Camille Drach Hojaij: Stein and Empathic Fulfilment


Hector Warnes’ comment on Carlos Hojaij’s comment


        I am most impressed by Carlos Hojaij's comments on Héctor's death in the battle with Achilles and the avatars of his body as an example of Achilles' sense of empathy for Héctor’s father, Priam’s, profound grief over the loss of his beloved heroic son. It reminded me of the opposite reaction shown by Creon in Sophocles’ play Oedipus, the King of Thebes, vis a vis Antigone, Oedipus’ daughter, who was grief stricken by the death of her brothers Eteocles and Polyneices who killed each other in competition for the Kingdom of Thebes. Creon had no empathy for Antigone's painful mourning. He decrees that Polynices ought to be left without proper burial. Antigone ended up committing suicide in defiance of the king's rule.

        I would like to ask Carlos a question: is there any difference between Einfühlung and Empathy? As far as I recall the word Einfühlung was introduced by Eugen Bleuler in order to sharpen the doctor's feelings for the schizophrenic patient's tribulations and disconcerting experiences. It was used as a diagnostic tool.

        Finally, I would not agree with Barry Blackwell regarding his concept of phenomenology. Thanks to phenomenology we were able to read Jaspers General Psychopathology, as well as the first book published in the USA by Jan Hendrik van den Berg, The phenomenological approach to psychiatry: an introduction to recent phenomenological psychopathology, in 1955. In my estimation, the best was the book appeared in 1958, Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology, edited by Rollo May, Ernest Angel and Henri F. Ellenberger, who wrote a magnificent chapter on Phenomenology in the same book. Ellenberger later moved to Canada where his 1970 Opus publication, The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry, shook the psychoanalytic world. He was the most erudite and encyclopedic psychiatrist I ever met.

        Back to Existence edited by May, Angel and Ellenberger. The many contributors included Ludwig Binswanger, Eugene Minskowski, Erwin Strauss and von Gebsattel who were existential psychoanalysts nurtured by the phenomenological approach introduced by Brentano, Husserl and Heidegger  in Philosophy. I am also reminded about the Congress on Phenomenology and Existence held at the Bellevue Sanatorium which I attended (around 1960). All the individuals  named above were present including Roland Kuhn, who later discovered the anti-depressant effect of imipramine.


April 8, 2021