Rank,in the 1920s and 1930s, became dissatisfied with this approach, attacking not only the technique itself but some of the very basic Freudian theoretical formulations (Oedipal complex, libido theory, etc.).He was in essence the first to break through the length of the process and accelerate the reaching of the unconscious. He claimed that he could help a person transform from a highly blocked,disturbed existence to a highly creative and artistic way of life within a nine-month period (the time period being equal to the time involved in the process of pregnancy), at which point the birth of the self would take place.
With the introduction of this concept into psychoanalytic thought came many new approaches and techniques. Among the more well-known are Psychodrama, Gestalt theory (Fritz Perls), and many more psychoanalytically based systems that deal more directly with the intrusion of the therapist’s personality into the therapeutic process. As with Freudian theory, most of the modern therapeutic systems have also been influenced by Rankian theory. This is basically the case with Depth Therapy.
Otto Rank’s theories were largely disseminated in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work. Depth Therapy extends that theory some what by including more fully the idea that to be totally alive one must be creatively involved in daily living, just as an artist is involved in creating art.This includes freedom of choice, freedom of will, and constant creativity. In Depth Therapy, which includes some aspects of Will Therapy (Rank), the therapist’s personality, creative ability, and skill are more fully integrated into the process of psychotherapy. Further, Depth Therapy extends Rank’s “positive will” theory by including in it a method to stimulate motivation through the positive will.
Depth Therapy, or more accurately an intensive experiential interacting with a therapist,is dynamically grounded in the overall psychoanalytic framework, with a strong leaning toward a Rankian theoretical and technical base.It accepts the premise that there is an intra-uterine psychobiological influence that culminates in its impact in the birth process.The birth process is probably the essence of a future ability to change (Rank, 1952).The combination of the following factors seems to set the blueprint for a future ability to grow and change: the sensitivity of the nervous system and the impact of the intra-uterine existence suddenly erupting into a totally different physical, emotional, and sensuous experience by exposure to a drastically new environment. The severity of the change at birth, correlated with the physiological sensitivity of the nervous system, could well be the basic determinant of future adjustment to change, growth, and use of the “force of life.” As the infant develops, the other factors of parental (especially maternal) influence,their sensitivity, reactive behavior, care,and, above all, acceptance of the child as a separate being that is continuously developing, create the all-important environment in which the newly forming self becomes a uniquely creative, separate entity. The end product of this growing child is an accomplished individual who is creative in life, relationships,job,and society.This is the ultimate goal in achieving a full life.If the self is a uniquely creative entity, the taking in of stimuli from the environment goes through a process of creativity within the unique self. The result is constant vibrance, freshness,and consistent growth into new horizons and experiences.
Within the spectrum of Rankian and psychoanalytic theories, we see that in the vast majority of homes parents,in their reaching out for eternity by remaining parents,fear the individuation of their child. When their child becomes a unique being different from themselves, their job is done and they are ready to be discarded by nature and die (this, of course, is their unconscious conviction based, in part,on their own lack of a unique self). In view of this death fear, the parents hold onto the child as an extension of themselves and do not allow for individual expression. This causes the child to grow into a shadow of the parent with severe guilt about his or her uniqueness and drive toward unique creativity (Rank, 1935).
Yet the child cannot help but try, throughout childhood, to reach out toward expression of the self. Guilt is increased,and being unique and creative becomes a dangerous phenomenon. This,in turn,encourages the child to be submissive, noninventive, guilt-ridden, and helpless. The child, and later the adult, becomes filled with anger, depression, feelings of inadequacy, and so on.
Why don’t children take more of a risk and tear themselves away at an early age to grow on their own? To an extent, some do: the artists, the inventors, etc. Yet there is always the threat of death. If mother and father do not approve,they will withdraw care, love,protection, food,and the child will die.Therefore, the child, battling all the way, finally gives in as an adult, enters into the “family of man,” and becomes a creature of dependence and a conformist.
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