Psychotherapy as a Human Science: Clinical Case Studies Exploring the Abyss of Madness


  • George E. Atwood



phenomenology, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, humanistic psychology, therapeutic relationship, psychodynamic theory, case studies, clinical case studies


This paper presents examples of my clinical work that illustrate a phenomenologically, humanistically, existentially, and psychodynamically informed approach to severe psychological disturbances, including both so-called schizophrenia and so-called bipolar disorder.  I illustrate how "symptoms" that appear in this realm can be seen not as outward signs of an inward illness, but as reactions to such ongoing experiences as devastating abandonment, felt misunderstanding, and re-traumatization. Following this, I imagine a world of psychiatry and psychology as a human science, one that has escaped the hegemony of the medical model and grounds itself in the study of human lives as they are lived and experienced.  In this world, the therapist has a radical engagement with the client, with the therapist’s subjectivity being everywhere present in the psychotherapeutic process. Here, there is no such thing as detached observation; and if  a psychotherapeutic dialogue is in any measure successful, it always illuminates and transforms the worlds of both of the people involved.

Author Biography

George E. Atwood




How to Cite

Atwood, G. E. (2012). Psychotherapy as a Human Science: Clinical Case Studies Exploring the Abyss of Madness. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 8(1), 1–24.