Compare and Contrast Irvin Yalom and R.D.Laing’s Therapeutic Approach
I am going to compare, contrast and critic Irvin Yalom and R.D.Laing’s philosophical underpinnings to the existential phenomenological therapeutic approach. I will introduce Yalom, explain how he is influenced by psychopathology and how he came to believe in the “four givens" (Yalom, 1980) of the human existence; death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. I will then focus on Laing’s approach which I find harder to categorise, but, which involve being influenced by the middle school of the psychodynamic approach and how he combined his existential beliefs to form his ontological insecurity theory. I will discuss his ontological insecurity theory; to be insecure about your own self and logic one might use defensive mechanisms to protect the self. Society has labelled these mechanisms as schizophrenic behaviours.
Yalom relates to the psychodynamic readings of existential philosophy, and he agrees with the theory that human resistances are buried deep within ones unconscious. He respects a client’s resistances understanding that a client uses them to feel safe.
Sigmund Freud believed that a person’s unconscious, sexual and aggressive drives causes anxiety and humans manage the anxiety by using defence mechanisms such as introjections and refusing to accept the anxious feeling. Yalom agreed with the psychodynamic theory that, “energy is dissipated in an attempt to ward off anxiety” (Yalom, 1980), although he thinks most of the process goes on outside of the conscious. He does not agree with Freud’s aggressive and sexual impulse theory, but instead focuses on being aware of the individual’s existence causing them anxiety. The reality of existence heightens one’s awareness of “uncertainty, pain, freedom and meaninglessness.” (Cooper, 2003).
Yalom says of existence, “Reality of existence = anxiety = defence mechanisms.” (1980).
Yalom’s approach to existential...