Existenzanalyse 2/2007

What is phenomenology?

Helmut Vetter

The following reflections constitute an attempt at an introduction into the method of hermeneutic phenomenology. It comprises three steps. For one there are hints to the history of phenomenology and literature is quoted for a preliminary orientation.

Secondly, the question „What is phenomenology?“ is answered at least partially and provisionally. For this purpose, seven characteristics are discussed – terms developed by Martin Heidegger in the framework of his hermeneutic phenomenology of the 1920ies. Thirdly, the applicability of this method is discussed.

Key words: history of phenomenology, hermeneutic phenomenology, philosophy



Phenomenology and Logotherapy

Ferdinand Fellmann

Around 1900 the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl put the saving of phenomena on its Agenda, and today this is of more immediate interest than ever in the philosophy of

mind. As far as communicative understanding is concerned the ensuing enhanced importance of sensual perception brings about a shift of the search for latent meanings to the manifest expressions, which are easily overlooked and underestimated in their potential for meaning just because of their conspicuousness. This has far-reachng consequences for the practice of psychotherapy.

The ontologism of existential-analytical currents is replaced by aesthetics of

appearance, which offer an escape route to patients and therapists alike out of the cave of their self-centred subjectivity. For phenomenology and psychotherapy it is true that phenomena are the essence and that man recognises himself only in the phenomena.

Key words: logotherapy, phenomenology, philosophy



To feel the moving

Phenomenology in (existential-analytical) practice

Alfried Längle

Human beings can grasp the essential because of their capacity of understanding. Pure empiricism is blind to the essential – only the discerning spirit is able to capture the content of given things beyond data and facts. This is in particular true for understanding people. Because where the person is concerned – i.e. the „essential“ of the human being – only a phenomenological attitude makes it possible to discern the true motivations and individuality of a person. For existential analysis as a psychotherapy that is centred on the actualization of personhood and thus on existence a phenomenological attitude is fundamental. The conditions, indications, proceedings, limits and practical applications of phenomenology in existential analysis will be shown with a specific reference to the hermeneutic phenomenology

of M. Heidegger.

Key words: existential analysis, hermeneutics, person, phenomenology, psychotherapy



The between as a basis of the phenomenological method in psychiatric-psychotherapeutic practice

Kimura Bin

In phenomenology as a philosophical method the seeker tries to reflect on himself in order to distil the essential of the ordinary human way of being out of his own  onditions. Therefore, it does not go without saying to introduce this method into psychiatry in order to describe and analyse illnesses in a patient who will always be

another from the psychiatrist. How is that at all possible? This question leads to a profound analysis of the ways of human existence, such as it is called „Nin-Gen“ in Japanese, literally „man-between“. This between does not designate only the place of human encounter, but points to the essential of being oneself and thus opens the indispensable access to the existence of the other partner in dialogue. The being between of man constitutes the basis that renders phenomenological psychiatry possible.

Key words: comparison of cultures, phenomenology, philosophy, psychiatry



Mirror neurons as a neurobiological basis for therapeutic understanding

A turn from modern neurobiology back to Freud

Joachim Bauer

The question of how psychotherapists arrive at their knowledge about patients has not been clarified yet in spite of numerous hypotheses and theories. In connection with this question this article presents the role of mirror neurons as a neurobiological prerequisite for empathy and understanding. They allow the therapist to achieve some knowledge of the patient’s inner situation in excess of what the patient is able to say. No therapeutic process would be possible without this intuitive knowledge. The discovery of the system of mirror neurons provides neurobiological explanations about the preconditions and possibilities of understanding in the therapeutic process and about what happens in transfer and counter transfer. These lead to a resonance constituting a basis for effective interpretation.

Key words: neurobiology, psychoanalysis, mirror neurons



From dreaming to the essential

Anton Nindl


This contribution illustrates the phenomenological-personal proceeding in understanding dreams from an existential-analytical point of view. A dream episode serves as a basis for illustrating the importance of capturing the primary emotions and the phenomenal content of the dream experience as well for perceiving the self-understanding of the dreamer and of the encountered otherness. Room is given to the obscure and uncanny, which are looked into against a biographical background. The trail to the essential is taken up in addressing the personal authenticity, and it is brought into relation with the actual life situation of the dreamer.

Key words: case presentation, dream



From the human mind to the „Poor me“

Transfer analysis as psychodynamic phenomenology

Wolfgang Schmidbauer

Whereas classical phenomenology assumes a neutral observer in our consciousness, psychoanalysis is concerned with an impaired processing of experience. Driving wishes andprior traumata influence the picture that we perceive of ourselves and others; the analytical situation and the analysis of transfer and countertransfer strive to recognize any dimming and distortions and to correct them through interpretations. The concept of truth created in such a situation is determined by interaction: The truth about their relationship as agreed upon by the analyst and the analysed is not questioned any further.

Key word: phenomenology, psychoanalysis, transfer