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Psychother Psychosom. 1990;53(1-4):21-7.

The Tao, psychoanalysis and existential thought.

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Yonsei University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.


The purpose of this paper is to clarify some existing misunderstandings in the area of psychotherapy, existential approach and the Eastern Tao (Zen Buddhism, Confucianism, Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu) by showing the common elements between Eastern Tao and psychoanalysis, and existential thought. The author compared the goal of Tao practice, namely, Zen Buddhism, Confucianism etc. with that of Western psychoanalysis, humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychotherapy. He concludes that these goals are the same and that the names are different. He also compared the procedures and processes of psychoanalysis and Zen practice. Sudden enlightenment and gradual training in Zen practice were compared with insight and 'working through' in psychoanalysis. Zen emphasis on relationship, ego strength and interpretation was linked with similar topics in psychoanalysis. The results of Zen practice and the central features of every psychoanalytic treatment were examined and found the same, that is, the resolution of, or transcending of, love (dependence) and hate (hostility). The description of a mature analyst and that of a Boddhisattva were compared and found the same. A trace of neurotic motivation remains but they are not influenced by it in helping others. The problem of theory and reality was discussed and strong emphasis on reality was described; in other words, the goal is directed at reality and theory is only a means pointing at reality. If you see the reality, you should forget the theory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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