When : August 3, 2003
Where : KAP Office
H In order for us to understand Taopsychotherapy it would be better for us to first know your initial background and experiences in the field of psychotherapy.
R As I have mentioned before, in my early memories as a child, I often saw violent emotional outbursts by my neighbors and perceived, "Both happiness and unhappiness of life are according to one's control of his emotions."
I felt that 'people are foolish and get easily swept by emotions'. Even when others do wrong I tried to believe that past experiences lead them to such actions thus with an understanding of others and myself I decided to try to understand others instead of conflicting or being offensive to people.
Of course it doesn't mean that I was never offensive, it means I have been offensive where I needed to protect myself but in all other cases I have refrained from such actions. In other words, my ideology seems to run in a complete opposite direction compared to the other people of our nation.
As an example, in my eyes our country has superior qualities in terms of national character and culture with regards to Japan and other foreign countries. However, others are too quick to claim the superiority of China, Japan and other Western nations.
H Have you felt all these ever since you were young?
R Yes, ever since I was young. After the Japanese Occupation, even long after liberation other people didn't seem to have changed their perspective about our country. So I took a moment to realize that I personally hadn't changed ever since I was young just like how the other people hadn't changed after liberation.
When I was in elementary school I recall how my friend's mother had commented "Dongshick was just like
a Buddhist monk, knowledgeable about the ways of the world". And when I was around 10 years old, I would notice people renowned for their personality and realize that they were mere hypocrites.
This point of view was of course different with other people as well. While I was still in elementary school I could take a look at a person and realize that "this person was genuine". When I was in my 20s I would go for drinks with friends and be able to match the exact age of female companions.
If I wasn't sure of their age all I had to do was to feel their hand or skin and was able to come up with their exact age. While I was in the US I could take a look at a patient and could precisely predict that he/she had suffered from schizophrenia exactly how many years back.
H How did your experiences proceed once you had started studying Psychiatry?
R I read a book by Kurt Kolle a professor of the University of Munich where he wrote about 'Klein Hypnose' which dealt with the hypnosis of daily life. When I was in Medical school I had a friend who had an uncanny ability in hypnosis of daily life who could unintentionally cast hypnosis on people. He could entice people to go for drinks and create a party like atmosphere among people without them realizing it.
Such observations in daily life attracted me to the world of psychiatry. At that period there was only a limited type of treatments in psychiatry, namely Insulin Shock therapy, electric shock therapy, scopolamine injection, and sulfur oil injection. I would read books on Psychoanalysis and I couldn't understand them for they were all mere concepts and theories. I looked for reality but I couldn't find any in these books.
While I was at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychoanalysis, they wanted me to file a report on anxiety. However I realized I couldn't accomplish it because they were all concentrating only on concepts and theories while moving away from the reality.
H Did you expect to find a new world(?) of psychotherapy once you started psychiatry?
R Yes. Psychotherapy was also introduced in K. Kolle's book. At that period there already existed psychoanalysis, hypnotics, persuasion and suggestion. Ever since I started practicing my profession I would always try to understand the mind of the patients first. In the past all the psychiatrists could do was to check the patient's symptoms and offered electric shock therapy besides there weren't many good medicine and only things such as Bromide.
So instead I tried to understand the mind of the patient, which obviously was not easy at first. At that time in the field of psychiatry people believed that there weren't any meanings to the symptoms of psychotic patients. However Binswanger's Phenomenological Daseinsanalysis was introduced and it lead to people searching for inner meaning.
And there was an emphasis on inner life history, Human's Innere Lebens Geshichte. Normally? a psychiatrist would observe the behavior of a patient. In other words the inner mind of the patient would be ignored. I myself started to try to see the mind of the patients and during the period around liberation from Japanese occupation I had a female patient in her 30s who claimed severe headaches. And after diagnosis it was found that the husband had given her gonorrhea on their wedding night and it had made her sterile.
The husband then got himself a concubine to bear children and the patient had been living together with the concubine for the past 8years. I came to the conclusion that it was no wonder her headache since she was living with the concubine.
And then came my first case of psychotherapy during the Korean war. During this treatment I was reading Franz Alexander and French(Thomas Morton French)'s Psychoanalytic Therapy and Fenichel's Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis. I have probably gotten some influence from these books while I was treating my first patient.
H And what year was this?
R It was 1953. My patient had a headache that first resided by taking Aspirin. Soon this did not work and he had to rely on a liquid medicine from a psychiatric clinic for about 6 months but this had only a momentary effect. He came to see me after he saw the signboard? of our clinic which read 'psychotherapy' and 'mental hygiene'. During our first interview the reason for his headache wasn't apparent so I told him to tell me everything that arise in her mind. Over a course of 12 sessions I was able to completely cure his psychogenic headache through short-term therapy. After 12 interviews his headache was cured but to treat his basic personality a long treatment period was required.
H It seems that you had already started from psychotherapeutic psychiatry the moment you began psychiatry.
R For me my interest is not to do psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy or etc but to cure the sufferings of patients. This is why Graeme Taylor (1977) had mentioned that in my treatment it includes all of Western theories and techniques.
1 2