Similarities and Differences between Taopsychotherapy and Western Psychotherapy

1. Differences:only by Degree and Level

In his paper, “The Tao, Psychoanalysis and Existential Thought”(RHEE 1990), Prof. RHEE spoke of both the common elements and differences between eastern Tao, psychoanalysis and existential thought. He compared the goal of the eastern Tao with that of western psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. He concluded that the goal of western psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and eastern Tao is the same and the only difference is one of degree or level. He also compared the processes of psychoanalysis and Zen practice and concluded that both of the processes are the same, but only up to a particular point.

2. Transference vs Nuclear Feelings

One of the most commonly asked questions by western psychoanalysts about Prof. RHEE’s Taopsychotherapy is, “In western psychoanalysis, one of the most important aspect is understanding and solving the patient’s transference feeling. In Taopsychotherapy, how is the treatment carried out?”

Prof. RHEE maintains that Taopsychotherapy literally attends to the nucleus of the transference feelings ie ‘nuclear’ feelings. In other words, attention to transference and nuclear feelings may both proceed in a similar direction, but ‘nuclear’ feelings in Taopsychotherapy tend to be considerably more focussed upon and in particular, the core aspect of these feelings. This is the similarity and yet difference between these two elements of attending to the client’s subjectivity.

3. Interpretation and ‘Directly Pointing at the Human Mind’

In western psychoanalysis/psychotherapy the act of interpreting, as the primary communication link between analyst and patient, may also serve to transmit empathy, concern and care, as an accompaniment to the painful content of the interpretation(Kaplan 1989). It is also mentioned that in the ideal situation, interpretation is designed to make the patient consciously aware of unconscious(or preconscious) material that is close to the surface of consciousness(Sadock & Sadock 2000) or, that pointing out what the patients does not report can be effective.

Comparable with this in Taopsychotherapy, interpretations are viewed as “directly pointing at the patient’s mind” and the therapist is expressing perfect empathy in the state of the subject-object congruence.

In the paper, “Integration of East and West Psychotherapy:Prof. RHEE Dongshick’s Case”, Dr. Kang explained some characteristics of Prof. RHEE’s interpretation.

He described Prof. RHEE’s interpretations as a form of “killing and making alive” or “taking life and giving life” within nature(Kang 1996). Summers also commented upon Prof. RHEE’s Taopsychotherapy as “soothing and stimulating the client at the same time”(Pers. communication 2004). In Zen dialogue, Masters usually use this type of interpretation to cut through their disciples’ delusions or discriminating thoughts. In addition, Dr. Kang described another characteristic interpretation of Prof RHEE’s as “cutting away the roots of the patient’s dependency and hostility”(Kang 1996).

4. Analytic Neutrality and Resistance

Freud did not actually use the word, ‘neutrality’ in his writings; he used the German word ‘indifferenz’ and James Strachey translated this into English as ‘neutrality’.

In fact, Freud was concerned about both the vulnerability of his colleagues to ‘act out’ countertransferential material and, the tendency of some analysts to misuse the analytic situations to talk about themselves(Sadock & Sadock 2000).

There are parallels in this context, between Taopsychotherapy and Freud’s psychoanalysis. In Taopsycho
-therapy, Prof. RHEE stresses the importance of active involvement of the therapist’s mature personality. Similarly, in using written reports from his own analysands as well as his own published case material, Freud indicated that his own personality was very much involved in the analytic process.

As to the concept of patient’s ‘resistance’ within psychoanalysis, the viewpoint of Taopsychotherapy is that this interpretation can actually represent a lack of empathy in the therapist. Prof. RHEE argues that this concept is a therapist-centered idea, and that the subjective, experiential aspect of the patient is the only reality for consideration.
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