The Care of Self and Psychotherapy

  • Giampiero Arciero
  • Guido Bondolfi
  • Viridiana Mazzola


This chapter outlines a path that allows us to grasp phenomenological psychotherapy within the framework of the care of self—a tradition that has thematized the relation between one’s way of living and the disclosing and transforming of oneself—as the reappropriation and renewal of this tradition. This itinerary starts from Classical antiquity, passes through the practice of confession in Eastern monasticism, and reaches the Cartesian turn of the self-foundation of the thinking I. Resting on this new basis, which marks the beginning of modern thought, is the link between the truth about oneself and the truth of reason, mediated by the act of reflection and the theory guiding it, which has endured as the foundation of contemporary psychology and psychotherapy. This “Cartesian moment” thus marks the dramatic transition from an original mode of accessing the truth that requires the subject to make some changes to himself, and a different mode, according to which the accessing of the truth about oneself actualized in the act of knowing is fixed by those principles that guide the process of knowledge-acquisition. Within the framework of this contrast, it is possible to appreciate the difference between phenomenological psychotherapy and all forms of theoretically oriented contemporary psychotherapy.


Care of self Confession Technology of the soul Parrhesia and phenomenological psychotherapy 


  1. Arciero G (2006) Sulle tracce di sé. Bollati Boringhieri, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  2. Arendt H (1958) The human condition. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  3. Bardy G (1949) “Philosophie” et “philosophe” dans le vocabulaire chrétien des premiers siècles. Revue d’ascétique, ToulouseGoogle Scholar
  4. Bossy J (1975) The social history of confession in the age of the Reformation. Trans Roy Hist Soc (Fifth Series) 25:21–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cassiano G (1989) Le istituzioni cenobitiche. Bresseo di Teofilo, Abbazia di PragliaGoogle Scholar
  6. Cassiano G (2000) Conferenze ai monaci. Città Nuova, RomaGoogle Scholar
  7. Courtine JF (1990) Suarez et le système de la métaphysique. Presses universitaires de France, ParisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Descartes R (1998) Reguale ad directionem ingenii. Rules for the direction of the natural intelligence. A bilingual edition of the Cartesian treatise on method. Editions Rodopi, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  9. Descartes R, Cottingham J (1996) René Descartes: meditations on first philosophy: with selections from the objections and replies. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Descartes R, Cottingham J, Stoothoff R, Murdoch D (1991) The philosophical writings of Descartes: Volume 3, The correspondence, vol 3. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. di Cesarea B (1976) Il battesimo. In: Paideia, BresciaGoogle Scholar
  12. di Gaza D (1993) Insegnamenti spirituali. Città nuova, RomeGoogle Scholar
  13. Domański J (1996) La philosophie, théorie ou manière de vivre?: les controverses de l’Antiquité à la Renaissance, vol 18. Saint-PaulGoogle Scholar
  14. Evagrius P (1970) The Praktikos, chapters on prayer, trans. John Eudes Bamberger. Cistercian Publications, Spencer, MAGoogle Scholar
  15. Feyerabend P (1975) Against method: outline ofan anarchistic theory of knowledge. Humanities Press, Atlantic HighlandsGoogle Scholar
  16. Foucault M (1994) Dits et écrits II, 1976-1988. Gallimard, ParisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Foucault M (2001) L’herméneutique du sujet. Cours au Collège de France 1981-1982. Gallimard-Seuil, ParisGoogle Scholar
  18. Foucault M (2004) Sécurité, territoire, population: cours au Collège de France, 1977-1978. Gallimard, ParisGoogle Scholar
  19. Foucault M (2005) Discorso e verità nella Grecia antica. Donzelli editoreGoogle Scholar
  20. Foucault M (2008) Le gouvernement de soi et des autres: Cours au Collège de France (1982-1983), vol 1. Seuil, ParisGoogle Scholar
  21. Foucault M (2009) Le Gouvernement de soi et des autres II: Le Courage de la vérité. Gallimard, ParisGoogle Scholar
  22. Foucault M (2012) Du gouvernement des vivants: cours au Collège de France: 1979-1980. F. Ewald, A. Fontana, & M. Senellart (Eds.). Gallimard, ParisGoogle Scholar
  23. Foucault M (2013) L’origine de l’herméneutique de soi. Conférences prononcées à Darmouth College 1980, VrinGoogle Scholar
  24. Foucault M (2016) Discours et vérité. Vrin, ParisGoogle Scholar
  25. Foucault M, Brion F, Harcourt BE (1981) Mal faire, dire vrai: Fonction de l’aveu en justice-cours de Louvain, 1981. Presses universitaires de Louvain, LouvainGoogle Scholar
  26. Galen (1963) On the passions and errors of the Soul, translated by Paul W. Harkins, with an Introduction and Interpretation by Walter Riese. Ohio State University Press, AthensGoogle Scholar
  27. Gigante M (1969) Ricerche filodemee. Macchiaroli Editore, NapoliGoogle Scholar
  28. Giovanni C (2007) La scala del paradiso. Paoline, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  29. Goleman D (1996) Vital lies, simple truths: the psychology of self deception. Simon and Schuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Griswold CL Jr (1996) Self-Knowledge in Plato’s Phaedrus. Penn State University Press, PennsylvaniaGoogle Scholar
  31. Hadot I (1986) The spiritual guide. In: Armstrong AH, Armstrong AA (eds) Classical Mediterranean spirituality: Egyptian, Greek, Roman, vol 15. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Hadot P (1988) Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique. Deuxième édition revue et augmentée. — Paris: Etudes Augustiniennes - Philosophy as a Way of Life. Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, edited with an Introduction by Arnold I. Davidson, translated by Michael Chase. Basil Blackwell, Oxford/Cambridge, 1995Google Scholar
  33. Hadot P (1995). Qu’est-ce que la philosophie antique? (eng. Trans.) P. Hadot, What is ancient philosophy?, transl. by Michael Chase, Belknap Press, Cambridge, 2002Google Scholar
  34. Hadot P (2002) Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique. Albin MichelGoogle Scholar
  35. Hadot I (2014) Sénèque: direction spirituelle et pratique de la philosophie. Vrin, ParisGoogle Scholar
  36. Hart JG (1995) Husserl and Fichte: with special regard to Husserl’s lectures on “Fichte’s ideal of humanity”. Husserl Stud 12(2):135–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hausherr I (2012) Padre, dimmi una parola. La direzione spirituale nell’antico Oriente, trad. di Romano Baldelli, Edizioni Scritti Monastici-Abbazia di Praglia, Bresseo di Teolo (PD) 2012Google Scholar
  38. Heidegger GA 41 (1962)Google Scholar
  39. Heidegger GA 60 1995Google Scholar
  40. Heidegger GA 61 1985Google Scholar
  41. Huneman P (ed) (2007) Understanding purpose: Kant and the philosophy of biology, vol 8. University Rochester Press, Rochester, NYGoogle Scholar
  42. Jaeger H (1959) L’examen de conscience dans les religions non-chrétiennes et avant le christianisme. Numen 6(Fasc. 3):175–233Google Scholar
  43. Kahn CH (2001) Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans: a brief history. Hackett Publishing, IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  44. Larchet JC (1996) La divinisation de l’homme selon saint Maxime le Confesseur. Cerf, ParisGoogle Scholar
  45. Larchet JC (1997) Thérapeutique des maladies spirituelles. Cerf, ParisGoogle Scholar
  46. Larivée A, Leduc A (2001/2) Saint Paul, Augustin et Aristote comme sources gréco-chrétiennes du souci chez Heidegger. Philosophie (2):30–50Google Scholar
  47. Leclercq J (1952) Pour l’histoire de l’expression ‘philosophie chrétienne’. Mélanges de Science Religieuse 9:221–226Google Scholar
  48. Malingrey AM (1961) “Philosophia” Étude d’Un Groupe de Mots Dans la Littérture Grecque, des Présocratiques au Ive Siècle Après J.-C. Klincksieck, ParisGoogle Scholar
  49. Marion JL (1999) On Descartes’ metaphysical prism: the constitution and the limits of onto-theo-logy in Cartesian thought. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  50. Maximus the Confessor (2014) On difficulties in the Church Fathers, The Ambigua, Nicholas Constas (ed. and trans.). Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  51. Origen (1957) The song of songs: commentary and homilies. Translated and annotated by RP Lawson. (Ancient Christian Writers, 26). Pp. vi+ 385. Longmans, Green, LondonGoogle Scholar
  52. Patočka J (1988) L’homme et le monde. In: Qu’est-ce que la phénoménologie?, a cura di E. Abrams. Millon, GrenobleGoogle Scholar
  53. Patočka J (1990) Liberté et sacrifice: écrits politiques. Editions Jérôme MillonGoogle Scholar
  54. Patočka J (1995) Papiers phénoménologiques. Editions Jérôme Millon, GrenobleGoogle Scholar
  55. Patočka J (1998) Platone e l’Europa. Vita e Pensiero, MilanGoogle Scholar
  56. Paulhus DL (2007) Self-deception. In: Baumeister RF, Vohs KD (eds) Encyclopedia of social psychology. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 189–190Google Scholar
  57. Rabbow P (1954) Seelenfuhrung: Methodik der Exerzitien in der Antike. Kôsel-Verlag, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  58. Scarpat G (2001) Parrhesia greca, parrhesia cristiana, vol 130. Paideia, BresciaGoogle Scholar
  59. Tentler TN (1977) Sin and confession on the eve of the reformation. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giampiero Arciero
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guido Bondolfi
    • 2
  • Viridiana Mazzola
    • 3
  1. 1.IPRARomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity Hospital of Geneva, Department of PsychiatryGenèveSwitzerland
  3. 3.Liaison Psychiatry, Department of PsychiatryUniversity Hospital of Geneva, Department of PsychiatryGenèveSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations