Essay Review. Martin Heidegger’s Impact on Psychotherapy, by Gion Condrau. 1998. (January 2003)

Essay Review

Martin Heidegger’s Impact on Psychotherapy
, by Gion Condrau. 1998. Dublin, New York, Vienna
: Edition Mosaic. 250 pp. ISBN 3 – 901953–12–4

Anthony Stadlen

Copyright © Anthony Stadlen 2003, 2020
[Existential Analysis 14.1: 162-178 (January 2003)]

This book has a modest, even amateurish, appearance. It reads oddly in places, partly because of the patchy English. It has many misprints, is poorly referenced, and has no index. However, this small book, published in his eightieth year, is the only one written in, or even translated into, English by Prof. Dr. med. et phil. Gion Condrau, the leading contributor to the Zurich ‘school’ of Daseinsanalysis after Medard Boss and Martin Heidegger himself.
I might not have learned of its existence for some time had Gion Condrau not sent me a copy on its publication in 1998. I would have read Dr Holger Helting’s enthusiastic and respectful review, in English, in the Daseinsanalyse yearbook (Helting 2000); and I would have hurried to find a copy. However, students have always told me it is impossible to find. The few people I know in England who know it do so because Condrau sent it to them; and their comments include: ‘superficial’, ‘difficult to read’, ‘doesn’t do him justice’. Dr Condrau complained to me that Existential Analysis had not reviewed it. He cheered up when I offered to do so. But he now appears somewhat embarrassed by his book. He tells me he does not care whether it is reviewed or not. ‘I can’t really stand by this book,’ he says.
What is going on? This review will try to answer this question and explain why this book is, despite Dr Condrau’s embarrassment, an important one.
Gion Condrau was born on 9 January 1919 in Disentis, in the Romansh-speaking canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. In his autobiographical account, ‘Curriculum Vitae’, in the book, Ama et Fac Quod Vis [Love and Do What You Want], edited for his eightieth birthday in 1999 by his sons, Gion Fidel and Claudius, Condrau (1999: 45–49) relates how, on 2 September 1939, the day of the Swiss mobilisation, still at recruit school at the age of twenty, he met in the rose garden at Chur a ‘smart and dashing captain of the medical corps’, Dr Medard Boss, to whom he was assigned as a ‘medical soldier’. He became Boss’s comrade-in-arms, analysand, pupil, colleague, friend. Since Boss’s death in 1990, he has succeeded Boss as the world’s leading Daseinsanalyst.
He first trained in psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery. He studied the outcome of lobotomy and leucotomy, and as Walter Fritzsch puts it, ‘the findings were not encouraging’. Fritzsch (1999: 60) comments (my translation): ‘Remarkably, as Condrau admits today, one did not at that time trouble oneself about the ethical dimension.’ Condrau also started a training analysis with a Jungian. But he explains that Boss’s 1947 book on the sexual ‘perversions’ almost decided him against a career as a psycho- or Daseinsanalyst. He wondered whether a psychotherapist ‘ever had to treat other patients than the sexually perverse’. Boss’s language seemed like ‘Kauderwelsch’ (‘double-dutch’) and one of Condrau’s former teachers told him Boss was a ‘Dadaist’ (Condrau 1999: 48).
Condrau was, however, sufficiently impressed by Boss’s ‘fascinating personality’ to enter training analysis with him in place of the Jungian he had started with. And then (Condrau 1999: 49, my translation and brackets):

In acknowledging my own tightrope-walking through life, it dawned on me that the ‘world’ had much more to offer if one showed oneself more openly to it. Only an immense arrogance could lead a ‘trainee analysand’ not to treat his own ‘training analysis’ as a necessary therapeutic path to the greatest possible world-openness and freedom. The motivation to become a Daseinsanalyst thus sprang, first, from my personal experience during my training [analysis] years with Medard Boss. In the second place, however, it was based on the difference in supervision with Medard Boss and Gustav Bally. But decisive was the encounter with Martin Heidegger, whose Zollikon seminars I attended with my colleagues for ten years, from 1959 to 1969.

Condrau was a prime mover of the Swiss Society for Daseinsanalytic Anthropology, the Daseinsanalytic Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (as Director), and the International Federation for Daseinsanalysis (as President). He is a member of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Regent’s College School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London. His colleague, Alois Hicklin, writes that ‘nobody has yet counted’ how many societies and associations Condrau has founded. They include the Bob Club of his home town, Herrliberg, which has produced world masters and Olympic gold- and silver-medallists (Hicklin 1999: 14). Condrau was also active until 1979 as a politician, a member of the Christian-Democratic People’s Party, first in the Herrliberg local council, then in the Zurich cantonal and Swiss national parliaments (Condrau 1999: 42–45). Working for the Red Cross at the end of the Second World War, he visited the Nazi concentration camp, Mauthausen, three times; and he insists, on the evidence of what he saw, that it was an extermination camp (Condrau 1999: 32). He worked for seven months in 1953–54 with the Neutral Nations Repatriation and Supervisory Commissions in Korea (Condrau 1999: 26–29).
‘If calculation were permitted here,’ as Heidegger (1993 [1959]: 63; 1982 [1971]: 182) says, permitting himself to calculate more than thirty references to ‘stone’ in Trakl’s poetry, Condrau has published more books and papers than Boss. The Festschrift for Condrau’s eightieth birthday in 1999 lists one hundred and ninety-five of his publications (Condrau Verzeichnis 1999), compared to the one hundred and twenty-four of Boss’s listed in the Festschrift for his eighty-fifth birthday in 1988 (Boss Verzeichnis 1988).
Condrau’s books cover an astonishing range: general psychotherapy (Condrau 1963a), daseinsanalytic psychotherapy (1963b, 1965a), anxiety and guilt (1962), psychosomatics (1968), women’s illnesses (1965b), death (1984), Daseinsanalysis (1998a [1989]), Freud and Heidegger (1992), the heart (Condrau and Grossmann 1989), the skin (Condrau and Schipperges 1993), and politics (Condrau 1972, 1976). He has edited a book on his birthplace, Disentis (Condrau 1996). His two-volume work (Condrau 1949), on fatal flight accidents of the Swiss Flugwaffe, remains unpublished. He has edited, and co-edited, books, and series of books, on many themes, as well as the journal, Daseinsanalyse. He has contributed many papers to books and journals.
He is a lively, independent thinker. He expounds Boss and Heidegger, with careful attention to detail, but with a critical appraisal of Boss’s arguments. He is also concerned to correct Boss’s tendency to romanticise the history and prehistory of Daseinsanalysis. Condrau is no respecter of what he calls, adopting Anglo-Saxon nosography, ‘bullshit’ (personal communication).
But not one of the fourteen German books of which Condrau is sole author, or any of those he has co-authored or edited, has been translated into English (or French). Some have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Serbo-Croat. The last two of these languages are the only ones into which Condrau’s magnum opus, Sigmund Freud und Martin Heidegger (1992), has been translated.
By contrast, seven of the thirteen books of which Boss was sole author have been translated into English: The Meaning and Content of Sexual Perversions (1949 [1947]), The Analysis of Dreams (1957 [1953]), Anxiety, Guilt and Psychotherapeutic Liberation (1962 [1962]), Psychoanalysis and Daseinsanalysis (1963 [1957]), A Psychiatrist Discovers India (1965 [1959]), “I Dreamt Last Night…” (1977 [1975]), Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology (1979 [1971]). But all have long been out of print, with the exception of the last, which is occasionally in print in paperback, in a poor and incomplete translation, ever more expensively priced.
An English translation (Heidegger 2001 [1987]) of Heidegger’s Zollikon Seminars edited by Boss (Heidegger 1987) has recently been published. I have explained in detail (Stadlen 2002, 2003) why this translation is unsatisfactory.
Of the other Daseinsanalysts, Erna Hoch has published a number of books in English, in India and Switzerland, including the excellent Sources and Resources: A Western Psychiatrist’s Search for Meaning in the Ancient Indian Scriptures (1991); but her book, Das Irrenhaus am Lotos-See (2000), has not been translated. None of the books of Holger Helting, Alois Hicklin, Alice Holzhey-Kunz, Hanspeter Padrutt, or Augustinus Karl Wucherer-Huldenfeld has been translated into English. These are all spirited and thoughtful writers, who argue intelligently and creatively, not least with each other. Their absence from the English-speaking world is a serious loss.
This, then, was the situation that Gion Condrau tried to remedy by writing his new book in English. But the book’s publishing history has been a disaster. Condrau’s other books are professionally produced, carefully annotated, scrupulously referenced and indexed; but this one looks like a draft. Dr Condrau tells me it is a draft. The publisher, a Tibetan, seems to have used no readers, editors, or copy-editors, at least for this book. He failed to keep an appointment for which Dr Condrau travelled to Vienna. Eventually, from a chance encounter with a visitor to his local library in Küsnacht, Dr Condrau learned that the firm, Mosaic, had gone into liquidation. The publisher was dead, and almost the entire stock destroyed. Dr Condrau managed to rescue about thirty copies (personal communication).
It is a disgrace that a man of Condrau’s stature had to resort to such a publisher. In a letter to the editors, published in this Journal, Condrau (1994: 47) wrote: ‘I have a book in store, already written in English. The problem is that I have to find a publisher, either in England or the USA.’ The editors added a note: ‘Prof. Condrau’s text was recently submitted to an international publishing house based in the UK. It is hoped that it will form a major contribution to a prospective series, Existential Perspectives on Psychotherapy and Counselling…’. The series was published. Condrau’s book was not.
This is why Dr Condrau ‘can’t really stand by’ his book. It was rejected by the publisher who should have published it, and sloppily produced by the one who did. There is no question of his not standing by what he wrote.
It is to be hoped that a professional publisher will now produce a second edition that has been read, re-read, edited, copy-edited, annotated, referenced, indexed, proof-read, and corrected for infelicities of English idiom.
In the mean time, we can be grateful to the late Tibetan publisher who, unlike the ‘international publishing house in the UK’, at least understood enough of the importance of this book to publish it.
What will readers lucky enough to get hold of one of the few surviving copies find? Condrau states clearly what he is trying to do (p. X):

Daseinsanalytic psychotherapy is, as yet, not too widely known in the English-speaking world. This book therefore shall be an introduction for those who heard the term Daseinsanalysis for the first time or who want to know how it actually works.

As one who has studied Daseinsanalysis for four decades, it seems to me that the book works at a number of levels, and might well open up the field for a beginner. It can be easy or difficult to read, depending on how much work one puts in. One will not get much from it if one finds it easy, or even only moderately difficult. A beginner may well understand it better than a ‘specialist’. What I am sure of is that it is a perpetual provocation even for the ‘specialist’ who is still open enough. A lifetime of experience and thinking has gone into the book. It is a distillation of four decades of Condrau’s writing. His is an individual voice; not an institutional recycling of themes already expounded by Boss. As Holger Helting (2000: 201) writes, Condrau’s book ‘moves well beyond Boss’s groundbreaking work [Existential Foundations]’. I value the book, not because I agree with it, nor because I disagree with it, but because it constantly moves me to ask whether I agree with it or not. This is an extremely rare experience for me when reading the literature of ‘psychotherapy’, about most of which I am in no doubt at all.
An excellent chapter-by-chapter summary of the book can be found in Dr Helting’s review in Daseinsanalyse, mentioned above. I shall try to complement his account by seeking, in Heideggerian spirit, to enter into a dialogue with the book.
Is the title not rather out of tune with Heidegger? ‘Impact’ suggests the collision of solid bodies. Perhaps we should be thankful it is at least not used as a verb. Boss proposed that Heidegger’s Zollikon seminars were a kind of ‘Heideggerian cure’ by group therapy. This sounds gentler than ‘impact’, but it was not gentle enough for Heidegger. He questioned whether the seminars were a ‘therapy’, and reminded participants that, in Latin, ‘semen’ means ‘seed’. He hoped ‘in these evenings to scatter a grain of reflection, that here and there will sprout some time’ (Heidegger 1987: 174; 2001 [1987]: 132–133; my translation).
Dr Condrau’s Foreword begins (p. IX):

The contents of this book are not just a translation of some (German) reviews of Martin Heidegger’s influence on psychotherapy and psychosomatic theory and practice by the author. It is, however, clear that most of the thoughts included in this volume have first been written in various papers and publications.

   But how can this be clear to readers unfamiliar with Dr Condrau’s many ‘papers and publications’ in German, as he does not, for the most part, indicate in which of them his thoughts have ‘first been written’?
Next, Dr Condrau laments: ‘It has become a major issue to talk about Martin Heidegger being a Nazi and having been involved with National Socialism.’ He continues (p. IX):

It is obvious that the persistent and tiresome reference to this chapter of Heidegger’s biography prepared by different authors (Farias, Ott, and others) … seems to be nothing other than an excuse not to have to engage in the great philosopher’s thinking.

  Does this do justice to the careful researches (Ott 1993) of the Freiburg historian, Hugo Ott? Is this reductive attribution of psychological motives true to the spirit of Daseinsanalysis? And, if it is irrelevant to notice that Heidegger was a Nazi, why is it relevant to claim, as Condrau does (p. IX), that ‘after 1938, he was one of the few, fundamental critics of Nazism at a time when it was life-threatening to question NS philosophy’?
Moreover, if Heidegger’s application of his thinking to politics was, as Condrau says he said, a ‘mistake’, is it not pertinent to ask whether the ‘mistake’ was in his thinking or in its application? Either way, would it not be irresponsible not to ask what he learned from his ‘mistake’, and how he, and we, can be sure that the application of his thinking to psychotherapy is not also a ‘mistake’?
However, as Dr Condrau has told us, Medard Boss told the participants in the Zollikon seminars that they must not ask Heidegger about his Nazism (Condrau 2000: 31; also confirmed by Gion Condrau at the third Forum of the International Federation for Daseinsanalysis, 28–29 September 1996, London). Does this not make nonsense of Boss’s comparison of the seminars to group therapy? What of Freud’s ‘fundamental rule’ that ‘one should communicate without criticism all that comes to mind’ (Freud GW 8: 373; SE 12: 107; my translation), which Boss (1963 [1957]: 61) cites as the first proof of the ‘intrinsic harmony of psychoanalytic therapy and Daseinsanalysis’? And is Boss’s prohibition consistent with Heidegger’s (1954a: 44; 1977a [1954a]: 35) dictum that ‘questioning is the piety of thinking’ (my translation)? Is Dr Condrau, who is in other respects so clear-sighted about Boss, here deferring to his old Hauptmann’s orders?
Why, finally, does Dr Condrau himself devote a whole section of his book, Daseinsanalyse (1989: 29–37), to Heidegger’s politics, and expand it, adding copious footnotes and a heading, ‘Politischer Irrtum’ (‘Political Error’), in the second edition (1998a [1989]: 34–44) published the same year as Martin Heidegger’s Impact on Psychotherapy?
The latter book, after the Foreword, is divided into five parts: (I) Foundations; (II) Psychopathology; (III) Psychotherapy; (IV) When there is no cure: doctors, death, and dying; (V) Training. There are twelve chapters: three in Part I, four in Part II, three in Part III, one in each of Parts IV and V.
One can, with a bit of detective work, deduce that all but the first of the twelve chapters have titles. This is not immediately apparent, because nine of the twelve are divided into sections, with titles; and the section titles are not distinguished by print size or typeface from the chapter titles, either in the table of contents or within the chapters themselves. Only from the spacing after the titles in the body of the text can one discover that eleven chapters do have titles. It is the task of the copy-editor, in this case non-existent, to make plain what is going on, by choice of print size and typeface, as a matter of elementary courtesy to the reader. It is a reviewer’s job to work it out, but an ordinary good reader should not have to, and may simply feel confused.
This may explain one of the difficulties readers have had with this book. It gives an unfortunate, and wrong, impression of having been thrown together haphazardly.
One of the attractions of Martin Heidegger’s Impact on Psychotherapy is that it is richly illustrated with case studies. They repay close reading and re-reading. But where do they come from? When did the events they describe take place? A virtue of Medard Boss’s Psychoanalysis and Daseinsanalysis (1963) was that it included, in addition to a translation of his short book, Psychoanalyse und Daseinsanalytik (1957), a number of case studies, including Benedetti’s case, supervised by Boss, of a ‘sadistic pervert’. It was disconcerting, though, that Boss did not explain that, or where, his case studies had been previously published. In fact, ‘Dr Cobling’ was first published in Boss’s paper, ‘Martin Heidegger und die Ärzte’, for Heidegger’s seventieth birthday (1959), and some of the other cases were from Boss’s Einführung in die Psychosomatische Medizin (1954). Dr Condrau’s case studies in his new book are, similarly, taken from various works, in most instances published much earlier, as we shall see. It is of great value to have them collected; but, without indication of their origin, do they not float in a historical vacuum?
Would not readers benefit from the following information? (Some case studies appear in several incarnations, and the tally may well be incomplete.)
  1. ‘Boris’, the thirty-five-year-old surgeon (pp. 42–47), was an anonymous surgeon in Sigmund Freud und Martin Heidegger (1992: 316–318).
  2. ‘Ernest’ (pp. 91–93) was ‘Thomas’ in Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: 111–114) and ‘Ernst Indermauer’ in Das verletzte Herz (1989: 121–117).
  3. ‘Odette’ (pp. 96–98) was in Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: 82–84, Abb. 1,2,3). The present book does not reproduce Odette’s artwork.
  4. ‘Annemarie’ (pp. 109–120) was in Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: 99–109, Abb. 4,5,6,7). Again, the present book does not reproduce Annemarie’s artwork.
  5. ‘Dr. Georgu’ (pp. 138–139) was in Angst und Schuld als Grundprobleme der Psychotherapie (1962: 175–176).
  6. The ‘South American millionaire’ (pp. 139–140) was in Angst und Schuld als Grundprobleme der Psychotherapie (1962: 176).
  7. The ‘son of an affluent North American family’ (p. 140) was in Angst   und Schuld als Grundprobleme der Psychotherapie (1962: 176–177).
  8. The ‘farmer’s wife’ (pp.1 70–171) was in Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: 60).
  9. The dream of ‘a spinster about 30 years old’ (pp. 180–182) was in Sigmund Freud und Martin Heidegger (1992: 313–316), and in ‘Dream Analysis: Do we need the unconscious?’ in Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis 4 (1993: 6–7).
  10. The dream of ‘a young girl’ (pp. 182–185) was in Sigmund Freud und Martin Heidegger (1992: 312–313), and in ‘Dream Analysis: Do we need the unconscious?’ in Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis 4 (1993: 7–9).
  11. ‘Otmar’, The case of ‘writer’s cramp’ (pp. 192–207), was ‘Othmar’ in Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin 7 (1961: 255–267), in Angst und Schuld als Grundprobleme der Psychotherapie (1962: 162–164), and in Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: 67–77), and ‘Otmar’ in American Journal of Psychoanalysis 48 (1988: 211–234).
Thus, eight of these case studies were published four decades or even longer ago, in 1961, 1962, or 1963. And there are at least five versions of ‘Otmar’, the earliest (presumably) in 1961.
Is not a historical perspective important to readers, even if they cannot read German? Might it not facilitate discussion of what Martti Siirala calls the ‘absolutist claims for “Daseinsanalysis” to a direct access to the phenomena in an adequate, undistorted way’ (see my introduction to Ann-Helen Siirala’s account of her husband’s work, in this issue of Existential Analysis)?
Whether or not the daseinsanalytic claim is ‘absolutist’, should not a daseinsanalytic writer, like any writer of case histories, give some idea of historical context? Even on the assumption that a kind of timeless daseinsanalytic ‘seeing’ is possible, does not daseinsanalytic humility itself require this reasonable precaution, so that readers can allow for the possible clouding of daseinsanalytic purity by socio-historically conditioned subjectivism, psychologism, and plain prejudice? Is it not likely that different historical epochs facilitate and frustrate ‘seeing’ in different ways?
Is not Dr Condrau’s interpretation of Annemarie’s Dream 6 (p. 118) a case in point? Is it still, or was it ever, ‘touching’, as he wrote in 1963, and repeated in 1998, that Annemarie defends the seducer of ‘a small girl’ (‘ein kleines Mädchen’)? Does Annemarie’s explanation that the girl is ‘cunning’, and that ‘this man has no nice home’ and ‘simply could not resist the clean and warm bed and the small girl in it’, inexorably point to, or only to, her acceptance of existential guilt, as Dr Condrau claims?
Could not a second edition reproduce Odette’s and Annemarie’s paintings and drawings, as in Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: Abb. 1–7)? Are not the references to them in the text of the new book (p. 97 and p. 117, respectively) frustrating for readers? After all, art is particularly important for Annemarie, who eventually ‘runs a well-frequented art gallery in her house, an activity that corresponds both to her inclinations and talents and that has given new meaning to her life’ (p. 120).
Would it not also be helpful for readers to be told where other material in the book first appeared? For example, in Chapter 4, ‘The Concepts of Neurosis and Psychosomatics’, there is a section, ‘Daseinsanalytic Interpretation of Schizophrenia’ (pp. 94–95). This discusses Binswanger’s ‘Ellen West’ and Boss’s ‘Dr Cobling’ cases, without, however, indicating that these are the cases in question, or where to find them, or that the discussion first appeared in Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: 80–82).
Again, Chapter 6, ‘Guilt and Existence’, derives largely from Dr Condrau’s book, Angst und Schuld als Grundprobleme der Psychotherapie (1962). This explains why some of the references, such as Pope Pius XII’s address of 10 April 1953, at first glance seem less than topical. However, the issues Condrau discusses in this chapter are perennial ones. He speaks of ‘repressed’ desires, which he says, in Freudian spirit, ‘cover mainly two large groups of human drives: aggression and sexuality’ (p. 136). But does his whole discussion not imply that one can also ‘repress’ ethical sensibility and striving? He asks (p. 126):

Can there be a higher aim and a more serious task for the psychotherapist than to guide the patient entrusted to him or her from a state of non-responsibility to responsibility, from apparent innocence to living out his/her guilt? The purpose of the analysis seems to be fulfilled when the patient has gained the capacity to face his or her personal guilt.

This is the authentic existential tradition. Guilt here means, of course, existential guilt, together with moral guilt if any. Condrau is in tune, in this passage, with his contemporaries, Szasz (1920– ) and Esterson (1923–1999), though there are differences, on which I shall touch below. Condrau seems to have gone too far for even Boss to be able to follow him when he wrote (Condrau 1962: 167): ‘Every anxiety is ultimately guilt-anxiety – even death anxiety’. But he stands by this assertion (Condrau 1998a [1989]: 87). He writes (p. 137) that ‘there need not be an unbridgeable abyss between legal guilt and existential guilt’. However, he goes on to repeat his now four-decades-old stereotypical denunciation (1962: 167) of ‘those who in apparent “innocence” (freedom from guilt) abided [sic] by the law self-righteously, but who in truth were simply blind for their own profound guilt – the Pharisees’. Dr Helting (2000: 201) praises Dr Condrau’s book for ‘encompass[ing] new research results’. Might not a second edition take note of new research results on the Pharisees, as found, for instance, in the writings of Hyam Maccoby (1989)?
Chapter 7, ‘The Daseinsanalytic-Phenomenological Approach to Narcissism’, is exceptional in that a reference is given to its earlier version as a chapter in the book, Narcissism and the Interpersonal Self (1993), edited by J. Fiscalini and A. L. Grey. Dr Condrau makes the important point (p. 149): ‘… it is incorrect to talk of “healthy” narcissism’. But, discussing ‘daily practice in dealing with narcissists’, he writes (p. 153): ‘Genuine empathy on the part of the therapist is possible only if he or she has managed, possibly with the help of a didactic analysis, to reduce narcissistic sensitivity and frustration intolerance to a “reasonable” level.’ Might he not have gone on to criticise here the notion of ‘empathy’ as itself narcissistic, as is implied by Heidegger’s brief, but crucial, discussion of ‘empathy’ (‘Einfühlung’) in Being and Time (1986 [1927]: 124–125; 1962 [1927]: 161–163; 1996 [1927]: 116–118)? Of course, Heidegger would surely have said that the very concept, or experience, of ‘narcissism’ always already presupposes being-with. In Sigmund Freud und Martin Heidegger, Dr Condrau (1992: 153–175) gives a more complete treatment of ‘narcissism’, and says of ‘empathy’ that ‘with this rather artificial neologism it is sought to give validity to a middle position between sympathy and apathy’ (1992: 173, my translation). But does this not still fall short of Heidegger’s fundamental criticism?
However, Chapter 8, ‘Daseinsanalysis as Psychotherapy’, does start to tackle ‘empathy’ in a business-like way (pp. 157–158):

Nobody needs to, or indeed can, enter into another person with the help of any type of emphatic [sic] feelings that supposedly aid in understanding that person emotionally. Based on his or her original understanding of Being, things not only disclose themselves in their thinghood, but other human beings disclose themselves just as immediately, both intellectually and emotionally.

The chapter is largely taken from Daseinsanalytische Psychotherapie (1963b: 49–61), and the above passage is an almost verbatim translation of a passage (1963b: 49–50) where the latter part was acknowledged as a quotation from Boss’s Psychoanalyse und Daseinsanalytik (1957: 126).
Chapter 9, ‘The Role of Dreams in Daseinsanalysis’, is of central importance. Dreams are discussed in many of the case studies in the other chapters, from ‘Boris’ to ‘Otmar’. Here he explains the daseinsanalytic understanding of dreams in principle. He discusses the dreams of ‘a spinster about 30 years old’ and ‘a young girl’ (pp. 180–185), which, as mentioned above, appeared earlier in Sigmund Freud und Martin Heidegger (1992: 312–316) and in this Journal (Condrau 1993). Dr Condrau also discussed them in lectures in London, in 1989 and 1992.
Could this chapter not be made a little clearer for a second edition? ‘Existential’ psychotherapists often suppose that the daseinsanalytic approach asks what a dream ‘means to the dreamer’. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is important that readers should understand what Dr Condrau’s position actually is. Could he not include in this chapter his remarks in his letter (Condrau 1994: 46) to this Journal? He wrote:

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?

He, like Boss, presents the understanding of dreams as paradigmatic for Daseinsanalysis, as Freud did for psychoanalysis. Indeed, he chooses Dora’s first dream, from Freud’s case study of 1905, as the best way to show ‘the difference between the various dream interpretations’ (pp. 185–189).
But he changes the dream itself! He changes its ‘manifest content’. This is how he reports it (p. 186):

A house is on fire, father is standing in front of my bed and wakes me up. I get dressed quickly. Mama wants to save her jewel case, but Daddy says: I don’t want my two children and I to burn to death because of your jewel case. We hurry downstairs and as soon as I am outside, I wake up.

Freud, however, says (GW 5: 225; SE 7: 64) that Dora says she dreamed her father said: ‘Ich will nicht, daß ich und meine beide Kinder wegen deines Schmuckkästchen verbrennen.In my translation (emphasis added): ‘I do not want that I and my two children should burn to death because of your jewel case.’ He puts himself first, ‘his’ children second. Freud at least discusses with Dora how her dream opens up the issue of the relationship between her parents, and of her relationship to that relationship, but Dr Condrau speaks only of her separate relationships with father, mother, brother. He concludes (p. 189): ‘The patient’s relationship with her father seems to be healthier in this dream than that with her mother.’ Is this the culmination of daseinsanalytic understanding? Freud’s approach to Dora’s dream has been criticised, not least by myself (Stadlen 1985: 31; 1989 [1985]: 201–202; 2000), but is it not in some ways more phenomenological, more daseinsanalytical, than Dr Condrau’s?
Condrau is, in fact, rather more accommodating to psychoanalysis than Boss. In Chapter 3, ‘The Significance of Language in Daseinsanalysis’, Dr Condrau points out (p. 74) that, while Boss ‘dismissed the idea of psychodynamics hook, line and sinker’, Boss was neglecting ‘the daseinsanalytic claim that it reveals and appropriates Freud’s actual intentions”’. The word ‘psychodynamics’, incidentally, nowhere appears in Freud’s writings, as can be seen by checking the Konkordanz (Guttman et al. 1995). As Condrau writes (p. 74): ‘If it is the case that human beings can be motivated, then this clearly and emphatically implies that they are dynamic.’ He similarly defends the psychoanalytic concepts of ‘projection’ and ‘regression’, which Boss and Heidegger dismissed, though he endorses their critique of ‘introjection’. Walter Fritzsch (1999: 82, my translation) writes that Condrau was ‘more generous than Boss towards other dream interpretations, particularly where it was a matter of therapeutic consequences’.
Dr Condrau’s reference to Dora’s allegedly ‘healthier’ relationship with her father raises another question. In the light of how her father was treating her, it would have been odd enough if Condrau had merely said her relationship with him was ‘better’ than with her mother. But what is a ‘healthy’ relationship? Do not the practitioners of Daseinsanalysis tend to medicalise morals, even if this is not a necessary consequence of its basic principles?
Eckart Wiesenhütter wrote (1979: 158, my translation):

One thing is certain: far more than neurosis-theory and psychotherapy, Heidegger was interested in psychiatry, especially with schizophrenics, with whom he sought contact and conversations when this was possible for him. On walks he regularly remained standing ‘lost in thought’ for a while before the villa of the Freiburg psychiatrist Ruffin and before the Parapsychological Institute of Bender. 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?

  As Zollikon Seminars and many of his writings show, Heidegger did not have the courage of his lack of conviction. While he loved the ‘mad’ writing and poetry of Nietzsche, Hölderlin, and Trakl, exploring what he called its ‘site’ with extraordinary sensitivity, he took care not to contradict the ‘medical interpretation’, and on occasion 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’ (Arendt / Heidegger 1999 [1998]: 132–133, 296). Heidegger called Celan, the poet of the Holocaust, with whom he was friendly, and whose poetry he revered, ‘sick’ (Safranski 1998: 423, citing Baumann 1992: 80). In Zollikon Seminars, Heidegger refers to Boss’s ‘Sun Man’ (Heidegger 1987: 196; 2001 [1987]: 152) and Binswanger’s ‘heel phobia’ girl (Heidegger 1987: 256; 2001 [1987]: 206) as ‘sick’. While criticising a ‘Dr M.’ for wanting a ‘technical’ psychotherapy that could produce only a ‘polished object’, Heidegger (1987: 270; 2001 [1987]: 215) thinks what should ‘come out’ of psychotherapy is a ‘healthier human being’ (my emphasis). It is not clear whether Heidegger questioned the right of psychiatrists to incarcerate and forcibly ‘treat’ the ‘mentally ill’. Boss excluded non-medical psychotherapists and psychologists from the Zollikon seminars, although an occasional professor of philosophy was admitted (Gion Condrau, personal communication). Heidegger does not appear to have questioned this. Boss writes, in his Foreword to the first edition of Zollikon Seminars (Heidegger 1987: XI; 2001 [1987]: xvii; my translation, emphasis, and brackets), of Heidegger’s having given a ‘load-bearing spiritual foundation for our medical practice and preserve [für unser ärztliches Tun und Lassen]’. Non-medical people were not allowed to train as Daseinsanalysts, long after Freud and Jung had encouraged and trained non-medical analysts (Gion Condrau, personal communication).
Does Dr Condrau transcend this ambiguous history? He certainly discusses the harm done by natural-scientism, reification, objectification, and so on. He also describes how he robustly challenged Balint’s absurd commendation, in a ‘Balint group’, of a gynaecologist who concluded, without examining the patient, that her severe lower abdominal pain was ‘“obviously” of neurotic origin and due to an emotional conflict between the daughter and her hysterical mother’ (p. 87).
But he does not ask the simple question asked by Szasz and Esterson in their books (Szasz 1961, Laing & Esterson 1964, Esterson 1970) published at the time of his own first books and during the decade of the Zollikon seminars: is the ‘neurotic’ or ‘schizophrenic’ ill at all? Dr Condrau approaches ‘schizophrenia’ in a ‘holistic’, ‘daseinsanalytic’ way; but he still takes it that it is an ‘illness’ that he is approaching. He writes that Wyrsch, Binswanger, and Boss talked to the patient ‘as if s/he were healthy’ (p. 94); thus he implies that, in fact, she or he was not. If this is questionable for ‘schizophrenia’, how much more so is it for the ‘neurotic’ clients he still calls ‘ill’? Again, he says of Odette (p. 96), that her ‘symptoms were not severe enough to require hospitalization in a closed institution’. But he leaves little doubt that, had they been, this ‘require[ment]’ would have been met, as part of the ‘intervening care’ that, in cases such as Odette’s, must in his view supplement ‘anticipatory care’, these two kinds of ‘care’ being the ‘extreme possibilities’ of ‘solicitude’ or ‘concern’ (‘Fürsorge’) that Heidegger distinguished in Being and Time (1986 [1927]: 122; 1962 [1927]: 158–159; 1996 [1927]: 114–115). Did Dr Condrau, who attended the Zollikon seminars in his fifth decade, never question Boss’s and Heidegger’s medicalising of ‘Da-sein’?
Students who worry about what questions, if any, they should ask a client could learn from Dr Condrau. He writes: ‘it is common for patients in daseinsanalytic therapy to find themselves faced with the question and challenge of why they do not take up certain new possibilities for relating and behaving’ (p. 70). Like Boss, he extols the virtues of ‘Why not?’ rather than ‘Why?’ (p. 166). Since these questions have become something of a fetish and a taboo, respectively, for ‘existential’ psychotherapists, it is amusing to see that, in his very first, exemplary, case study, Dr Condrau asks Boris, who had reported a dream of being paralysed from the hips down, ‘[W]hy were you so afraid of what happened?’, and follows this up by asking Boris why he had become ill, and why he had been stricken with such a paralysis (p. 43). It is good that Dr Condrau does not turn these rough and ready guidelines into rigid rules.
All in all, this is a book by a human being, written for human beings, not for technologists or time-servers. It is filled with concentrated thinking, sound sense, and wisdom, born of a lifetime’s practice and teaching of daseinsanalytic therapy. It is a book of rare qualities: a book to reflect on, question, and argue with. Given its accidental additional rarity, due to the destruction of most of the first edition, who would not want to find a copy? But let us insist on a second edition too.

Gion Condrau, introduced by Anthony Stadlen, will conduct an Inner Circle Seminar, in the centenary month of Medard Boss’s birth, on Sunday 26 October 2003 in the Tuke Common Room at Regent’s College, London. Dr Condrau will discuss Boss, Heidegger, and his own contribution to Daseinsanalysis.

[Note 2020
Gion Condrau was unwell and had to cancel this planned seminar.]


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Anthony Stadlen

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