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Psychotherapeutic Approaches To The Case Study Of Ellen West

3337 words - 13 pages

The Nature of Psychotherapeutic Goals in Existential Therapy It is often believed that one school of psychological thought is diametrically opposed to any other. That is to say that the psychoanalytic schools are intrinsically and fundamentally different from the existentialist schools and are therefore mutually exclusive in their uses in discovering the nature of human personality. But this is not the case. For example, the existentialist schools of thought, as espoused in the works of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Binswanger""among the first of the movement's seminal leaders""seek to place the discoveries of psychoanalytic thought on a new basis, rather than to replace or destroy it. In addition, the derivative schools of the Person-Centered and Gestalt therapies of Carl Rogers and Fritz Perls respectively, built even more progressively towards a resolution of the "person" which resides inside the shell of human experience, without contradicting the tenets of psychoanalytic thought. Finally, the theories of Freud, Jung, Adler, et al, which the existentialist schools seek ultimately to supplement in their collective efficacy, are still relevant to the purpose of understanding the human condition and are entirely, within their own merits, pertinent to the discovery of being""the being sought principally but not exclusively by the existentialist schools""despite their oft-seemingly direct imposition of illustrious constructs beyond those of the existentialist schools. All these systems are inextricably intertwined components of a framework that, if not reduced or abridged in any way, will serve without equal in its comprehensiveness to elucidate the consummate being of even the most convoluted of human personalities.The furthest extremes of human personality can be observed most strikingly in the life""the "soul"""of a woman by the name of Ellen West. West was at the turn of the twentieth century the subject of an exhaustive case study performed by Ludwig Binswanger. The result of the study would have reverberations in the world of psychotherapy well beyond anything he may have originally intended. As West became the precipitating figure in the study of the pathology of anorexia nervosa, Binswanger managed to construct from her tortured existence the consummate analysis of the existentially and psychically conflicted individual. It remains to be seen what path her life would have taken had she had the occasion to be seated in the sofa of Carl Rogers, Franz Perls, or Binswanger himself. As conveyed in the text of the case study published in Existence (1958), conventional psychoanalysis, still in its infancy during West's time, was not enough within itself to conquer her "love of death". Had Ellen West had access to the full repertoire of modern existentialist therapies available, her promising existence would never have been ended so prematurely.Ellen West and Existential Analysis The adaptations of existentialism to Western psychology can be seen as...

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