(Re- )searching (therapeutic) discourse: the heterological play of dialogue

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(Re- )searching (therapeutic) discourse: the heterological play of dialogue

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Title: (Re- )searching (therapeutic) discourse: the heterological play of dialogue
Author: Daelmans, Sven
Abstract: This dissertation is an attempt to unravel and unearth—an archaeological enterprise—the tacit/traditional assumptions underwriting contemporary thinking on family therapy. Throughout the present "text" these rhetorical veils are exchanged for suggestion for a more humanistic "form" of "therapy" based upon dialogue and an ethic of heterology. It is argued that a heightened awareness of the rhetoripolitical maneuvers of occultation undergirding our theoretical practices and our practical theories might prove to be "an antidote against the inherent cruelty of therapy" (Maranhao) and will, inevitably, account for a "change" in how we do what we (do not) do. Therefore, five rhetorically effaced roots are examined in their tacit interanimations: (a) the hegemony of the meta-narrative of (scientific) method; (b) the hegemony of the meta-narrative of dehistorised time; (c) the hegemony of the meta-narrative of visualism; (d) the hegemony of mimesis; and (e) the hegemony of autonomy. In this vein, the dissertation splits into two halves, i.e., a first section on epistemology and hermeneutics and a second section on the "discourse of the Gather." A first section constitutes of an examination of how the dialogical interactions of psychotherapeutic "talk" have been replaced by a unilateral (and often decontextualized) application of meta-communicational theories on therapeutic form, whether these theories are systemic or psychoanalytical. It is examined how this practice can be replaced by the archetypal "format" of a Socratic dialogue as has been explicated by Gadamer and Maranhao: instead of the application of Method to communicational practice, it is suggested that the chronotopic features of the therapeutic context actively resist their encapsulation by any scientific harness, but that they, in contrast, present the therapist with a challenge for a recursive dialogue of "becoming" (Whitaker). Furthermore, it is shown how the recent epistemological preoccupations with "radical constructivism" are also vulnerable to similar rhetorical roots, and can, hence, be deconstructed as the expression of a logocentric tradition (Derrida). A second section examines how therapeutic discourse, as a linguistic practice, can be characterized as polyphony of heteroglot voices which interilluminate the internal dialogue of language (Bakhtin). It is argued that therapeutic discourse presents a context of a highly stylized architectonic of diverse languages and voices, which can never be fully excavated and heard, as the unsaid (of common sense) provides the essential background for the "activity" of the therapeutic dialogue. As a result, the therapeutic task becomes—with Lacan—one of "respons-ability," i.e., the ethical duty to reflect the discursive resonances of the utterance of the Other in order to reach a new level of Self-knowledge. Based upon these considerations, therapeutic discourse is examined from a dialogical perspective, in which the rhetoric of the monologism of therapeutic theories is replaced by a recursive rhetoric of self-persuasion and readiness. In this vein, a "discursive therapy" (a "mis"nomer to be sure) is suggested as a practice beyond the referentiality of language. Indeed, the postmodern emphasis on a sea of intertextuality as an ecosystemic logosphere, opens up the way for a therapeutic weaving of a hyperrealistic liologram of discursive in(ter)ventions waiting for their particular concatenation by the dialogical interlocutors. As such, therapeutic discourse is the most direct expression of the ethic of heterology, as only the dialogue with the Other can serve as the immediate catalyst for the therapeutic, i.e., discursive, transformations. This implies that the fluidity of the therapeutic dialogue and its discursive features actively resist the cryogenic operations of nomothetic understanding, and always remains an "existential" pro-ject.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2346/19983
Date: 1988-05

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