Phenomenological Psychology

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Avoidance versus Engagement

May 7th, 2017 · No Comments ·

Avoidance and engagement are types of behavior. They may be directed towards a specific unit of activity, or a whole lifestyle. Avoidance perpetuates both anxiety and depression. The reason why is because you don’t get any feedback from reality, because you’re not letting reality give you any. A lot of what we do consists of […]

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Can a Leopard Change Its Spots?

August 24th, 2015 · No Comments ·

In transforming myself from entertainment industry executive to clinical psychology student, someone whose judgment I trust asked me, “can a leopard change its spots?” Which I interpreted to mean, how would I make the transition from one mode of being, to another? Here is the way I think about this. In his book Structure of Scientific Revolutions, […]

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Difficulties with Psychoanalysis Case Conceptualization

July 20th, 2013 · 3 Comments ·

Originally I was interested in psychoanalysis as a form of socio-cultural critique, something like what Ricoeur did in his work “Freud and Philosophy.” I wrote a lengthy article (published here) but hadn’t really conceived of it as something that actually could be used to treat persons with psychiatric disorders. I recently took a course in psychoanalysis […]


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Case Conceptualization

May 23rd, 2013 · 1 Comment ·

Students, externs and interns often are asked to “conceptualize a case” using a specific therapeutic technique; suggest treatment goals; and describe concrete interventions.  What follows is a brief guide for cognitive behavioral therapy.  If you learn this, you’ll pass your final/comprehensive examination with no trouble.  If you don’t know what these words mean, then you […]

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Self-Psychology Case Conceptualization – Jennifer

October 20th, 2012 · No Comments ·

Identifying Information Jennifer was a 25-30 year old self-identified Caucasian female. She had been married to her husband Dan for three years. She recently had her first child, a daughter. Several years ago Jennifer and Dan moved to Los Angeles from their previous residence in Philadelphia. Part of the impetus for this was Jennifer’s desire […]

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Behavioral Therapy versus Motivational Interviewing for Substance Abuse

October 17th, 2012 · 3 Comments ·

The purpose of this note is to comment briefly on my personal experience with motivational interviewing for substance abuse (over-use) versus more of a behavior-oriented approach.  Motivational interviewing is a counseling technique developed by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick.  Essentially the client and the counselor develop a list setting forth the pros and cons of […]


Are Zombies Amenable to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? How About Vampires?

October 15th, 2012 · 10 Comments ·

Zombies are philosophically interesting (Kirk, 2011) because they sharply highlight the mind-body problem initially posed by René Descartes (1641/1933) in that they have bodies but no minds to speak of. They also are cause for concern. In September 2012 the Homeland Security Department issued a zombie alert (reported at Caldwell, 2012). This followed warnings of […]


Review of Joseph Schacter, “Transforming Lives”

September 21st, 2012 · 1 Comment ·

In Transforming Lives [1] the psychoanalyst Joseph Schachter collects case reports of seven analyses of clients by psychoanalysts and, for four of them, client replies. Notably, the case reports are not identified by author. Schachter avers this is to protect confidentiality, however, it lends a pleasant frisson to the text. This is not so much […]

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Freud’s Case of Little Hans versus Watson’s Case of Little Albert – Who’s Right?

September 14th, 2012 · 3 Comments ·

Freud’s interpretation of his Little Hans case is stimulating; if nothing else, it’s an interesting work of literature.  I wonder, though, if it’s possible to come up with a simpler interpretation of the evidence.  As a general principle, simpler interpretations are preferable to more complex ones (cf. “Occam’s Razor”).  What if instead of Freud’s complex psychoanalytic superstructure, […]


Does Freud Attribute Too Much to the Power of Dreams?

September 7th, 2012 · 1 Comment ·

One of the hallmarks of Freud’s approach is his reliance on two mysterious realms: dreaming and the unconscious.  For Freud these were linked together; the former was a mode of access to the latter.  Although (to the best of my knowledge) Freud doesn’t put it this way, the reason why he set the problem up like […]

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