My name is Glenn Nicholls, I live and work at home in Cambridge and also see people from around the world. I’ve been a psychotherapist for over twenty years.
I first came across Nietzsche as a theology undergraduate and took an instant dislike. His ideas seemed unecessarily provocative, and they didn’t fit into my world view. Soon after graduating, and in the midst of a personal crisis, I began to read him more seriously for the first time. I got the sense of someone who understood me even though much of what I read was beyond my grasp.
Nietzsche would famously ‘philosophise with a hammer’, and yet he saw himself as a psychologist; as the first psychologist. Although Nietzsche’s hammer is a delicately balanced tuning fork, it is devastating when it hits the right spot in his reader. It had sounded out my motivations and morality and found them both out of tune. Every reader is fair-game and they will find no resting place in his writing. And so before I even began my psychotherapy training I’d met my first therapist.
I later trained as an integrative psychotherapist which meant I was introduced to several schools of thought, in practice my training was fundamentally an experiential learning environment which allowed me to explore and make sense of psychotherapy for myself. Psychotherapy trainings are much like having psychotherapy; they’re rigorous and take several years, and are not for the faint-hearted.
He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.Friedrich Nietzsche
Increasingly over the years I’ve become more aware of how Nietzsche’s influence has manifest itself in my work and in my life. I had wanted to take this site’s domain name long ago, but it never seemed like the right time and yet I could not understand why that was. It is true that there is no such thing as a recognised Nietzschean Psychotherapy, indeed it’s questionable whether such a thing is even possible. Whilst this is an interesting question it doesn’t account for why it had taken me so long; the answer is far more personal.
Anyone reading Nietzsche will feel incriminated in some way, and usually in many. I don’t think it’s possible to read Nietzsche and not at some point identify yourself as a decadent, a camel, a cabbage-head, a polyp, one of the herd, as having a sick soul, of being a “last man”, and indeed as suffering from ressentiment. We are all, as it were, made up of doubt and fear, or as Nietzsche put it; we are “human, all too human”.
I’ve always imagined that if Nietzsche were to see me claiming to be a Nietzschean he’d say, ‘Well you’re clearly mistaken! You take my name in vain: slanderer! charlatan!’ Thankfully this thought has toned down somewhat, although it has not gone away. All of us at times are guilty of Nietzsche’s wonderfully metaphoric diagnoses. There is no redemption from this; if Nietzsche offers us any redemption it is that there is no redemption.
Perhaps the shift came with another thought, a thought that now follows on quickly after the first, I’d just not been able to hear it before; I imagine Nietzsche saying, ‘Now go, affirm life! Spread nothingness, emptiness, the death of god, become light, joyful; dance and play, oppose gravity – go forth and become who you are!’ With this thought Nietzsche disappears.
One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.Friedrich Nietzsche