An esteemed colleague, Jon Frederickson, and I were talking about arcane issues of technique (spotting and responding to projection of task and will) and he recommend Leston Havens’ 1986 book, MAKING CONTACT: USES OF LANGUAGE IN PSYCHOTHERAPY. After I ordered it, I read the Preface online (Amazon.com).
One long paragraph required a couple of readings to digest, but this 30-year old statement addresses current interest in using ISTDP intensive psychotherapy skills as our humanitarian mission. Like an effective, mobilizing sermon, this paragraph reminds us to uphold our common and evolving values. It also happens to reflect into the present dark political scene. Following is Havens’ statement:
Suppose a species were to conquer the world, only to discover that its greatest danger is not the emergence of new species, but itself? What if it realizes that, in order to survive, it has to modify old predatory habits that served very well before? Perhaps this species would signal its fresh resolve by allowing malformed children to live and the physically unfit to grow and multiply. Would not the first clear evidence of a new “psychological species” which puts human existence before the physical? Human existence would then have one simple definition: it would be whatever maximizes the fullest survival of the human species. Now, if continued predation threatens not only whomever is preyed upon but the whole species in this age of genocide, and if all forms of slavery are incompatible with human existence, then outer limits have already been set on the definition of human Being. Giving someone freedom is the capacity to be present without either disappearing or invading. The new psychological species would be able to manage the invader without becoming invasive itself. An ideal of mutual respect supplants the former goal of predation, and for the same purpose: survival.