Alan Watts on Worry and Compulsive Thinking.
Something that often seems to be in short supply - common-sense.
Written by: Hayley Merron Stevens
The term “talking cure,” originally used to describe Freud’s psychoanalysis, is synonymous with all therapies where words are seen as the main vehicle of expression, i.e., psychotherapy, counselling.
First used by Anna O in 1880, ‘talking cure’ referred to her remarkable recovery, under Dr Josef Breuer.* However Anna O. had another, less well known description for the work she did with Josef Breuer – ‘chimney sweeping.’ That may seem like an odd descriptor at first glance, but look beyond the Dickensian imagery: small boys, poverty, squaller… and what we find is a metaphor that tells us much more about the relationship between client and therapist and the psychotherapeutic process that underpins it.
In this metaphor Anna O. is the chimney, the sooty deposits the disturbance. Of the two people involved in the work it is Anna O. who plays the role of apprentice sweep, Breuer the master sweep.**
While it is the therapist who is responsible for ensuring the work is carried out safely and that the client is not overworked or overstretched, it is Anna O, the apprentice who must dislodge and bag the soot. No one else can do the work for her.
In Victorian times soot, once bagged, was never thrown away but used as fertiliser. In the chimney soot is toxic blocking the free flow of air. In the garden it acts as a fertiliser promoting growth and health. The only difference is the location. Soot and fertiliser are the same substance. In psychotherapy the difference is one of perspective.
Gaining a new perspective on the the problems we have, the difficulties we face, the relationships we find ourselves in, enables use to loosen what has become compacted and solidified in ourselves. The metaphorical soot that once seemed so problematical now the very stuff that helps us to grow.
However metaphors while extremely useful are not without there pitfalls one of which is the tendency to oversimplification. The term coined by Anna O over a hundred years ago paints a florid picture of masters and servants. It makes it all to easy for us to draw an unhelpful and inaccurate picture of the therapist, client relationship.
In deeply transformative psychotherapy, both therapist and client are stretched and challenged. The relationship far from being linear is rich and nuanced. In this relationship the psychotherapeutic process does call for a certain amount of talking. But perhaps more importantly it requires a certain quality of listening one which, facilitates a space that can be all too difficult to find outside of the therapeutic relationship. Here the client is given space to hear, often for the first time, the truth of what is being said and felt on an experiential level. In this moment the relationship between therapist and client changes from the already known, to the unknown, to a truth that moves beyond words.
That the psychotherapeutic process should defy our best attempts to be conveniently labelled should perhaps come as no surprise - least of all to those familiar with the process. That we have been left, thanks to a quirk in history, with the label ‘talking cure,’ is not without irony, talking cure saying as it does so little about the psychotherapeutic process. And whilst the term ‘chimney sweep’ is far from ideal, it does at least provide us with questions. As good a place as any to start that rich and nuanced relationship we call psychotherapy.
* Bertha Pappenheim, always presented under the name of "Anna O." as the original patient of psychoanalysis was never treated by Freud but by his friend and mentor Josef Breuer.
** In Victorian England master sweeps would employ a number of apprentice sweeps or climbing boys.
"The things you do should be the things that you love; the things that you love should be the things that you do". Wise words from Ray Bradbury.
This video is on the long side 22 mins. But a joy to watch.
Written by: Anne Gabarre, Homeopath
I have been talking a lot about Toxicity: to the general public, to several therapists groups as well as preparing a lecture on the subject to students learning about homeopathy.
It seems that the issue of toxicity is becoming more and more important in practice. I am seeing more clients suffering from some sort of toxic overload, mainly due to long-term medication and where the symptoms are linked to a specific organ or system weakness.
As a general term the word ‘toxins’ relates to the accumulated waste products in the body that are detrimental to our health.
Some are substances foreign to our organism that may be harmful if they accumulate in cells (chemical wastes from foods/drugs, pollutants…also called Xenobiotics or Exogenous wastes).
Others are produced inside the body either because they are part of normal metabolic activity (Carbon dioxide, urea, lactic acid…) or as by-product of bacterial or viral activity (Endogenous waste).
When we produce too much of these naturally occurring wastes or cannot cope with them naturally the symptoms can, in cases such as gout, where the system produces too much uric acid, cause a great deal of discomfort.
When toxin build up becomes chronic it can lead to further symptoms and in some cases aggravate a disease process. Subtler toxin accumulation can reduce the efficiency of a vast array of physiological activities by altering intracellular and extracellular pH and disturbing the functions of numerous enzymatic and other reactions. Functionally, poor digestion, colon sluggishness and dysfunction, reduced liver function and poor elimination can also contribute to a toxic state.
So toxins can cause organ overload, which turns into organ dysfunction, which then increases the build up of toxicity – a vicious spiral. It is therefore not surprising that many disease processes either occur or are aggravated by accumulated toxins or wastes.
Our first line of defence against Toxaemia is through our body ‘detox pathways’: Gastrointestinal, Urinary, Lymphatic, Respiratory and Skin.
The good news is that the majority of us manage to cope quite well despite a certain level of toxicity. Indeed it is not always toxins themselves that are the problem but the way in which our bodies process these materials.
In France and Switzerland there is a long tradition in the way homeopathic doctors endeavour to help the body address toxicity. Used alongside classical homeopathic treatment, organotherapy works to support and strengthen those organs that are struggling to eliminate toxins, through what might commonly be referred to as organ drainage.
Interested in finding out more?
For more information on Organotherapy I suggest Dr Joe Rozencwaig book (Organotherapy: drainage and detoxification, Emryss publishers) and also the excellent book by Dr Jean-Lionel Bagot (Cancer and Homeopathy, Unimedia) where he describes how 1 in 4 cancer patient in France benefits from homeopathy while undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy.