The Talking Cure: The Restoration of Freedom

Sophomore and above—Year

Over the past century, the concepts of “wisdom” and “ignorance” have been replaced by “health” and “illness.” Vanity has been replaced by narcissism and pretensions by insecurities. We consult psychologists and psychiatrists rather than philosophers in the hope of living “the good life.” We become cured rather than educated. The cure is presumably accomplished through a series of conversations between patient and doctor, but these are not ordinary conversations. Moreover, the relationship between one psychologist and patient is vastly different from the relationship between another psychologist and client. Despite more than a century of practice, there remains little agreement among these practitioners of “health” regarding what the content of these conversations should be or the proper roles of doctor and patient. Consequently, the patient who sees a psychoanalyst has a very different kind of experience from a patient who seeks the help of a person-centered therapist or a behaviorally-oriented psychotherapist. This course will examine the rules of conversation that govern various psychotherapeutic relationships and compare those rules with those that govern other kinds of relationships, such as those between friends, teachers and students, and family members.