Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue by Maurice S. Friedman
Maurice S. Friedman is Professor Emeritus of religious studies, philosophy and comparative literature at San Diego State University. Martin Buber (1878-1965).was a Viennese Jewish philosopher and religious leader who translated the Old Tetament into German. He was a Zionist. He sought understainding between Jews and Arabs. Published by The University of Chicago Press, 1955 and reprinted in 1960 by Harpers, N.Y. as a First Harper Torchbook edition. This material prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.
Chapter 21: Psychotherapy
Because Buber’s dialogical philosophy does not imply any dualistic rejection of the ordered world of I-It but only an interpenetration of that world by I-Thou, it does not exclude the findings of the more scientifically or mechanistically oriented schools of psychology, such as behaviourism, associationism, or Freudian psychoanalysis. To the extent, however, that these schools of psychology are given over to pure subject-object knowledge of the nature of man, the philosophy of dialogue must limit their competence to judge the essence of man as a whole in relation to other men. The attempt of behaviouristic psychology, for example, to externalize reality into pure action-response not only denies the reality of the participating subjective consciousness but, equally important, the reality of personality as a more or less integral whole and the reality of the relations between persons as that which calls the personality into existence. (Cf. Paul, The Meaning of Existence. op. cit., chap. iii, ‘The Crisis for Psychology.’)
If psychology and psychoanalysis are to be successful in their endeavour to understand and to heal men, they must be grounded in a realistic conception of what man is. This conception must not only be able to deal with the individual in isolation and in terms of individual complexes and aspects of his personality but also as a whole person in relation to other persons and to society. It is just here -- in the conception of what makes up a person and how he relates to other individuals and to society -- that the different schools of psychology part company. This divergence is as much a matter of method as of final aim, for both are affected by the underlying conception of what man is.
One who understands the essence of man in terms of the dialogical relation between men must walk a narrow ridge between the individualistic psychology which places all reality within the isolated individual and the social psychology which places all reality in the organic group and in the interaction of social forces. An American psychoanalyst who comes remarkably close to this narrow ridge is Erich Fromm. Fromm criticizes Freud for picturing all interpersonal relations as the use of the other to satisfy biologically given drives and hence as a means to one’s ends. He redefines the key problem of psychology as ‘that of the specific kind of relatedness of the individual towards the world and not that of the satisfaction or frustration of this or that instinctual need per se.’ Fromm, like Buber, holds that man’s nature is a social product and also holds that man is genuinely free and responsible. He takes over Harry Stack Sullivan’s concept of psychology as fundamentally social psychology, or ‘psychology of interpersonal relationships.’ At the same time, he rejects those theories, ‘more or less tinged with behaviouristic psychology,’ which assume’ that human nature has no dynamism of its own and that psychological changes are to be understood in terms of the development of new "habits" as an adaptation to new cultural patterns.’ (Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom [New York: Rinehart & Co., 1941] chaps. i, ii, and Appendix, see especially pp. 9-l5, 26, 289-294, 298 f.; Erich Fromm, Man for Himself, An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics [New York: Rinehart & Co., 1947], pp. 20-24. It is probable that Buber exercised some direct influence on Fromm’s thought since as a young man Fromm belonged to the Frankfurt circle of students of the Bible and Judaism led by Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber.)
The psychological significance of the I-Thou relation was recognized, independently of Buber, in Ferdinand Ebner’s Das Wort und die geistigen Realitäten. Insanity, writes Ebner, is the end product of ‘Icheinsamkeit’ and ‘Dulosigkeit’ -- the complete closedness of the I to the Thou. It is a spiritual condition in which neither the word nor love is any longer able to reach the individual. The irrationality of the insane man lies in the fact that he talks past men and is unable to speak to a concrete Thou. The world has become for him the projection of his I, not just theoretically, as in idealism, but practically, and for this reason he can only speak to a fictitious Thou. (Ebner, op. cit., pp. 47 f., 81, 155.)
This type of psychosis is explained by Buber in poetic terms in I and Thou. ‘If a man does not represent the a priori of relation in his living with the world,’ writes Buber, ‘if he does not work out and realize the inborn Thou on what meets it, then it strikes inwards.’ As a result, confrontation of what is over against one takes place in oneself, and this means self-contradiction -- the horror of an inner double. ‘Here is the verge of life, flight of an unfulfilled life to the senseless semblance of fulfillment, and its groping in a maze and losing itself ever more profoundly.’ (I and Thou, p. 69 f.)
Ebner’s and Buber’s intuitions of the origin of insanity have been confirmed by Viktor von Weizsäcker, a doctor and psychiatrist who has made an important contribution to the field of psychosomatic medicine. Buber unquestionably exercised an important influence on von Weizsäcker since it was during the years in which the two men associated as co-editors of the periodical Die Kreatur that von Weizsäcker began his application of dialogical philosophy to medicine and psychotherapy. What makes us mistrustful of many psychotics, writes von Weizsäcker, is that their self-deification and self-degradation lack all moderation. The cause of this overvaluation of the self is the isolation of the psychotic, the fact that he has no Thou for his I. The result of this absence of a Thou is just such an inner double as Buber pointed to in I and Thou. This illusion of the double is unavoidable after a man has lost his connection with a Thou, writes von Weizsäcker, for the state of aloneness that he has reached then is unbearable. ‘The splitting of the I represents -- for an instant -- the now unattainable relation of the I to the Thou.’ (Viktor von Weizsäcker, Fälle und Probleme. Anthropologische Vorlesungen in der medizinischen Klinik [Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 1947], p. 187 ff. (my translation).
Von Weizsäcker has pointed out the implications of the I-Thou philosophy not only for psychotherapy but for medicine in general. He sets forth a ‘medical anthropology’ which begins with the recognition of the difference between the objective understanding of something and the ‘transjective’ understanding of someone. The patient, like the doctor, is a subject who cannot become an object. The doctor can, none the less, understand him if he begins not with objective knowledge but with questions. Only through the real contact of the doctor and the patient does objective science have a part in the history of the latter’s illness. As soon as this contact is lacking, all information about functions, drives, properties, and capacities is falsified. This too is a doctrine of experience, writes von Weizsäcker, a doctrine of the comradeship of doctor and patient along the way of the illness and its cure. This comradeship takes place not despite technique and rationalization but through and with them. The smooth functioning of the objective practitioner lasts just as long as there is a self-understood relation between doctor and patient, unnoticed because unthreatened. But if the de facto assent to this relation falls away, then the objectivity is doubtful and no longer of use. (Viktor von Weizsäcker, Arzt und Kranker, Vol. I, 3rd Ed. (Stuttgart: K. F. Koehler Verlag, 1949), ‘Stucke einer medizinischen Anthropologie’ [first appeared in Die Kreatur, Vol. II, 1927], pp. 79-88, 136-147, ‘Kranker und Arzt’ , p. 166 ff.)
Von Weizsäcker expands this relationship of doctor and patient into an all-embracing distinction between objective and ‘inclusive’ (‘umfassender’) therapy. He uses ‘inclusive’ here in the same sense as that in which Buber uses ‘inclusion’ (‘Umfassung’) in his discussion of education, that is, as experiencing the other side. The most important characteristic of an inclusive therapy, in von Weizsäcker’s opinion, is that the doctor allows himself to be changed by the patient, that he allows all the impulses that proceed from the person of the patient to affect him, that he is receptive, not only with the objective sense of sight but also with hearing, which brings the I and the Thou more effectively together. Only through this ever-new insertion of his personality can the doctor bring his capacities to full realization in his relation with his patient. (Ibid., pp. 169-179. Cf. Between Man and Man, op. cit., ‘Education,’ pp. 98-101; Dialogisches Leben, op. cit., ‘Über das Enieherische,’ pp. 281-285. Cf. Viktor von Weizsäcker, Diesseits und jenseits der Medizin, Artz und Kranker, new series [Stuttgart: K. F. Koehler Verlag, 1950], ‘Grundfragen Medizinischer Anthropologie’ , pp. 143-147, ‘Nach Freud’  p. 258. See also: Viktor von Weizsäcker Anonyma [Bern: Verlag A. Francke, 1916], ‘Es-Bildung,’ p. 24 ff., ‘Begegnung der Monaden,’ p. 27 f.)
A number of European psychologists and psychoanalysts in addition to von Weizsäcker have recognized the importance of Buber’s I-Thou philosophy for psychology and have made contributions to the understanding of the relationship between the two. One of the most important of these contributions is Ludwig Binswanger’s voluminous Grundformen und Erkenntnis menschlichen Daseins, in which Binswanger reorients his psychology entirely around the I-Thou relation and relies heavily on Buber’s concept of ‘meeting.’ Binswanger sees particularly clearly that the loving meeting of I and Thou can in no sense be equated with Heidegger’s ‘Mitsein’ (togetherness) or ‘Fürsorge’ (solicitude), and he also follows Buber in his recognition that the I-Thou relation is an ontological reality which cannot be reduced to what takes place within each of the members of the relationship. (Binswanger, op. cit., pp. 16 ff., 21, 29-34, 46 f., 57, 82 ff., 85 f., 97 ff., 105 f., 130-133, 163, 166 f., 210-215, 234 f., 264 f. For a more comprehensive discussion of Binswanger’s Grundformen, see Edith Weigert ‘Existentialism and Psychotherapy,’ Psychiatry, XII , 399-412).
Another application of Buber’s thought to psychology is that of the psychoanalyst Arie Sborowitz. Sborowitz compares the teachings of Buber and C. G. Jung and suggests an approach that would combine the essential elements of both. He shows how Buber stresses the positive -- the elements of true relationship -- and Jung the negative -- the obstacles to relationship, such as ‘introjection,’ ‘projection,’ and ‘identification,’ and he suggests that the one is necessarily the ground for the reality of the other. Jung has given important emphasis to destiny, Buber to relationship, and these two, in Sborowitz’s opinion, may go together to make up an adequate conception of psychology. This conception must include both the individual’s relations to others and his relation to his own self, both grace and freedom, responsibility and destiny, oneness with the world and oneness in oneself. (Arie Sborowitz, ‘Beziehung und Bestimmung, Die Lehren von Martin Buber und C. G. Jung in ihrem Verhältnis zueinander,’ Psyche, Eine Zeitschrift für Tiefenpsychologie und Menschenkunde in Forschung und Praxis, II , 9-56.)
The emphases of Buber and Jung are not so compatible as Sborowitz thinks. Buber sees reality as between selves, Jung as within the self, and their concepts of relationship to others and of personal vocation correspond to those basic views. To Jung destiny is something that takes place within the soul or self whereas to Buber destiny, or vocation (Bestimmung), is the response of the self to that outside it which addresses it. To Buber every man has something unique to contribute, but he is called to fulfill this potentiality, not destined. The integration of the personality, correspondingly, is not an end in itself to Buber, as it is to Jung: one becomes whole in order to be able to respond to what addresses one. Jung ignores the fact that the essential life of the individual soul ‘consists of real meetings with other realities,’ writes Buber. Although he speaks of the self as including both the I and the ‘others,’ the ‘others’ are clearly included not in their actual ‘otherness,’ but ‘only as contents of the individual soul that shall, just as an individual soul, attain its perfection through individuation.’ Both God and man are incorporated by Jung in ‘the self,’ and this means that they are included not as Thou but as It. It is not surprising, therefore, that Jung speaks of the integrated self as ‘indistinguishable from a divine image’ and of self-realization as ‘the incarnation of God.’ The fact that this process of self-deification takes place through the ‘collective unconscious’ does not give it the universality that it at first appears to, for Jung makes it dear that ‘even the collective unconscious . . . can enter ever again into experience only through the individual psyche.’ (Eclipse of God, op. cit., ‘Religion and Modern Thinking,’ pp. 104 121, ‘Supplement: Reply to C. G. Jung,’ pp. 171-176; I and Thou, p. 86. Cf. Jung, The Integration of the Personality, op. cit.)
Sborowitz also fails to see the difference between Jung’s system with its universally valid conceptions and Buber’s anti-systematic emphasis on the concrete, the unique, and the unexpected. Jung’s system, like that of most schools of psychoanalysis, is based on the reality of the typical, the general, the past -- what has already become and is already enregistered in our categories of thought. As such it cannot possibly understand the real uniqueness of each person nor the reality of the healing which takes place in the relationship between analyst and patient. The analyst-patient relationship may, in fact, be an I-Thou relationship similar to that between the teacher and the pupil, and it is probable that in practice the success of any analytic cure is due quite as much to whether or not such a relationship exists as to the technical competence of the doctor. (Cf. The Meaning of Human Existence, pp. 85-93) Particularly important in this relationship is what Buber has variously called ‘seeing the other,’ ‘experiencing the other side,’ ‘inclusion,’ and ‘making the other present.’ This ‘seeing the other’ is not, as we have seen, a matter of ‘identification’ or ‘empathy,’ but of a concrete imagining of the other side which does not at the same time lose sight of one’s own. The analyst may tend, however, to reduce the patient’s history and present happenings to general categories, and the patient may tend to lose his own sense of being a whole person engaged in present meetings. Analysis helps the patient to avoid the neurotic identifications and projections which he has carried over from the past, but it may hinder his responding to the unique and unexpected in the real present. Analysis may tend to turn the patient back in on himself, and it may lead him to regard true as well as pseudo-relationships as internal events within separate individuals.
Buber has himself made several important distinctions between the philosophy of dialogue and the theory of psychoanalysis. He points out that serving God with the ‘evil urge’ is like psychoanalytic ‘sublimation’ in that it makes creative use of basic energies rather than suppressing them. He speaks of the evil urge in connection with ‘the uplifting of sexuality,’and he identifies alien thoughts and the evil urge with imagination and fantasy. But he also shows that serving God with the evil urge differs from sublimation, as it is conceived by Freud, in that it takes place as a by-product of the I-Thou relationship rather than as an essentially individual event in which the individual uses his relationship with other things for his own self-realization. "’Sublimation" takes place within the man himself, the "raising of the spark" takes place between man and the world.’ It is ‘a real encounter with real elements of Being, which are outside ourselves.’ (Tales of the Hasidim, The Early Masters, op. cit., p. 21; Hasidism, op. cit., ‘The Beginnings of Hasidism,’ p. 31 f., ‘The Foundation Stone,’ pp. 50 f., 54 f.)
Hasidic teaching is like psychoanalysis, writes Buber, in that it refers one from the problematic of external life to that of the inner life, and it shows the need of beginning with oneself rather than demanding that both parties to a relationship change together. It differs from psychoanalytic theory, however, in that it does not proceed from the investigation of individual psychological complications but rather from the whole man. Pulling out separate parts and processes always hinders the grasping of the whole, and only the understanding of wholeness as wholeness can lead to the real transformation and healing of the individual and of his relations with his fellow-men. This does not mean that the phenomena of the soul are not to be observed, but none of them is to be placed in the centre of observation as if all the rest were derived from it. One must rather begin with all points, and not in isolation but just in their vital connection. Finally, and most important of all according to Buber, the person is not treated here as an object of investigation but is summoned ‘to set himself to rights,’ to bring his inner being to unity so that he may respond to the address of Being over against him. (The Way of Man, op. cit., p. 29 f.)
Buber gives us the fullest insight into the implications of dialogue for psychotherapy in his discussion of the way in which the great zaddikim healed those who came to them for help. To obtain a right perspective we must remember, he says, ‘that the relation of a soul to its organic life depends on the degree of wholeness and unity attained by the soul.’
The more dissociated the soul is, so much the more is it at the mercy of the organic life; the more unified it is in itself, so much the more is it the master of its physical ailments and attacks; not as if it vanquished the body, but because through its unity it ever saves and guards the unity of the body.
This process of healing can best be effected, writes Buber, ‘through the psycho-synthetic appearance of a whole, unified soul, which lays hold of the shattered soul, agitates it on all sides, and hastens the event of crystallization.’ Here the term ‘psycho-synthetic’ is clearly used in conscious contrast with ‘psychoanalytic’ to suggest the procedure from wholeness as contrasted with the procedure from isolated parts and complexes. The unified soul shapes a centre in the soul which is calling to her and at the same time takes care that this soul does not remain dependent upon her. The helper does not place his own image in the soul that he helps. Instead ‘he lets her see through him, as through a glass, the essence of all things.’ He then lets her uncover that essence in herself and appropriate it as the core of her own living unity. (Hasidism, ‘Spirit and Body of the Hasidic Movement,’ p. 87 f.)
That Buber does not feel that such a way of healing is closed to the professional psychotherapist is shown by his preface to Hans Trub’s posthumous book, Heilung aus der Begegnung (‘Healing Out of Meeting’). In this preface he treats of the paradox of the analyst’s profession. The doctor analyses the psychic phenomena which the patient brings before him according to the theory of his school, and he does so in general with the co-operation of the patient, whom the tranquilizing and to some extent orienting and integrating procedure tends to please. But in some cases the presentiment comes over him that something entirely other is demanded of him, something incompatible with the economics of the calling and threatening to its regulated procedures. What is demanded of him is that he draw the case out of the correct methodological objectification and himself step forth out of his protected professional superiority into the elementary situation between one who asks and one who is asked. The abyss in the patient calls to the abyss, the real, unprotected self, in the doctor and not to his confidently functioning security of action. (Martin Buber, ‘Heilung aus der Begegnung,’ Neue Schweizer Rundschau, XIX, Heft 6 [October 1951], pp. 382-386. This is the preface to Hans Trüb, Heilung aus der Begegnung. Eine Auseinandersetzang mit der Psychologie C. G. Jungs, edited by Ernst Michel and Arie Sborowitz [Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag, 1952].)
The analyst returns from this paradox into the methodic, but he does so as a changed person returning into a changed method, namely as one for whom the necessity has opened of a genuine personal meeting between the one in need of help and the helper. In this new methodic the unexpected, that which contradicts the prevailing theories and demands his personal participation, finds place.
He has left in a decisive hour . . . the closed room of psychological treatment in which the analyst rules by means of his systematic and methodological superiority and has gone forth with his patient into the air of the world where selfhood is opposed to selfhood. There in the closed room, where one probed and treated the isolated psyche according to the inclination of the self-encapsulated patient, the patient was referred to ever-deeper levels of his inwardness as to his proper world; here outside, in the immediacy of human standing over against each other, the encapsulation must and can be broken through, and a transformed, healed relationship must and can be opened to the sick person in his relations to otherness -- to the world of the other which he cannot remove into his soul. A soul is never sick alone, but always through a betweenness, a situation between it and another existing being. The psychotherapist who has passed through the crisis may now dare to touch on this. (Ibid., p. 384 f. [my translation])
A significant confirmation of Buber’s attitude toward psychotherapy is found in the recent developments in the ‘client-centred’ therapy of Dr. Carl R. Rogers and the University of Chicago Counseling Center. In Client-Centered Therapy (1951) Dr. Rogers states that the role of the counsellor in ‘nondirective’ therapy is not, as is often thought, a merely passive laissez-faire policy, but an active acceptance of the client as a person of worth for whom the counsellor has real respect. Client-centred therapy stresses above all the counsellor’s assuming the internal frame of reference of the client and perceiving both the world and the client through the client’s own eyes. (Carl R. Rogers, Client-Centered Therapy, Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1951], pp. 20-29.)
The striking parallel between this conception and Buber’s concepts of ‘seeing the other,’ ‘experiencing the other side,’ and ‘making the other present’ is strengthened by Roger’s descriptions of what seeing through the client’s eyes actually means. For Rogers as for Buber it is important in the process of the person’s becoming that he know himself to be understood and accepted, or in Buber’s terms made present and confirmed, by the therapist. For both men this means ‘an active experiencing with the client of the feelings to which he gives expression,’ a trying ‘to get within and to live the attitudes expressed instead of observing them.’ For both this implies at the same time a certain distance and absence of emotional involvement -- an experiencing of the feelings from the side of the client without an emotional identification that would cause the counsellor to experience these feelings himself, as counsellor. Finally, it implies for both a laying aside of the preoccupation with professional analysis, diagnosis, and evaluation in favour of an acceptance and understanding of the client based on true attitudes of respect which are deeply and genuinely felt by the therapist. (Carl R.Rogers, Client-Centered Therapy, op. cit., pp. 29-45, 55.) Rogers is willing to extend this respect and trust even to a patient in danger of committing suicide or one who has been institutionalized. He explains this attitude in a statement remarkably close to Buber’s spirit:
To enter deeply with this man into his confused struggle for selfhood is perhaps the best implementation we now know for indicating the meaning of our basic hypothesis that the individual represents a process which is deeply worthy of respect, both as he is and with regard to his potentialities. (Ibid., pp. 43-49, quotation from p. 45)
A corollary of client-centred therapy is the recognition that good interpersonal relationships depend upon the understanding and acceptance of the other as a separate person, ‘operating in terms of his own meanings, based on his own perceptual field.’ Here too Rogers is like Buber, and like him also he sees the recognition of the separateness of others as made possible through a relationship in which the person is himself confirmed in his own being. A person comes to accept others, in Rogers’s opinion, through his acceptance of himself, and this in turn takes place through the acceptance of the child by the parent or of the client by the therapist. (Ibid., p. 520 ff.) In this same connection Rogers discusses the possibility that the real essence of therapy is not so much the clients memory of the past, his explorations of problems, or his admission of experiences into awareness as his direct experiencing in the therapy relationship.
The process of therapy is, by these hypotheses, seen as being synonymous with the experiential relationship between client and therapist. Therapy consists in experiencing the self in a wide range of ways in an emotionally meaningful relationship with the therapist. (Ibid., pp. 158-172, quotation from p. 172)
Although this new concern with the experiential relationship between client and therapist was ‘still in an infant and groping stage’ in 1951, there are indications that Rogers himself, if not the counselling group as a whole, has moved somewhat further in this direction since then. In a recent paper Rogers defines a person as a fluid process and potentiality ‘in rather sharp contrast to the relatively fixed, measurable, diagnosable, predictable concept of the person which is accepted by psychologists and other social scientists to judge by their writings and working operations.’ The person as process is most deeply revealed, he writes, in a relationship of the most ultimate and complete acceptance, and he himself describes this relation as ‘a real I-Thou relationship, not an I-It relationship.’ Like Buber, too, he sees the person as moving in a positive direction toward unique goals that the person himself can but dimly define. (From an unpublished paper of Professor Rogers entitled ‘Some Personal Formulations,’ written in 1952 and quoted with the permission of the author.)
More significant parallels still are found in a recent description by Rogers of the role of the therapist. The therapist, he writes, ‘enters the relationship not as a scientist, not as a physician who can accurately diagnose and cure, but as a person, entering into a personal relationship.’ Like Buber in the Preface to Heilung aus der Bcgegnung, Rogers recognizes that the therapist must really risk himself in the therapeutic relationship. He must risk the client’s repudiation of him and the relationship, and the consequent loss of a part of himself. The therapist conducts the therapy without conscious plan and responds to the other person with his whole being, ‘his total organismic sensitivity.’ In describing the results of this total personal response, Rogers again makes use of Buber’s concept of the I-Thou relation:
When there is this complete unity, singleness, fullness of experiencing in the relationship, then it acquires the ‘out-of-this-world’ quality which therapists have remarked upon, a sort of trance-like feeling in the relationship from which both client and therapist emerge at the end of the hour, as if from a deep well or tunnel. In these moments there is, to borrow Buber’s phrase, a real "I-Thou" relationship, a timeless living in the experience which is between client and therapist. It is at the opposite pole from seeing the client, or oneself, as an object. (From an unpublished paper of Professor Rogers entitled ‘Persons or Science? -- A Philosophical Question,’ written in 1952 and quoted with the permission of the author.)
Through his willingness to risk himself and his confidence in the client, the therapist makes it easier for the client to take the plunge into the scheme of experiencing. This process of becoming opens up a new way of living in which the client ‘feels more unique and hence more alone’ but at the same time is able, like Buber’s ‘Single One,’ to enter into relations with others that are deeper and more satisfying and that ‘draw more of the realness of the other person into the relationship.’ (From an unpublished paper of Professor Rogers entitled ‘Persons or Science? -- A Philosophical Question,’ written in 1952 and quoted with the permission of the author. The last two sentences have been slightly altered from the original under instructions from Professor Rogers in a letter to me of December 12, 1952.)
In his preface to Hans Trüb’s book Buber points primarily to the trail which Trüb himself broke as a practising psychoanalyst who saw the concrete implications of Buber’s thought for psychotherapy. Trüb, like Sborowitz, was deeply influenced by both Buber and Jung, but he has shown more clearly than Sborowitz the limitations of Jung’s thought. He describes how he went through a decade-long crisis in which he broke with his personal and doctrinal dependence on Jung in favour of the new insights that his relationship with Buber gave him. What had the greatest influence on Trüb was not Buber’s doctrine but the meeting with him as person to person, and it is from this meeting that the revolutionary changes in Trüb’s method of psychotherapy proceeded. Trüb writes that he found himself fully disarmed in time by the fact that in conversation Buber was not concerned about the ideas of his partner but about the partner himself. It became ever clearer to Trüb that in such unreserved interchange it is simply not possible to bring any hidden intention with one and to pursue it. In this dialogic one individuality did not triumph over the other, for each remained continually the same. Yet Trüb emerged from this meeting "’renewed for all time," with my knowledge of the reality of things brought one step nearer to the truth.’ ‘What gives Buber his imperishable greatness and makes his life into symbolic existence,’ writes Trüb, ‘is that he steps forth as this single man and talks directly to men.’ (Hans Trüb, ‘Individuation, Schuld und Entscheidung. Über die Grenzen der Psychologie,’ in Die kulturelle Bedeutung der Komplexen Psychologie, ed. by Psychologischen Club Zurich [Berlin: Julius Springer Verlag, 1935], pp. 529~542, 553, quotations from pp. 542, 553 [my translation]. This essay will be found in whole or in part in Trüb, Heilung aus der Begegnung)
Martin Buber is for me the symbol of continually renewed decision. He does not shut the mystery away in his individuality, but rather from out of the basic ground of the mystery itself he seeks binding with other men. He lets a soft tone sound and swell in himself and listens for the echo from the other side. Thus he receives the direction to the other and thus in dialogue he finds the other as his partner. And in this meeting he consciously allows all of his individuality to enter . . . for the sake of the need and the meaning of the world. (Ibid., p. 554 [my translation]).
Trüb describes how in his work with his patients he became aware of the invariable tendency of the primary consciousness to become monological and self-defeating. He also tells how this closed circle of the self was again and again forced outward toward relationship through those times when, despite his will, he found himself confronting his patient not as an analyst but as human being to human being. From these experiences he came to understand the full meaning of the analysts responsibility. (Ibid., pp. 543-550) The analyst takes responsibility for lost and forgotten things, and with the aid of his psychology he helps to bring them to light. But he knows in the depths of his self that the secret meaning of these things that have been brought to consciousness first reveals itself in the outgoing to the other.
Psychology as science and psychology as function know about the soul of man as about something in the third person.... They look down from above into the world of inner things, into the inner world of the individual. And they deal with its contents as with their ‘objects,’ giving names and creating classifications.... But the psychotherapist in his work with the ill is essentially a human being.... Therefore he seeks and loves the human being in his patients and allows it . . . to come to him ever again. (Ibid, p. 550 f. [my translation]. Cf. Hans Trüb, Aus einem Winkel meines Sprechzimmers [Berlin: Verlag Lambert Schneider, 1930], also to be found in whole or in part in Heilung aus der Begegnung).
The personal experience which caused Trüb to break through from the security of Jung’s system to the insecurity of Buber’s meeting and relationship was an overwhelming sense of guilt. This guilt was no longer such as could be explained away or removed, for it was subjectively experienced as the guilt of a person who had stepped out of real relationship to the world and tried to live in a spiritual world above reality. (‘Individuation, Schuld und Entscheidung,’ pp. 531-539.) Both Trüb and Buber show that guilt is an essential factor in the person’s relations to others and that it performs the necessary function of leading him to desire to set these relations to rights. It is just here, in the real guilt of the person who has not responded to the legitimate claim and address of the world, that the possibility of transformation and healing lies. (Martin Buber, ‘Heilung aus der Begegnung,’ op. cit.)
Buber’s and Trüb’s understanding of guilt as a primal reality sets them in marked contrast to the predominant modern trend toward explaining it away as the product of social and psychological conditioning. True guilt, of course, is not the neurotic, tormented self-preoccupation which so often goes by that name. ‘There is a sterile kind of heart-searching,’ writes Buber, ‘which leads to nothing but self-torture, despair and still deeper enmeshment.’ This latter is not a true awareness of the voice, but ‘reflexion,’ a turning back on oneself which uses up the energies that one could spend in turning to the Thou. True guilt, in contrast, takes place between man and man. It has an ontic, superpersonal character of which the feeling of guilt is only the subjective and psychological counterpart. ‘Guilt does not reside in the human person. On the contrary, he stands in the most realistic sense in the guilt which envelops him.’ Similarly, the repression of guilt and the neuroses which result from this repression are not merely psychological phenomena but real events between men. (The Way of Man, pp. 14, 36; Buber, ‘Heilung aus der Begegnung,’ op. cit).
Real guilt is the beginning of ethos, or responsibility, writes Trüb, but before the patient can become aware of it, he must be helped by the analyst to become aware of himself in general. This the analyst does through playing the part both of confidante and big brother. He gives the neurotic the understanding which the world has denied him and makes it more and more possible for him to step out of his self-imprisonment into a genuine relation with the analyst. In doing this, says Trüb, the analyst must avoid the intimacy of a private I-Thou relationship with the patient, on the one hand, and the temptation of dealing with the patient as an object, on the other. (Trüb, ‘Individuation, Schuld und Entscheidung,’ p. 533 f.; Hans Trüb, ‘Vom Selbst zur Welt,’ Psyche I , 41-45.) This means, in effect, that he must have just that dialogical relationship of concrete but one-sided inclusion which Buber has designated as that proper for the teacher. (Between Man and Man, ‘Education,’pp. 97-101) It cannot become the mutual inclusion of friendship without destroying the therapeutic possibilities of the relationship. But neither can it make the patient into an It. The analyst must be able to risk himself and to participate in the process of individuation. (Trüb, ‘Vom Selbst zur Welt,’ p. 55 f.)
The analyst must see the illness of the patient as an illness of his relations with the world, writes Trüb. The roots of the neurosis lie both in the patient’s closing himself off from the world and in the pattern of society itself and its rejection and non-confirmation of the patient. Consequently, the analyst must change at some point from the consoler who takes the part of the patient against the world to the person who puts before the patient the claim of the world. This change is necessary to complete the second part of the cure -- that establishment of real relationship with the world which can only take place in the world itself. ‘On the analyst falls the task of preparing the way for the resumption in direct meeting of the interrupted dialogical relationship between the individual and the community.’ The psychotherapist must test the patient’s finding of himself by the criterion of whether his self-realization can be the starting-point for a new personal meeting with the world. The patient must go forth whole in himself, but he must also recognize that it is not his own self but the world with which he must be concerned. This does not mean, however, that the patient is simply integrated with or adjusted to the world. He does not cease to be a real person, responsible for himself, but at the same time he enters into responsible relationship with his community. (Ibid., pp. 48-67, quotation from p. 44 [my translation]).
‘This way of frightened pause, of unfrightened deliberation, of personal participation, of rejection of security, of unsparing stepping into relationship, of the bursting of psychologism -- this way of vision and of risk is that which Hans Trüb went,’ writes Buber. ‘Surely other psychotherapists will find the trail that Trüb broke and carry it still further.’ (Buber, ‘Heilung aus der Begegnung,’ op. cit.)
Supplementary Note (1959):
‘Heilung aus der Begegnung’ now appears in English translation in Pointing the Way, ‘Healing through Meeting,’ pp. 93-97. In ‘Guilt and Guilt Feelings,’ trans. by Maurice Friedman, Psychiatry, Vol. XX, No. 2 (May 1957), pp. 114-129, Buber distinguishes between ‘groundless’ neurotic guilt and ‘existential guilt.’ ‘Existential guilt occurs when someone injures an order of the human world whose foundations he knows and recognizes as those of his own existence and of all common human existence.’ In a chapter in his forthcoming philosophical anthropology Prof. Buber sets forth a theory of the unconscious as existing prior to the split between the physical and the psychic and therefore as not identifiable with the psyche. In his important Postscript to the second edition of I and Thou Buber stresses the need of a one-sided ‘inclusion’ in the relationship between therapist and patient which is, nonetheless, an I-Thou relation founded on mutuality, trust, and partnership in a common situation.
Carl Jung in The Undiscovered Self (Boston: Little, Brown, 1958) emphasizes the psychotherapist’s concern with the particular, unique individual before him and his concrete problems. ‘Today, over the whole field of medicine it is recognized that the task of the doctor consists in treating the sick patient, not an abstract illness.’ (p. 12) A large sample of Ludwig Binswanger’s thought is now available in English in Rollo May, Ernest Angel, Henri F. Ellenberger, editors, Existence, A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology (New York: Basic Books, 1958), Chaps. VII-IX, pp. 191-364. (Cf. also pp. 80-i6, 119-124.) One may question whether by adding the I-Thou relation as one further existential category to those Heidegger has provided us, Binswanger has succeeded in the synthesis of Heidegger’s ontology and Buber’s dialogue that forms the core of his existential analysis. (Cf. my article, ‘Shame, Existential Psychotherapy, and the Image of Man,’ Commentary, fall or winter 1959.) Carl R. Rogers’s essay, ‘Persons or Science? A Philosophic Question,’ appears in American Psychologist, X (1955), pp. 267-278. The differences between Rogers and Buber became particularly clear in a dialogue that I moderated between them at the University of Michigan on April 18, 1957. Rogers emphasizes subjective becoming, Buber the ‘between.’ Rogers emphasizes unqualified acceptance of the client by the therapist whereas Buber emphasizes a confirmation which begins with acceptance but goes on to helping the other in the struggle against himself for the sake of what he is meant to become. (Cf. Rogers’s articles on ‘Becoming a Person’ in Pastoral Psychology, Vol. VII, January and February 1956). Cf. items by Farber & Friedman in supplementary bibliography.
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