philosophical focus of the therapeutic being
It is the dimension of one-with-the-other that
psychotherapy, and this is based on the
constitution of man as
What happens to psychotherapy in these moments when, while fading
itself into all the methods and styles, it undergoes the pitiless
assault of the monolithic perspective of positivism?
Can we still
hope psychotherapy listens to the being, psychotherapy opens a door, a
beginning, a “ be-wëgung ”? Would it have become obsolete this
psychotherapy which “provides the region of paths,” that awakens the
patient on a creative call can transform the gap ?
twenty-five years of practicing psychotherapy can only confirm this
intuition, never denied, that therapy remains an existential commitment.
Time has allowed me to become less of a therapist and more of an
analyst: “The most ancient usage of the word “analysis” can be found in
Homer, the second book of the Odyssey. It is used there for what
Penelope did, night after night, namely, unravel the fabric she had
woven during the day. Here, Analuein, means the unravelling of a woven
fabric into its component parts. In Greek, it also means to liberate
someone from their chains or to free someone from captivity… “ 
I fully experience the direction I am going: to follow this way of
being which gives rise to the Daseinsanalytic thought:
listen to existential dimensions according to which ones a man exists;
* To feel the missed parts of human presence;
* To dismantle
the web of the patient’s history which has been tangled up because of
his past, his beliefs, his representations, because the helplessness is
part of the other elements which are tangled up.
* To go back to
the breaking (weak) points which fail (destroy) the presence through the
crystallisation of traumatizing events.
* To share the relevant
moments of existences unfolding the “Macht der Vereinigung”
provide a welcoming space and time of serenity and silence where
reconstruction can begin, one which is existential that can each day and
at each event become undone in order to be rebuilt again and again.
* No longer think of a thought or an idea as a apodictic true but
dismantle and experience it in order to reveal « in (this)
transcendental search what stays hidden in my humanity » .
Not to judge or stick to my beliefs.
* Hang up the thesis of the
world, the natural attitude for “observing” just up to the point where
it makes sense, while knowing that in the act of perceiving, I can feel
myself in an immediate relationship with myself.
* Go back to the
origins, to the universal ground of all experiences that constitute a
world before logical operations, free from themes.
* Be aware of
o that objects are not perceived as they are but
from my experience which establishes a personal relationship which
precedes reflexivity, all positional and objective consciousness.
o that living is also acting on a ground that escapes my control,
from my consciousness but I can suffer that.
o that if a
life-experience disappears to free another one, what it is composed of,
is still there.
* Never forget that living, every act, every
truth of conscious, every decision, every recognition is only possible
on a passive ground, at the same time original (those of which the
intentions precede all activity of reason) and secondly, (those which
come after the production of reason). Passivity “is neither the quality
of the object, nor the property of the subject, but a relationship of
sense between the subject and the object, that’s to say, an intentional
way of conscious, a way of being present in the world : there is only
the passivity of the act, this passivity may precede, accompany or
follow the act” 
I must point out that none of these approaches
are natural or obvious, that not one of them is never totally achieved
but they always demand attention. The Dr. Roland Kuhn, who died last
October, to whom this conference is dedicated to, reminds us that:
there is nothing less obvious that the phenomenogical glimpse, that this
attitude which suspends the natural attitude and our tendency to judge
from our beliefs.
How do we see, describe, explain  and
accompany the movement of the life of a patient without betraying him or
Heidegger’s answer is based on the thoughts of Blaise Pascal
« When everything is equally disturbed, nothing stirs on the face of
it, like on a ship. When everything looks like its going to overflow,
nothing seems to do. The one, which stops, points out the behaviour of
the others, right away.” Commenting on this thought, Heidegger points
out that the simple participation of ‘Co-natural’ behaviour of life
prevents the work of understanding, that is to say the categoral
interpretation. The problem is to find an attitude in front of life
which does not immediately betray his sense of being. This attitude is a
“hermeneutic” attitude. This is certainly one of the roles which
philosophy plays in a clinical approach : it allows the clinician not to
be carried off by the flow of the world for, at the moment when the
being is covered, when the meaning escapes, to return constantly to the
thing itself. “Understanding is not only, to dominate, master or
produce “results” which can be checked and are independent of the
observer, but rather be questioned and engage in a dialogue”.
Heidegger, hermeneutic is not a theoretic subject, a general theory of
the interpretation, but an internal factious dimension. It means that
the “understanding” is an intrinsic dimension of the factious life, not a
cognitive type of behaviour. Understanding is a way of being of the
Dasein himself. “His hermeneutic is to be in the service of the awaking
of oneself of the Dasein” 
Following the example of Gadamer,
the clinician becomes aware that art, human sciences, the clinical
practice don’t reveal themselves “with an objective distance” but to the
contrary, through a “being-taken by the sense, a questioning or a
Day after day, the meaning of “the therapeutic
being”, of the therapeutic space becomes clearer:
therapeutic space above all a welcoming space ? “A thoughtful listening”
of the profound difference of the other-being-in-the-world raising in
my space.? “A opening which respects the being of the other of which he
himself is not conscious. An opening which reveals (reveals what it
doesn’t show but essentially remains the same..?).
tensors of this Welcoming space are:
understanding as an attitude which favours the presence and
consciousness of a relationship between two subjects and that implies
the understanding of what “being a man means” and
Hermeneutic. While respecting the relationship and staying oneself in
the humility of the “presence-in the world”, we have to decode the
logical structures, understand how our joint existential gives meaning
to the world and to the words in order that a dialogue can establish a
common world, a world in the company of others, an environment which
opens the space to meet.
* The relationship between the
psychotherapeutic and the patient is built on by a liberal, open-minded
solicitude. “This kind of solicitude pertains essentially to authentic
care – that is, to the existence of the Other, not to a “what” with
which he is concerned; it helps the Other to become transparent to
himself in his care and to become free for it.”  It opens a space of
presence where the patient can prove to himself and to the world again.
* Isn’t psychotherapy, when it realizes all its possibilities, a
meeting which transcends the existential commitment which links two
presences-in- the-world, which both suffer deficiencies but one of them
continues to experience the fundamental existentials?
Psychotherapy awaits that the psychotherapist still explores himself,
that he questions his being in order not to congeal in his beliefs, in a
doctrine or a Doxa. He doesn’t show the patient the way but is a
witness of it.
* The therapeutic space lives also a daily life
where nothing which is visible or touchable can go. The literal
therapeutic time which “ignites the spark of life” is an event. It is
never intentionally provoked. It surprises as much the patient as the
therapist and transcends both. It implies a real transformation,
* The therapeutic space is a sharing moment of
two personal paths which don’t impose on each other. Neither is built on
truth, nor on a model. They are simple witnesses of a horizon of
possibilities, of a “there” where man becomes what he has to be : always
be open to an incredible happening.
* The therapeutic space
welcomes the interlacing of verbal and body language like a unit of
meaning which doesn’t stop to dismantle and rebuild the semantic
constructions in view of a logoV which makes obvious what the word has
to say : unveil the true.
* The therapeutic space is also an
opening of a temporality where the present, articulates past and future
to rewrite the patient in his life experiences and his history without
being locked up.
* My own story, being always engraved in an
artistic strata, I could never dissociate it with a therapeutic process.
Both have inevitably been always interlaced. Psychotherapy and more
particularly the existential analysis, the Daseinanalysis is, to me, an
intelligence to the service of an art of being-in-the-world, of a
working which reveals the event of an understanding. It isn’t about
“making it visible but making visible”. My work on the clinician is
related to that of a painter who «makes visible the invisible as
invisible, that’s to say, keeping its enigma».
like painting unfolds ‘a space which is not the focal point of the
conscious subject but is a vibrant space which the thing itself
surrounds to meet the other thing, like an eclipse.
through time and my encounters, an irreducible has been revealed:
philosophy. I could never have continued to respond to the harrowing
call of the patient without the resource of the philosophical thought, a
thought which lives, which will never be theoretical but fed by
dialogue, by listening and by the presence of my master and friend:
Professor Maldiney. The writings of Henri Maldiney unfold the curled
wrinkles of thought and silently call the being-in-the-world to exist.
thoughts of Henri Maldiney aren’t reduced to the concepts that it
generated. He writes “as a witness of the significance of the being who
sweepingly crosses and wraps around it” . This significance disrupts
his conscious and pulsates his thoughts in order to work as close as
possible with this “presence which is mad with feelings”. His writing
“puts the world in motion or in tension, in a space always ready to
tremble when the Other looms up out of his own field of presence”. The
opening of his work makes it very moving . Writing without having
determined the ground on which the scriptural phenomenality put ours in
Educationalist and teacher, he has always succeeded the
difficult bet of harmonising the exterior and interior, content and what
it contains. The strained basis of his writing tirelessly summons us to
the present in effect “I can” “I exist”. One of these crucial tensors
of this focus and his thoughts is the dialectic of the unavoidable
presence of “the emptiness” of our lives, up hills and down hills of all
the task and tearing open of which the occurrence of events is “to loom
up”. To be a witness of this “looming up” underpins the withdrawal of
ourselves. It’s not about abusing the essence of the “loom up” to
The greatness of Henri Maldiney is to offer the ineffable
the horizon of the word, a free expanse of significance which dwells in
“a non-place of the beings”. It seems to me that this way of thinking
can only save the psychiatry from the worst dangers that it threatens
and of which Binswanger made clear and watchful: a psychiatry which
ostracizes the thought of man and the thought itself.
decisive meeting with Henri Maldiney and the readings such of Husserl
and that of Heidegger or Merleau-Ponty have contributed, have allowed me
to be aware and “to think that life is a task in which it is impossible
to conceal”  ?
While thinking about life, we use and abuse so
much the words that we can realise the easiness with which we pronounce
them wrongly and run the risk of distorting them.
understands them but nobody can define them. They feed the chatting and
hawk the rumour, ending up deprived of all credibility. Nevertheless,
they stay as they were: fundamental expressions of human existence
waiting for a space, for a time to unfold again silence and true.
psychotherapy be a restoration place where words can take a breather?
do we call psychotherapy today? All sorts of help, no matter what it
From not questioning the Being of things, public opinion gets
stuck in what today has become an economic lobbying because to question
psychotherapy ? “We are careful because we already have an answer to
the question, and an answer such as it is implies at the same time that
it is completely forbidden to question.” 
Listen to this
patient “It’s unbearable, I’ve always got the impression that I’m going
to fall. Everything becomes blurred. I’m not balanced any more. I can
hardly stand up. I’m driven towards emptiness. It’s horrible, this
continuous vertigo”. 
These simple words, combined into short
sentences, make the recurrent complaint of one of my patients. What does
it tell us ? How do you take it? What answers can we draw ?
expresses a feeling which forms in me a contact with the world; talking
together smothers this meaning in enhancing the Other. If the words
allow us to act on the representation and the mental world of others,
allow us even to awake a conscious, they deny another. Speaking opens a
field of awareness while reducing its horizon.
Just as Olivier
chooses his words to focus our attention on how he sees the world, he
points us to his own significability, to the way in which he gives a
meaning to his life, to his world. But the meaning of his words display
only a part of themselves. They dive into the history of those which
hear and configure them by means of their own experiences. That’s why, a
philosophical training and more particularly phenomenological becomes
essential for the hermeneutic clinician. Let’s not forget that “every
word, as befall of his own instant, also gives a presence of not saying
what it brings, in answering and signalling.”  Remaining present to
these interlacings of saying and not saying underpins “a forgetfulness
of self and a mediation of oneself”, a crossing of ones own life in
overflowing of oneself-to-the-other. The hermeneutic quality of the
listener depends as much on the wealth of his experiences as on his
capacity to abstract them.
Husserl has made us more aware : “not
holding on to the ground” is not an anodic feeling. When the ground no
longer plays its “archi-matrical” role where I can stay and relax, all
my bearings disappear, all my being sways.
What can we oppose to
this powerful nothingness which weighs down the patient but our
solicitude, our openness? This underpins as much a presence as an
existential commitment that a phenomenogical reduction that allows the
therapist to be “there”. Where? Precisely where something unfolds while
Choosing the path of psychotherapy implies from that
time, going beyond knowledge, an experienced awareness which looms up :
* A daring capacity-to-be-with-the-other, at the peril of oneself
* An understanding hermeneutic (Verstehen)
o from otherness and
o from the
relationships which have sprung up between Selbstwelt and Mitwelt.
* A possibility to “awake” and “thrive” atmospheric (Tellenbach)
many therapeutic foundings could not have been revealed without the
coming enlightment of Philosophy.
Yes, dear Colleagues, let’s not
forget that we are also responsible for what we haven’t yet opened: the
clearing of the Being.
Huygens, Doctor of psychology & clinical phenomenology
of the Centre and Belgian School of Daseinsanalyse
of the International Federation of Daseinsanalyse
translator : Sarah Walters [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Henri MALDINEY, Penser l’homme et la folie, 1991, Millon, p.85
Martin HEIDEGGER, Acheminement vers la parole 1959, Gallimard Tel 1976,
3 : Martin HEIDEGGER, Zollikoner Seminare, 1959-69,V.
Klosterman, 1987 , ( propos rassemblés par Médard Boss), p.114-115,
4: Edmund HUSSERL cité par Arion L. KELKEL,
Le legs de la phénoménologie, Ed. Kimé, 2002 p. 33.
MONTAVONT, De la passivité dans la phénoménologie de Husserl, PUF, 1999,
: « Husserl distingue une phénoménologie descriptive d’une
phénoménologie explicative. La phénoménologie statique ou descriptive
décrit l’acte, la phénoménologie génétique ou explicative explique sa
naissance en remontant jusqu’aux couches les plus élémentaires de la
constitution, en descendant en deçà de l’œuvre de la constitution active
vers les couches les plus profondes de la passivité. La statique
s’occupe du monde, la génétique s’occupe de cet être qui précède le
monde, c’est-à-dire la subjectivité transcendantale. » Anne Montavont
Husserl distinguishes a descriptive phenomenology from a genetic
phenomenology where he explains its birth going from one side of the
most elementary layers of its active composition towards the deepest
layers of passivity. The static takes care of the world, the genetic
takes care of this being who precedes the world, that’s to say the
transcendental subjectivity. » Anne Montavont
7 : Jean GRONDIN, Le
tournant herméneutique de la phénoménologie, PUF, 2003 p.83
8 : Jean
GREISCH, Ontologie et Temporalité, P.U.F., 1994, p. 37
9 : Jean
GRONDIN, Op.Cit., p. 93
10 : Martin HEIDEGGER, Being and Time,
Blackwell, 1927 – 1962, p.159
11 : Paul KLEE cité par Henri Maldiney,
Regard, Parole, Espace 1973, Âge d’homme p.115
12 : The italics
show the passages that have been borrowed from the works of Henri
Maldiney or transcribed during our interviews of which the last theme
was done this summer, in August 2005. The complete bibliography of Henri
Maldiney can be found at: www.Daseinsanalyse.be
13 : Jean GREISCH,
14 : Martin HEIDEGGER, Questions I ,Gallimard, 1968,
15: OLIVIER, extrait d’un ses nombreux textes reçus lors d’une
consultation ou envoyé. Au total, 162 pages.
16 : H.G. GADAMER,
Vérité et Méthode, Seuil, 1996, p.483