Deepening the Dialogue between Buddhism, Psychotherapy and the Mind Sciences
by Gay Watson
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Contemporary mind sciences are revealing facts about the brain and its development that have much to teach us about health and happiness. For a greater part of the twentieth century, psychology and psychotherapy had little to say to one another. Despite Freud's early wish to consider psychoanalysis a science, academic psychology had scant time for what it considered at best an "art" form, while psychotherapy found little interest in psychology's lack of concern with subjective experience. Since the rise of the interdisciplinary fields of cognitive science, neuroscience and consciousness studies and the growth of new technologies, all this has changed. This new knowledge challenges many of our common sense and long-held beliefs. It has important implications for education and health, and illuminates both natural optimal development and the way later therapy may heal early insufficiency.What is perhaps more surprising is that these findings engage with the "first" psychology, that of Buddhism. Long in dialogue with all forms of psychotherapy for its training in awareness, Buddhist practices are now seen to be of value not only for their transformative potential in individual lives, but also as research tools for subjective exploration.This is the moment to bring neuroscience into the long-established dialogue between psychotherapy and Buddhism to explore a potential path informed by all three disciplines towards mental and physical health and happiness.
- Karnac Books, January 2008
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