- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: New World Library; Reprint edition (February 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608684563
- ISBN-13: 978-1608684564
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Psychotherapy East & West Paperback – February 14, 2017
Discover Self Help Books
This list reflects books that have saved lives and have sold millions of copies. Learn more on AbeBooks.com
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“Thoughtful and thought-provoking, involving vast knowledge and research and deeply serious in intent.”
― Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Alan Watts, a countercultural icon and author of more than twenty books, was also a spiritual philosopher, scholar of Buddhism, Anglican minister, and chaplain at Northwestern University. He died in 1973.
Top customer reviews
I remember this book from reading it in the 1960s. I didn’t understand it then, but the power of the book for me was its carrying me along in my search for understanding. Watts seems to say there is no complete understanding of man, but by passing through psychotherapy and going forward into Eastern philosophy, and by melding the two, we are as close to knowing man as we can get.
Chapter titles are intriguing. “Psychotherapy and Liberation,” “Society and Sanity,” “The Ways of Liberation,” and my favorite title – “Through a Glass Darkly” urge the reader to push through the first four chapters an onward to the remaining two.
A sentence in the introduction to this book states, “[The reader] will find, therefore, that I place more weight upon the connection of the Eastern disciplines with forms of psychotherapy whose philosophy is social, interpersonal, and communicational than with those which ’stress the unconscious’ and its archetypal images.” That is about as close as I can come to describing this fascinating volume.
Psychotherapy East and West reads more “academically” today, because we are more used to the Watts material as being mainstream rather than academic. This early book shows that he knew, from a scholara’s point of view, what he was talking about. As the years went by, the scholar part was in the background and the idiosyncratic art of communication that Watts demonstrated so entertainingly was in full florescence.
I was provided with a good excerpt for you to read. If you like it, I suggest you get the book, and then Google Alan Watts, or look him up on Wikipedia, and find another of his books to read. How many Alan Watts books are in your library?
Psychotherapy and Liberation
an excerpt from Psychotherapy East & West by Alan Watts
The positive aspect of liberation as it is understood in the Eastern ways is precisely freedom of play. Its negative aspect is criticism of premises and rules of the “social game” which restrict this freedom and do not allow what we have called fruitful development. The Buddhist Nirvana is defined as release from samsara, literally the Round of Birth and Death, that is, from life lived in a vicious circle, as an endlessly repetitious attempt to solve a false problem. Samsara is therefore comparable to attempts to square the circle, trisect the angle, or construct a mechanism of perpetual motion. A puzzle which has no solution forces one to go over the same ground again and again until it appears that the question which it poses is nonsense. This is why the neurotic person keeps repeating his behavior patterns — always unsuccessful because he is trying to solve a false problem, to make sense of a self-contradiction. If he cannot see that the problem itself is nonsense, he may simply retreat into psychosis, into the paralysis of being unable to act at all. Alternatively, the “psychotic break” may also be an illegitimate burst into free play out of sheer desperation, not realizing that the problem is impossible not because of overwhelming difficulty, but because it is meaningless.
If, then, there is to be fruitful development in the science of psychotherapy, as well as in the lives of those whom it intends to help, it must be released from the unconscious blocks, unexamined assumptions, and unrealized nonsense problems which lie in its social context. Again, one of the most powerful instruments for this purpose is intercultural comparison, especially with highly complex cultures like the Chinese and Indian, which have grown up in relative isolation from our own, and especially with attempts that have been made within those cultures to find liberation from their own patterns. It is hard to imagine anything more constructive to the psychotherapist than the opportunity which this affords. But to make use of it he must overcome the habitual notion that he has nothing to learn from “prescientific” disciplines, for in the case of psychotherapy this may be a matter of the pot calling the kettle black. In any event, there is no question here of his adopting Buddhist or Taoist practices in the sense of becoming converted to a religion. If the Westerner is to understand and employ the Eastern ways of liberation at all, it is of the utmost importance that he keep his scientific wits about him; otherwise there is the morass of esoteric romanticism which awaits the unwary.
But today, past the middle of the twentieth century, there is no longer much of a problem in advocating a hearing for Eastern ideas. The existing interest in them is already considerable, and they are rapidly influencing our thinking by their own force, even though there remains a need for much interpretation, clarification, and assimilation. Nor can we commend their study to psychotherapists as if this were something altogether new. It is now thirty years since Jung wrote:
When I began my life-work in the practice of psychiatry and psychotherapy, I was completely ignorant of Chinese philosophy, and it is only later that my professional experiences have shown me that in my technique I had been unconsciously led along that secret way which for centuries has been the preoccupation of the best minds of the East.
An equivalence between Jung’s analytical psychology and the ways of liberation must be accepted with some reservations, but it is important that he felt it to exist. Though the interest began with Jung and his school, suspect among other schools for its alleged “mysticism,” it has gone far beyond, so much so that it would be a fair undertaking to document the discussions of Eastern ideas which have appeared in psychological books and journals during the past few years.
The level at which Eastern thought and its insights may be of value to Western psychology has been admirably stated by Gardner Murphy, a psychologist who, incidentally, can hardly be suspected of the taint of Jung’s “mysticism.” He writes:
If, moreover, we are serious about understanding all we can of personality, its integration and disintegration, we must understand the meaning of depersonalization, those experiences in which individual self-awareness is abrogated and the individual melts into an awareness which is no longer anchored upon selfhood. Such experiences are described by Hinduism in terms of the ultimate unification of the individual with the atman, the super-individual cosmic entity which transcends both selfhood and materiality....Some men desire such experiences; others dread them. Our problem here is not their desirability, but the light which they throw on the relativity of our present-day psychology of personality....Some other mode of personality configuration, in which self-awareness is less emphasized or even lacking, may prove to be the general (or the fundamental).
It is of course a common misapprehension that the change of personal consciousness effected in the Eastern ways of liberation is “depersonalization” in the sense of regression to a primitive or infantile type of awareness. Indeed, Freud designated the longing for return to the oceanic consciousness of the womb as the Nirvana-principle, and his followers have persistently confused all ideas of transcending the ego with mere loss of “ego strength.” This attitude flows, perhaps, from the imperialism of Western Europe in the nineteenth century, when it became convenient to regard Indians and Chinese as backward and benighted heathens desperately in need of improvement by colonization.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that liberation does not involve the loss or destruction of such conventional concepts as the ego; it means seeing through them — in the same way that we can use the idea of the equator without confusing it with a physical mark upon the surface of the earth. Instead of falling below the ego, liberation surpasses it. Writing without apparent knowledge of Buddhism or Vedanta, A. F. Bentley put it thus:
Let no quibble of skepticism be raised over this questioning of the existence of the individual. Should he find reason for holding that he does not exist in the sense indicated, there will in that fact be no derogation from the reality of what does exist. On the contrary, there will be increased recognition of reality. For the individual can be banished only by showing a plus of existence, not by alleging a minus. If the individual falls it will be because the real life of men, when it is widely enough investigated, proves too rich for him, not because it proves too poverty-
One has only to look at the lively and varied features and the wide-awake eyes of Chinese and Japanese paintings of the Great Zen masters to see that the ideal of personality here shown is anything but the collective nonentity or the weakling ego dissolving back into the womb.
Our mistake has been to suppose that the individual is honored and his uniqueness enhanced by emphasizing his separation from the surrounding world, or his eternal difference in essence from his Creator. As well honor the hand by lopping it from the arm! But when Spinoza said that “The more we know of particular things, the more we know of God,” he was anticipating our discovery that the richer and more articulate our picture of man and of the world becomes, the more we are aware of its relativity and of the interconnection of all its patterns in an undivided whole. The psychotherapist is perfectly in accord with the ways of liberation in describing the goal of therapy as individuation (Jung), self-actualization (Maslow), functional autonomy (Allport), or creative selfhood (Adler), but every plant that is to come to its full fruition must be embedded in the soil, so that as its stem ascends the whole earth reaches up to the sun.
# # #
Alan Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born American philosopher, writer, speaker, and counterculture hero, best known as an interpreter of Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and numerous articles weaving scientific knowledge into the teachings of Eastern and Western religion and philosophy, including Psychotherapy East & West.
Excerpted from the book Psychotherapy East & West. Copyright ©1989 by Anne Watts and Joan Watts. Printed with permission from New World Library.