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Friedman, M. (1975). Healing Through Meeting: A Dialogical Approach to Psychotherapy Part II. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(4):343-354.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(4):343-354

Healing Through Meeting: A Dialogical Approach to Psychotherapy Part II

Maurice Friedman, M.D.

The German psychiatrist Viktor von Weizsäcker1 places healing through meeting at the center of his “medical anthropology,” which begins with the recognition of the difference between the objective understanding of something and the “transjective” understanding of someone. The doctor can understand the patient only if he begins with questions addressed to a person rather than objective knowledge about an object. Only through the real contact of the doctor and the patient does objective science have a part in the history of the patient's illness. If this contact is lacking, all information about functions, drives, properties, and capacities is falsified. This comradeship of doctor and patient takes place not despite technique and rational thought 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 this de facto assent to the relationship falls away, then the objectivity is doubtful and no longer of use.

Von Weizsäcker expands this relationship of doctor and patient into an all-embracing distinction between objective therapy and “inclusive,” or “comprehensive,” therapy, using the latter word in Buber's sense of Umfassung, or experiencing the other side of the relationship. 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 Thou together.

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