My intention is to start a conversation about Nietzschean Psychotherapy. The blog offers a reflection of my therapeutic outlook, its intention is twofold; to challenge the thinking of existing therapists from more traditional modalities, and secondly I want to encourage and invite a conversation about what it means to be a Nietzschean Psychotherapist.
Nietzsche died in 1900, he said he was ‘born posthumously’; his very meagre books sales whilst he was alive are a reflection of this. He rightly intuited that his first students were not yet born, and that they’d take a further hundred or so years to appear. Nietzsche was indeed accurate insofar as the current interest in his work is immense and perhaps stronger than it has ever been. Nietzsche described himself as a psychologist ahead of being a philosopher; hence my suggestion that now is the time for Nietzschean psychotherapy to emerge.
There are a great many books written about Nietzsche’s philosophy and fewer about his psychology. The vast majority of these are academic; there is very little written about the application of his psychology; I’ve not yet read anything written from within the consulting room by someone identifying as a Nietzschean Psychotherapist.
I recently wrote a chapter called Learn to Forget: a Nietzschean Revaluation of Forgetting in Psychotherapy, for an upcoming book (see the menu) It is an example of Nietzschean Psychotherapy coming out of my practice; it gives an extended conversation I had with someone I work with demonstrating Nietzsche’s ‘active forgetting’ as an intervention. I describe the process I undertook which allowed me to forget, and the therapeutic value of such an intervention for both of us.
The chapter offers a clinical example of forgetting as an intervention. It is not something I did to myself, or the other person; it is part of the process of my becoming. A Nietzschean intervention isn’t something that can be done as such; Nietzsche does away with any distinction between “doing” and “doer”. Without this false dichotomy the person I was working with had not subjected themselves to being ‘done to’; rather they had chosen to enter into a conversation with a psychotherapist who happens to be Nietzschean..
I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. the will to a system is a lack of integrity.Friedrich Nietzsche
As a qualified teacher I’ve been training therapists for nearly twenty years, and so I’m very interested in whether a Nietzschean Psychotherapy training is possible and what it might entail. It would surely be a process of becoming rather than any systematic form of education which would make any conventional training format unlikely. The challenge would be to rethink, or even reinvent therapy itself, based on the process of reading and applying Nietzsche’s ideas. If Nietzsche was right about this being the time when his students would arrive then the question is, will I become one of them? Those of us who are Nietzschean have had to invent for ourselves what Nietzschean means in order to create ourselves. If there are to be physicians of the soul à la Nietzsche, then these questions are immediate and pressing.