This reading-focused summer seminar will be illuminating and useful for people interested in exploring the therapeutic relationship from an experiential and humanist perspective. Our title riffs on Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, a founder of psychology and co-creator of pragmatist philosophy who argued for inclusive pluralism with regards to religious experience. For James, the question when it came to religious experience was not what is spiritual truth with a capital T, but rather, what is spiritually efficacious for a given person? We will take our cues from this pragmatic pluralistic attitude and read eclectically and non-dogmatically. Our readings are four books and several shorter texts that enable us to explore dyadic, collaborative dialogue as an efficacious therapeutic and literary form. The course entails a cross-disciplinary look at reflections on therapeutic praxis from a range of perspectives. Our books, two of which take the form of a dialogue, focus on experiences of and ideas about contemporary psychotherapy and elements of theory and practice from the point of view of both analyst and analysand, therapist and client. We’ll read texts that give us a variety of insights into the nature of this unique mode of human interchange, including in its aesthetic dimensions. Adam Philips has speculated that “It could be the aim of a psychoanalysis to enable the patient and the analyst … to be free to be . . . interested and interesting to each other.” Or, to put it another way, what might the cultivation of interest, inspired curiosity, and deep listening have to do with healing?
Required Books include Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession, by Janet Malcolm; The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy, by J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz; Strangers to Ourselves, by Rachel Aviv; and Psychoanalyst Meets Marina Abramović: Jeannette Fischer Meets Artist, by Marina Abramović and Jeannette Fischer. Shorter readings by D.W. Winnicott, Adam Philips, Eleni Stecopoulos and others will be provided as links and PDFs. If you register for this course, it is highly recommended that you plan to buy your books as soon as possible from wherever you typically purchase books.
This seminar is remote. You will need to have a computer appropriate for Zoom class time as well as reliable internet access.
psychology, counseling, literature, nonfiction, history, interdisciplinary humanist research