Therapeutic Action in Historical Context
View Additional Course Information:
Including faculty, schedule, credits, CRN and location.
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Department: Social Sciences
Course Number: NPSY 3405
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
Freud famously said that the desire to help reduces the prospects for a psychoanalytic cure. He meant that analysts must rid themselves of the desire to cure. Is a cure, then, a return to a previous state, or is it a change whose nature is unknown at the outset to both patient and doctor? Too often we take for granted that psychology as a clinical endeavor is meant to help another person. The class looks at the complicated historical lineage of the concept of cure: its emergence in ancient Greece, its development in medieval and early modern Christianity, and its more modern antecedents. We investigate cure as catharsis or redemption and discuss recent changes in therapeutic practice aiming toward a more medical model, with an increased investment in knowledge, science, and technology. Students read a range of texts, including Greek myths and tragedies, Plato, the Stoics, and the Christian mystics. The class then turns to contemporary psychoanalytic theory, focusing on Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, and Lacan on the one hand and modern psychology, including dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive techniques, and mentalization, on the other.