2020 American Board & Academy of Psychoanalysis (ABAPsa) book award winner!
If, when a patient enters therapy, there is an underlying yearning to discover a deeper sense of meaning or purpose, how might a therapist rise to such a challenge? As both Carl Jung and Wilfred Bion observed, the patient may be seeking something that has a spiritual as well as psychotherapeutic dimension. Presented in two parts, The Search for Meaning in Psychotherapy is a profound inquiry into the contemplative, mystical and apophatic dimensions of psychoanalysis.
What are some of the qualities that may inspire processes of growth, healing and transformation in a patient? Part One, The Listening Cure: Psychotherapy as Spiritual Practice, considers the confluence between psychotherapy, spirituality, mysticism, meditation and contemplation. The book explores qualities such as presence, awareness, attention, mindfulness, calm abiding, reverie, patience, compassion, insight and wisdom, as well as showing how they may be enhanced by meditative and spiritual practice.
Part Two, A Ray of Divine Darkness: Psychotherapy and the Apophatic Way, explores the relevance of apophatic mysticism to psychoanalysis, particularly showing its inspiration through the work of Wilfred Bion. Paradoxically using language to unsay itself, the apophatic points towards absolute reality as inexpressible and unnameable. So too, Bion observed, psychoanalysis requires the ability to dwell in mystery awaiting intimations of ultimate truth, O, which cannot be known, only realised. Pickering reflects on the works of key apophatic mystics including Dionysius, Meister Eckhart and St John of the Cross; Buddhist teachings on meditation; Sunyata and Dzogchen; and Lévinas’ ethics of alterity.
The Search for Meaning in Psychotherapy will be of great interest to both trainees and accomplished practitioners in psychoanalysis, analytical psycholog