Dialogue as Means in Psychotherapy
Dany Ghassan Charbel, Msc and Robert Gorter, MD, PhD.
Definition of the word Logos
Logos, (Greek: “word,” “reason,” or “plan”) plural logoi, in ancient Greek philosophy and early Christian theology, is considered the “Divine Reason” implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning. Although the concept is also found in Indian, Egyptian, and Persian philosophical and theological systems, it became particularly significant in early Christian writings and doctrines as a vehicle for conceiving the role of Jesus Christ as the principle of God, active in the creation and the continuous structuring of the cosmos and in revealing the divine plan of salvation to human beings. It thus underlies the fundamental Christian doctrine of the preexistence of Jesus.
Lacanian psychoanalysis and language /logos
Jacques-Marie Émile Lacan (1901-1981), known under the name Jacques Lacan, was a French psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Lacan became well-known for his contributions to psychoanalysis and for reviewing the work of Sigmund Freud.
The word Logos means logic, or plan, according to ancient Greek philosophy and it is the word of God according to the new Christian theology. On a psychological level and according to the great French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, it has a specific explanation, as he is the one who invented the concept of la langue, which is pre-language. He accepted the word along with language and linked it to the non-verbal relationship between the child and his mother in the first stages of his life. During his lecture that he gave to his students in Paris in 1971, Lacan insisted that this language is essential and is the basis for the formation of the self, identity, and primary narcissism, the maturation of the mother, the emotional state that stage and her presence and relationship with her child will inevitably shape the health and maturity of the individual’s personality throughout his entire life, as well as Language, as Lacan defines it, represents “the unconscious that is structured like a language and it helps to uncover the unconscious content of the psyche through talking therapy and free association techniques.”
Mankind Development and Logos and Dialogue
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described what is most valuable on earth in his fairy tale “The Beautiful Lilly and the Green Snake.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a true genius and conducted excellent work as an author of theatrical plays (like Faust, which takes 4 days to perform on stage), Romans, and scientific publications. Goethe himself said that he felt his most valuable contributions to European culture were his scientific works (on Color and Light; on Evolution; Biology and Metamorphosis.)
For all of mankind, the fairy tale “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lilly.” For all psychologists, psychotherapists, and educators, this fairy tale is of utmost value.
In this fairy tale, the progress of Mankind is being portrayed: and to enter a higher level of consciousness, one has to be able to answer three questions before one may pass on to the next “promised land.”
Usually, a monster or a ferryman asks these three questions. In case you have the correct answers, the ferryman will set you across a river or lake. In Goethe’s Fairy Tall, the ferryman asks the following three questions:
- What on earth is more valuable than Iron? The correct answer is Silver;
- What on earth is more valuable than Silver? The Correct answer is Gold;
- What on earth is more valuable than Gold? The correct answer is the Dialogue.
(The three metals mentioned here correlate to the previous stages of Earth’s development: Iron with the early Mars phase; Silver with the early Moon phase and Gold with the Sun phase)
What is a dialogue?
For some, dialogue is a focused and intentional conversation, a space of civility and equality in which those who differ may listen and speak together in full respect for each other. For others, it is a way of being—mindful and creative relating. In dialogue, we seek to set aside fears, preconceptions, and the need to win; we take time to hear other voices and possibilities. Dialogue can encompass tensions and paradoxes, and in so doing, new ideas—collective wisdom—may arise.
It is when we let our guard down and allow our differences and doubts to surface and interact that something authentic and original can begin to emerge, tentatively, in the spaces between us. And we have found that it is often in these fleeting and complicated moments that the heart and mind can come into synchrony, pointing to altogether novel educational possibilities. The key is to remain alert to those moments and to move with them when they arise. One could also say that when one participates in a dialogue filled with respect for each other, one can come to the core of the problem of difficulty in psychotherapy
We know that the most effective process for discovering these layers of meaning is through interactive and iterative dialogues and that if we undertake them sincerely and openly—and patiently—we can sometimes find our way to something entirely new: a solution for a problem. We assume that individual voices speak and act for the system as a whole, and we listen carefully to various voices and the competing values they represent.
Respect for the other is the Alpha and Omega of any therapeutic or educational dialogue.
Socratic questions in psychotherapy
The philosopher Socrates is something of an enigma. For betraying the secrets of initiation, Socrates was convicted to death in 399 BC, and leaving no written works, we rely extensively on the writings of his pupil, philosophical heavyweight Plato. Perhaps Socrates’ most significant legacy is his contribution to the art of conversation, known as Socratic questioning. Rather than the teacher filling the mind of the student, both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward and uncovering truths.
The Socratic Method, often described as the cornerstone of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), solves this inadequacy by asking a series of focused, open-ended questions that encourage reflection (Clark & Egan, 2015). By surfacing knowledge that was previously outside of our awareness, the technique produces insightful perspectives and helps identify positive actions.
Socratic questioning involves a disciplined and thoughtful dialogue between two or more people. It is widely used in teaching and counseling to expose and unravel deeply held values and beliefs that frame and support what we think and say.
Several types of questions to engage and elicit a detailed understanding.
|Clarification||What do you mean when you say X?
Could you explain that point further? Can you provide an example?
|Challenging assumptions||Is there a different point of view?
What assumptions are we making here? Are you saying that…?
|Evidence and reasoning||Can you provide an example that supports what you are saying?
Can we validate that evidence? Do we have all the information we need?
|Alternative viewpoints||Are there alternative viewpoints?
How could someone else respond, and why?