Historical perspective

In the Middle Ages, people who behaved abnormally were burned at the stake. At the end of the 18th century, around the French Revolution, this changed due to the rise of medical thinking, whereby people were no longer considered crazy, but as medically ill. This was an enormous step forward and it opened up the possibility of admitting people to a mental institution instead of burning them at the stake.

The big breakthrough came with Psychoanalytical thinking, introduced by Freud. With Psychoanalysis, normal human drives, but more so underlying drives of what was until then considered as ‘inexplicable’ behaviour, could be understood.

Although Freud was not a religious Jew, Psychoanalytical thinking did very possibly have its origins in Jewish religious thinking; just as the deeper meaning of a Jewish religious text must be unravelled, so Freud considered the symptoms of his patients as meaningful – behind these symptoms hid a deeper meaning that had to be made conscious.

Psychoanalysis emerged in a time, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, in which secularization took place. Modern technocratic and market-oriented thinking became by far the prevailing philosophy.

The Psychoanalytical model

Freud tried to dissociate his Psychoanalysis from its religious Jewish background. One of the basic assumptions of the Psychoanalytical model, stated Freud, was that the therapist with his own personality should have as little influence as possible on the patient, he should adopt an attitude of ‘abstinence’.

In Psychoanalytical practice, this basic attitude often became an attitude of detachment, it led to an attitude of ‘doing nothing’ on the part of the therapist. In its ‘modern’ scientific approach it didn’t occupy itself with life’s questions, it didn’t occupy itself with how one should live well.

Jewish Life Teachings

In Jewish Life Teachings it’s a religious duty, but more so an honour to help somebody else. Chesed, the attitude of loving kindness to the other, is central. In contact with the other there is room for heartiness.

Also Jewish Life Teachings calls for helping the other where he needs for it. Not what has to be done, but what is needed is leading.

The Jewish Life Teachings also provide an essential addition to a regular treatment: Jewish Life Teachings consist of life lessons that are timeless, for every person and for every generation anew. With its age-old values it’s for every person a useful guide to life.

In short

Although the Psychoanalytical model is being used as the leading model for psychological treatment, Psychotherapy Practice Haas & Velleman do not go along with the dissociation of Psychoanalysis from its religious Jewish background.

This has two important consequences:

  1. The detached attitude, that is often comes with the Psychoanalytical model, is disregarded. Modern scientific thinking leads ‘doing nothing’ of the therapist on ‘scientific’ grounds. This is a misconception and impoverishment of the treatment. Within Jewish Life Teachings, it’s a religious duty and honour to do something for another, that with an attitude of loving kindness to the other.
  2. The non-religious scientific world often does not consider or barely considers life questions. The use of Jewish Life Teachings as part of the treatment is an essential addition to the treatment; it offers with its age-old values a useful guide to life.

Simply put, we work with a combination of an attitude of loving kindness, scientific knowledge of human nature and age-old ethics. It isn’t and can’t be anything more.