud ‘assumed’ he had to go ‘behind’ the ‘perceived phenomena’. But language speaks whether we admit it or not.
In a conversation with Boss on 29 January 1964, after the seminar, Heidegger discusses[42] the ambiguity of ‘Annahme’ (‘assumption’). ‘Annahme’, like ‘assumption’, can mean ‘suppositio’ (‘supposition’; e.g., of a supposed cause). But it can also mean ‘acceptio’ (‘acceptance’; e.g., of responsibility, or of luggage at a check-in [Gepäckannahme]).
Heidegger summarises (my translation):

Acceptio: it reveals itself from out of itself [sie weist sich von sich aus aus], proves itself itself [beweist sich selbst]. Suppositio: can not be revealed [kann nicht ausgewiesen werden], but it gets proved [aber es wird bewiesen].

Heidegger speaks also of the ambiguity of ‘sich versprechen’. With ‘sich’ accusative, it means ‘to make a slip of the tongue’. With ‘sich’ dative, it means ‘to promise (to) oneself’, or ‘to expect’, as in Heidegger’s example, ‘Ich verspreche mir nichts von diesem Auto’ (‘This car doesn’t show any promise’, ‘I don’t expect anything from this car’). ‘Versprechen’ means ‘to promise’ or ‘a promise’. ‘Versprecher’ is a ‘slip of the tongue’.
We may say:
I honour, or keep faith with, my promise by keeping my word (by my action). My action completes my stated intention.
I ‘honour’, or keep faith with, my slip by ‘keeping’ my word (as my action). My acknowledged intention completes my action.
I honour both my promise and my slip by assuming responsibility.
In both promise and slip there is what Freud called ‘Nachträglichkeit[43] (deferral, supplementarity, ‘afterwardsness’).
I make a slip: ich verspreche mich (accusative): I promise myself (to myself and others).
It slipped out. I was not in it, I shall come later. As Freud says[44]: ‘Where It was, shall [or should] I come to be’ (‘Wo Es war, soll Ich werden’).
I may have a responsibility to accept or assume another’s slip as a ‘Freudian slip’ even if he denies it.
On 2 August 1969, Heidegger sent Boss a note[45]. In it, he affirmed Freud’s concept of ‘repression’; but as ‘an ecstatic-intentional world-relationship to things, living beings and fellow human beings’, not as the outcome of ‘a psychical mechanics or dynamics’.
Boss wrote[46]:

Freud abandoned his central aim and violated his own brilliant innovation of seeing human phenomena in a meaningful historical perspective when he interpolated assumed processes. [My emphasis.]

But Daseinsanalysts all too often abandon a meaningful historical perspective by failing to assume (in Heidegger’s sense) the other’s actions as praxis (in Sartre’s sense).
Boss does, when it suits him, choose to see slips as ‘Freudian’. Meerwein writes[47] that ‘in psychoanalysis the interest in the assumed strivings must recede behind that in the perceived phenomena’; thus Meerwein appears ‘inadvertently’ to invert Freud’s ‘Grundsatz’. Boss calls[48] Meerwein’s mistake a ‘fundamental mischievement [Fehlhandlung]’.
Boss appears to hold Meerwein responsible for this alleged ‘Fehlhandlung’. But elsewhere, discussing ‘so-called “repression into the unconscious”’, he argues (my translation)[49]:

[…] the ‘having-to-look-away’ […] is quite other than a free and autonomously decided action. On the contrary, it is a matter of ‘not-being-able-to-do-otherwise’, and indeed in consequence of a dictatorship of the mentality of early upbringing-persons.

This sounds like Freud’s ‘psychic determinism’[50]. But Freud was at least inconsistent. On the one hand, he argued that Luther’s reported words, ‘Here I stand: I can do no other’, proved ‘determinism’; although their moral force (if Luther did say them) derives from their implication, ‘not that he was afflicted with a general paralysis’, as Antony Flew put it[51], but that he could indeed do other, by going against his conscience. Freud’s confusion has led to one kind of decadent ‘Freudianism’. But on the other hand, as Heaton has pointed out[52], Freud in practice ‘took a moral stance towards’ slips. ‘He enlarged the realm of moral discourse, he altered what we regard as reasonable and excusable.’
Boss does not appear interested in helping people assume responsibility for their slips. He does say[53] that, through Daseinsanalysis, a ‘former patient’ may ‘attune himself’ to ‘Gelassenheit [releasedness, serenity] towards things and openness for the mystery’, as enjoined by Heidegger in his 1955 Messkirch speech, ‘Gelassenheit[54]. If this means that the ‘patient’ now assumes responsibility for his slips, Boss does not say so. Perhaps we are to take it that he who has reached ‘Gelassenheit’ is beyond making slips.
Condrau writes of a psychology student who spoke of having congratulated his sister on her ‘Verwählung’ (‘misdialling’) when he ‘meant’ to say ‘Vermählung’ (‘wedding’).[55] The student said he approved of his sister’s choice. How, he asked, could this be a ‘Freudian’ slip? Condrau asks, what right do we have to say it is? And he is right. But that is because we do not know the student. It might be that those who knew him and his sister and her new husband would have burst into spontaneous laughter.
Condrau says[56] he is approaching slips as Daseinsanalysis approaches dreams. But what he says about the student’s slip is at odds with what he says about dreams[57]:

If we did, indeed, base our thinking on the idea that the dreamer decides on the meaning of his/her dream, this would open the doors wide to a subjectivistic phenomenology.

This is the authentic daseinsanalytic approach. Boss, in his first book on dreams (1953), also denies that ‘the dreamer decides on the meaning of his/her dream’. He asks[58]: ‘Or are there perhaps in reality no dream symbols at all?’ He insists that the dreamer of the ‘strange dream of an urn’, who interprets the urn as a ‘symbol’, is wrong.
A dream is private, though its telling is not. But a slip is often public. Does not Condrau’s point about the meaning of dreams hold a fortiori for the meaning of slips?
How do we, how should we, decide whether a phrase is a slip; and, if so, whether it is a ‘Freudian’ slip; and, if so, what it may mean? Surely, in each case, we look, or should look, at the social-phenomenological background, the human context. The context may seem so obvious that we may laugh, as at a joke, though we may be mistaken. Or the context may seem obscure. Either way, it calls for exploration.
For example, the musicologist Maynard Solomon thought[59] that Beethoven had made

[…] a clear mental error – what Freud’s translators used to call a ‘parapraxis’ or ‘symptomatic action’. […] On a leaf of sketches dated late September 1815 Beethoven addressed himself to God: ‘Almighty in the forest! I am happy, blissful in the forest! Every tree speaks through Thee [jeder Baum spricht durch Dich].’ Surely, I thought, Beethoven meant to say, ‘Thou speakest through every tree.’

But Solomon found other writings of Beethoven’s, including a note from 1815 or 1816[60]:

‘It is indeed,’ he wrote in stammering phrases, ‘as if every tree in the countryside spoke to me [als ob jeder Baum zu mir spräche], saying “Holy! Holy!”’

And, some years later, after finding similar language in Schiller, Novalis, Tieck, Schlegel and Hölderlin, Solomon reflected:[61]

What had appeared to be a curious personal image, an idiosyncratic phrase, or even a slip of the pen, turned out to be a sign of Beethoven’s kinship with wider cultural and philosophical currents; a simple metaphor opens on a network of shared beliefs and patterns of thought.

Again, on 5 September 1998, under the headline ‘At last, Clinton says sorry for affair’, President Clinton was quoted[62] as saying:

‘There is nothing that […] anyone else could say in a personally critical way that I don’t imagine I would disagree with [sic], since I’ve already said it myself to myself. And I’m very sorry about it. But there’s nothing else I can say.’

The President’s triple negative appears to gainsay his professed repentance. But further data would be needed to disprove it.
Daseinsanalysts, who rightly reject ‘metapsychology’, all too often ignore, or distort, social-phenomenological background too.[63] Uta Jaenicke’s paper ‘Der Biss der Muse[64] at our last Forum was a rare exception.
Freud tells in three of his works[65] how the President of the Lower House of the Austrian Parliament once made a slip. In his first account[66] of the incident, in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), Freud explicitly retells the story already retold by Meringer[67] a year earlier in the Neue Freie Presse. Meringer was himself reminding readers of a recent public event. As Freud quotes Meringer[68]:

‘You probably still recall the way in which the President of the Lower House of the Austrian Parliament opened the sitting a short while ago: “High House! I take notice of the presence of so and so many gentlemen and herewith declare the sitting closed!” The general merriment [Heiterkeit; my emphasis] made him notice his mistake and he corrected it. In the present case the explanation is no doubt that the President wished he was already in the position to close the sitting, from which little good was to be expected, but – a common occurrence – the secondary theme at least partly asserted itself and the result was ‘closed’ for ‘open’, thus the opposite of what was meant to be spoken […]

Boss and Condrau retell the story, again and again, but censor its social context.[69]
They do not mention the Austrian Parliament. The Lower House becomes an anonymous ‘Versammlung’, which could be a private club. From Boss and Condrau we learn only that Freud told the story and, on the basis of his ‘metapsychology’ of ‘merely assumed’ intrapsychic forces, suggested that the President wished to close the meeting. We could not guess that Meringer had told the story and, invoking merriment not metapsychology, had suggested that the President wished to close it. Boss and Condrau mention neither Meringer nor merriment. Their accounts are abstract, stripped of content and context.
What has happened to the quest for ‘the things themselves’?
Boss and Holzhey-Kunz write[70]: ‘Daseinsanalysis itself wants to be nothing other than a purified psychoanalysis.’ But it is ‘impure reflection’[71] (Sartre) that is abstract. Purifying lets language speak in lucid detail of our Mitsein, our concrete being-in-the-world-with-others.
It is hard work.
In the first two chapters of The Psychopathology of Everyday Life Freud gives complex analyses of two slips of memory. In the first, he claims that he forgot the name ‘Signorelli’[72]; in the second, that a ‘young man’ forgot the word ‘aliquis’ in a line of Virgil[73]. He calls both slips ‘paradigms of name-forgetting’[74]. But this is itself a slip, since ‘aliquis’ is not a name but an indefinite pronoun. Is this third slip also ‘Freudian’?
How could one answer this question without exploring the social background of the two ‘paradigms’? Peter Swales, Richard Skues and I have been doing so for decades.[75] Freud claims that the ‘young man’ forgot ‘aliquis’ because he feared he had made his mistress pregnant. But our research shows that it is more likely that Freud himself forgot ‘aliquis’, in conversation or thought, and was worried that he might have made his wife’s sister Minna Bernays pregnant.
Freud claimed[76] a special value for his analysis because, he alleged, a person other than himself forgot ‘aliquis’. Kurt Eissler, Director of the Freud Archives, argued[77] that, since for Freud to lie about this would be ‘impermissable’ [sic] and ‘indecent’, therefore Freud must be telling the truth.[78] Most authorities on Freud insist, in addition, that he would never have had a sexual relationship with Minna.[79]
But in August 2006, thirty years after Swales hypothesised that Freud’s relationship with Minna was encrypted in the ‘aliquis’ analysis, Franz Maciejewski inspected an old guestbook of the Hotel Schweizerhaus in Maloja. Freud had sent his wife Martha a postcard from Maloja dated 13 August 1898 saying that he and Minna were staying ‘in einem bescheidenen [modest] Schweizer Haus’.[80] In Freud’s handwriting, an entry in the hotel guestbook on 13 August 1898, the day he sent his wife the postcard, announced that the guests in Room 11 were ‘Dr Sigm Freud u Frau / Wien’ (‘Dr Sigm Freud and wife / Vienna’).[81]
Perhaps Freud was short of money (though the Schweizerhaus was hardly ‘modest’[82])? Perhaps he would risk sharing a room with Minna only if their relationship was not sexual? Perhaps he reckoned that people would reckon that he would risk sharing a room with Minna only if their relationship was not sexual?[83] He loved the joke[84] about the Jew who, according to his interlocutor, is lying because he says he is going to Cracow to suggest he is going to Lemberg when in fact he is going to Cracow.[85]
But was the ‘aliquis’ slip, whether fact or fiction, a ‘Freudian slip’ at all? No, says the philologist Sebastiano Timpanaro.[86] What, after all, was the slip? Freud claims an Austrian Jew in 1900 has forgotten the ‘aliquis’ in Virgil’s line[87], Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor (‘Let someone arise from my bones as an avenger’ or ‘Arise from my bones, avenger, whoever you may be’.) This, says Timpanaro, is normal banalisation[88]:

[…] the uniqueness of the construction in Latin combined with its odd sound to a German, to make the young Austrian commit a stylistic and syntactic banalization […] If we suppress exoriare, or nostris ossibus or ultor, the line loses all its sense; if we suppress aliquis, however, the line is certainly damaged metrically and aesthetically, but it still has a meaning, particularly in regard to the polemical use that the young Jew wanted to make of it.

Language speaks. It does not so readily reveal that of which it speaks.
It cannot be a matter of daseinsanalytic indifference whether a narrated slip was made by the narrator, or by another; in conversation, or in private rumination; whether it was made at all, or was simulated, or invented; and what was the human context of the factual or fictional slip; and whether it was a ‘Freudian slip’ at all. But Daseinsanalysts have ignored not just the human context of Freud’s ‘paradigm’ slips but the slips themselves.
Freud sought[89] a unified theory of dreams, slips, hysteria, obsessional neurosis, paranoia, and other phenomena. So did Boss. But Freud’s theory explicitly included jokes[90]. Boss’s did not. Slips and jokes are very close. But jokes, and merriment, and laughter, have received little attention from Daseinsanalysts.[91]
When Tony Blair visited and thanked British troops in Iraq on 4 January 2004, he spoke of ‘weapons that can cause distraction [sic] and destruction on a massive scale’. The Prime Minister paused briefly after saying ‘distraction’ before adding ‘and destruction’. This was televised and reported with amusement in the press. There is a transcript on the 10 Downing Street website.[92] Anyone who claims it was a meaningless slip is likely to be laughed at.
David Irving, towards the end of his closing speech in his libel trial against Deborah Lipstadt in London, addressed the judge as ‘mein Führer’. Most people in the courtroom started laughing, including the judge.[93]
Less well known is that, early in the trial, the judge himself made a slip. He referred to Irving as ‘Hitler’.[94] This was not reported in the press or in books on the trial. If it had been noticed, would writers have drawn conclusions as they did from Irving’s slip? Would they have said that the judge’s slip showed his bias? Or that it revealed his insight? Or that it meant nothing? Without further evidence, how could one decide what, if anything, it meant?
These examples give some idea of the meaning, indeed the high stakes, that ordinary people see in some slips, and how they spontaneously take account of the human context in responding to a given slip as a ‘Freudian’ one. Often, for understandable reasons, they do not want it thought that they have made a ‘Freudian slip’. To decide whether someone has done so, and if so, what it may mean, may be a difficult task, as I have tried to show. Any decision must be tentative, open to revision. This is phenomenology. This is Daseinsanalysis. Or it should be. But it is not the province of ‘experts’. Nor does the maker of a slip have privileged access to its meaning or lack of meaning.
So. Die Sprache spricht. The study of slips is one place where Daseinsanalysis has a golden opportunity to develop Heidegger’s insight.


Another place ‘on the way to language’[95] is ‘schizophrenia’. Freud regarded slips, like dreams and jokes, as part of the same series as ‘hysterical phobias, obsessions and delusions’.[96] It is not necessary to believe in ‘schizophrenia’ to agree that it is not far from the merriment of slips to the darkening of the world.
But what is ‘schizophrenia’? How do Daseinsanalysts understand it?
Bleuler, director of the Burghölzli, invented the term ‘schizophrenia’ in 1908[97].
It was a direct application of Freud’s ideas.
Bleuler had been sending his own dreams to Freud for analysis since 1905.[98] He was chairman of the Swiss Society for Freudian Researches.[99] He was director, with Freud, of the planned psychoanalytic yearbook of which Jung was editor. In 1910 Bleuler published[100] a defence of psychoanalysis in the yearbook. While using the new term ‘schizophrenia’[101] in passing, he applied mathematical probability to justify Freud’s theory of slips at length. He focussed in great detail on the ‘aliquis’ analysis.[102]
Bleuler remained committed to Freud’s thinking on slips. He defended it again[103] in his book Autistically-Undisciplined Thinking in Medicine and How to Overcome It [my translation] (1919), and even called in the eminent mathematician György Pólya[104] to support his argument that Freud’s ‘aliquis’ analysis had ‘more probability value than thousands of unchallenged medical “findings”’[105]. Freud proudly quoted this in a 1924 footnote[106]. The 1970 English translation[107] of Bleuler’s book unfortunately drops the chapters on probability and ‘aliquis’. His son, the psychiatrist Manfred Bleuler, alleges[108] they are ‘out of date’.
In his book Dementia Praecox or The Group of Schizophrenias (1911), Bleuler says that he is undertaking ‘nothing less than the application of Freud’s ideas to dementia praecox’.[109]
The very concept of ‘schizophrenia’ is thus one of the first fruits of Freud’s thinking.
Bleuler says the first ‘fundamental symptom’ of ‘schizophrenia’ is ‘disturbances of association’.[110]
So ‘schizophrenia’ is a ‘disease’ which manifests itself in language.
A ‘Freudian slip’ is not a disease, although Freud tries to make it part of what he calls the ‘psychopathology’ of everyday life.
But ‘schizophrenia’, as Bleuler conceives it, has an inescapable double aspect.
On the one hand, it refers to a person’s use of language. This is observable. It may be misunderstood, misinterpreted, extrapolated from its social context. But it can be accepted, assumed, in the sense of acceptio that Heidegger clarified (see above); and it can be investigated phenomenologically, like a so-called ‘Freudian slip’, to see if it makes sense in its human context. It needs no ‘assumption’, in the sense of suppositio, of non-human ‘forces’ ‘behind’ the phenomena.
But, on the other hand, in the concept of ‘schizophrenia’ there is just such a causal-mechanistic ‘assumption’, or suppositio, of a hypothetical ‘disease’ which ‘causes’ the linguistic phenomena that are regarded as its ‘symptoms’.
Daseinsanalysts, steeped in Heidegger, should be attuned to the difference between the two kinds of assumption. Heidegger remarks that Aristotle calls someone educated if he knows the difference. ‘If not, he is not educated.’[111]
What light have Daseinsanalysts thrown on ‘schizophrenia’?
Boss was interested in ‘schizophrenia’. Bleuler was one of his teachers.
In a letter to Heidegger for his eightieth birthday Boss writes of Heidegger’s eyes[112]:

[…] the radiance of a thinking power which was at once utterly passionate and sober and seemed to transcend all limitations of a human intellect. Secretly and gently woven into it was a tremendous tenderness and sensitivity of heart.

Boss says he has met only two other men with such eyes: Freud and an Indian sage (Boss’s guru Gobind Kaul[113] in Kashmir). But Boss goes on to say[114]:

Already during my student years the revered teacher and great psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler had opened my eyes to the fact that modern natural-scientific investigations can find no access precisely to what is properly human in our patients.

And four years later, in his autobiographical account in Pongratz’s book Psychotherapie in Selbstdarstellung (1973), Boss speaks of four ‘men with glowing eyes’. Bleuler was ‘the first’.[115] As a medical student, Boss had ‘hour after hour’ of ‘private seminars’ with his ageing teacher Bleuler, who shared his ‘liking for philosophical reflection’.[116]
Boss went on to work with ‘schizophrenics’ in the sanatorium he directed at Schloss Knonau.[117] He corresponded with Freud about them.[118] He wrote interesting papers on how ‘schizophrenics’ were ‘treated’[119] and on the dreams of psychiatrists who gave them electro-shocks[120].
But neither Bleuler nor Boss disputed there was a ‘condition’, ‘schizophrenia’, which was caused by a ‘disease’, also called ‘schizophrenia’.
Bleuler, it is true, in his book on ‘autistically-undisciplined thinking’, went so far as to say[121]: ‘The concept of mental illness (as it is, not as it should be) is precisely not a medical, but rather a social one.
But what should ‘the concept of mental illness’ be? As Szasz has been arguing[122] for nearly fifty years, the concept is a logical category mistake.
Where did Heidegger stand on ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘mental illness’?
Heidegger showed great understanding of the language of allegedly ‘mentally ill’ writers and poets like Hölderlin, Nietzsche, Trakl, and Celan.[123] He explored what he called the ‘site’ of these writers’ language with extraordinary sensitivity.
Eckart Wiesenhütter wrote[124]:

[…] Heidegger was interested in psychiatry, especially with schizophrenics, with whom he sought contact and conversations when this was possible for him […] Once he said frankly that he was not convinced of the correctness of the exclusively medical interpretation of schizophrenia as illness. Could it not even simply be a question of an other’ kind of thinking?

But Heidegger did not have the courage of his lack of conviction.[125] He did not stay with what he knew so well: language as the house of Being, language as that which speaks. While uneasy about the ‘medical interpretation of schizophrenia’, he took care not to contradict it, and in fact endorsed it. To Hannah Arendt, Heidegger wrote that his son Jörg’s wife, Dorothea, was ‘ill’; an editorial note explains that her ‘illness’ was ‘schizophrenia’.[126] Heidegger called Paul Celan, whose poetry he revered, ‘sick’.[127] In Zollikon Seminars, Heidegger refers to Boss’s ‘Sun Man’[128] and Binswanger’s ‘heel phobia’ girl[129] as ‘sick’. While criticising a ‘Dr M.’ for wanting a ‘technical’ psychotherapy that could produce only a ‘polished object’, Heidegger says that what should ‘come out’ of psychotherapy is a ‘healthier human being’[130] (my emphasis).
There is no evidence that Heidegger questioned the right or duty of psychiatrists to incarcerate and forcibly ‘treat’ the ‘mentally ill’. Nor did he mention, let alone speak out against, the extermination of the ‘mentally ill’ in the Third Reich.
Boss wrote to Heidegger[131]: ‘As Erheller [Illuminator, Clarifier, Enlightener] of the spirit of technology you are also the founder of an effective preventive medicine.’
Boss gave his magnum opus the title Grundriss der Medizin.[132] And the Zollikon seminars were for doctors, as is repeatedly stated by both Boss and Heidegger, too often to document here. Boss excluded non-medical psychotherapists and psychologists from the seminars, although an occasional professor of philosophy was admitted.[133]. Non-medical people were not allowed to train as Daseinsanalysts, decades after Freud and Jung had encouraged and trained non-medical analysts.[134] Heidegger went along with all this evidently without demur.
Heidegger, Boss and Condrau approach ‘schizophrenia’ in a ‘holistic’, ‘daseinsanalytic’ way; but they take it for granted that it is an ‘illness’ that they are approaching. For example, Condrau writes that Wyrsch, Binswanger, and Boss talked to their ‘patient’ ‘as if s/he were healthy’. That is to say, Condrau writes as if the so-called ‘patient’ were not healthy.[135]
While the Zollikon seminars were taking place, in the late nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties, R. D. Laing and Aaron Esterson in London were doing research to test rigorously the ‘medical interpretation of schizophrenia’ that Heidegger, according to Wiesenhütter, ‘once’ had the temerity to doubt. Laing and Esterson’s book Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964)[136] contains tape-recorded excerpts from Esterson’s interviews with eleven families of diagnosed women ‘schizophrenics’. He devised a phenomenological method of interviewing as many subsets as possible of each family. In a sequel, The Leaves of Spring (1970)[137], he studied one of the families in greater depth.
I shall present a short excerpt[138] from an interview with one of these ‘schizophrenics’ and her mother. It is conducted by Esterson in the early 1960s in the mental hospital where ‘Mary Irwin’[139], the 21-year-old ‘patient’, has been incarcerated, ‘tranquillised’ by daily electro-shocks, and ‘maintained’ by electro-shocks and Stelazine.
Esterson recommended listeners and readers[140] to

bear in mind certain of the apparent clinical features of the presumed illness: namely, the designated irrational outbursts of anger, the ‘persecutory delusion’ that her mother was killing her mind, the designated delusion that she was not a person, the so-called speculative woolly thinking about the meaning of life, the designated inability to face life’s difficulties, and the so-called lack of insight into the so-called fact of being ill. And at the time of the session the girl was still regarded by three of the senior psychiatrists in the hospital as ill, and as manifesting these features among others.

DAUGHTER: When I was coming home for weekends you said that I wasn’t well, and that I was selfish and too full of myself, and all the rest of it.
MOTHER: Well, you were selfish then, Mary. Or else it was that you were ill.
MOTHER: Well, that’s how it appeared to us, that you were selfish.
DAUGHTER: How was I selfish?
MOTHER: Well, I can’t remember now, but I do know that…
DAUGHTER: No, you see you won’t tell me now, so I don’t know how, so if I get better again I won’t know if I’m right or wrong, or when I’m going to crack up again or what I’m going to do.
MOTHER: Now that’s a form of selfishness, thrusting your opinion on me, and not listening to mine.
DAUGHTER: Well, you were thrusting your opinion on me and not listening to mine. You see, it works both ways.
MOTHER: I know.
DAUGHTER: But I have to take it when I’m at home, from you, because you’re my mother. [Pause.] See, I can’t be selfish, but if you’re selfish that’s not wrong. You’re not ill because you’re selfish, you’re just my mother and it’s right if you can do it.
MOTHER: I know what you mean.
ESTERSON: Well, what was actually Mary doing when you thought she was either selfish or ill, what was she actually doing?
MOTHER: Well, I can’t remember –
ESTERSON: You can’t remember –
MOTHER: – but I mean if Mary says [inaudible] – I can remember saying she was selfish.
ESTERSON: You can remember? [To Mary.] Can you remember what you were doing?
DAUGHTER: No, I can’t remember, I can’t remember much about my whole holiday.
MOTHER: At Maureen’s?
DAUGHTER: No, before that.
MOTHER: Well we went to Maureen’s just after you went into hospital. But I know you went back to us at Christmas, and you never went back to the shop, to the hairdressing. And it was more than a week after, I remember that was one of the things I thought you were selfish in.
DAUGHTER: What was I selfish about?
MOTHER: Well, not letting us know anything about what you were doing or anything. And we never knew until I rang the hospital to see how you were that you hadn’t been back to the hairdressing.
DAUGHTER: Who was I being selfish to? Don’t you think that maybe that I wasn’t selfish, I just didn’t, didn’t – rely on you any more. I wasn’t selfish at all, I was righting myself, I was establishing myself. It wasn’t selfishness.

As Esterson says[141]: ‘What has happened to the schizophrenia? Where is the girl’s madness?’
The mother says to the daughter: ‘[…] you were selfish […] Or else […] you were ill.’
Mary says: ‘See.’
It is difficult to convey the poignancy with which Mary articulates this monosyllable.
(In Sanity, Madness and the Family, this first part of the conversation is wrongly transcribed, to read[142]:

MOTHER: Well you were selfish then Mary. It was because you were ill.
MARY: Sick.

This destroys the sense of this important exchange.)
A less resourceful daughter might simply give in, and be crushed. And this daughter has been crushed. This is why she is in the madhouse. But she is not totally crushed. And Esterson is providing a space for her to be heard.
In this space, the daughter finds words for what she has been trying to do. She is, she says, neither selfish nor ill. What she is trying to do is to ‘establish’ herself. She is trying to establish her self. She emphasises: ‘establish myself’.
As Esterson says[143]:

[…] study the designated schizophrenic directly in his relevant social context in a phenomenologically and dialectically valid manner, and to a significant extent the apparent signs and symptoms of the presumed illness disappear like morning mist before the sun […]

Boss says something similar in his Grundriss der Medizin (1971)[144]:

[…] with no single patient can one speak of his being schizophrenic per se. Rather, one must always ask: schizophrenic under the excessive demands of what pattern of human relationships?

But Boss’s language still begs the question of what ‘schizophrenic’ means. And Boss has defined the whole field of Daseinsanalysis, in the title of his book and elsewhere, as part of medicine. He and Heidegger constantly refer to ‘patients’ as ‘ill’. This is an unnecessary and tragic limitation of Daseinsanalysis.[145]
From Esterson’s point of view, this isn’t a medical problem at all. The primary problem is that Mary is seen as having a medical problem. Nor is it even a question of something non-medical wrong with Mary.
But Mary’s parents and her doctors have a linguistic problem. They do not understand what Mary is saying. This is not because she is stupid or inarticulate. I have her school reports. She was the best in her class at English.[146]
The psychiatrists, in particular, have a severe linguistic problem. As Esterson says[147]:

Such was the hypnotic effect of the prior assumption of illness, that one had constantly to remind oneself that there was no evidence to substantiate this assumption […]

It is what Wittgenstein calls[148] ‘the Verhexung [bewitchment] of our Verstandes [intellect, reason, common sense] by the means of our language’.[149] Mary is struggling, as Wittgenstein says philosophy does[150], against this serpent power. Most psychiatrists, most existential analysts and Daseinsanalysts, most philosophers even, do not even see it.
Esterson and Laing have been misunderstood. When they are mentioned at all, they are said to have made a questionable contribution to the ‘aetiology’ of the ‘illness’, ‘schizophrenia’. For example, van Deurzen and Kenward write[151]: ‘Laing […] believed schizophrenia was the result of the alienating power of the schizophrenogenic family’.
Laing and Esterson repeatedly emphasise[152] that they are not trying to throw light on the ‘aetiology’ of a hypothetical ‘illness’, ‘schizophrenia’. The first reference[153] in the first edition of their book is to Thomas Szasz, who had recently published The Myth of Mental Illness[154]. They are questioning the existence of ‘schizophrenia’. But no one mentions this.
They write[155]: ‘No one can deny us the right to disbelieve in the fact of schizophrenia.’ But their disbelief in ‘schizophrenia’ is not mentioned, let alone discussed. Here is another wonder of language: silence. We have heard many words at this Forum about silence and meditation, but nothing about Totschweigen: how silence may kill.
Perhaps Laing and Esterson’s argument is wrong. But one cannot prove an argument wrong if one has not mentioned what it is.
Esterson and Laing are questioning the existence of an ‘illness’, ‘schizophrenia’. And Mary is herself questioning whether she is ill. She says she doesn’t think she has an illness at all. For the psychiatrists, this is merely another symptom of the illness they assume she has. As we saw, she ‘lacks insight into the fact that she ill’.
Kafka might have done justice to this new Inquisition.[156] But very few follow Szasz and Esterson in refusing to collude with it, although many pay lip-service.
It is not enough to say, as Daseinsanalysts at this Forum have said, that if they were ‘treating’ this young woman they would ignore her ‘diagnosis’. One can ‘ignore’ it but still believe it. Most Daseinsanalysts do appear to believe in ‘schizophrenia’.
And even, or especially, if the Daseinsanalyst disbelieves in ‘schizophrenia’, he cannot responsibly ignore a report, from his client or from a third party, that the client has been diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’. Authentic daseinsanalytic therapy may require clarifying, and giving the client the opportunity to realise and reflect on, how she has been confused, mystified and demoralised by her family’s and her doctors’ treating her experience and actions as the unintelligible outcome of a disease process. Such clarifying may require discussing with her the ‘diagnosis’ of ‘schizophrenia’ itself.
Heidegger fell into the trap of ignoring the ‘diagnosis’, despite his great sensitivity. But he was a layman. Boss might have clarified matters for him, but failed to do so even for himself.
Boss presents a few case vignettes[157] from Heidegger’s Zollikon seminars and conversations with Boss as if they displayed the golden touch of Heidegger on daseinsanalytic practice. And indeed, in a 1965 seminar, Heidegger[158] gives an extraordinary and fascinating response to a 1930 case study of a ‘schizophrenic’ by Franz Fischer[159]. However, Heidegger is silent on Fischer’s report[160] of an ‘unexpected’ visit to the ‘hospitalised’ patient by his father. The patient says[161]:

‘[…] I don’t know you. Are you the father? […] He looks like my father, but false and not real, perhaps made of mist or painted air, a great deception against me […] How long have I been here? […] Perhaps I’ve already been here longer than my father is actually old […]’

Fischer analyses the alleged ‘disturbance’ of ‘thought’ and ‘space-time structure’ in the patient’s language, but does not consider the possibility that the patient might be stating accurately what he feels about his father. Fischer mentions the patient’s ‘internment’ in the ‘institution’, but not the father’s necessary role in this. He does not say how the father relates to his son, or what he says to him.
Heidegger, Boss[162], Stern[163], and Minkowski[164] all discuss this case of Fischer’s at length, without mentioning the father, or the son’s ‘internment’. This is the standard psychiatric tradition.[165]
Heidegger was discussing Fischer’s case in Zollikon in 1965, one year after the publication of Sanity, Madness and the Family. Did Heidegger read Fischer’s paper which mentions the father, or did Boss supply him only with the excerpt he discusses? This seems almost certain, as Boss makes it clear that he supplied ‘sections’ (‘Abschnitte’)[166], even of Freud’s writings, presumably in photocopy, rather than books, for Heidegger to peruse.
Four decades on, have Daseinsanalysts noticed Szasz’s work on the language of ‘mental health’, or Laing and Esterson’s work on the language of families?
I have found no references to Szasz in daseinsanalytic writings, although I have shown[167] how his thinking on ‘mind’ is in tune with Heidegger’s.
Condrau mentions Laing a few times. But I have seen no acknowledgement in daseinsanalytic writings that Laing based his analysis of ‘false self’ in The Divided Self on Heidegger’s ‘das Man’.[168] Nor is Esterson’s discussion of ‘ontic security’[169] in The Leaves of Spring mentioned, although it is clearly based on Heidegger.
Sanity, Madness and the Family uses Sartre’s terms ‘praxis and process (‘processus’).[170] Is this why Daseinsanalysts ignore it?[171] Do these terms have no place in Daseinsanalysis? At stake is the distinction between ‘motive’ and ‘causality’, moral and physical causes, that Heidegger[172] emphasises in Zollikon Seminars.[173] The book could be rewritten using Heidegger’s terms, and would be no more or less daseinsanalytic.
It is already daseinsanalytic from cover to cover.
Laing and Esterson say[174]: ‘Our findings are presented with very few interpretations, whether existential or psychoanalytic.’ And[175]:

Our discussion and comments on each family are pared down to what seems to us to be an undeniable bedrock.
Inferences about experiences that the experiencers themselves deny, and about motives and intentions that the agent himself disavows, present difficulties of validation that do not arise at that phenomenological level to which we have restricted ourselves. […]
Here, then, the reader will find documented the quite manifest contradictions that beset these families […]

The authors do not speculate about what lies ‘behind’ the contradictions they document. Daseinsanalysts should therefore be able to hear language speaking in Sanity, Madness and the Family.
Why do Daseinsanalysts have such difficulty in accepting the phenomenological nature of ‘Freudian slips’ but such ease in accepting the utterly unphenomenological attribution of the hypothetical suppositio of the supposed ‘disease’, ‘schizophrenia’?
Why do they not follow the logic of their position, as implied in their rejection of Freud’s so-called ‘Grundsatz’, and explore the territory in which Laing and Esterson are pioneers?
There seems little hope at present that this book will be understood in its country of origin. The ‘existential analysts’ dismiss it, mistakenly, as ‘unexistential’, and even ‘deterministic’.
Sanity, Madness and the Family insists on discovering each of the eleven diagnosed women’s ‘behaviour’ as autonomous, the action of a human agent, praxis. This is the book’s whole point. It is the very antithesis of determinism. For van Deurzen and Kenward to see ‘determinism’ here[176] is as misguided as for Freud to see it in Luther’s ‘Here I stand: I can do no other.’
But Daseinsanalysts could embrace Sanity, Madness and the Family as a great authentic work of Daseinsanalysis. It embodies a detailed phenomenological exploration of language in families, and a Heideggerian ‘Destruktion’ of the concept of ‘schizophrenia’, that is not found in the official literature of Daseinsanalysis. It points beyond the crippling conception of Daseinsanalysis as ‘medical’[177].
‘Mary Irwin’ was ‘catatonic’. But she told Esterson[178] that her mother would ‘just go on and on’. ‘She seemed to stop me from thinking.’ ‘Tell you what I do, I sort of go rigid so nobody can get at me.’ So Mary’s ‘catatonic’ behaviour was praxis. Mary’s sister and mother told Esterson[179], and her sister confirmed to me four decades later[180], after Mary’s death, that Mary dropped her ‘catatonia’ overnight to be her sister’s bridesmaid. I have a photograph of her looking excited and vivacious at the wedding.
‘Claire Church’[181] was a ‘chronically institutionalised’, ‘thought-disordered’, ‘paranoid schizophrenic’[182]. She confirmed to me, four decades later[183], Esterson’s report[184] that her six months of discussions with him, individually and with her mother, had enabled her to leave hospital. She told me she had pursued a satisfying career.
Esterson wrote[185]:

Although this type of study functions primarily to define the nature of the problem within the family, and is, therefore, essentially only preliminary to possible explicit therapeutic intervention, it does itself have significant therapeutic value, since it tends to open out issues and to facilitate communication.

The therapeutic value was not limited to the diagnosed ‘patient’. It was not a question of ‘treating’ an ‘illness’.
In so far as this was therapeutic, it was therapy of the word by the word.
A psychotherapist is, etymologically, an attendant on the psyche, or soul; and here it was not a question of one soul only.
Erasmus recalls[186] the Greek proverb cited by Plutarch and taken from Aeschylus: ‘Psuches nosouses eisin iatroi logoi.’ (‘Words are physicians to a soul diseased.’)[187]
It is clear that the proverb is a metaphor. But the ‘clinical’ psychiatrist calls himself the ‘iatros’ of the ‘psuche’, the ‘physician’ of the ‘psyche’, or ‘mind’ as he now calls it. He thinks the psyche or mind is literally diseased and he is literally its doctor.
The psychiatrist has arrogated to himself the place of the Word, of language.
In Sanity, Madness and the Family, not psychiatry but language speaks. It is a fitting study for Daseinsanalysts.
It has everything to do with Heidegger’s insights that ‘die Sprache spricht’; that ‘language is the house of Being’; and that ‘the world of Dasein is Mitwelt [with-world]’[188].
It confirms Heidegger’s saying that the call of conscience recalls us to our situation.[189]
It shows how language can lighten or darken our situation, as dwellers in a house, or in a madhouse, of Being.


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Appendix: Citations of the sentence that Binswanger called Freud’s ‘Grundsatz

Paper or chapter
Book or journal

1947a [1936]
Binswanger, L.
Freuds Auffassung des Menschen im Lichte der Anthropologie
Ausgewählte Vorträge und Aufsätze, Band 1
1963a [1936]
Binswanger, L.
Freud’s conception of man in the light of anthropology
Being-in-the-World (ed. Needleman, J.)
1957a [1944–5]
Binswanger, L.
Der Fall Ellen West
142, 150
1958 [1944–5]
Binswanger, L.
The case of Ellen West
Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology (ed. May, R., Angel, E. and Ellenberger, H. F.)
319, 327
Boss, M.

Sinn und Gehalt der sexuellen Perversionen (First edition, repeated in second, third, fourth editions)
1949 [1947]
Boss, M.

Meaning and Content of Sexual Perversions
1979d [1952]
Boss, M.
Die Bedeutung der Daseinsanalyse für die Psychologie und die Psychiatrie
Von der Psychoanalyse zur Daseinsanalyse
Boss, M.

Der Traum und seine Auslegung
1957a [1953]
Boss, M.

The Analysis of Dreams
Boss, M.

Einführung in die psychosomatische Medizin
1959a [1954]
Boss, M.

Introduction à la Médicine Psychosomatique
Binswanger, L.
Mein Weg zu Freud
Der Mensch in der Psychiatrie
Boss, M.

Psychoanalyse und Daseinsanalytik
100, 130
1963a [1957b]
Boss, M.

Psychoanalysis and Daseinsanalysis
1963b [1961a]
Boss, M.
Psychosomatics and Existentialism
Proceedings of the 3rd World Congress of Psychiatry, Montreal, Vol.3
Boss, M.

Lebensangst, Schuldgefühle und psychotherapeutische Befreiung
1994a [1962]
Boss, M.
Anxiety, guilt and psychotherapeutic liberation
Readings in Existential Psychology and Psychiatry (ed. Hoeller, K.)
Heidegger, M.: (ed. Boss, M.)
Seminar vom 24.und 28. Januar 1964; Zwiegespräch mit Medard Boss, 29. Januar 1964
Zollikoner Seminare (Herausgegeben von Medard Boss)
6, 7, 233
2001a [1987]
Heidegger, M.: (ed. Boss, M.)
Seminar of 24 and 28 January 1964; conversation with Medard Boss, 29 January 1964
Zollikon Seminars (edited by Medard Boss)
5, 7, 186
Condrau, G.

Die Daseinsanalyse von Medard Boss und ihre Bedeutung für die Psychiatrie
Condrau, G.

Psychosomatik der Frauenheilkunde
1979f [1967]
Boss, M.
Modell und Antimodell in der psychosomatischen Medizin
Von der Psychoanalyse zur Daseinsanalyse
1977b [1970]
Boss, M.
Die notwendige Revolution im ärztlichen Denken
Leiben und Leben: Beiträge zur Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie (Herausgegeben von Medard Boss, Gion Condrau und Alois Hicklin)
Boss, M.

Grundriss der Medizin
1979a [1971]
Boss, M.

Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology
Boss, M.
Medard Boß [Selbstdarstellung]
Psychotherapie in Selbstdarstellungen (Herausgegeben von Ludwig J. Pongratz)
1979g [1973b]
Boss, M.
Sigmund Freud und die naturwissenschaftliche Denkmethode
Von der Psychoanalyse zur Daseinsanalyse
1979h [1974]
Boss, M.
Psychotherapie und Wissenschaft
Von der Psychoanalyse zur Daseinsanalyse
1991 [1975b]
Boss, M.

“Es träumte mir vergangene Nacht...” (Second edition)
1977a [1975b]
Boss, M.

“I dreamt last night...”
Boss, M.

Praxis der Psychosomatik: Krankheit und Lebensschicksal
1982 [1981]
Boss, M. and Holzhey-Kunz, A.
Das Konzept des Widerstandes in der Daseinsanalyse
Von der Spannweite der Seele (by M. Boss)
Condrau, G.

Sigmund Freud und Martin Heidegger
11, 18
Cohn, H. W.
Authenticity and the aims of psychotherapy
Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis, 4
Cohn, H. W.
Misconceptions in existential psychotherapy
Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis, 6.1
Cohn, H. W.

Existential Thought and Therapeutic Practice
Cohn, H. W.
Phenomenology and psychotherapy
Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis, 8.1
Cohn, H. W.
John Bowlby’s concern with the actual phenomenological aspects of attachment theory
Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis, 9.1
Cohn, H. W.

Heidegger and the Roots of Existential Therapy

For full bibliographical details see Literature.

[  ] = date of first edition, original language edition, or original lecture or document.
t = translation.

Author’s address:
‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, GB – London N22 7XE (

I thank Ms Angela Buxton, the late Prof. Dr. med. et phil. Gion Condrau, the late Dr Aaron Esterson, Mr Justice Charles Gray, Dr John M. Heaton, Mr David Irving, Sir Peter Jonas, Dr. Hansjörg Reck, Dr Richard A. Skues, Mrs Naomi Stadlen, Ms Rachel Stadlen, Mr Peter J. Swales and Professor Thomas S. Szasz for their kind assistance and criticism.

[1] Genesis 1: 3. (Soncino Chumash.)
[2]Die Sprache ist das Haus des Seins’ (Heidegger 1991 [1947]: 5; 1998a [1947]: 239).
[3] In ‘A dialogue on language between a Japanese and an inquirer’, Heidegger (1993c [1959c]: 90, 111–118; 1982a [1993c]: 5, 21–28) said he had ‘made shift’ by describing language as ‘the house of Being’.
[4] Genesis 3: 1. (Soncino Chumash.)
[5] Ibid. 2: 16–17.
[6] Ibid. 3: 2–3.
[7] See Midrash, Bereshit Rabbah, XIX, 3; and Leibowitz (n.d.: 25).
[8] This was noticed by Benno Jacob, cited by Leibowitz (n.d.: 31).
[9] See Radday and Brenner (1990: 64, 84–86) for a discussion of the humour of this Biblical narrative.
[10] Genesis 14: 21. (Soncino Chumash.)
[11] Ibid.14: 22–23.
[12] I do not know any Biblical commentator who mentions that these are, respectively, the first two-way conversation and the first two-way human conversation in the Bible.
[13] Stadlen 1999.
[14] Stadlen 2003e.
[15] Heidegger 1993a [1959a]: 12; 1971a [1959a]: 190.
[16] Barenboim 2006.
[17] Leboyer 1975 [1974]: 10–13.
[18] Heidegger 2001b [1996b]: 125.
[19] Stadlen 1999; 2003e.
[20] Stadlen 2003a: 163–166, n. 77.
[21] Freud GW 11: 62; SE 15: 67.
[22] Binswanger 1947a [1936]: 165; 1963 [1936]: 156.
[23] Binswanger 1957a [1944–5]: 142; 1958 [1944–5]: 319.
[24] For the profusion of citations of Freuds so-called Grundsatz by these authors, see the Appendix to the present paper. (For an earlier version see Stadlen 2003a: 174–176.)
[25] Heidegger 1987: 6; 2001a [1987]: 5.
[26] Freud GW 4: 179; SE 6: 162; my translation.
[27] Guttman et al. 1995.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Freud GW 4: 60, n. 1; SE 6: 51, n. 2.
[30] Walter Kaufmann (1980: 24) translates Freud’s ‘Fehlleistung’ as ‘mischievement’. This brings out the ‘mischievous’, ‘trickster’ nature of such ‘slips’ or ‘parapraxes’.
[31] See Stadlen 2003a: 163–166, n. 77.
[32] Heaton in his article ‘Freud and Heidegger on the interpretation of slips of the tongue’ (1982) points out that ‘Freudian slips’ (and jokes) illustrate Heidegger’s dictum, ‘language speaks’. Heaton does not refer to anything Heidegger actually wrote on interpreting slips of the tongue, but in effect speculates, quite convincingly, on what Heidegger might have said had he, at that time, published something on slips.
[33] Stadlen 2003a: 163–166, n. 77; 2003d: 359–360.
[34] Jonas 2006.
[35]         PORTIA: One half of me is yours, the other half yours –
Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
And so all yours.
(Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2, 1951 [1596–1597]: 238, cited in Freud GW 4: 108; SE 6: 97–98.)
[36]         QUESTENBERG: What now? Where go you then?
OCTAVIO:                                                                To her herself.
QUESTENBERG:                                                                             To –
OCTAVIO: [Interrupting him and correcting himself.] To the Duke. Come let us go –
 (Schiller, The Piccolomini, Act I, Scene 5, Coleridge’s translation, 1903a [1800]: 31–32, cited in Freud GW 4: 107; SE 6: 96–97.)
[37] Rice (2000: 17) writes that, at the end of Tolstoy’s story ‘The Death of Ivan Ilich’ (Tolstoy 1995 [1886]: 88; Rice’s translation),
Ivan Ilich intends to say ‘Forgive me’ to his son and wife at his deathbed (Prosti) but instead he says ‘Let me pass’ (Propusti). Our latter-day understanding of the psychopathology of everyday life behoves us to pay rather more attention to this slip of the tongue, and to the result more than the intent. Instead of the most profound human utterance, imploring a depth of response healing for both parties (‘Forgive me’), the dying man issues a peremptory official order that discourages compassion and clears the way for his exit (‘Let me pass’).
The point of the slip, evident in Rice’s account, is lost in the standard English translations of the story, including the Rosemary Edmonds one cited above.
[38]               —Well, that’s a point, says Bloom, for the wife’s admirers.
—Whose admirers? says Joe.
—The wife’s advisers, I mean, says Bloom.
Then he starts all confused mucking it up […]
(Joyce, Ulysses, 1958 [1922]: 297.) This slip is noticed by Budgen (1989 [1934]: 162). It is recalled in the ‘Circe’ episode of Ulysses (Joyce, Ibid.: 428):
BLOOM: […] Frankly, though she had her advisers or admirers, I never cared for her style […]
[39]               ‘Ah, how long!’ lamented the butler.
‘Ah, how short!’ cried the baker – but at once gave another frightful start and assured them that he also had meant to say how long.
(Mann, Joseph and His Brothers, 1999 [1943]: 887.) This is one of a series of slips by Pharaoh’s baker in the chapters ‘The two fine gentlemen’ and ‘Of the stinging worm’ (Ibid.: 878–897).
[40]        MRS ROONEY: No, Mr Rooney, Mr Tyler I mean, I am tired of light old hands on my shoulders and other senseless places, sick and tired of them.
(Beckett, All That Fall, 1986a [1957]: 175.)
MRS ROONEY: [Exploding.] Will you get along now, Mr Rooney, Mr Tyler I mean, will you get along with you now and cease molesting me?
(Ibid.: 176.)
[41] [Humbert Humbert transcribes from a book, Who’s Who in the Limelight:]
Quine, Dolores. Born in 1882, in Dayton, Ohio. Made New York debut in 1904 in Never Talk to Strangers. Has disappeared since in [a list of some thirty plays follows.]
(Nabokov, Lolita, 1980 [1955]: 32.)
[42] Heidegger 1987: 233; 2001a [1987]: 186–187.
[43] Freud GW 1:511, 512; SE 3: 281; GW 2/3: 211; SE 4: 205; GW 10: 243; SE 14: 270; GW 12: 72, n. 1; 88; SE 17: 45, n. 1; 58; Lacan 1966: 256, 684, 839; Laplanche 1999a.
[44] Freud GW 15: 86; SE 22: 80; my translation.
[45] Heidegger 1987: 357; 2001a [1987]: 287; my translation.
[46] Boss 1963a [1957b]: 92.
[47] Meerwein 1965: 37.
[48] Boss 1979f [1967]: 333.
[49] Boss 1982a [1981]:144; 1994b [1981]: 245.
[50] Freud GW 4: 282–283; SE 6: 253–254.
[51] Flew and Vesey 1987: 65.
[52] Heaton 1976: 76.
[53] Boss 1982a [1981]: 149; 1994b [1981]: 248.
[54] Heidegger 1992 [1959e]: 23–26; 1969 [1966]: 54–57. See also Stadlen 1996.
[55] Condrau 1998b [1989]: 178.
[56] Ibid.: 177.
[57] Condrau 1994: 46.
[58]Oder gibt es am Ende in Wirklichkeit gar keine Traumsymbole?(Boss 1953: 97; 1957a [1953]: 90; my translation).
[59] Solomon 2003: 42.
[60] Ibid.: 43.
[61] Ibid.: 45.
[62] O’Neill and Gurdon 1998.
[63] Stadlen 1996; 1999; 2003e.
[64] Jaenicke 2004.
[65] Freud GW 4: 67; SE 6: 59; GW 11: 28; SE 15: 35; GW 17: 144–145; SE 23: 284.
[66] Freud GW 4: 67; SE 6: 59.
[67] Meringer 1900.
[68] Freud SE 6: 59; my modification of Strachey’s translation.
[69] Boss 1963a [1957b]: 97; 1971: 346–347; 1979e [1961]: 259–260; 1979a [1971]: 139; 1982a [1981]: 143–144; 1994b [1981]: 244; Condrau 1998b [1989]: 176–177.
[70] Boss and Holzhey-Kunz 1982 [1981]: 111. (‘Die Daseinsanalyse will selber nichts anderes sein als eine geläuterte Psychoanalyse.’)
[71] Sartre n.d. [1943]: 185–206; 1966 [1943]: 211–237 (Part 2, Chapter 2, III).
[72] Freud GW 4: 5–12; SE 6: 1–7.
[73] Freud GW 4: 13–20; SE 6: 8–14.
[74] Freud GW 4: 20; SE 6: 14.
[75] Swales 1982a,b; 1998; 2003; Skues 2001; Skues, Stadlen and Swales 2000; Skues, Stadlen and Tanner 2001.
[76] Freud GW 4: 17–18; SE 6: 11–12.
[77] Eissler 1982. In this unpublished letter to Anna Freud, Eissler drafts a letter for Miss Freud to send to Peter Swales. It reads, in part:
Dear Mr Swales
As I am told you claim (spread the rumor) that the aliquis parapraxis had referred to my father although he wrote expressis verbis that it concerned “a person other than myself”[.] You may try to justify your claim by reference to my father’s 1899 paper & thus would show the lack of ability to distinguish between the permissable [sic] and the impermissable [sic], the decent & indecent […] I shall not support the research of a person who claims that my father was a liar, nor shall I continue a correspondence with him.
Freud’s 1899 paper is ‘Screen memories’ (GW 1: 529–554; SE 3: 299–322). It purports to discuss a patient of Freud’s but is now agreed by scholars to be (thinly) disguised autobiography. Swales never received such a letter from Miss Freud.
[78] For a deduction of an ‘is’ from an ‘ought’ to rival Eissler’s see Hirschmüller     2007.
[79] For example, Roudinesco and Plon write (2000: 505) that Freud ‘remained all his life a faithful spouse, capable of forbidding himself any sexual transgression’ (‘resta toute sa vie un époux fidèle, capable de s’interdire toute transgression sexuelle’). They do not say how they know this.
[80] Freud 1898; 2002: 109. A photocopy of the postcard (Freud 1898) from the Freud Archives in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, shows that there is a line break between ‘Schweizer’ and ‘Haus’, and that the ‘H’ of ‘Haus’ may be upper or lower case, so that it is unclear whether Freud is writing ‘Schweizer Haus’ or ‘Schweizerhaus’. Either of these could be either a proper name or a general description. Freud’s phrase ‘in einem bescheidenen Schweizer Haus [or Schweizerhaus]’ obscures the fact that ‘Schweizerhaus’ was the name of one, and only one, hotel in Maloja – and not a ‘modest’ one.
[81] Maciejewski 2006: 138, n. 124; 146.
[82] Baedeker 1897: 377. The Schweizerhaus (Hôtel Osteria vecchia) is one of only two hotels in Maloja given an asterisk of recommendation by Baedeker that year (the year before Freud’s stay there with Minna).
[83] Maciejewski’s discovery that Freud and Minna booked into a hotel room as man and wife does not prove that they had sexual intercourse there and then. It does not disprove Swales’s earlier hypothesis (Swales 1982b: 2529; 2003: 4041), based on, among other things, a careful reading of Freud’s ‘three fates’ dream (GW 2/3: 210–214; SE 4: 204–208), that Freud did not consummate a sexual relationship with Minna until two years later. It does not prove that they ever had a sexual relationship. But it does make it even odder to claim to know that they never did.
[84] Freud GW 6: 127; SE 8: 115.
[85] It is to be regretted that the New York Times did not publish a letter to the editor (Stone 2006) from the psychoanalyst Professor Jennifer Arlene Stone Ph. D. (not an invention of Nabokov’s) which advised:
In Europe, the correct and polite grammatical form of address for any woman over 30 years old, whether married or not, is Frau (German), Signora (Italian), Madame (French). […] All that these articles and claims reveal is how unanalyzed Freud’s detractors are: they fail to realize that their display of curiosity about the primal Oedipal scenario is nothing but their uncomfortable fantasies about their parental own.
Professor Stone’s guidance as to ‘the correct and polite grammatical form of address’ was, unfortunately, not available to Freud when, on holiday with his wife in 1898, less than a month after sharing a room with his 33-year-old sister-in-law in Maloja, he sent Minna a postcard from Ragusa dated 7 September and one from Spalato dated 9 September, addressing both cards to ‘Fräulein Minna Bernays’ (Freud/Bernays 2005: 248). What the correct form of address has to do with Freud’s guestbook description of Minna as his ‘Frau’ (‘wife’) will no doubt be apparent to the adequately ‘analyzed’.
[86] Timpanaro 1976 [1974]: 30–40.
[87] Virgil Aeneid IV 625.
[88] Timpanaro 1976 [1974]: 35.
[89] Freud GW 2/3: VII; SE 4: xxiii.
[90] Freud GW 6; SE 8.
[91] The words ‘Witz’, ‘Humor’, ‘joke’, ‘humour’ do not occur in the indexes of the principal works of Boss and Condrau on the relation between Daseinsanalysis and psychoanalysis (Boss 1963a [1957b]; 1971; 1979a [1971]; Condrau 1992; 1998b [1989]). Nor can I find them in Boss 1957b, which has only a name index.
[92] Blair 2004.: ‘PM thanks UK armed forces in Basra visit’.
[93] I was in the courtroom and witnessed this event. The official trial transcript reads (Irving v. Penguin and Lipstadt, Day 32, 15 March 2000: 193):
[MR IRVING:] I am clearly seen to interrupt my speech, shake my head at them and gesticulate with my left hand to them to stop, and I am clearly heard to say, “You must not”, because they are shouting the “Siegheil” slogans, Mein Fuhrer, and things like, “you must not always be thinking of the past”.
Irving published this on his website with ‘mein Führer’ in quotation marks, implying that this was just another slogan that ‘they are shouting’. After I pointed out to him (by email) that he had changed the transcript, he removed the quotation marks, but he now also removed the comma after ‘mein Führer’, thus continuing to suggest that this was one of a list of slogans that ‘they are shouting’. The judge, Mr Justice Charles Gray, kindly confirmed to me (Gray 2000) that Irving had indeed addressed him as ‘mein Führer’ rather than as ‘my Lord’. Mr Justice Gray added that, in his view, the slip did not imply ‘anything sinister’.
[94] The transcript reads (Irving v. Penguin & Lipstadt, Day 7, 20 January 2000: 42):
MR JUSTICE GRAY: Professor Watt, when you said what you have just said about Hitler (sic) as a military historian, you are talking…
MR IRVING: Irving.
I am indebted to Mr David Irving for pointing this out to me (Irving 2000).
[95] Heidegger 1993d [1959d]; 1982c [1971c].
[96] Freud GW 2/3: VII; SE 4: xxiii.
[97] Bleuler 1908: 436.
[98] Marinelli and Mayer 2002: 144–159.
[99] Freud/Jung 1974: 89, n. 1.
[100] Bleuler 1910/11.
[101] Ibid.: 688.
[102] Ibid.: 648–654.
[103] Bleuler 1927 [1919]: 128–133, 151–154.
[104] Ibid.: 157–160.
[105] Ibid.: 154 (my translation).
[106] Freud GW 4: 17, n. 1; SE 6: 11–12, n. 1.
[107] Bleuler 1970 [1919].
[108] Ibid.: xix.
[109] Bleuler 1950 [1911]: 1.
[110] Ibid.: 14.
[111] Heidegger 1987: 6, 234; 2001a [1987]: 6, 187.
[112] Heidegger 1987: 363–364; 2001a [1987]: 293–294; my translation.
[113] Boss 1987 [1959b]: Abb. 12, 13.
[114] Heidegger 1987: 364; 2001a [1987]: 294; my translation.
[115] Boss 1973a: 79; my translation.
[116] Ibid.: 80.
[117] Ibid.: 85.
[118] Ibid.: 86.
[119] Boss 1979b [1937].
[120] Boss 1979c [1941].
[121] Bleuler 1927 [1919]: 59; 1970 [1919]: 73; his emphasis, my translation. See Szasz 1979a [1976]: 27–32 for a discussion of Bleuler’s book.
[122] E.g., Szasz 1961; 2001.
[123] Heidegger 1981 [1944]; 2000 [1981]; 1993a [1959a]; 1993b [1959b]; 1971a [1959a]; 1982b [1993b]. See Stadlen 2003b: 173–174.
[124] Wiesenhütter 1979: 158; my translation.
[125] See Stadlen 2003b; 2005; Stadlen and Stadlen 2005.
[126] Arendt/Heidegger 1999 [1998]: 132–133, 296.
[127] Safranski 1998: 423; Baumann 1992: 80.
[128] Heidegger 1987: 196; 2001a [1987]: 152.
[129] Heidegger 1987: 256; 2001a [1987]: 206.
[130] Heidegger 1987: 270; 2001a [1987]: 215.
[131] Heidegger 1987: 368–369; 2001a [1987]: 297.
[132] Boss 1971.
[133] Condrau 2002.
[134] Ibid.
[135] Condrau 1998a: 94.
[136] Laing and Esterson 1964.
[137] Esterson 1970.
[138] See Esterson 1972; 1976a. The excerpt I played is part (Esterson 1972: 12–13; 1976a: 298–299) of a longer excerpt (Esterson 1972: 11–15; 1976a: 297–301) played by Esterson during a lecture, ‘Understanding families: A dialectical approach’ (Esterson 1972). I give my own transcription from the original tape, as there are some minor inaccuracies in the transcription in Esterson (1972; 1976a).
[139] Laing and Esterson 1964: 189–208 (Family 9: The Irwins).
[140] Esterson 1976a: 296–297.
[141] Ibid.: 301.
[142] Laing and Esterson 1964: 205.
[143] Esterson 1976a: 302.
[144] Boss 1971: 506; 1979a [1971]: 236; my translation.
[145] See Stadlen 2005.
[146] I am grateful to the sister of the late ‘Mary Irwin’ for her help with my research.
[147] Esterson 1976a: 296.
[148] Wittgenstein 1958 [1953]: 47 (I. 109).
[149] Cooper (1967: 1–2) uses Wittgenstein’s aphorism to describe Szasz’s view of ‘schizophrenia’. But Cooper himself accepts ‘schizophrenia’ as ‘not an entirely meaningless term’ for a certain kind of ‘micro-social crisis situation’.
[150] Wittgenstein (loc. cit., my translation): ‘Philosophy is a struggle [ein Kampf] against the bewitchment of our intellect by the means of our language.’
[151] van Deurzen and Kenward 2005: 118.
[152] See Preface to Second Edition, Laing and Esterson 1971 [1964]: vii–x.
[153] Laing and Esterson 1964: 4, n. 1. This footnote refers to The Myth of Mental Illness (Szasz 1961; 1962 [1961]). The corresponding footnote in the Pelican edition (Laing and Esterson 1970 [1964]: 18, n.) refers specifically to ‘p. 16n etc.’ of Szasz’s book. But p. 16 contains no footnote; indeed, it is blank. Nor does any other footnote in Szasz’s book develop the argument to which Laing and Esterson allude, namely, that a person should be presumed healthy until proved otherwise. Almost certainly, ‘p. 16n’ is a misprint for ‘p. 100’. It is on p. 100 that Szasz argues for the presumption of health, as Szasz himself points out in his next book, Law, Liberty and Psychiatry (1974 [1963]: 224).
[154] Szasz 1961; 1962 [1961].
[155] Laing and Esterson 1971 [1964]: vii.
[156] See Szasz 1971 [1970].
[157] E.g. Heidegger 1987: 195–196; 2001a [1987]: 151–152.
[158] Heidegger 1987: 66–70; 2001a [1987]: 51–54.
[159] Fischer 1930.
[160] Ibid.: 249–252.
[161] Ibid.: 249–250; my translation.
[162] Boss 1971: 492–496; 1979a [1971]: 228–231.
[163] Stern 1979: xix–xx.
[164] Minkowski 1995 [1933]: 269–270; 1970 [1933]: 288–289.
[165] See also Stadlen and Stadlen (2005: 134–138) for a further examination in its historical context of Heidegger’s Zollikon discussion of Fischer’s case.
[166] Boss 1973a: 96.
[167] Stadlen 2003c: 222–225.
[168] Mullan 1995: 152. This statement by Laing refutes Heaton’s (1991: 32–33) assertion that Laing’s The Divided Self (1960) was ‘greatly influenced’ by ‘Winnicott’s notion of a true and false self’.
[169] Esterson 1970: 30–32, 53, 96, 129, 149.
[170] Laing and Esterson 1964: 8.
[171] Heaton (1995: 34) writes that Sanity, Madness and the Family is a ‘very good read’ but that ‘its dependence on Sartre’s theory is disastrous’. But, in conversation with me, Dr John Heaton (2006) agreed that its findings are, in fact, independent of Sartre’s theory. He agreed that, while he was objecting to some of the book’s language, it could be rewritten in Heideggerian terms – or, as he suggested, in terms of Thomas Reid’s (2000 [1764]) ‘common sense’ philosophy – without altering the point it is making. However, since Heaton (1995: 34) writes that the book is making a ‘valuable point’ about the ‘manifestations of schizophrenia’, it is not clear whether Heaton has registered that the primary purpose of Laing and Esterson’s book is to question the existence of ‘schizophrenia’.
[172] Heidegger writes (1987: 28; 2001a [1987]: 23; my translation and brackets): ‘Motiv ist ein Beweggrund für menschliches Handeln; Kausalität: Beweggrund für Abfolgen innerhalb des Naturprozesses.’ (‘Motive is a ground for human action; causality: ground for sequences within the process of nature.’)
[173] Sartre (1960: 533–549, 673–688, 704–736; 1976 [1960]: 539–559, 716–734, 754–794) uses ‘processus’ (‘process’) to refer to human (not natural) events. Laing and Esterson (1964: 8) define the term, somewhat misleadingly, to mean ‘a continuous series of operations that have [sic] no agent as their author’. They then use it to include both what Heidegger calls ‘the process of nature’ and what Sartre means by ‘processus’, namely, human (usually group) events which appear (before dialectical investigation) to have no author.
[174] Laing and Esterson 1964: 11.
[175] Ibid.: 12.

[176] In the entry for ‘Laing’ in their Dictionary of Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling, Emmy van Deurzen and Raymond Kenward (2005: 118) write:

In practice, Laing’s ideas were dominated by a psychoanalytic thinking which limited the extent of his existential thought, for his overall conceptualisation of his patients was deterministic.

This is the opposite of the truth. Laing made a fundamental contribution to the non-deterministic theory and practice of psychoanalysis. His existential-phenomenological psychoanalytic thinking, far from ‘limit[ing] the extent of his existential thought’, served and extended his existential thought.
Laing rejected determinism, clinicism and ‘pseudo-irreducibles’. He sought help from Sartre’s anti-determinist philosophy (Sartre 1952; 1957 [1936–1937]; 1960; 1964 [1952]; 1966 [1943]; 1968 [1960]; 1976 [1960]; 2000 [1943]; Laing and Cooper 1964; Laing and Esterson 1964; Stadlen and Stadlen 2005: 134–138; Scott and Thorpe 2006). His central project was to show that many human events which psychiatrists and others had seen as just happening, presumably the outcome of deterministic causality, were intelligible or comprehensible as the outcome of personal agency. In Sartrean terms, Laing’s project was to reveal process as the outcome of praxis.
The first reference in the first edition of Laing and Esterson’s book Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964: 4, n. 1) is to Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness (1961), written against determinism in psychoanalysis and psychiatry.
Moreover, in Sanity, Madness and the Family, Laing and Esterson (1964: 11) explicitly and deliberately refrain from psychoanalytic interpretation.
When Laing does draw on psychoanalysis, elsewhere, it is always in an existential-phenomenological way.
For example, he writes in The Politics of Experience (1967: 30) about so-called ‘defence mechanisms’ in psychoanalysis:

There is thus some phenomenological validity in referring to such ‘defences’ by the term ‘mechanism’. But we must not stop there. They have this mechanical quality, because the person as he experiences himself is dissociated from them. He appears to himself and to others to suffer from them. They seem to be processes he undergoes, and as such he experiences himself as a patient, with a particular psychopathology.
But this is so only from the perspective of his own alienated experience. As he becomes de[-]alienated he is able first of all to become aware of them, if he has not already done so, and then to take the second, even more crucial, step of progressively realizing that these are things he does or has done to himself. Process becomes converted back to praxis, the patient becomes an agent.
Ultimately it is possible to regain the ground that has been lost. These defence mechanisms are actions taken by the person on his own experience. On top of this he has dissociated himself from his own action. The end-product of this twofold violence is a person who no longer experiences himself fully as a person, but as a part of a person, invaded by destructive psychopathological ‘mechanisms’ in the face of which he is a relatively helpless victim.

Laing’s argument here is in accord with an observation of Sartre’s in Critique de la Raison Dialectique (1960: 117, n. 1; 1976 [1960]: 17, n. 6; my translation) that

The single fact that Anna Freud (after so many others) can define these functions as ‘mechanisms of defence’ stamps the work of the ego with an a priori inertia.

Laing writes in Interpersonal Perception (1966: 15):

Projection is a form of action directed at one’s own experience of the other. It is called a ‘mental mechanism’. This is a very misleading term, since it is neither mental nor mechanical. It is an action whose intentional object is one’s own experience of the other. It is to the credit of psychoanalysis that it has brought to light actions of this kind.

Laing’s account in The Politics of Experience (1967: 29) of what he calls transpersonal ‘defences’ is also explicitly non-deterministic:

How she behaves toward him influences (without by any means totally determining) how he experiences her. And his experience of her contributes to his way of behaving towards her which in turn…etc.

Laing continues to describe ‘defence mechanisms’ and transpersonal defences in terms of personal agency in The Politics of the Family (1969: 26–31). He clarifies the issue of personal agency as follows (1969: 27–28):

The operations on experience we are discussing, are commonly not experienced themselves. So seldom does one ever catch oneself in the act, that I would have been tempted to regard them as themselves, essentially not elements of experience, had I not occasionally been able to catch a glimpse of them in action myself, and had not others reported the same to me. It is comparatively easy to catch someone else in the act.

And (1969: 29):

The operations I have alluded to are operations on one’s own experience. They are done by one person to himself or herself. But they would be unnecessary unless the rules of the family required them: and ineffectual unless others cooperate.

Laing writes in The Politics of Experience (1967: 70) of a confused family situation:

Such processes seem to have a dynamism divorced from the individuals. But in this and every other case this process is a form of alienation, intelligible when, and only when, the steps in the vicissitudes of its alienation from each and every person can be retraced back to what at each and every moment is their only origin: the experience and actions of each and every single person.

Hence, as he writes in ‘Series and nexus in the family’ (Laing 1962: 13):

Family pathology is an even more corrupt concept than individual psycho-pathology. It simply extends the unintelligibility of individual behaviour to the unintelligibility of the group.

Laing and Esterson (1964: 9) repeat these sentences in modified form in Sanity, Madness and the Family, replacing ‘corrupt’ with ‘confused’.
Laing emphasises in Reason and Violence (Laing and Cooper 1964: 155; Laing’s translation and italics) Sartre’s remark in Critique de la Raison Dialectique (1960: 544) about theorists of ‘group process’:

[…] they have only chosen to see and study it on the level of its full unintelligibility.

Sartre’s original sentence (1960: 544) is:

[…] ils n’ont choisi de ne voir que lui et de l’étudier au niveau de son inintelligibilité plénière.

Laing’s enthusiasm for this sentence is such that he italicises his (correct) translation of it, while the (later) official English translation misconstrues Sartre’s strong negative as a double negative and so interpolates a ‘not’ which makes nonsense of the sentence by inverting its meaning (Sartre 1976 [1960]: 552):

[] they have not [sic] chosen to see only it and to study it at the level of its complete unintelligibility.

In a book, Mad to be Normal, of tape-recorded discussions during the last two years of his life, 1988–1989, Laing explains (Mullan 1995: 309):

[…] Adorno’s critique of existentialism made me very cautious about using a word like ‘authentic’ any more, or his critique of immediacy made me very chary about calling myself a phenomenologist in the Husserlian sense […]

But in these discussions Laing still (Mullan 1995: 365–366) praises Sartre for ‘cover[ing] the ground that Freud covered’ but without ‘objectifying and translating the existalia [sic] of the person into a meta-psychology of energy dynamics’ or ‘us[ing] a meta-psychology to account for how you can lie to yourself and other people’.
And Laing still (Mullan 1995: 314), when asked for his ‘model’ of ‘man’, gives the existential definition:

We are creatures, as has been said, whose being is in question to ourselves. […] we are our own question mark.

He still (Mullan 1995: 379) insists:

I’m not talking about the aetiology of schizophrenia, I’ve always said that. I’m talking about the experience and behaviour that leads someone to be diagnosed as schizophrenic is more socially intelligible than has come to be supposed by most psychiatrists and most people. That is a very embarrassing statement and people can’t hear that, and so it means that it is translated into saying that families cause schizophrenia […]

Laing concludes (Mullan 1995: 380):

Anything you can’t put in a journal headline in a couple of sentences that a bird mind can grasp is completely lost and collapsed into one of these formulas; that it’s caused by genetics, or it’s caused by society. I mean how ridiculous […]

So much for Laing’s ‘determinism’. The above examples are typical. Many more could be given. The philosophy of personal agency and non-determinism informs all Laing’s work.
As the sociologists Susie Scott and Charles Thorpe write in their recent paper, ‘The sociological imagination of R. D. Laing’ (Scott and Thorpe 2006: 334):

Social determinism, like biological determinism, treats human behavior as a ‘process’, being driven by impersonal forces operating on a different level to or behind the backs of actors. Instead, Laing treats schizophrenic behavior as praxis, that is, in terms of what agents are doing.

There is a legitimate criticism to be made of Laing’s equivocation about ‘mental illness’ (Szasz 1976a; 1979 [1976b]: 45–83; 1984: 42–45; 2004: 116–117; 2005; Esterson 1976; Stadlen 1979). But van Deurzen and Kenward do not make it. Their comment that he was ‘deterministic’ is without foundation. This is a matter of fact, not of emphasis, opinion, or interpretation. (See also Stadlen 2007: 133–136).
It is important to realise that, despite their opening words, ‘In practice…’, van Deurzen and Kenward are claiming to describe Laing’s ‘conceptualisation’. The present paper has documented what Laing consistently, over many years, said his conceptualisation was. To substantiate their claim, van Deurzen and Kenward would have to show either that Laing was lying or that, in addition to his explicitly stated conceptualisation documented above, he had a radically opposed conceptualisation of which he was ‘unconscious’ but to which they had access.
Samuel Johnson in his great dictionary (1755) defined a ‘lexicographer’ as:

A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge, that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.

Van Deurzen and Kenward do not appear to have busied themselves in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of Laing’s words. Yet reading his words is far from drudgery.
When lexicography distorts, it is not harmless. It may do great harm.
Laing introduced existential thinking to psychotherapy in the United Kingdom. It is regrettable that so few existential psychotherapists today, including those who write in this Journal, read what he wrote. It is to be hoped that van Deurzen and Kenward will revise their entry for the second edition of their Dictionary.
[177] Stadlen 2005.

[178] Laing and Esterson 1964: 198–201.
[179] Ibid.: 201–203.
[180] Interview with ‘Angela’, sister of ‘Mary Irwin’, 1 August 2001.
[181] Laing and Esterson 1964: 6194.
[182] Ibid.: 61; Esterson 1976b.
[183] Interview with ‘Claire Church’, 3 January 2001.
[184] Esterson 1976b.
[185] Esterson 1976a: 294295.
[186] Erasmus 1992: 223224.
[187] See Szasz 1979b [1978]: 29, 208.
[188] Heidegger 1986 [1927]: 118; 1962 [1927]: 155; 1996a [1927]: 112; my translation and brackets.
[189] Heidegger 1986 [1927]: 295–301; 1962 [1927]: 341–348; 1996a [1927]: 272–277.

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