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"It is relatively easy to produce suffocating, sterile, oppressive, depressive, or frightening interactional environments. Correspondingly, it is possible to create enabling, empowering and trust-enhancing conversational contexts. " Eero Riikonen (p.142)
So, I put mailed a review of the book to the PMTH list. You can read it here,) and I invited people to respond to it. The review brought three immediate positive responses to the book. Let me give you a sample of what these people said:
Tom Conran said
However, let me add a word to Hoffman's account for this PMTH treasure: My favorite description of the Reflecting Team was given by Hoffman in another context when she portrayed the Reflectng Team as a new flying machine. (See Hoffman's Foreword to Andersen's book by that name.)
That was written a few years ago. Since then, this flying machine
has taken off. Many a therapy has been fostered by the presence of
a reflecting team.
Klaus Deissler is a new PMTH subscriber. He will also be publishing a book with Sheila McNamee shortly. His work to date is mostly in German, but today I bring you a an article of his in English, and I provide you with the following notes about that article. (Click here to read the article.)
Deissler tells us that clients invent themselves in therapy by transforming their worlds by talking with therapists. Their ability to do this comes about by exploiting two kinds of conversation in ordinary language. In one, people try to understand themselves (comprehensive conversation) and in the other they invent themselves.
These conversations occur in what he calls poetic moments. Poetic moments occur in ordinary language, too, but less frequently than they do in therapy.
As an example of a poetic moment, Deissler describes such a moment in the therapy with someone he calls Mr. Kern. Mr. Kern, said in therapy that his wife was dominant and that because of her dominance he ˆ¨escaped from confinement of their relationship for days at a time.ˆÆ During this time he would travel until he ran out of money.
In the therapy, Deissler tried to present this client with a positive transvaluation of these excursions so Deissler asked if it was perhaps the case that some men who took ˆ¨ˆ´time outˆ‚ could be looking for erotic adventures.ˆÆ This reframing seem to reach what Mr. Kern called the heart of the matter and dissolve the problem.
Deissler uses this example to explain how comprehensive understanding leads to creative understanding. He says, ˆ¨I am convinced that these kinds of poetic moments occur in each everyday conversationˆñPsychotherapy, however, differs from everyday conversations; one of those differences is that in this conversational form,poetic moments are supposed tooccur morefrequently.ˆÆ
To talk about such moments, Deissler uses the term Shotter
Katz use, ˆ¨social poetics.ˆÆ He says four things are true about such
Deissler also talks about the way distinctions emerge in conversation and the way comprehensive and creative understanding can merge, and he gives additional examples, and he tells us that he thinks these poetic process are lured out by supportive measures that therapists take towards their clients that allow them to risk vulnerability.
There is much else in his paper. He uses concepts I feel are quite compatible with those we use on PMTH, although they sometimes have different names. For example, I believe Deissler also introduces a concept that sounds much like the Lyotardian concept of a differend. He also talks about the way in which therapy works by generating ˆ¨wonderˆÆ or what we often call aporia. And he even speaks of the importance of doing something PMTHers might call generous listening.
I think you can see that Deisslerˆ‚s work speaks straight to the heart
of topics we discuss on PMTH and I believe his statement of them contribute
his own creative slant to our culture's evolving ideas about where to go
with therapy inour postmodernera.
The conversation on online therapy has pushed to the background for
a while as we take up different topics. I supose that is the way
of conversation. One never wraps things up completely. I believe
it is still a hot issue, though, and that it will come up for us again.
Also, do watch for
Last edition of PMTH NEWS I told you that Richard Rortysent PMTH an unpublished paper to read. The idea was that we would discuss it among ourselves and then give him some questions. It is unclear whether Rorty is actually going to join us to discuss these questions or whether we are going to mail them to him. The possibilities are being brokered by Jerry Shaffer
Well, we did discuss this paper, and we found it quite interesting. A big issue was whether Rorty's ideas were parallel to some PMTH ideas. Were they the same?
But how would Richard Rorty know? Let me talk about it a little and perhaps we can get clearer about it.
Rorty's terms are "conversability" and "stubbornness". "Conversability," Rorty defines as "the virtue of listening to other people in the hope that they may have better ideas than you do." Stubbornness is "the courage to stick to [your] guns--to hold on to their central insight, the truth as [you see] it." Wisdom, Rorty holds, is the proper balance between conversability and stubbornness.
The more or less parallel concepts A popular concept on PMTH, "generous listening." (I thought about changing the term last week, and a number of people protested, so I agreed not to do so) and "pagan voice." (click through to the links to get the definitions.)
Are they the same? It seems to me that they address the same issue, in a vague way. Generous listening seems close to "conversability." The generous listener may speak but speaking is in order to listen. It might amount to asking questions, or suggesting that people continue. Is this the same as "conversability"? We need Rorty to discuss this with us.
And, the pagan voice can be stubborn. But recently we have introduced a new concept on PMTH, the tempered pagan voice. The tempered pagan voice says what she thinks but finds less rude and crude ways to do it, looks at ways to frame things so that they can be heard. But a tempered pagan voice could be stubborn, too. Still, the pagan voice need not be stubborn. Perhaps it could be a voice that speaks with two minds (I am thinking of the McNamee and Gergen suggestions)? Why not? A pagan voice could be tentative, especially if it was tempered.
So, it would be best if Richard Rorty would come to our group and hash this all out. The question is if our idiom is the same as his.
At any rate, the people here who have read Rorty generally seem to like what he writes. I certainly do, and it would help to have more direct conversation about these things.
Another thing I think we would like to know is a little more why Rorty
rejects the label "postmodern." It is clear why he wants to be labeled
a "pragmatist," but why not postmodern, too?
About a month ago I decided to do another book proposal. Having published only one book (thank goodness I have one) and having submitted many, I know it can be hard to get a contract. Many of you know that, too. So, I wanted to gather the support of my PMTH friends and consult with them about it.
Let me share with you the part of that conversation that had to do with
titles for the book. I gave the list 5 suggestions:
Nick Drury suggested , Language games of postmodern therapists. Both Lois Holzman and Jen Andrews preferred Invitations to Postmodern Therapy. Manfred Straehle and Rob Doan suggested the The Postmodern Therapist. Hershey Bell suggested The Postodern Primer. Riet Samuels, George Spears and David Haddad all choose, Tools for the Posmtodern Therapist.
In the end, I sent off the proposal (yesterday evening, quite late), sailing it like a missle through the magic space of the internet, arriving on the editor's desk this morning. What did I name it? I decided to go with:
New Tools for the Postmodern Therapist
As the book is proposed, it will talk about the kind of things we talk about here, paralogy, pagan voices, generous listening, things like that.
If you're a reader and you have a suggestion, please do write me.
Titles are never final until the book is in print. Just click
here to send me a private Email.
In the last edition of PMTH NEWS, I told you about a quiet day on PMTH. We have those occasionally, but of late we have been prolific. The average number of posts has been about 30 per day. We are also increasing our numbers. There are now 152 subscribers to PMTH. We seem to be growing at about the rate of 10 people per month.
So, I think times are good on PMTH right now, but I can remember lists where there was an ongoing good feeling and then something went terribly wrong. It could happen to us, too, I suppose. Thus my choice of the quote above by Eero Riikonen.
Let me assure you, though, that because we are so prolific, and getting
so large, there is no way that PMTH NEWS can do more than give you the
merest sampling of our discussions. Alas.
Accountability is a way of relating once someone has complained that you have had a negative effect on her experience. You are accountable if you accept that that is so, express your sadness that it is so, but do not mean by this that you are to blame.
I am not clear enough to go further even yet. But that's my take on it. Maybe I can give you more next time.
What do you think "accountability is"? Click
here to write me and let me know.