Tuesday 1 January 2019

Dream and Dasein. 3. Descartes, Freud, Heidegger/Boss on dreams. Katherine Morris & Anthony Stadlen conduct Inner Circle Seminar 253 (10 November 2019)

Dream and Da-sein 3*

400th, 120th, 60th anniversaries
Descartes’s Dreams (10 November 1619)
Freuds Interpretation of Dreams (4 November 1899)
Heidegger’s First Zollikon Seminar (4 November 1959)

Katherine Morris   Anthony Stadlen

Inner Circle Seminar No. 253
Sunday 10 November 2019
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
René Descartes 
Sigmund Freud
Martin Heidegger

Katherine Morris
Katherine Morris

* Dream and Da-sein 3 alludes to the three subjects and three anniversaries we shall explore today. It is also No. 3 in a sequence of Inner Circle Seminars starting with
(1) the 12-hour seminar Dream and Da-sein (4 November 1999), a celebration both of the centenary of Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams published on 4 November 1899 and of the 40th anniversary of the first of Heidegger's Zollikon seminars held on 4 November 1959,
(2) Inner Circle Seminar No. 135, Dream and Da-sein Today: A Daseinsanalytic Symposium (7 December 2008).


In today's seminar Katherine Morris, the distinguished Oxford philosopher and co-author of the book Descartes' Dualism (1996), joins Anthony Stadlen in inviting you to collaborate in a meditation on the meaning of the dream for human beings, in life and in psychotherapy.

Clients often report dreams to psychotherapists, with an implicit, and usually unexamined, request or demand that the therapist should interpret them. Should the therapist simply accede to such a request, or invite the client to reflect on the request itself?

And in those instances where client and therapist do agree to embark on a conjoint exploration of the possible meaning of the dream, what are the criteria, if any, for knowing whether such an interpretation is correct, or in some sense valid?

The seminar marks the auspicious conjunction of three anniversaries, associated with some of the greatest thinkers on the meaning of dreams: René Descartes, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Medard Boss.

Descartes regarded his own dreams dreamt exactly 400 years ago on 10 November 1619 as a radical upheaval and revelation, leading to his epochmaking philosophy, and determining the whole course of his life and thinking.

Freud wrote of his own Interpretation of Dreams, published 120 years ago on 4 November 1899:

    ‘Insight such as this falls to ones lot but once in a lifetime.

Heidegger and Boss followed Freud in regarding the dream as in some sense paradigmatic for the understanding of the human being, but - as they expounded in the Zollikon Seminars, starting exactly 60 years later, 60 years ago, on 4 November 1969 - their daseinsanalytic approach differed in crucial respects from Freuds, whose thinking they thought had been distorted by his implicit but unrecognised dependence on Descartes. As Boss wrote in a momentous sentence:

    ‘What if there are no dream symbols at all?

Very few existential therapists know Heidegger’s writing on dreams. Bosss books on dreams are out of print; and second-hand copies are rare and expensive. Even most of those few existential therapists who have even heard of Bosss thinking on dreams, and even most of those many fewer who have read something of Bosss writing on dreams, have misunderstood it. A respected senior academic existential therapist at the 2018 conference of the Society for Existential Analysis gave a lecture which purported to expound and compare Freuds and Bosss respective positions on dream interpretation but stated them exactly the wrong way round. It was Freud, not Boss, who wrote that, if we do not understand what someone says, we ask him what he means; and that we should ask the dreamer, likewise, what his or her dream means. And it is Boss and his successor Gion Condrau in whose training institute for Daseinsanalysts in Zurich the examination candidate had to write the meaning of a given written dream of a dreamer about whom only the age and sex are divulged. Condrau wrote in Existential Analysis 5 (1994: 46):

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. Isn’t it precisely the essence of neurotic (or psychotic) perception, namely not to be able to distinguish phenomena from personal prejudices or projections?

This may not be what existential therapists fondly imagine to be the dream philosophy of the institute which Martin Heidegger helped found; but it is so.

How may we decide whether any of the differing dream theories of these thinkers can yield a correct or valid interpretation?

First, we must be clear what they actually wrote, as opposed to the nonsense that is written and spoken about what they are supposed to have written.

In todays seminar Anthony Stadlen will clarify what FreudHeidegger, and Boss actually wrote on dreams.
And Katherine Morris, world expert on Descartes, has already conducted a revelatory Inner Circle Seminar (https://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/2016/01/descartes-and-dualism-katherine-morris.htmlin which she showed that Descartess dualism was not the crude Cartesian dualism generally attributed to him. Today she will help us root our discussions of Descartes in what he actually wrote, rather than in what he is supposed to have written.

Only then shall we begin to explore how a therapist might reasonably respond when a client reports a dream.

Your own contribution to the discussion will be most welcome.

Venue:  Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra AvenueLondon N22 7XE
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, berries, nuts, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled

Special offer to those who have booked for the Society for Existential Analysis Conference on Saturday 9 November 2019: Psychotherapy trainees £50, others £60

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857   iPhone: +44 (0) 7809 433250
E-mail: stadlen@aol.com  or: stadlenanthony@gmail.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
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.

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