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Fifteenth Lecture: Dr John Heaton: The Interface between Wittgenstein's Philosophical Therapy and the Empirical Psychotherapies

May 9, 2016 @ 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm

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Please note change of date. The lecture will now take place on Monday 9th May

About the speaker:


John Heaton is a psychotherapist in private practice in London. He teaches on phenomenology and Wittgenstein at Regents University and the Philadelphia Association. He read Medicine and the Moral Sciences Tripos at Cambridge and was an ophthalmologist for 10 years before training in psychotherapy.

He is the author of: The Eye: Phenomenology and  Psychology of Function and Disorder; Introducing Wittgenstein; Metis: Divination, Psychotherapy and Cunning intelligence; The Talking Cure: Wittgenstein on Language as Bewitchment and Clarity; Wittgenstein and Psychotherapy: From Paradox to Wonder.  


'In this superb book John Heaton presents and defends a post Freudian 'talking cure' approach to psychotherapy. What gives the book a special weight is its reliance on the work of Wittgenstein. Scarcely a page goes by without a quotation from and insightful remarks on his writing. This appeal to Wittgenstein is remarkable in its depth of understanding and in the range of texts cited. The ideas thus culled are artfully employed in laying out the details of the theory-free take on therapy that constitutes John Heaton's talking cure. They are also most tellingly used in an ongoing attack on what are seen as the similar theory laden approaches found in the work of Freud and the cognitive therapists [...] Altogether a delightful and important book.'
- Professor J. Canfield, University of Toronto, Canada, US

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In spite of the great increase in our knowledge of the brain and mind in the last 50 years there is little evidence that it has made much difference at the ground level of therapy. I argue that psychotherapy should be understood as a discipline, like philosophy or mathematics, which is not concerned so much with building theories, knowing that, but in knowing how.
Psychologism, the confusion between being true and holding as true, is a corruption of thought and logic that is widespread in modern psychology and therapy. There are hundreds of theories about the mind and the nature of therapy, but no clear concept of normality, what is sane. I briefly discuss confusions about the nature of desire, relations, meaning, rules and the difference between necessity and compulsion, the first -person perspective and the self concept. The importance of fragestellung as an approach is discussed. Finally the importance of the relation between having a first-person perspective and ordinary certainty is emphasised.

BWS lectures are complimentary and open to all, but advance registration is required by notifying the BWS Secretary.

All lectures will be followed by a wine reception.



May 9, 2016
6:15 pm - 8:00 pm
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BWS Events


50 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3DP United Kingdom
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