So many questions are raised when we slip into the subject of philotherapy namely: What is philotherapy? What can philosophy bring us? What is the difference between philotherapy and psychotherapy? For what kinds of problems can we come to consult a philotherapist or philosopher practitioner? What is the principle of philotherapy?
These are the questions we will try to answer in this article devoted entirely to therapy through philosophy.
For a long time, philosophy has always been considered as a theoretical discipline. But this conception of philosophy is indeed obsolete. More than speculative and theoretical, philosophy can be used for therapeutic purposes. Hence the notion of Philotherapy (or even written Philo-therapy or Philo Therapy). Philosophy leaves the university to help better live and move.
When one has worries, difficulties in living, sometimes depressed to depression, or when one experiences anxiety, psychotherapy is a great help. But philosophy, too, can have a wealth to bring, in the form of Philo-therapy?
Considered for a long time as an intellectual elite, many wonder about the philosophy to know: what can philosophy bring us? Indeed, philosophy is not reserved for “professional thinkers”, to use the words of Kant, but it has a lot to offer to all of us, intellectual or otherwise. Because philosophy allows us to find answers to our daily ills and allows everyone to make sense of what they are living. In this, like psychotherapy, philosophy leads to work on oneself and allows to discover a control of oneself in order to act on the events. It allows not to be flummoxed with the events, not to be submerged by them as the Stoics claim. Philosophy is thus an art of living and living better. It leads to more self-awareness, more discernment to become both subject and object of his research in order to be reconciled with oneself.
If there is a market that does not know the crisis, it is certainly that of the soul. In recent years, philosophy has emerged from the academic sphere, caught up in the growing interest of the general public in this discipline. This enthusiasm feeds on the hope that philosophy has therapeutic virtues and can provide answers to existential problems, such as a beautiful escape to happiness. […] It is not only a matter of study and speculation, but today implies a more existential dimension. It thus revives certain currents of thought of antiquity, such as stoicism or epicureanism, for which philosophy was above all an art of living. In the form of cafe-Philo, workshops, internships, magazines, seminars in business, private consultations, mantras inscribed in a corner of his agenda, the Philo took to the streets.
This practical aim of philosophy has given birth to a new profession and a new term, that of philosopher “practitioner”, exercising his activity in offices or clinics. The first was opened in Germany in 1981, by Gerd Achenbach, who then receives his first “guest”, as he calls it, a person wishing to engage in a philosophical dialogue on a theme or problem of concern.
I – Definition of Philotherapy
Philotherapy could have several definitions, but we will focus on that given by Brigitte Aïache, philosopher and philotherapist in Paris (France). Philotherapy, according to her, is to take advantage of the richness of philosophy to get better. To philosophize is to question oneself, to question oneself, to deconstruct oneself, to put oneself in shape, without ever getting locked in answers that are too clear, too clear, too definite.
To think is to stop, to “risk” to take the time in a world where the pace is accelerating even more. But stopping does not mean “no longer acting”, but “acting better”. Taking the necessary distance from a situation or an event in order to analyze it leads to questioning our relationship between thought and action.
II – Difference between Philotherapy and Psychotherapy
Philo-therapy is for all those who ask questions about the meaning of life in general and the meaning of their lives in particular; to those who do not manage to overcome alone the difficulties engendered by daily ills. Philo-therapy can thus be addressed to all … But it is not recommended to people who suffer from complex psychiatric pathology. The Philo-therapist cannot and must not in any way substitute for the psychiatrist or the psychologist.
There are different schools, different ways of proceeding in philosophical conversation. Oscar Brenifier, the doctor of philosophy and practitioner in France, uses for its part “Socratic principles, that is to say, a relentless questioning with the interlocutor.” Rather than solve, it is about identifying, to rephrase, to clarify the underlying issues of the interlocutor, and to defeat the prejudices of reasoning. “Unlike psychoanalysis, I do not enter the narrative or regressive,” insists Oscar Brenifier. The framework of the interview, the type of demand and waiting sometimes blur the boundaries between psychotherapy and philosophy.
Detlef Staude, one of the Swiss practitioner philosophers, mainly in German-speaking Switzerland, emphasizes that his patients come to him with very specific reasons, often of an ethical nature or related to their private life. “Sometimes, some come because they have absolutely no one to talk to. But if I feel that they are not able to lead a philosophical discussion, and then I rather direct them to a therapist, “he continues.
For the vast majority of practitioners, the limits of their discipline are very clear: philosophy is powerless to cure mental illnesses, and this is not his role. It differs from psychotherapy both in its objectives and in the means it gives itself to achieve it. “Philosophy reminds those who are suffering that they are not alone, that their evil is related to being human, while psychoanalysis tells them that they are the only ones to suffer from the suffering that is theirs,” sums up the French philosopher Charles Pepin. The philosophical conversation is not played on the ground of feeling, but on that of reason and critical thought. In this, he refers to the question of the real rather than to himself. Oscar Brenifier particularly asks his interlocutors to make arguments against their own hypothesis to “think the unthinkable”. “In many cases, philosophers are less interested in resting serenesses than in the salutary vitality of intranquility,” recalls Charles Pépin.
However, there is no incompatibility between his profession and philosophical consultations: “Philosophers are careful not to substitute for the therapeutic approach. The craze for philosophy reveals a need to make sense, science cannot answer everything. Psychiatrists, like philosophers, must have in mind the modesty of their tools. “
Now that we have established the difference between philotherapy and psychotherapy, it is wise that we ask ourselves: For what kinds of problems can we come to consult a Philo-therapist?
III – When to Consult a Philotherapist?
Philo-therapy can help everyone to find their own way in the face of many problems of life: the couple, work, management of everyday life, self-image, problems of identity…
What is difficult for all of us is to manage the daily, in agreement with ourselves. We often tend to let feelings, emotions, take precedence over reason. And they can overwhelm us, guide us. Because of this, our actions, our choices, often prove to be an immediate, instinctive response, or a defense against a feeling, fear or anguish more than a reasoned choice. The goal of Philo-therapy is to give us intelligent discernment.
So, what is the principle of philotherapy, what are you doing exactly?
IV – The Principle of Philotherapy
The goal of the Philo-therapist is to help the person he accompanies to become fully aware of himself, to be able to see himself as a responsible person and no longer as a victim. The Philo-therapist supports her to come out of victimization and brings her client to a level of consciousness that allows her to realize her freedom and assume responsibility.
The Philo-therapist does not provide answers to his client. On the contrary, he asks questions. He guides the other in his research, questions him, pushes him to find what is the real issue or the real problem that lies behind his discomfort. He gives no answer and no recipe for happiness. He brings his client to understand that the answers to his questions are in him. To exercise one’s faculty of thinking is to access one’s own freedom and, as Kant said, to emerge from a state of the minority to attain a state of majority. It is to learn to think by oneself.
We can thus read texts of philosophers to the people we accompany. The challenge is not to make them adopt the ideas of Plato, Descartes, Kant or Nietzsche, but to analyze them, to evaluate them in order to digest them and adapt them to oneself. Initiation and invitation to philosophical texts make it possible to adopt a philosophical perspective and to give keys to overcome the problem posed.
By way of example, and if we approach philotherapy with Nietzsche…
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Thus Spoke Zarathustra
This “philosophical poem” applies to Nietzsche’s most famous work. In it, the author introduces his basic philosophical ideas: “the will to power,” “Superman,” and above all, “the eternal return of the same.” Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, whose other name is Dionysos, is a novelist of the new era, based on the overcoming of the conflict between good and evil. The work is written exceptionally concentrated and is full of suggestive images and subtle allusions, which the author often draws from the Old and New Testament despite the antagonism with the Jewish-Christian traditions, and gives them a new meaning.
V – Philotherapy with Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche is a German philologist, philosopher, poet, pianist, and composer, born on October 15, 1844, in Röcken, Prussia, and died on August 25, 1900, in Weimar, Germany.
In the following lines we will try to explore how, through Nietzsche’s philosophy, it is possible to see philosophy as a therapy …
*** Philotherapy: adopting a philosophical attitude
“Let these explanations be replaced by those which I have presented with hesitation only by other better ones,” writes Nietzsche in one of his Untimely Considerations. The German author of the late nineteenth century, he knew to embody a certain philosophical attitude. Far from the idea that philosophy would situate its discourse in perfect neutrality, several philosophers, like Nietzsche, leave the reader the choice to interpret, the freedom to understand, instead of giving him ready-made solutions, distinctions ready to to be consumed, pre-thought ideas, which would only have to be warmed up. Philosophy, even a little, implies active ownership; in what way the dialogue lends itself to this exercise an ideal form. This is the first aspect of philotherapy.
These philosophers (existentialists in the broad sense) allow the individual to understand who he is, what his specific situation is, what makes him a person, but also what he does not share with any other: his individuality. It is, in my opinion, the fundamental dimension of philotherapy that I propose: to understand myself while understanding better certain fundamental structures of existence. To be fully aware of what I do, what I can do and what I want to do with my life. To understand myself as an individual is a lever that allows me to put my thought and my action into the world differently.
Quite representative of philosophical prudence, Nietzsche’s posture is a real admission of modesty. This is another aspect of philotherapy. Descriptive, his “considerations” are not prescriptions that would impose a model of action. They are a possible way to use philosophical reflection in existential situations: they constitute the fundamental fabric of our existence. These situations must necessarily be addressed. They are an opportunity to develop our human potential, but they can also lead to blockages. Nietzsche very often claims that these aspects of life take precedence over conceptual elaboration, that intuition comes before the work of thought in general. In the same vein, the contributions that follow – which an article on the consciousness of time, based on Nietzsche’s short excerpt – claim to be simply proposals for existential clarification, based on concrete situations that embody in our daily existence. It is better to understand them to address some differently.
*** A practice of philosophy
There are several philosophical postures, as there are many ways to live one’s life. Far from considering the multiplicity of looks as falsifications, these representatives of philosophy see a wealth. They share the idea that a careful examination of our existence is often extremely beneficial. One of the first of them, Socrates, would have claimed that a life without examination did not deserve to be lived. They offer us a progressive unveiling of a problem, of intuition, of an idea, whose depth we gradually perceive. It allows us to measure the gap that separates us from yesterday and keeps us away from tomorrow. Reflecting on our actions of yesterday, they support us in the idea that we have the freedom to update them, to invent new ones, to develop other facets of our existence.
These existential clarifications are intended to return to our action and our life. In truth, the following articles are written in the hope that they will be useful to you. I’m not sure that one can practice philosophy without having an idea. Not definitive, but representative of the practice we have conducted. In the same way that one gets an idea of life from his experience, which does not mean that we reduce life to the experience we had. One can be aware of the determined approaches from which, until now, our existence has revealed to us some facets of the world. Correcting the course is often necessary. But when, while recognizing the limits of our gaze, we do not regret what we have seen so far, when we are aware of the many paths that have been offered to us but, at the end of one of them, we realize that for nothing in the world we do not wish to have taken another route, so we feel a certain satisfaction: the clue that we are doing well.
*** To be me and not another
Nietzsche was convinced that all I can do in my life is to become what I am. Could I have been otherwise? Someone else? It’s possible. But do we trust those moments when I feel I’m sticking to the idea that I have of myself, at these moments of satisfaction where I have the feeling of realizing myself, that is to say, to develop the traits that seem to me to correspond to the person I am. The time of my existence allows me to realize myself, to concretize the idea that I have of me. This path takes time, which can be a source of suffering as well as joy, of misguidance as of self-discovery. Feelings for which we are partly responsible. When we feel the need: we can develop differently.
*** The choice of a therapeutic philosophy
It goes without saying that a therapist is certainly not a skeptic: only a certain idea of philosophy and human existence can lead us to believe that words treat us effectively and sustainably. What philotherapy will be based on a selection of thoughts: those that, above all things, were written or pronounced with the primary purpose of addressing us. I think that, in the end, Nietzsche and the other partisans of this attitude, had the deep desire to be heard, that they did not write for themselves, and that they hoped, in the end, to give support to who would need it, to whom it would be freely decided to associate it with thought?
I, therefore, wish that any reader/reader who would like to think about these situations, finds in this article a matter to elaborate, the reflection that will be useful to him to think what he experiments. Whether it’s conceptualizing, questioning, or defining, let’s take these instruments freely!
You suffer from: conflict, complex, doubt, choice, failure, fear, anguish, guilt, loneliness, illness, mourning, despair …? Do you have questions about: the meaning of life, finitude, freedom, love …?
From ignorance … to knowledge.
From hatred … to love.
From fear … to courage.
From anger … to serenity.
From dependence … to autonomy.
From frustration … to satisfaction.
From solitude … to the link.
From egotism … to generosity.
From mistrust … to trust.
From injustice … to justice.
From humiliation … to dignity.
From guilt … to self-acceptance.
From lies … to authenticity.
From lack … to fullness.
From bad choice … to the right choice.
From failure … to success.
From the absurd … to the sense. […]
In short, “philotherapy” is for you if you want to understand how your feelings work. Where do they come from? How are they developing? What role do we play personally? And the others? And things and situations?
What is the place of the imagination? Of the reason? From intuition to the ideas you have? How to modify them to act better and live a more satisfying and beautiful life in the heart of the world and with others? How and how are your affects related to your thinking?
By the way, an affect is simultaneously a modification of our “power to be” on the body and mind. Joy when it increases and sadness when it decreases.
Philotherapy is for you if you want to remove obstacles to the fullest possible expression of the Desire that you are “Desire is the essence of man …” – Spinoza, Ethics III, Definition 1.
But by wanting better … who, what, how, why, where, when?
After each consultation, you receive a consultation report: “red thread” of analysis, reflection, and action giving you maximum follow-up and autonomy, to lead you on the path of your emotional, intellectual and spiritual liberation.
Do you need philotherapeutic assistance? Our arms are wide open to you. Come and let us walk together, seek to understand life and our life. Let’s dive deeper into our being through thought and discover knowledge and self-awareness. You have certainly read this article and you are interested, do not hesitate to contact us at the following addresses for a Philo-therapeutic follow-up:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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