5. The Naming of Taopsychotherapy

In 1972, Professor Lee Sangbok in Seoul University was the first to name the trend of Prof. RHEE’s psychotherapy as “Tao School of Psychotherapy”. Dr. Yoo Suckjin negatively stated that there was an unidentified psychother
-apy in Korea that was neither Freudian nor Jungian in 1974. In response to this remark, Prof. RHEE replied, “Did Freud or Jung become analysts by being analyzed?”

Meanwhile in 1984, Dr. Melvin Sabshin participated in the 3rd Pacific Congress of Psychiatry held in Seoul and commented that, “Korean Psychiatry has occupied a definite place in the World Psychiatric Map.” After his formal address at the Farewell Banquet, he wrote a note to Prof. RHEE expressing his appreciation for the “winds of change”(Pers. communication 1984).

In 1990, Dr. Suk-Choo Chang introduced Prof. RHEE and his colleagues as the “Korean School of Psychotherapy” in the journal, ‘Transcultural Research Review’(Vol. 27) and in 1996, Prof. Kim Kwang-iel introduced Prof. RHEE’s therapy as “Taoistic Psychotherapy” at the World Congress of Psychiatry in Madrid. In 1997, Professor Luke Kim introduced Prof. RHEE’s “Tao Oriented Psychotherapy” at the meeting of the American Psychiatric Association(APA) in San Diego.

On April 1st 2001, the Korean Academy of Psychotherapists(KAP) opened a lecture series named, “Introduction to Taopsychotherapy” and this was the first official use of the name “Taopsychotherapy”. In August 2002, at the World Congress of Psychiatry, Yokohama, KAP held a workshop on Taopsychotherapy, and this was recognized as the declaration of Taopsychotherapy to the world.

Following this, there was a symposium and a workshop on Taopsychotherapy at the 3rd Asia Pacific Conference on Psychotherapy during May 2003 in Singapore and, another symposium on “Taopsychotherapy of Psychoses” at the 14th International Symposium of the Psychological Treatment of Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses (ISPS) in September 2003, in Melbourne.

Lately, Taopsychotherapy has been listed as one of the submission topics(themes) for the 15th ISPS meeting in Madrid in 2006 based upon recommendations from western colleagues, Chris Buford, Brian Koehler and Garry Prouty. Also, the Organizing Committee of this Congress has proposed to organize a symposium on Taopsychotherapy as a main symposium.



The Essence of Taopsychotherapy

1. Emphasis on Feelings

Now, let me discuss what the most important aspects in Taopsychotherapy are.

One of the most important considerations in Taopsychotherapy is to empathize with the patient’s feelings. Prof. RHEE insisted that the feelings of the psychotherapist cure the patient’s feelings. Of course, emotion is similarly emphasized in western psychotherapy.

However, Prof. RHEE indicated that western colleagues do not seem to fully attend to the emotions, even although they describe mental disorders as emotional disorders. He also felt that western colleagues seem to respond to feelings ‘intellectually’, in their practice as psychotherapists.

Interestingly however, both western psychotherapy and Taopsychotherapy have now taken the same direction of stressing feelings or emotions, whilst Prof. RHEE has continued to carry consistently strong conviction of the need for this emphasis, since childhood. It is illuminating that Freud put an emphasis on affect. Some western psychotherapists who do emphasize feelings in psychotherapy - like Leon J. Saul, Walter Bonime and Marianne H, Eckardt- have taken a similar path to Taopsychotherapy.

According to Prof. RHEE, the principles of Taopsychotherapy can apply within neurosis, psychosis and psycho
-somatic disease, irrespective of the diagnosis of the mental disorder. The only differences in application of the response, relate directly to the period of the identified developmental stage during which the patient experienced the trauma. This reflects deliberately paying attention to the differing levels of consonant ego-strength in the pati
-ent, as is similarly recognized in western psychotherapy.

In Taopsychotherapy, it is critical to empathize with the patient’s feelings in all types of mental disorders. Prof. RHEE has repeatedly stated his perception that even very severely psychotic patients suddenly improved, as soon as they expressed their feelings and, became aware of experiencing these feelings.



1) Nuclear Feelings vs Central Dynamics

In one of his papers published in 1970, Prof. RHEE pointed out the primary importance of grasping and overcoming the patient’s ‘nuclear feelings’ which hold such sway over the patient’s mind and behavior throughout his or her life at every moment.

He compared ‘nuclear feelings’ to the genetic codes which are found in the DNA of every cell. Western psychotherapists and psychoanalysts also talk about central dynamics, major motivation, nuclear dynamics, childhood emotional patterns, basic dynamics, nuclear emotional constellation, repetition compulsion and so on and so forth.
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