The Abyss of Madness and Human Understanding


  • George E. Atwood



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


Two pairs of authors—Pienkos and Sass (2012) and Josselson and Mattila (2012)—have commented upon my article, "Psychotherapy as a Human Science: Clinical Case Studies Exploring the Abyss of Madness." In the article I present a number of case studies that illustrate a phenomenologically, humanistically, and existentially and psychodynamically informed approach to severe psychological disturbances, including both so-called schizophrenia and so-called bipolar disorder. I appreciate the common sympathy that both sets of commentators have with the concept of psychotherapy as a human science. The commentaries also help to raise a number of issues around the concepts of "phenomenological contextualism," "radical otherness" in so-called schizophrenia, the conflict between phenomenological and medical disorder language in describing severe disturbance, and challenges to a psychotherapist working with severely disturbed individuals. 

Author Biography

George E. Atwood




How to Cite

Atwood, G. E. (2012). The Abyss of Madness and Human Understanding. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 8(1), 49–59.